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Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

13 Mar

In Part One of this article, https://senseijohn.me/2019/02/20/do-away-with-kata-formalities-part-1/ I set forth my idea that in so far as after Sho-dan grade, one must practice both the spontaneity of kata and the phenomenon that kata reside within you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, one must do away with the formalities of kata. (see Endnote # 1 for a video example) These formalities, represented by the three step process of rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and ready posture inhibit the process of kata as a ritual that resides within you percolating under the surface until needed. Or, do they? Perhaps the formalities symbolize a higher meaning of kata. So now, here’s the conclusion of that article. 

Do away with kata formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

As I began to advocate my concept of doing away with the formalities decades ago, my answer was yes, they should be done away with as a condition precedent to beginning and ending a kata. Just do the kata and be done. Now, as I get older (maybe wiser?) I have rethought the concept. I have once again incorporated the acts of preparation into my kata – just not as you may think.

To understand what I propose, one must appreciates the “Three Battles” of kata. Specifically all kata involve three aspects or battles. While they exist in all kata, they are emphasized and harmonized in the Sanchin Kata. By name, Sanchin, represents three battles.

Kanji (Japanese calligraphy) for “Sanchin” – Three Battles – or – Three Aspects of Life

Throughout time and from karate style to karate style, Sensei have defined the three battles in various, sometimes euphemistic ways. For my part, I define the battles, on a fundamental level as breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind. Once a kata-ka has trained kata from the standpoint of these battles, they are ready to appreciate my more advanced definition of the three battles, to wit: a physical battle (breathing and bodily movement), spiritual battle (psyche, mental states and emotions) and an environmental battle (the outside world wherein the kata is performed and how you interact with same). (For more on this topic, please see endnote # 2) You can readily see that whether you adopt the fundamental definition or the more advanced, the three battles, symbolized by Sanchin, are present in each and every kata.

By extension you should then acknowledge that the three battles are present in each and every moment of life itself. You must breath to live. Your body must move each and every second to live. Yes, you may be immobile during times of sleep or even unconsciousness, but your blood must flow, cells must metabolize, organs function and the like. Similarly as you live your life, you will interact with and be affected by the outside environment. Thus, I conclude and submit that “Life is a kata.” ™

Once I came to the understanding that “Life is a kata,” ™ I began to rethink my position on the formalities. Instead of doing away with the formalities, I now advocate that they should be performed before and after each kata. What, a complete reversal? Not quite. The issue is no longer whether to perform the formalities, but when does kata start and end. My conclusion is that my kata starts the moment I get out of bed, the new day, another day of life, is the beginning of my kata. I need not perform a kata as soon as my feet touch the floor. I do; however perform the three formalities. I look out my bedroom window and rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and assume a ready posture for a moment or two and then start my day – my kata, my life. Surely, before fully engaging my day, I perform my daily routine of Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei Kata and my own personal kata, Yurei-Te Kata (Ghost Hand Kata). I go about my day, including training my other kata. At days end, I perform the three formalities in reverse order and settle in to bed. My Life is my kata.

To be sure, this is but the best I can do to symbolize my acceptance of my own life as a kata. Had I thought of my concept fifty-seven years ago, I would have had a much greater symbolism, but I lacked the training, knowledge and experience to do so. The greatest symbolism would have been to perform the formalities only twice in my life. The first immediately after exiting my mother’s womb. The second time I would the perform all three in reverse order at the moment immediately before my death – the ultimate symbol of my life, my kata. Perhaps, notwithstanding I did not start life in that way, I am still be able to perform the formalities (in reverse order) at the end of my life – my kata. But – that will only be half the symbol. Maybe once I enter what comes after death I will stand tall in the next world, and bow, mediate and be ready for the kata-yet-to-come.

Here’s 2 screen shots of my soon-to-be-release Yurei-Te (Ghost Hand) Kata video and book, enjoy!

 

 

      

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

1. In my forthcoming Kata Laboratory book I have set forth many unique training concepts to explore the esoteric aspects of kata including my assertion that kata resides within you twenty-four hours a day seven days away percolating util such a time it bursts forth. If are interested in this topic, you may see this introductory article and video. https://senseijohn.me/2018/01/31/kata-lab-3250-kata-within-you-intermediate/

2. For more on the three battles of kata, and by association, bunkai (the analysis of kata), you may refer to this article from my Kata Laboratory, https://senseijohn.me/2013/05/20/kata-lab-101-three-states-of-bunkai/

 For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

 For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 1

20 Feb

Do away with kata formalities – Part 1: Understanding the formalities

Every karate-ka (practitioner of karate) is familiar with the formalities of kata. Whatever form they take, these formalities may be summarized as three procedures before and after each kata. I submit, they are “outside” of the kata and are not part of the actual kata. (See endnote number 1) In this article, I make the argument that at the dan rank (black belt) level, they should not be performed at all, save one exception.

Kanji for “Kata”

Generally speaking the kata formalities may be parsed into the following three steps. Step one is the “rei” or formal bow. This step symbolizes respect. Respect first and foremost is for the solemnity of the kata itself. Respect then expands to include the individual that created the kata, those that maintained it throughout history and preserved it in its present form. You can extend the concept of respect ad infinitum, such as respect for the dojo, your Sensei, karate in general and the like. As my own Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, was fond of saying, “All kata begins and ends with respect.”

The second step is one of “mukso” or meditation. This step has many effects, including, inter alia, the need to clear your mind of all preconceptions, dilatory psychological states (extraneous thoughts) and emotional effects (anxiety, fear, depression and the like). Unchecked these dilatory states would impose themselves on the kata. As the karate Sages would say, you need to “Part the clouds to see the moon.” This state of mind is called “Mushin” or “mind no mind.” You perform mukso after the kata to facilitate the state of mind known as “Zanshin” (“remaining mind”) to imbue yourself with the physical and spiritual by-products of the kata.

Lastly one assumes a “ready” posture. This is a physically neutral posture that takes many forms. Examples include standing with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hands low, feet together with hands touching at groin level and the like. Regardless of the exact posture, it is always neutral. The neutral posture ends upon starting the kata.

After the kata, the kata-ka (my term for a performer of kata) then performs the formalities in reverse order. 

Okay, so far so good. The formalities clearly have a purpose and are relatively innocuous in so far as they are neither physically demanding or spiritually negative. So, you may wonder why I advocate that you do away with these relatively noble acts of respect, purifying your spirit and readiness before kata. Well, lets see.

First, it must be completely understood that the formalities are of significant importance to the student below Sho-dan (first degree black belt). To those of numansha grade (under black belt) they must be performed before and after each and every kata. Period. (caveat – see endnote # 2) After sho-dan, one must begin a transition into a fuller understanding and appreciation of kata. To this end, the formalities should be dispensed with.

I would like to begin by looking at the nature of the formalities. To reiterate, they prepare you physically and mentally for the kata. On a purely physical level, it is axiomatic that the kata symbolizes a battle, a physical attack scenario. At a basic, almost Planck Scale-like level, kata is a ritualized shadow-boxing dance. It represents a fight. A karate-ka trains to put the odds of surviving such an encounter in their favor by employing the techniques of the kata with the proper mental state.That being said, if you are attacked you do not hold up you hand, stating “Please wait” while you bow, meditate and assume a ready posture. So, why train this way? I am reminded of the following humorous scenario. 

In the mid-1990’s I was officiating and competing as a young San-dan (third degree black belt) in Sensei Ed DiNardo’s (RIP) annual karate tournament at the Wayne (NJ) P.A.L. building. We just concluded the officials meeting presided over by both Sensei DiNardo and Hanshi Frank Van Lenten (RIP). This was one of the handful of times I met the founder of the Goshin-Do Karate style and association. Sensei DiNardo’s tournament always began with the black belt competition in kata, kobudo and kumite. This allowed the competing black belts to be free later for officiating when the lower ranks competed. Before we adjourned the meeting, Sensei DiNardo turned to Hanshi Van Lenten and asked,”Should we give the black belts a few minutes to stretch out and get ready to compete?” Hanshi Van Lenten put his left arm around Sensei’s shoulder and looked him dead in the eye, “If I jumped on your back right now, would you ask me to let you stretch out?” And thus, lightening struck and awakened my subconscious thought as to the formalities of kata. Much like you would not perform the acts prior to an actual encounter, you should train to perform your kata utterly spontaneously. You must develop the concept that all your kata reside within you at all times – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.. They simmer within you, percolating, ready to be released when you need them to burst forth. (See endnote # 3) To perform the formalities before and after each and every kata obfuscates this spontaneity. 

This phenomenon of kata within you can be trained with the aid of a Sensei who understands the heart of kata (and not simply the rhetoric of kata). You can, and should, specifically train your body and spirit so as to be aware of the kata within you and let it burst forth. This is first accomplished by training the immediacy of self defense scenarios within the kata. In my Kata Laboratory project, I have multiple training concepts. One example, “Kata To Modify Emotions” is set forth in endnote # 3. Another example is “Kata Lab – Dr. Jekyll’s Potion. You may see the details of this kata lab using this convenient link  https://senseijohn.me/2014/02/09/kata-lab-122-kata-dr-jekylls-potion/  and also this video example.

I therefore humbly submit that you must train your kata to be deployed at a moments notice in times of need. The formalities become an unnecessary impediment to the spontaneity of such performance. Removing the symbolic formalities is the first and necessary step to accomplish this spontaneous transition form one’s normal everyday world to the world represented by the kata. Again, this includes a physical world (attack and physical health scenarios) and a spiritual world (mental, psychological and emotional states). Thus, the need for the formalities is nullified. You must be prepared at all times. You must act with respect, maintain a clear mind and be ready in a noncommittal manner so as to act when it is time to act. In essence, like kata, the formalities simply blend into and simmer within us. Respect becomes part of our lives. Mushin, a clear mind and spirit, becomes our default mental state. We remain neutral until the time to act is appropriate then we act swiftly and decisively. If the goal is full integration of kata within ourselves, why symbolize the formalities when we begin and end each and every kata? So, do we simply get rid of the acts of preparation?

I’m going to let you chew on this a bit. Let the concept percolate within you as you practice your kata. See what you think. In my next post, I’ll give you my insights and how after forty-seven years of kata, I incorporate the formalities into same.

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

1. There may be others that disagree with my assertion that the kata formalities lie outside of the kata itself. Frankly, that is fair, but wrong. Simply ask any instructor to teach you the first three moves of a new kata (or think back to when you learned a new kata), I bet you, as my father would say, “A dollar to a donut” that they do not show you (for the N’th time) the three formalities. Rather, they show you the first three movements of the actual kata. Thus, impliedly, agreeing with my assessment.

2. During my training in Sensei DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate dojo, the formalities were, at times, summarily performed. That is to say that when a kata-ka was asked to perform several kata, such as during testing or class, they would perform the formalities before the first kata, perform all kata asked and the perform them again after the last kata. Thus, avoiding performing the formalities before each kata in the series. I also observed this summary performance at other dojo including the former Bogota (NJ) dojo of my friend and comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander, RIP. I note that this experience may have subconsciously infused my mind with the idea that the kata formalities should be done away with entirely.

3. Please notice I do not say “ready for when you may be attacked.” I deliberately chose my words to reflect the idea that kata are more than physical self-defense. They are also of great benefit in developing your spiritual self. They are moving meditation than produce a heightened mental and perceptive state when fully understood. But, that is beyond the ken of this article. It is; however, the entire subject of my next book. To tease you a bit on this topic, you may see how kata can be used to modify your emotions using this link and video.https://senseijohn.me/2013/10/06/kata-lab-221-kata-as-an-emotional-modifier/   here is the accompanying video:

  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!
  For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Don’t Read This – Unless

25 Jul

Don’t read this unless, you realize you need a means of maintaining physical, mental and spiritual well-being in an increasingly hostile world – – – – and – – – – you’re are ready to be solely responsible for your own such well-being. With that being said, here’s a sneak peak into my latest project.

The start of a very exciting summer heralds the start of a new project. This project will continue my Jiriki Kata-Do (self-wellness through kata) dynamic ideology. Jiriki Kata-Do was launched in 2009 with my Sanchin Kata manual, “Sanchin Kata: Gateway To The Plateau Of Serenity” and DVD.

Sanchin Book Front Cover Art

Now, almost a decade later and tens of thousands of hours “Thinking, Sweating and Experimenting” ™ with kata, a second, updated installment is underway.

My concept of Jiriki Kata-Do (“JK-D”) brings the benefits of select karate kata to the general public, without the need to study a full karate curriculum. The kata are practiced not from a martial perspective but from a moving meditation perspective. By undertaking the practice of JK-D, the average person can experience not only the physical health benefits of dynamic, moving meditative rituals (called “kata”) but also realize the mental, emotional benefits of such meditative rituals. Additionally, the practitioner begins to understand and appreciate the manner in which the world, one’s external environment, affects and interacts with these physical and mental processes and vice-versa.

JK-D differs from other non-active forms of mediation called zazen, or seated mediation, in that, well, you are physically active during the JK-D meditative process. Unlike other endeavors, such as yoga and tai-chi, which have not only lost their meditative aspects in favor of physical exercise but also become commercialized though fashion, JK-D only requires the use of your own body and mind. There are no special clothes, accessories, classroom and the like. JK-D remains within you at all times, wherever you are. The benefits of JK-D are , therefore, available to you anyplace and anytime.

Memorial Day 2015 – Sanchin Kata footprints, North Truro, Cape Code, MA

At present, I am preparing the manuscript and scripting the videos. It is my hope that both will be finished by the end of summer. The plan is then to film photos for the manuscript and video for the DVD in Cape Cod. MA in early September. The release date would then be mid-November for this long awaited continuation of the JK-D project.

Scouting video locations

Check back often for more information, and maybe a few teasers from the manuscript and test videos.

To read more about the evolution of my Jiriki Kata-Do from its Goshin-Do Karate roots, please use this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/2011/10/02/jiriki-kata-do-an-epiphenomenon-of-goshin-do-karate/

Remember, “Life is a kata.” ™

Featured Video:

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Simmering With Sanchin Kata

6 Jun

I was simmering and never knew it.
In fact I was not alone.
Both I and my wife were simmering.
Actually for us, simmering is a normal everyday occurrence. My wife and I constantly, hold hands, hug, give each other small kisses and similar behavior. Then, one day while watching t.v., we learned that such conduct has a name, to wit: simmering. So what is simmering? A quick google search revealed that simmering is part of a nouveaux trend –

A core sex therapy technique that helps couples cultivate sexual arousal even when they don’t have time or energy for sex. It involves simple hugging, kissing, holding hand, gazing into your partner’s eyes and other similar conduct.

“Well, what do you know,” I said to my wife, “We’re trend setters!” To us, this was simply normal behavior for us; even after over twenty years together, we simmer.

Then it occurred to me – “What other behavior that I consider routine behavior was trendy?”

For decades, I have long advocated that not only should Karate-Ka (practitioners of karate) practice Sanchin Kata at least once a day, but everyone, even non-martial artists (what heresy!) should learn and practice Sanchin as a form of daily moving meditation. In fact, that idea is what started this blog. For example, this link provides a series of articles offering methods to practice Sanchin Kata regularly https://senseijohn.me/category/a-sanchin-pilgrimage/

It was (and still is) my belief that Anybody (male/female, young/old ,rich/poor) should practice Sanchin Kata Anytime (no special clothes required, no extra training equipment) and Anyplace (indoors/outdoors, work/play). Here’s one video example of Sanchin during a motorcycle ride

The simple fact is “You are Sanchin and Sanchin is you” – https://senseijohn.me/2014/06/15/3-states-of-sanchin-katas-3-battles/

With that said, daily Sanchin is a means of Kata-Simmering. In addition to having benefits in and of itself, such daily practice of Sanchin stimulates the desire to practice your other kata both in and out of the dojo. Not only does this kata-simmering stimulate the desire to practice your other kata, it also stimulates you to innovate.

Here are two video of my own Sanchin innovations:

Four Direction Sanchin (filmed in the cooling waters of the Lower Salt River, Arizona)

and Shobu-Sanchin (filmed with vultures)

My Kata Laboratory project ( https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/ ) was, perhaps stimulated by my own personal Sanchin-simmering. It fostered a desire for me to “Think – Sweat – Experiment” ™ with Sanchin, and eventually all my other kata.

So, give Sanchin-Simmering a try. Use it to build a desire for not only more kata practice but also more innovative, imaginative ways to enjoy your kata – in other words to – “Think – Sweat – Experiment”

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

   For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata Lab # 1240: Kata – A Flowing River

28 Mar

“You could not step twice into the same river; for other waters are ever flowing on to you.” – Heraclitus

Background:

This is the only Kata Lab that will be be able to complete. You will fail at the objective. Not for lack of skill, or desire. It is utterly impossible to perform this Kata Lab.
There is a maxim in karate-do, “Perfect your kata.” Many teachers and masters utter this to their students who do no more than nod their head like a bobbled head on a car dashboard. The students then go and set about to perfect their kata. What rubbish. I submit that you can never perform the exact same kata twice. Thus, a kata cannot be perfected. You can perform a reasonable facsimile of the same kata. “Top-rated” tournament kata practitioners may achieve a level of performance similarity in their chosen one or two tournament kata. But, they too, will fail in trying to perform the exact same kata twice. The unsophisticated kata practitioner, particularity those that train one or two kata for tournament similarity will disagree, perhaps vehemently with my statement. Why? “Does not the fact that they consistently win trophies with their few chosen tournament kata demonstrate that their level of performance is homogenous? Perhaps, but only to those who only understand kata superficially.

If you understand kata within the context of the three aspects that I submit are present in kata, then you can see how it is utterly impossible to perform the same exact in the exact same manner twice, even in a lifetime. Also true is the idea that performing a kata that is mostly (90 percent or more) similar is a profound accomplishment.

Experimentation:

You may wish to video tape yourself performing this experiment. After your practice, you can then refer to the video and take notes as to each performance. You should note any dissimilar areas during each performance. The less dissimilar areas, the closer you are to having performed the same kata twice. (Alternatively, you may wish to take notes after each kata performance for your later review.)
Select your favorite kata to practice;
Over a period of a few days or a week, practice the kata two or three times, trying to perform a kata exactly the same way;
After doing so, analyze each performance. Take notice of those areas of the kata that differ from one performance to the next. How close did you get to performing the same kata twice?

Regardless of whether or not you notes indicate that you came close to performing the same kata in the exact same manner (very few notes as to dissimilar areas). You utterly failed this kata lab. Worse is if your notes indicate that all areas of the kata were similar on at least two occasions; for you truly do not understand my three levels of kata.

First and foremost (as my father would say), “I bet you a dollar to a donut” that your list only addresses the physical movements of the kata. A block or strike that may have been off target, a stance that was less than perfect or a kata cadence that lacked the correct timing. As such, you only understand and thus, addressed one-third of the overall kata experience. (You may wish to pause and refer to my article on the three aspects of kata using this link: https://senseijohn.me/2013/05/20/kata-lab-101-three-states-of-bunkai/

Second, my spiritual aspect of kata (the manner in which kata affects your state-of-mind, emotions and psyche and vice-versa) is fatal to your performing the exact same kata twice. Our mental state is too much in flux to maintain it through various kata performance. Yes, you may convince yourself that during your kata you maintained all the applicable martial arts mind states. Sure, you may feel you achieved, Mushin, Zanshin, Nenjuushin and all the other “shins” of kata. But, you’re fooling yourself. Your emotions and psyche change from one moment to the next within a single kata performance, let alone from one kata performance to the next. (Endnote # 1 describe an example)

Third, my environmental aspect of kata (how the external environment affects your kata and vice-versa) will frustrate your attempts to perform this kata lab. If you practiced your kata in different locations, then by definition, you did not perform the exact same kata twice. If; however, you performed this lab in the exact same location, you still performed in in a different external environment and therefore failed to perform the exact same kata twice. You cannot control the temperature, humidity, dust and dirt on the floor, clothing (yes, different clothes affect you kata, even your gi, which may be dry at the start of practice and soaked with sweat at the end will produce a different performance).

Now, having the benefit of the above, try to perform the exact same kata twice and see how utterly impossible it is.

Conclusion:

You can perform the same kata twice, but no two will ever be exactly alike. This is not an error, but a unique phenomenon of kata. Thus, you can never perfect your kata. You can; however, achieve a goal set by Coach Vince Lombardi for his Green Bay Packers football team, “We will strive for perfection knowing full well we will never achieve it, but in the process we will find excellence.” So, rather than perfect your kata, excel at your kata.

In a lifetime no kata will be exactly the same.
To perform a kata the exact same way twice, you must repeat, without change all three aspects:
physical aspect – all movements performed with kime intensity, speed, tempo, etc;
spiritual aspect – all movements performed with the same emotion (at the same point in the kata each time), with the same state of mind, with the same transition from emotion to emotion or state-of-mind to state-of-mind (this may even be required by the specific kata)
environmental aspect – the environment within which your kata is performed must remain constant (absent a “clean” room) this is impossible – air changes and flows, light changes, temperature varies even slightly. Even if such factors are “controlled”, nature will win out (for example, it takes 8 seconds for a photon of light to leave the Sun and reach earth, therefore, lighting for each kata will be different.

The key of this Lab is to understand that each and every kata performance is as fleeting and rare as each and every moment of life itself. You cannot take a kata for granted. The same is true of each and every moment of life.

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (“With the privilege and permission of the superiors”)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Featured video from my “Underground Bunkai” series:

   For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
 my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

2018 Kata Laboratory “Guest List”

14 Mar

I’m no genius. I am; however, curious. Since I was a youth my curiosity led me to books and a love of reading. Now with the internet there is a wealth of resources at my fingertips. I’m almost as addicted to reading as I am to kata. Both are an integral part of my day, and therefore myself. It seems I can’t simply enjoy a book, or for that matter, watch a video. While doing so, my mind invariably begins to incorporate what I’m reading or watching into my practice of kata and the philosophical and ideological beliefs derived from same.

When I first began my Kata Laboratory project over a decade ago, I set forth a simple mandate – “Think – Sweat – Experiment” with kata. The thinking part comes from not only internal sources, namely my own mind, through a process called “Bunkai” (analysis). “What is the practical application of a kata sequence?” “How does this kata make me feel?” “What impact does a kata have on my state of mind?” “What would it be like to do a kata in a snowstorm, at the beach, or in the rain?”

The thinking part is also stimulated by external sources. For me thats what I read or watch. To this end, many karate-ka disregard, or are unaware of the impact of other disciplines, on their kata experience. By disciplines I do not mean other martial arts or styles of karate. Rather, I mean disciplines like science, philosophy, psychology and others.

I find it extremely intriguing and rewarding to incorporate ideas and concepts from the sciences and arts into my study of karate. Thus the second and third aspect of my Kata Lab motto – “sweat” and “experiment” (try new things). The results of which I sometimes write about but mostly, perhaps selfishly, keep to myself.

If I choose to write about it, particularly here on this blog, I do so by “inviting” the author to my Kata Laboratory. One such “guest” was the eminent physicist Dr. Richard Feynman. Now, of course, Dr. Feynman did not actually visit my Kata Laboratory. In fact he had already passed away; but, his concepts were “invited” and applied to kata and especially, bunkai (analysis) of Kata. Here are two of his visits. The first is when Doctor Feynman and the chess grandmaster Emanuel Lasker “visited” to add insight int the fleeting nature of kata bunkai –
https://senseijohn.me/2015/09/28/dr-richard-feynman-visits-senseis-kata-lab-part-1/

The second is when the good doctor visited to provide insight the “correct and only bunkai” you may have had to learn from your Sensei – https://senseijohn.me/2015/11/09/kata-bunkai-a-temporary-triumph-dr-feynman-visits-the-kata-lab-part-ii/ .

So, after fulfilling my 2017 GoodReads challenge of reading 36 books last year, I drew up a “Guest-List” of invited speakers. I’d like to share not only that list but also some of the topics that they may, or may not provide insight on. Incidentally, I highly recommend each and every book. All are truly insightful on a wide range of subjects – and, I submit ALL can provide deep insight into your kata. In other words using these resources to help you “Think” you will most certainly be motivated to “Sweat.” Those two independent processes will encourage you to “Experiment” and find new, untapped, hidden insights into kata. At least they did so for me (and still continue to do so). Hey, if you read these authors and have your own insights, let me know, we can compare notes. Or, you can keep doing the same old thing that has been done for centuries in the martial arts because that’s “tradition.” But then again, at least your doing something other than the majority that sit home on the couch eating Cheetos while surfing the web.

So here’s the guest list:

  • Eckhardt Tolle and his book “A New Earth” (Penguin Books, New York, New York, 2005, 2016);
  • Shelly Kagan and his book “Death” book (Yale University Press, 2012) and video lecture series;
  • Victor Frankl – “Man’s Search For Meaning” (Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 2014)
  • Jospeh Campbell – “Myths To Live By” (Campbell Foundation, San Anselmo, CA 2011);
  • Neil De Grasse Tyson – “Astrophysics For People In A Hurry” (W.W. Norton & Co. New York, NY 2017)
  • Adam Frank – “About Time” (Simon and Schuster, New York, NY 2011)
  • In addition, I’m deepening some of my thoughts in light of seeing a video of the very esoteric Gassho-No-Kata of Goju-ryu.

So look for these gusts to appear in my Kata Laboratory in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, “Think – Sweat – Experiment” with your kata!
Featured Video:

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowsski

   For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

     For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Sensei John is now on Facebook, under – FLY FISHING DOJO, you are invited to send a Facebook friend request.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata Lab # 3250 – Kata Within You – Intermediate

31 Jan

As a scientist I’d rather have questions I can’t answer than answers I can’t question.” – Max Tegmark, Physicist (appearing on “How The Universe Works,” Season 6, Episode 1: “Are Black Holes Real?”)

Background:

This Kata Lab builds on the concepts I set forth in Kata Lab # 2250 – Kata Within You – Introduction – https://senseijohn.me/2017/08/30/kata-lab-2250-kata-within-you-introduction/

Kata is always within you.
In fact, you intentionally train to have kata within you. If a time comes when you are confronted by an attacker, kata rises to the surface and you can successfully defend yourself. The kata sequences that you instinctively use in your defense will vary based upon a great number of circumstances. This kata lab explores that actuality.

In September 2017, had my annual visit to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As always, I combined my vacation with training, writing and video of kata. I decided to spontaneously create a kata that would represent my feelings being on Cape Cod. As you can see in the video below, the bay that day was calm; however, the day before was windy and the bay was filled with white caps. I wanted to perform a kata t capture that feeling.

The easy choice would have naturally been Seienchin (“Calm in the storm / Storm in the calm”) but that would not have been a spontaneously created kata. I did; however want to incorporate a movement or two from Seienchin but not let it over-power the kata created. I thought I would uses sequences from Sanchin, Suparunpei and Seipai Kata to round off a symbolic kata. A deep breath and – P’Town Kata (for Provincetown where I was staying) was born. I hope you enjoy the video.

Now, how to do the – – –

Experiment: (To assist you I have a video that follows the protocols):

  • Review my comments in above, use it as a guide to formulate what you hope to “accomplish” in performing the kata.
  • Do not pre-select a specific kata for this lab; rather think about a few sequences from kata that you may wish to randomly group together;
  • Do not “spontaneously” perform your “favorite” kata. To do so defeats the As
    you go about your day be aware of the fact that your kata is brewing
    inside you,waiting to let itself out;
  • At a random point in time (you may also use a timer as in previous kata labs), let
    the kata out. Group the sequences that you had thought to combine – just let i it
    flow! For now don’t worry about symmetry or positional coincidence. Just let the
    kata flow;
  • The kata that bursts forth from within you should be as random as possible based
    upon your physical and psychological needs at the time.

Conclusion:
This Kata Lab is designed to bridge te gap between the Introductory Kata Lab contained in the “Background” and a more advanced Kata Lab (which will be released at a later date).

I think it will be fun and challenging and give you a look in to my Kata Lab motto of – “Think-Sweat-Experiment” with Kata

This week’s featured video provides another example of spontaneously performing kata. It is a kata I created on cold morning during my 2013 road trip from Arizona to New Jersey. It is the first kata on the video below and was filmed by my truck’s headlights; enjoy.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (“With the privilege and permission of the superiors”)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
 my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

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