Archive | Martial Ideology & Life RSS feed for this section

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Paul Recchia

28 Mar

April 10th, 2017 marks the anniversary of the passing of Sensei Paul Recchia. You may review his memorial here https://senseijohn.me/memorial-page/

Sensei Paul Recchia at age 60 years old. Circa 1975.

Please join me in performing a kata at sunset on this date in memory of Sensei Paul and all whom we have lost. The following Hatsu Bon Poem, together with the above training, are offered to his spirit.
May Sensei’s spirit find our training and poem worthy.

HATSU BON POEM
Please don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am
Nor am I sleeping for eternity
SEE!!
I am already part of the breezes
numbering a thousand
I am part of the light
that brightens this world
Like a diamond glittering in the snow
Like the sun that coaxes seeds to sprout
And in the Fall I become the gentle rain
that nurtures all.
When you open the window in the morning
I am the breeze
That causes your hair to flutter;
And at night, I am the star
That watches over your sleep.
So, please . . . don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am.
I am not dead.
I have been born anew.

The last time Sensei Paul (in wheelchair) was at the Issho Dojo (January, 2000) with (L-R), Sensei Walter Byrne, Sensei Kim Szmitkowski, Sensei John Szmitkowski, Sensei Jimmy DiMicelli, Sensei Bobbie Gumowski. I will never forget that this was the first time in almost eighteen months that Sensei Paul, confined to his in home hospital bed, left the comfort of his home to honor all who were elevated that day in the black belt promotion ceremony.

Sincerity in sweat, you are not forgotten, Sensei.

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 2017 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

2017 – Adopt The Mind Of A Dirty White Belt

4 Jan

In New Years past, I’ve advocated viewing the coming year with the “mind of a white belt.” That is to say to look towards the coming year without preconceptions of either thought or emotion. This year is different. This year I suggest you view the coming year with the mind of a dirty white belt.

karate-belt-white     There is a Goshin-Do Karate percept, “Observe with the mind of a white belt.” It served as a reminder to advanced students and particularly those of black belt rank to constantly view their karate with an intellectual ”innocence.” The while belt, worn by novice students, is said to symbolize purity and innocence in terms of preconceptions as to Karate. When a Karate-Ka (student of Karate) first enters the Dojo, the neophyte observes without preconceived thought or emotion. Thus, one observes every detail, even the most minute, with the pure eyes of a child. In doing so, one is able to capture the inner most aspect of a Karate-Do technique and incorporate it into one’s personal repertoire.
So, what is a dirty white belt?
Prior to the advent of modern colored belts, a Karate-Ka would wear the same belt (a white belt) during his entire training. Although the Karate uniform would be laundered  regularly, as a sign of respect, the Karate-Ka would not wash his belt. The belt would even be used to wipe the sweat from one’s brow after training. Thus, the belt would become discolored, “dirty”. This “dirt” symbolized not only one’s physical progression and learning but also emotional and psychological development in Karate-do. Eventually, the belt turned completely black from use, wear and tear. This is the humble birth of the all too coveted black belt. Thus, the dirty white belt symbolizes innocence tempered by experience.
In years passed, I think my advice was sound. For this coming year, it is time to adapt a mindset of a weathered, worn, thus “dirty” white belt. For 2017 I advocate a mindset of an unclean white belt; one that while still representing a lack of preconception, bears the mark of its past experiences. 2017 should be viewed warily. Do not pre-conceive, but do not be cajoled into complacency with an innocent mindset. De open but be skeptical of that which seems out of order. It usually is. When necessary, be willing and ready to act. Then act.

sunsu-2  CIMG3570 My original black belt – now returning back to its whiteness. Perhaps now more and more like my hair and beard, a “grey-belt.”

Featured video: Seienchin Kata translates as “The calm in the storm, storm in the calm.” I think this is one representation of the dirty white belt concept. This video was filmed during a spontaneous appearance of a herd of wild horses on the Lower Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona. Please enjoy.

HANKO-master

Sensei John Szmitkowski

   KATA LAB   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/category/kata-laboratory/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
LOGO-WEBSITE    my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals, the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & other musings http://flyfishingdojo.com

and
DOJO STICKER-1    the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

The Crab & The Seagull – A Story Of Survival

4 Jul

The within tale is an adaptation of an ancient Zen fable. It is; however, based upon actual events.

Growing up in New Jersey the best part of the summer involved visits to the unique boundary where the Atlantic Ocean kisses the sand. Many a memorable summer day was spent on various beaches of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape May, New Jersey to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My visits to the shore were not always recreational. Most visits to the beach, I practice my Karate-Do kata. Sometimes, my karate students accompany me. It was in the mid-1990’s during one such training session that the following true events leapt from the pages of Zen fable into the physical realm.

While training my students and I witnessed an encounter involving a seagull and a blue claw crab. In the original Zen fable, there was a fox, (represented by the seagull) and a rabbit (represented by the blue-claw crab).

The tide washed a blue claw crab up onto the beach. A seagull, being ever vigilant, was quick to seize the opportunity. The seagull landed on the beach and chased the crab in an attempt to make the crab its dinner. The crab used its claws to fend off the seagull. The seagull took to the air to attempt an air assault upon its reluctant dinner guest. The crab raised is claws and scuttled to and fro. The battle continued in this manner.
I asked my students, ”Who should win the fight?” They naturally said the seagull. After all, it was larger, stronger and given it had the capacity for flight, was more mobile than the crab. I informed my students that, according to an ancient fable, the crab should win. My students and I continued to watch the encounter. The fight continued with the crab fending off the sea gull. Eventually a large wave washed a-shore and carried the still fighting crab away to safety. The frustrated sea-gull flew away.

My students asked “Why should the crab win?” The answer is simple.
The seagull was fighting for its dinner, but, the blue claw crab was fighting for its life. The crab must win because it had more at stake in the confrontation. Simply stated, the winner of a physical confrontation between an aggressor and the person forced to defend against attack would be the person with the most to lose in the confrontation.

 

This week’s featured video:

Bonus Seienchin Kata Video – With Wild Horses!

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO-master

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  tile-300-dreams-seisan   For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

KATA LAB    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/category/kata-laboratory/

© Copyright 2016 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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

9 May

May 18, 2011, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us.
Please join me in dedicating our training on May 18th 2016 to his eternal spirit and the spirit of all those fallen comrades we wish to remember. May their spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970's, West New York, NJ

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

HATSU BON POEM
Please don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am
Nor am I sleeping for eternity
SEE!!
I am already part of the breezes
numbering a thousand
I am part of the light
that brightens this world
Like a diamond glittering in the snow
Like the sun that coaxes seeds to sprout
And in the Fall I become the gentle rain
that nurtures all.
When you open the window in the morning
I am the breeze
That causes your hair to flutter;
And at night, I am the star
That watches over your sleep.
So, please . . . don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am.
I am not dead.
I have been born anew.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout.

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.
Sensei John Szmitkowski

HANKO-master

Jersey Shore – A Zen Fable

27 Jul

The within tale is an adaptation of an ancient Zen fable. It is; however, based upon actual events.

Growing up in New Jersey the best part of the summer involved visits to the unique boundary where the Atlantic Ocean kisses the sand. Many a memorable summer day was spent on various beaches of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape May, New Jersey to the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. My visits to the shore were not always recreational. Most visits to the beach, I practice my Karate-Do kata. Sometimes, my karate students accompany me. It was in the mid-1990’s during one such training session that the following true events leapt from the pages of Zen fable into the physical realm.

While training my students and I witnessed an encounter involving a seagull and a blue claw crab. In the original Zen fable, there was a fox, (represented by the seagull) and a rabbit (represented by the blue-claw crab).

 

The tide washed a blue claw crab up onto the beach. A seagull, being ever vigilant, was quick to seize the opportunity. The seagull landed on the beach and chased the crab in an attempt to make the crab its dinner. The crab used its claws to fend off the seagull. The seagull took to the air to attempt an air assault upon its reluctant dinner guest. The crab raised is claws and scuttled to and fro. The battle continued in this manner.
I asked my students, ”Who should win the fight?” They naturally said the seagull. After all, it was larger, stronger and given it had the capacity for flight, was more mobile than the crab. I informed my students that, according to an ancient fable, the crab should win. My students and I continued to watch the encounter. The fight continued with the crab fending off the sea gull. Eventually a large wave washed a-shore and carried the still fighting crab away to safety. The frustrated sea-gull flew away.

crab

My students asked “Why should the crab win?” The answer is simple.
The seagull was fighting for its dinner, but, the blue claw crab was fighting for its life. The crab must win because it had more at stake in the confrontation. Simply stated, the winner of a physical confrontation between an aggressor and the person forced to defend against attack would be the person with the most to lose in the confrontation.

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO-master

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Featured video:

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

KATA LAB   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/category/kata-laboratory/   For the full Kata Laboratory Table Of Contents, please visit the “Kata Laboratory” page tab above.

© Copyright 2010 and 2015 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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Please, Don’t “Please” Me

29 Jun

We all have people in our lives that constantly strive to do nothing more than to please. No matter what the circumstances, these people will utilize great effort to please, notwithstanding how ludicrous their desires and efforts are. There is a tale from the Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo that shed’s light upon the ludicrous efforts of those that desire to please. This article is dedicated to all those “Yes-men”, those with the attitude of “Please, please me,” and those who (in the words of a my friend and comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander, R.I.P.) “Drink the Kool-Aid.” Here is another tale from the archives of the Goshin-Do Karate-Do fireside chats. I hope you read and enjoy it, but, a word of caution – Don’t loose your “ass” in the process.

On the island of Okinawa, there lived an elderly peasant farmer, his wife and son. They lived a relatively isolated existence on their meager farm. One day, the peasant decided that he would have to journey to town to sell the farm’s beast of burden, an old jackass that was no longer capable of working. The farmer was nervous about having to journey to the city to sell the jackass, so he took along his young son to help him interact with the people he would surely meet along the way.
The next morning, the farmer and his son harnessed the jack ass and set out on the long road to the city. Along the way, the encountered a group of young school girls. “Look at those two”, laughed one of the girls, “They are so foolish to walk alongside that animal when they could easily be riding upon it.” After passing the girls, the farmer pauses and whispers to his son that he will not look foolish and instructed him to get on the jackass.
Further along the road, they encountered a group of old men relaxing under the shade of a tree. The farmer overheard on of the men. “You see, my friends, the young no longer respect the old.” The man then yelled at the son, “Get off that jackass so that your old father may ride upon him!” The old farmer immediately told his son to comply and mounted the animal as his son walked alongside.
Continuing of their journey, the pair come upon a group of women and their infants. The women scolded the old farmer for riding the jackass while his “poor little child” had to walk alongside. Not wanting to look foolish, the farmer hoisted his son up onto the back of the jackass and the two rode of together.
Around the next curve in the road, the farmer and son came across a farmer tending his fields. The farmer waived and called out, “If that is your animal, why treat him so badly?” “The two of you should carry him.” The two immediately got off the jackass and tied the animal’s legs to a sturdy pole and hoisted the beast upon their shoulders.
In this manner they clumsily continued on their way. They started to stagger across a bridge high over a stream when the old farmer lost his balance. The jackass teetered for a moment and then fell over the bridge down into the river below.
Confused and ashamed, the old man and his son made their way home. Once home, the farmers old wife scolded her husband for trying to please everyone and loosing his ass in the process.

I hope you enjoyed the within tale.

think
It would greatly please me if you took its message to heart. Until the next article, I remain,

HANKO-master

Sensei John Szmitkowski

   Ringwood Manor, 2012  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

   KATA LAB  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/category/kata-laboratory/

© Copyright 2015 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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

A Grain Of Salt

9 Feb

For your consideration, I submit one of the many oral myths from the Goshin-Do Karate Dojo. Enjoy

An aging master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.
“How does it taste?” the master asked.
“Bitter,” said the apprentice.
The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”
As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”
“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.
“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.
“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,
“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

I hope you enjoyed one of the many martial tales I grew up with.

HANKO-wood

Sensei John Szmitkowski

   lab-collage-6  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/category/kata-laboratory/

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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

© Copyright 2014 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Step Up Like A Donkey Or Get Buried

8 Dec

For your consideration, I submit one of the many oral myths from the Goshin-Do Karate Dojo. Enjoy.

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey. He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down. A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up. As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

I hope you enjoyed one of the many martial tales I was privileged to have grown up with.

HANKO-wood

Sensei John Szmitkowski

   lab-collage-6  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/category/kata-laboratory/

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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com
© Copyright 2014 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Problems Solved

14 Jul

From the verbal traditions of the Dojo, a martial myth,

There was once a monk who would carry a mirror where ever he went. A priest noticed this one day and thought to himself,  “This monk must be so preoccupied with the way he looks that he has to carry that mirror all the time. He should not worry about the way he looks on the outside, it’s what’s inside that counts.” 

So the priest went up to the monk and asked “Why do you always carry that mirror?” thinking for sure this would prove his guilt.

The monk pulled the mirror from his bag and pointed it at the priest. Then he said “I use it in times of trouble. I look into it and it shows me the source of my problems as well as the solution to my problems.”

Respectfully submitted

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

© Copyright 2014 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 –
LOGO-WEBSITE my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
DOJO STICKER-1 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

The (Un)Blink Of An Eye

18 Aug

A short submission (you can read it in the blink of an eye), for your contemplation –

During the civil wars in feudal Japan, an invading army would quickly sweep into a town and take control. In one particular village, everyone fled just before the army arrived – everyone except the Zen master. Curious about this old fellow, the general went to the temple to see for himself what kind of man this master was. When he wasn’t treated with the deference and submissiveness to which he was accustomed, the general burst into anger.“You fool,” he shouted as he reached for his sword, “don’t you realize you are standing before a man who could run you through without blinking an eye!” But despite the threat, the master seemed unmoved.“And do you realize,” the master replied calmly, “that you are standing before a man who can be run through without blinking an eye?”

I hope you enjoyed this martial arts tale, respectfully,

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  CIMG3583  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/category/kata-laboratory/

Ringwood Manor, 2012  For details on how to “cyber-participate” in Sensei John’s most recent group Sanchin Kata session, please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/category/a-sanchin-pilgrimage/

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

** If you experience any difficulty in purchasing online using the above links, please contact me via a “comment” on this blog & I will e-mail you instructions on how to purchase a Sanchin product using a check or money order ***

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 – the Goshin-Do Karate blog at WWW.DeFeliceRyu.Com and this one dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

2013 – ARE YOU READY?

30 Dec
Happy New Year - 2013

Happy New Year – 2013

As we start the year 2013, I ask you, “Are you ready?”

What do I mean? To answer, I submit the following for your contemplation, borrowed from one of my favorite tales (See Endnote # 1).

When Heaven is about to confer
A great office upon a man,
It first exercises his mind with suffering,
And his sinew and bones with toil;
It exposes him to poverty
And confounds his undertakings.
Then it is seen if he is ready.

Until the next submission, I remain . . . Ready,

Kata practice during the last snow of 2012. Out with the old.

Kata practice during the last snow of 2012. Out with the old.

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

When Life decides to verify that I am “ready” for what lays ahead, I find that the Shobu variation of Sanchin Kata prepares me for Life’s tests. To view an EXCITING & UNIQUE short video filmed amongst a few Arizona vultures, please click this convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf8dlXsBnoI

suffering

ENDNOTES:

1. The poem is attributed to “Moshi” and is from the preface to: Jennings, William Dale, The Ronin ( Charles E. Tuttle Co, Tokyo, Japan, 1968)

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html  ** If you experience any difficulty in purchasing online using the above links, please contact me via a “comment” on this blog & I will e-mail you instructions on how to purchase a Sanchin product using a check or money order ***

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 blog dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

A Lesson From The Spirit World

28 Oct

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought I would submit the following from the spirit world –

HAPPY HALLOWEEN (Please Be safe)

There are many myths and fables within the oral traditions of the martial arts in general and Goshin-Do Karate in particular.Like Aesop’s Fables, these myths bring to life what can be rather stale, but important, life lessons. In this article, I would like to submit a myth from a non-martial genre. I respectfully propose the within contains a very mportant life lesson. The genre is that of “Kwaidan” (literally “strange stories” or “weird tales”).   For a ghostly video of Seienchin Kata in an evening thunderstorm, please click the following  Link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2ptj157tBg

Here is the ancient kwaidan. Can you extrapolate the lesson from this weird tale?

In ancient feudal Japan, the samurai was supreme amongst men. But, even amongst the samurai, the realm inhabited by spirits was not to be trifled with. During this long passed era, it was generally accepted and acknowledged that if any person be killed while feeling a strong resentment, the ghost of the person would seek vengeance. Even during a lawfully sanctioned execution, the samurai so conducting the execution tread carefully so as not to offend the one who would soon enter the spirit world. Sometimes; however, a prisoner’s resentment could never be appeased. At such times, it would seem that vengeance is inevitable. Such was the state that our samurai finds himself.

The prisoner was brought before the samurai executioner, bound and full of rancor. When the sun rose the day before, the prisoner’s day was full of hope and promise, by night’s end, due to his own foolish error of protocol, he was sentenced to death when the sun next shone upon the Earth. All night long, the prisoner cursed his foolishness; “What karma to have been born simple and foolish and die on account of it.” The night inevitably yielded to the rising sun and the prisoner was destined to meet his fate in the afterworld of spirits. As he knelt before the samurai, he bowed his head and addressed his executioner, “Honored executioner, I ask that your cut be swift and true so that I may be sped to the darkness of the ghost world. Once there, my spirit will again seek your earthly domain. You see, I have always been rather dimwitted. It was my karma that my lack of intellect would be my downfall. I am to be executed not for a crime that I intended, but rather for my own stupidity. This is a wrong and that wrong shall be repaid. So surely as you kill me, shall my resentment provoke my vengeance from the spirit world, and evil will be repaid with evil.” 

The samurai looked down upon the face of the bound prisoner and addressed him. “I will not allow either myself or these witnesses to your execution to be frightened by myth and the tales of wash-women.” “Will you show us a sign, after your head is removed, that your intention is valid?” The prisoner smiled and replied, “I most certainly will – what sign do you propose?” The samurai thought for a moment, “After I cut your head from your body, command your head to bite the corner of the paving stone in front of you.” “If your angry ghost can do that, then we must be frightened of your vengeance.” “Do you accept?”

“I will bite the stone, I will bite the stone”, cried the prisoner. “I will bite the stone” – as the prisoner screamed this again and again, the samurai’s blade made its cut. The prisoner’s head was severed and rolled to the corner where the paving stone was situated. Lo and behold, the mouth opened and the prisoner’s disembodied head bit the corner of the stone. While the court personnel and vassals cried out in terror, the samurai, wiped the prisoner’s blood from his blade and strangely smiled a comforting smile.

For many weeks thereafter, the witnesses and members of the court were frightened. Each day they spoke in hushed whispers and each night they slept fretfully in anticipation of the spirit’s vengeance. One day, they addressed the samurai and inquired whether a Priest should be obtained to say the prayers and rituals to prevent such occurrence. The samurai laughed loudly and said, “This is not necessary, do not concern yourself with a matter that will never come to pass.” The members of the court and the vassals beseeched the samurai, “Please Lord, allow us to do this, do you not understand the desire of a resentful dying man for vengeance may be a cause of fear?” “I do”, replied the samurai. “But you have no cause for fear.” “Only the very last intention of the dying prisoner could give rise to dangerous vengeance.” “I diverted the intention of the prisoner from vengeance.” “The prisoner died with the sole intention of biting the corner of the paving stone and that purpose, his disembodied head accomplished before our very eyes.” “The prisoner was able to accomplish this and nothing else; his quest for vengeance was forgotten by his desire to bite the stone.” “Thus, you have nothing to fear.”  – – –  And indeed, the spirit of the dead prisoner caused no ill. Nothing happened at all.

Now, can you extrapolate the hidden life lesson?

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

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

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit the “Sanchin Book” page of this weblog, or my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

The World As A Dream

14 Oct

It is a good viewpoint to see the world as a dream:
When you have a nightmare,
you will wake up & tell yourself that
“It was only a dream.”

from Hagakure, Yamamoto Tsunetomo

For your enjoyment, a new video from my Cape Cod, MA trip:

Nami-Kiribi (Cutting-wave) Kata (Developed in 1997 by Sensei Szmitkowski,  filmed at beautiful Highland Lighthouse, Cape Cod, MA) link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eg2XqFIdyTo

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a link to a FREE promotional video on You-Tube:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

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

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit the “Sanchin Book” page of this weblog, or my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

THE BLACK BELT: A Distracting Symbol

10 Jun

We are competitive by nature. We like to compete, even with ourselves. Achieving results in competition means achieving the desired goal. No matter what the situation, sports, business, hobbies, and even life itself, we want to taste the sweet taste of success. To do this, goals must be achieved; we must feel like we “won.”

When you are involved in a competitive situation do you over concentrate on fulfilling the desired goal? Are you obsessed with winning? If you are, you may have noticed that the more you concentrate, the less likely you are to succeed. If so, here’s a story from the martial arts that will be benefit to you.

The story is the lesson of the novice student and the black belt.

At the end of class, before dismissing the student population, it is customary for Sensei to ask whether there are any questions. One night, a novice student asked Sensei, “Sensei, how long will it take me to earn my black belt?” Hearing the question, Sensei looked at the novice and said, “Based upon all my years of practicing and teaching karate-do, I do not know how long it will take you to earn your black belt.” Although the student was somewhat taken aback by the non-answer of his Sensei, he thought it best to accept the answer.

As he lay in bed that night, the student thought about Sensei’s reply. The truth be told, the student felt Sensei had dodged his question. He was determined to  get Sensei to commit to a specific time period.

At the end of the next training session, Sensei again inquired as to whether the students had any questions. It seemed no one had a question, so Sensei was about to dismiss the class when suddenly, the novice raised his hand and said, “I have a question Sensei.” “If I work twice as hard as every student in the Dojo, how long will it take me to earn my black belt.” At first, Sensei was annoyed by the novice’s question. Class that night was particularly sweat-filled and overflowing with information. “Surely, some one must have a worthy question instead of this drivel about belts?” thought Sensei. Sensei hid his disappointment, looked at the novice and answered, “If you train twice as hard as every other student I know you think you will earn your black belt in one-half of the time, but you are misguided.” “If you train twice as hard as the others, it will take you double the time to earn a black belt.” While the senior students nodded knowingly at Sensei’s reply, the novice was clearly frustrated with Sensei’s answer. 

That night, at home the novice realized his patience was exhausted, he asked a simple question, he thought Sensei should give him a simple answer. A few of the novice’s friends also studied karate but at a different dojo. At their dojo, a new student signed a contract enrolling them in the “black belt club” for four years and at the end of the four years, they were guaranteed to receive a black belt. If only the novice enrolled in that dojo, he would be a black belt in four years. Better still, logic would mandate that if he worked twice as hard as everyone one else, he would have a black belt in two years. Sensei did not use such financial contracts. Students trained on a month-to-month basis and could leave Sensei’s dojo at the end of any month. The novice was determined to leave Sensei’s dojo at the end of the month, but first, he would get to the bottom of the question as to the time period for earning a black belt from Sensei.

At the end of the next training session, Sensei asked his customary question. This time, the novice did not pursue his question with Sensei. Sensei dismissed the class. As the class left the formal training floor, the novice approached the most senior student, the Dai Sempai. “Excuse me, Sempai” the novice said. “Yes”, replied the Dai Sempai. “You seemed to understand Sensei’s reply as to how long it would take me to earn my black belt, is that true?” “Yes”, said the Dai Sempai. “Can you please enlighten me?” asked the novice. As the Dai Sempai turned away from the novice, he answered, “If you do not understand Sensei’s answer, then you must, once again, ask Sensei.” The Dai Sempai continued to exit the training floor, but looked back to the novice who seemed frozen in place and said, “That is, if Sensei feels your question worthy of further explanation.”

As the students entered the changing room and began to change from their gi (uniform) to street clothes, the novice remained standing, perplexed on the training floor. Noticing this, Sensei asked, “Is there anything else my novice?” The question awoke the novice from his puzzlement. “Excuse me Sensei, but I still do not understand how long it will take me to earn a black belt.” Somewhat exasperated Sensei looked at the novice, “Your question is the answer.” “You are focused on the black belt and not obtaining knowledge in karate-do; rather, you are focused on a symbol of the knowledge.” “That is why should you try twice as hard as everyone else, it will not take you half the time, but rather double the time.” “It is the knowledge that should be desired and not the symbol.” Focusing on the black belt will only distract you from the knowledge symbolized by the belt.” The novice thanked Sensei and entered the now deserted changing room. 

As the novice changed from his gi to street clothes, he decided to remain at Sensei’s dojo.

 Applying the story to competition, you will appreciate its very simple lesson. In a competitive situation do not concentrate on achieving the final objective. Concentrating on the final objective often results in loosing. How do you achieve success in these situations? Remember the novice’s desire for a black belt and the words of his Sensei; do not concentrate on winning, rather concentrate on fulfilling each step of the ultimate goal. Once that step is fulfilled, concentrate on the next step and so forth. In this manner, the chances of success improve.

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski 

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

You may also enjoy Sensei John’s fishing weblog WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com and the official weblog for Goshin-Do Karate DeFelice-Ryu, WWW.DeFeliceRyu.Wordpress.Com

MIND-BODY UNITY: An ego-centric & incomplete concept

12 Feb

This week’s article on the inadequacy of mind-body unity is an abbreviated excerpt from a chapter in my forthcoming DVD and book, “The Dualism Of Seienchin Kata: Part Two in the Jiriki Kata-Do Series.” (See Endnote # 1)

Seienchin Kata, Cape Cod, MA, circa 1998

Since perhaps the dawn of human consciousness and self-awareness, man has explored various means to unite his body and mind so as to produce a superhuman effect and near apotheosis state of being. To this end various forms of meditation and physical ritual, including pain and suffering, the ingesting of mind altering substances, fasting, and a cornucopia of endeavors have been practiced throughout recorded time. These practices have been quasi-exploited in modern times as seminars, lectures, books, DVD’s, retreats, spiritual awakening events and the like. These examples of merchandizing now form the foundation of a vast industry profiting from our simple desire to be more enlightened, self-aware and conscious of our purpose.

The sad part of this journey to attain mind-body synchronization is that it is implicitly flawed by human hubris. Man’s character flaw of ego hides from man the manner in which Jiriki, salvation from within, can be attained. It is for this reason that one who desires to embrace Jiriki Kata-Do, inner salvation from Kata, must abandon and surrender human hubris.

To understand this surrender, a concept from Karate-Do (The Way Of The Empty Hand) and specifically Goshin-Do Karate-Do (See Endnote # 2), can provide an illustration. The concept is known as “Zen-Ken-Ichi”, or “Mind and fist are one.”  “Ken” or “Fist” symbolically represents one’s entire body. Thus, Zen-Ken-Ichi is used to express the need for body and mind unification so as to achieve the necessary state of being for engaging in the practice of Karate-Do in general, and specifically the Kata of Karate-Do. Zen-Ken-Ichi is difficult to achieve, even by accomplished Karate-ka (practitioners of Karate). Many years of dedicated practice is required before one may taste a mere smattering of mind-body unification. Such unification will enhance the practitioner’s state of being and awareness of self to a blissful sense of self. In this condition, the human body and mind is capable of producing superior physical and mental results.

It is at this point that the Karate-ka allows his hubris to artificially assure himself that the zenith of development has been reached. Once such a state is achieved, the Karate-ka will, invariably, believe that the “end-all” has been attained. After all, once one’s mind and body are synchronized and unified, what more can there be?

Sensei Paul Recchia at age 60 years old. Circa 1975.

The answer to the above question is initially discovered in devoted practice of Sanchin and further developed in the continuing study of Jiriki Kata-Do by way of the rituals of Seienchin and Suparunpei.

Suparunpei practice, Cape Cod, MA, circa 1997

Through such practice, one recognizes that the ego-centric concept of Zen-Ken-Ichi is wholly inadequate and incomplete. As set forth in my Sanchin DVD and Book, I submit that the traditional definition of the three battles of Sanchin (for example, breathing, posture and state-of-mind) to be found in the martial arts contributes to this inadequacy. By redefining the three battles of Sanchin as the physical battle, the spiritual battle and the metaphysical battle, the stage is set wherein ego-centric mind-body unification is no longer the end-all goal. (See Endnote # 3)

The Jiriki Kata-Do definition of the three battles of Sanchin leads one to a more comprehensive, eclectic higher state whereby mind-body unification (Zen-Ken-Ichi) is a mere stepping stone. The highest human state is only achieved when the energy of the universe that is external to the human is united and synchronized with the mind-body energy of the human creature. Thus, the inadequate state of Zen-Ken-Ichi should be more completely expressed as Zen-Ken-Kenkon-Ichi, or, “Mind-Body-Universe are one.” Zen-Ken-Kenkon-Ichi is, therefore, a restatement of the three battles of Sanchin advocated by my dynamic ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do.

The result of practicing Sanchin is that the performer will fully perceive, unify and absorb not only his physical and spiritual self, but also the energy of the external environment in which he exists. The effect of such synchronization can truly be said to produce an almost incomprehensible, yet empirical result;  a superhuman or hyper-human state whereby all manner of physical, mental and spiritual feats are possible. The resultant synchronization of Mind-Body-Universe is nurtured and further cultivated through the ritual and devoted practice of Seienchin and Suparunpei as codified in Jiriki Kata-Do. (See Endnote # 4)

All creatures & matter have energy (Chi)

Ancient man acknowledged and accepted that energy, or spirit, exists in all aspects of the universe. As modern man is unable to exert his control over the natural universal world, he sought to ignore this interconnectivity. Modern man replaced the understanding of the natural order with man-made theological dogma. Jiriki Kata-Do reawakens our acknowledgement of the primordial phenomenon of universal energy accepted by our ancestors and abandoned and cast aside by our modern hubris.

A word of thanks to all at the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo (Bogota, NJ) who shared an intriguing Sanchin Session Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 (Left to Right: Sensei Bob W., Sensei Pablo P., Me, Shihan Ken Z., Sensei Scott Z.) – thanks for a great night. Shihan Zuck is director of the Flanders Isshinryu Do-Kai and a member of American Isshinryu / OIKKA.

In closing, I remain unified in mind and body and through continued devoted practice of Jiriki Kata-Do, synchronized to the energy of the universe within which I exist.

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

  1. Part One of Jiriki Kata-Do can be found in my Sanchin DVD and Book: “Sanchin, Gateway To The Plateau Of Serenity.” Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE
  2. The phrase “Goshin-Do” used to describe this specific style of Karate is a homonym (words that sound similar but have different meanings). Depending on the Kanji, Japanese calligraphy characters, used to write the phrase, Goshin-Do can have two alternative meanings.  The first meaning, which is the generally accepted meaning today for the style Goshin-Do Karate-Do is “Self-defense way of the empty hand way.” However, there is an alternative meaning, based upon the use of a different Kanji for “Go” and “Shin”. That meaning is “Strong-heart empty hand way.”
  3. As I propose in my Sanchin Book, the metaphysical battle of Sanchin was either lost to time as practitioner’s focused merely on the internal aspects of Sanchin, or was deliberately withheld by the most ancient of pre-Sanchin practitioners, the practitioners of Indian Pranayama, prior to Sanchin arriving in China and subsequently Okinawa.
  4. The Kanji for Seienchin is interpreted as, “Calm in the storm, storm in the calm” and, alternatively, “Walk far to quell and conquer.” The Kanji for Suparunpei is interpreted as “108 Hands” which is an acknowledgement of the 108 worldly desires found in the Buddhist traditions.

You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD & Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to fly-fishing by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Wordpress.Com

%d bloggers like this: