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Zanshin (Remaining Mind) -Shibumi Project

23 Feb

 

IMPORTANT:

The goal of performing my Shibumi Kata is to modify your physical, emotional or  psychological state to a more favorable state than prior to such performance. This is true of Sanchin Kata or any karate kata. Once this goal is achieved, you must maintain it for maximum effect. Your modified physical state, from fatigue to exhilaration for example, is readily apparent. A modified emotional or psychological state, from anxiety or depression to a positive state for example, is more subtle.

As to your emotional or psychological state, a martial arts state-of-mind known as Zanshin (pronounced Zohn-shin) is relevant. The kanji for Zanshin translates as “remaining mind.”

Kanji - Zanshin

Kanji – Zanshin

After a kata is performed, Zanshin is invoked by martial artists to maintain a martial state-of-mind. Their mind “remains in the battle.” Within the context of Karate, this means that the mind remains alert to further confrontation wherein one would be required to defend oneself. Once assured that either the continuation of the conflict or attack from another is no longer a threat, the martial artist then returns to his default state-of-mind. I propose that such a default psychological state should be the state of mushin-no-shin.

Within the context of my Shibumi Kata, or Sanchin Kata, Zanshin means that your improved emotional or psychological state is to maintained throughout the rest of your day. Thus if you find you are suffering from a dilatory emotional or psychological state (anxiety, depression, etc.) you should perform one or all of the movements of the Shibumi Kata for the purpose of transforming that state to a more positive state of mind. For example, you may feel physically well but be anxious or depressed. Notwithstanding your physical well-being, you should perform Shibumi for the sole purpose of modifying your mental state. Once Shibumi is performed and your mental state modified, you want to maintain that state. Thus the “remaining mind” of Zanshin.

If you find your mental state deteriorating, you are able to either perform Shibumi Kata again, or if you are unable to then mentally recall the transformative process of the Shibumi techniques.

In extreme emotional or psychological situations Zanshin serves as a bridge to more advanced and aggressive psychological states. An example of one such advanced, aggressive state of mind is that of Tomaranu Kokoro (“Unstoppable Mind”).

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

HANKO-wood

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Caregiver – A Samurai (Shibumi Kata)

25 Jan

IMPORTANT:

 

You are a caregiver. YOU are a Samurai!

Introduction:

You have been entrusted with one of the most essential and defining characteristics of being human – caring for the physical, emotional and psychological well-being of another. Your own physical, emotional and psychological well-being directly affects your ability to care for the well-being of the afflicted person. Therefore, it is essential that you maintain positive physical, emotional and psychological health.

To think that you will simply exist in a positive state during your term as caregiver is an illusion.

  • You will face physical challenges of exhaustion, fatigue and maybe even aches and pains.
  • Emotionally you may have periods of sadness, anxiety, frustration and the like.
  • Psychologically, you may doubt that you are up to the task of giving care, or fear the road ahead and similar thoughts.

You must have a means of modifying these states; an outlet for your physical and emotional challenges. That outlet can be the Shibumi Kata.

First, know your status as caregiver has warrior roots – – –  the Samurai.

The word invokes thoughts of loyal, fearless warriors, or “Bushi,” for whom honor, courage and discipline were self-evident. Loosely translated, the kanji, or calligraphy, for “Samurai” translates as “To serve.” The kanji has also been figuratively translated as “those who serve in close attendance to the nobility.”

samurai kanji-red

As you can see by definition, you as a caregiver are a Samurai!

You should think and act at all times as a descendent of these honorable, courageous and loyal Bushi.

The afflicted person who has been entrusted in your care is akin to the nobility. As they are physically and possibly emotionally debilitated from their illness, treatment (such as chemotherapy) or both. They are noble in their quest to overcome their debilitation. As such, their needs are tantamount to your needs as caregiver.

Their needs come before yours. For example, if they are hungry you must feed them before satisfying your own hunger; if they need assistance in the bath or shower, you must assist whether or not you are fatigued and the like. To this end, you must seek your inner physical and emotional strength and balance.

Need for Shibumi Kata:

In times of physical, emotional or psychological difficulty, you must reach within your inner being and psyche. Use the Shibumi Kata to help you remove these difficulties. You can perform the Shibumi Kata as passively or aggressively as you need to adjust yourself. For example, if you are fatigued physically, or emotionally anxious, you may desire to perform the movements of Shibumi with an aggressive attitude so as to dispel your negative state. Conversely, if you are physically and emotionally well, the Shibumi Kata can be performed as a moving-mediation to maintain or enhance your positive state.

I designed the Shibumi Kata so that you may alter the performance as your needs may require, perform Shibumi

  • as a full kata with the connecting moves, or perform only those sequences that you may require;
  • repeat any sequence as many times as you desire;
  • perform the physical movements as intense or passive as you desire or as you may be capable of performing;
  • concentrate not only on the eight physical movements but also the accompanying psychological modifiers, select those that you feel will help you;

CHECK WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY, INCLUDING SHIBUMI KATA.

Now, go forth and complete your task as a Samurai!

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi, “Understated Elegance,”

HANKO-wood

Sensei John Szmitkowski

invincible summer For details on how to participate in Sensei John’s most recent cyber-group Kata session where you can perform Shibumi as a member of an online community, please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/category/thats-ok/

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

Shibumi Kata – Movements & Psychology

5 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient            link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Kata

This chapter shall descibe the physical movements of the Shibumi Kata (“Understated Elegance Procedure) and the psychological (emotional) techniques that will allow “Dean” to function as normally as possible during his battle with cancer as he manages the dilatory effects of chemotherapy.

The entire Kata is composed of the four sequences being performed four times – once in either each direction of the compass or once in each of the angles between such points. Thus the kata is performed in eight directions.

North

angle                 angle

West          👤          East

angle              angle

South

To separate each sequence, there is a standard connecting movement. Thus the entire Shibumi Kata  is represented by 108 actions/states as follows.

  • 2 groups of four movements = 8 actions
  • 8 actions performed 4 times = 32 movements
  • 32 movements are connected by 4 connecting movements = 36 actions
  • 36 actions capable of being performed in three states (water, ice & steam previously discussed) = 108 actions/states that are possible to assist “Dean” in mitigating his physical and psychological discomforts associated with his condition.

In karate-do, enlightened masters acknowledge that the number 108 has “spiritual” implications. This spirituality is represented in the highest kata of a style of karate known as “Goju-Ryu”. The kata is called “Suparunpei” (pronounced Soup-a-roon-pay)., meaning “108 hands.” It is very interesting to note that this mystic-spirituality of the number 108 is also found within several eastern religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. Even the science of mathematics bows to the number as 108 is an integral part of many mathematic formulas. If you are interested in this topic, simply perform an on-line search and be amazed and bewildered.

The uniqueness of the Shibumi Kata is that while “Dean” can perform the entire kata for his general physical and psychological well-being, he can also perform an individual movement, or sequence, or any combination thereof as a specific need arises. The goal of being able to perform the kata anytime, and anyplace (no matter) how confined (such as a chemotherapy room) has, in my opinion, been fully achieved.

THE SHIBUMI KATA:

Note:

The directions North, South, West and East are used to refer to the directions within which movements are performed. They are NOT tied to the directions of the compass. Whatever direction the performer, “Dean” is facing is deemed North. Thus, the reverse is South, the left is West and the right is East.

Stand ready & Meditate – clear your mind

Sequence # 1: To spit / To Swallow     

To spit:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata start slow. This is to acknowledge that the performer, “Dean” is experiencing some level of physical discomfort, such as fatigue, pain, nausea and the like. These discomforts are then cast-out or “spit” from the body.  Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to ice to steam and once again to water.

Psychological discomfort, depression, anxiety, fear and the like is similarly acknowledged and “spit” from the performer. The key component is that the psychological discomfort MUST first be acknowledged, thus the first movement which is symbolic of this. If discomfort is not acknowledged, “Yes, I am afraid”, it cannot be dealt with!

  • The first movement lowers and expands the body so as to acknowledge and gather the discomfort. The breathing associated with the first movement is soft inhalation – hard exhalation (with as much dynamic tension as is physically possible). The state is that of ice.
  • The next movement is to return the body to the ready position and extend the right hand as quickly and emphatically as possible. This is the “spitting” out of the discomfort. The breathing is hard inhalation – hard exhalation. The state remains as ice.
  • Remaining in place, the hand that symbolized the “spitting” is slowly rotated as a means of symbolically acknowledging that discomfort has left “Dean.’ The breathing for this movement is soft-soft, the state is that of steam.
  • Remaining in position, the hand that “spit” is quickly clapped by the other hand and each hands return to their last position. The breathing is that of soft-hard and the state is that of water. The clap provided two additional sensory experiences for “Dean.” One is the sound of the hand clapping and two is the feel of the clap. This serves to emphasize that discomfort has been “spit-out” by involving these two senses.
  • This above sequence is the performed in the directions of South, West and East. Hands alternate with each direction.
  • With hands remaining in position, turn to the starting direction, North,
  • End of “To Spit”

To swallow:

If there is any physical or psychological discomfort, it is imperative that the movements of “to swallow” be performed AFTER the movements of “To Spit.” The discomfort must first be removed. If; however, “Dean” is having a “Good” moment or day and desires simply to increase his positive physical or psychological state, then “To Swallow” can be performed of its own accord.

Breathing varies as below. The state starts with the default state of water to water (in the form of a tsunami!), ice, steam returning to water

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata start quickly. This is to acknowledge that the performer, “Dean” is physically and psychological in a positive state. He desires to increase this overall feeling by drawing the energy that exists around him.

  • The first movement is to quickly extend the right foot and hand as forcefully as possible, symbolically saying, “I am great!” The breathing is hard-hard and the state is water (perceive a tsunami – a force to be reckoned with!).
  • The right hand is then slowly turned and brought in to the mid-line of the chest area as the right foot is withdrawn to the ready position. Breathing is soft-hard with dynamic tension on the hard exhalation. The state is that of ice. Symbolically, “Dean” will collect the positive energy from the environment around him and “swallow” it.
  • The left hand then claps the right hand. Breathing is soft-soft and the state is steam. Again, the clap serves as an additional sensory input to acknowledge that energy from outside of “Dean” has been “swallowed” within “Dean”
  • The movements are then repeated South (with the left hand), West (with the right hand), and East (with the left hand)
  • With hands remaining in position, turn to the starting direction, North,
  • End of “To Swallow”

Connection Movement

This movement symbolizes that “Dean” has modified his physical and psychological state. “Dean” is then ready to either proceed with the remainder of the Shibumi Kata, or conclude the session as he may desire or need. The Breathing is soft-soft and the state is the default state of water.

  • The feet are brought together and knees are bent, the hands are brought inward with palms facing up.
  • The knees are extended as the hands are pressed out to the side with palms turning to face outward.

Sequence # 2: To Float / To Sink

To float:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata are quick and light. Lightness and grace is the key. In fact I derived this sequence from a karate kata known as Hakutsuru, which means “white crane. The grace and tenacity of the white crane is to be kept within the performer’s consciousness. This is to allow the performer, “Dean”, to either expel negative physical or psychological states or increase positive states.

Like floating on the waves of an ocean or the ripples of a pond, the performer’s existing physical state either 1) floats in with the incoming wave (so as to gather in the positive aspects of nature) or 2) floats away from the performer (so as  to dispel the negative aspects of the performer).

So, if “Dean” is in a positive physical or psychological state, “to float” will allow him to celebrate and be jubilant in that state. If he is in a negative state, this process allows him to cast off the negativity while remaining hopeful that the overall outcome of Shibumi will benefit him.

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to steam to ice (very briefly) to steam and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • From the ready posture (the state is water);
  • Turn to face the North-East angle, raise the right foot to the height of your left knee, cross both arms in front of your abdomen (soft inhale – state is steam);
  • Lower your right foot so that it is slightly in front of your left (try to keep most of your weight on the left foot); raise your arms over your head and extend them to the side (soft exhale, state remains steam);
  • Remain in position, bring both hands into the side of your body, slightly above the hips (soft inhalation, state is steam);
  • Quickly, slide forward with the right leg, (in the N-E direction) so that the right foot is about 12 inches in front of the left foot, quickly thrust both hands forward with fingers pointing outward to the side (hard exhale, state is ice);
  • Step forward with the left foot, so your are in the ready posture, clap hands in front of you and return to the side as in the ready posture (Breathing is soft-hard, state is water);
  • Turn to the South-West angle and repeat with the left leg lifting;
  • Turn to the North-West angle and repeat with the right leg lifting;
  • Turn to the South-East angle and repeat with the left leg lifting;
  • Turn to North in ready posture;
  • End of Sequence

To sink:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata are slow and methodic. As in floating this is to allow the performer, “Dean” to either expel negative physical or psychological states or increase positive states. The process is exactly reverse of the process of floating. Similarly, negative aspects are dispelled and positive aspect enhanced through this process.

To sink an object must either be heavier than water, or increase it’s mass by absorbing water. Similarly, negative aspects are dispelled and positive aspect enhanced through this process.

If “Dean” is in a positive physical or psychological state, he can enhance same by sinking. The process is not celebratory as in floating, rather the process is more austere or subdued. He simply increases and concentrates the positive aspects deeper and deeper within himself. The positive state is enhanced, but quietly, inwardly and not readily apparent to the casual observer. If “Dean” is in a negative state, then in a similar austere manner, the negativity is allowed to fall from him, further and further away, like a water-swollen branch might ultimately sink to the bottom of a lake.

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water stat to ice (never to steam) and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • From the ready posture facing North (state is water)
  • Step forward with the right foot on the NE angle so that your feet are 1 1/2 the width of your shoulders, cross your hands in front of your abdomen (soft inhalation, state is water);
  • Remain in position, uncross your hands and raise them so fingertips are at the height of your shoulders with palms facing you (hard exhalation, state is ice);
  • Remain in position, turn palms inward to face each other (soft inhalation, state is water);
  • Lower your body by bending the knees, press hands downward with palms facing the floor (hard exhalation, state is ice);
  • Step forward with the left foot, so your are in the ready posture, clap hands in front of you and return to the side as in the ready posture (Breathing is soft-hard, state is water);
  • Turn to the South-West angle and repeat stepping with the left leg;
  • Turn to the North-West angle and repeat stepping with the right leg;
  • Turn to the South-East angle and repeat stepping with the left leg;
  • Turn to North in ready posture;
  • End of Sequence

Connection Movement

(Same as above)

Sequence # 3: To Burst / To Rebound

To burst:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata are quick and decisive. To burst means that one knows one’s goal and is determined to achieve it as quickly and decisively as possible. There is NO room for doubt. Success is eminent.

So, if “Dean” is in need of a quick modification of a physical or psychological state, he can immediately and decisively modify the state. Without hesitation he can adapt to he changing needs.

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to steam to ice (very briefly) to steam and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • Ready Posture
  • Face to North-East;
  • Step forward with the right foot, lower your right hand and raise your left hand (soft inhale soft exhale, state is steam)
  • Quickly step forward with your left foot as you rotate your hands to reverse their position, (quick soft inhale & soft exhale-state is steam);
  • Quickly step forward with the right foot pull your hands in and extend them out with finger tips to the side (soft inhale & hard exhale – state is ice)
  • Clap hands as you return to ready posture (state is water)
  • Repeat facing the South-West raising your left foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the North-West raising your right foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the South-East raising your left foot and continue;

To bounce:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata, while smooth and light, contain a “caesurae”, a dramatic pause.  To bounce means that one knows unconditionally the physical or psychological state he desires to achieve; however, while he is decisive about the state he wishes to achieve, he cannot directly achieve it. Like a ball that bounces to its target. The performer needs to bounce off a temporary physical or emotional state so as to achieve the desired state.

For example, if “Dean” is physically fatigued or emotionally sad and desires to be energetic or upbeat, he may not be able to directly achieve this goal (as in the case of “To Burst”). He may find it necessary to find a temporary state and “bounce” off that state in order to ultimately modify his condition. One such temporary state could be anger. Positive anger can produce helpful results. If “Dean” is angry about his condition, then he can acknowledge that, briefly absorb it and move onto his positive state. “Yes, getting cancer is terrible and unfair, and I am angry about it but, I will conquer it!”

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to steam to ice and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • Ready Posture;
  • Face to the North-East
  • Step slightly with the right foot, pull hands (soft inhale) & extend out with fingers to the side (soft exhale) (state is steam):
  • Step with the left foot outward (feet are in line), (soft inhale) lower body and bring hands inward so finger tips touch opposite elbows (hard exhale – ice state);
  • Quickly step back with the left leg (feet in line) and thrust hands outward to the side (quick soft inhale-quick hard exhale) state is ice;
  • Return to ready posture as you clap hands (state is water);
  • Repeat facing the South-West starting with your left foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the North-West starting with your right foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the South-East starting your left foot and continue;

Connection Movement

(Same as above)

Sequence # 4: To Spring / To Lift

To spring:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata are quick and light. Lightness and grace is the key. This sequence from a karate kata known as Hakutsuru, which means “white crane. The grace and tenacity of the white crane is to be kept within the performer’s consciousness.

To spring is similar to the sequence entitled “To burst” with one notable exception. While “to burst” is energetic and emphatic, “to spring” is subdued and patient. The performer seeks to directly modify his physical or emotional state, changing from one directly to another; however, the overall method is achieved slowly, subtly and with patience.

“Dean” can still directly modify his physical or emotional state’ however, this direct modification will take longer than if he employed the “to burst” tactic. As a spring must contract and gather its energy before action, so too must the performer. The hallmark of “to spring” is patience.

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to steam, very briefly to ice and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • Ready Posture
  • Face to North;
  • Raise right foot & lower slightly in front of your left as you extend hands upward over your head finger tips touching (soft inhale soft exhale, state is steam)
  • Quickly step forward with your left foot as you lower hand downward, palms down (quick soft inhale & soft exhale-state is that of steam);
  • Quickly step forward with the right foot as you turn hands so fingertips point down and raise upward (quick soft inhale & quick hard exhale – state is ice)
  • Clap hands as you return to ready posture (state is water)
  • Repeat facing the South raising your left foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the West raising your right foot and continue;
  • Repeat facing the East raising your left foot and continue;

To lift:

As seen in the video below, the movements of this aspect of the Shibumi kata are designed to modify oneself physically and psychologically through determination. As in the act of lifting an object, the performer needs to prepare himself to lift a heavy object (or burden). Once prepared, if the object(or burden) is heavier than anticipated, it may not be lifted on the first attempt. One needs to regroup and lift again, this time fully aware of the weight to be lifted. Ultimately, he will succeed and the burden will be lifted. This is shown in the repetitive nature of the first two movements. The third movement symbolizes success.

In “Dean’s” case, if he should need to alter his physical or psychological state using the “to lift” concept. He prepares himself first. “Dean” needs to remember that if his physical or psychological burden is “to heavy”, he should immediately regroup and attempt (to lift) again. Ultimately “Dean” will succeed.

Breathing varies as below and the states move from the default water state to steam to ice and once again to water. The act of clapping hands once again serves as an additional sensory stimulus (involving the sense of touch and hearing) to increase awareness of the modified state.

  • From the Ready posture;
  • Facing North:
  • Step forward with the right foot, keeping most of the weight on the left leg, bring both hand to the left hip (soft inhale – state is steam);
  • Swing the hands to the right bringing the right hand to the right side and left hand over your head (soft exhale – state is steam);
  • Step with the left leg and repeat from the opposite side;
  • Step forward with the right leg, weight is equal on both feet, pull hands into side and thrust out with fingertips to the side (soft inhale-hard exhale – state is ice);
  • Turn to the South and repeat stepping with the left leg;
  • Turn to the West and repeat stepping with the right leg;
  • Turn to the East and repeat stepping with the left leg;

Connection Movement

(same as above)

This last connection is important for the Zanshin state-of-mind – please see the “Table Of Contents” using either the above link or “Shibumi Kata” page tab.

Stand ready – meditate

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

© Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Shibumi – Kata Tactics: Physical Movements – 8 Ancient Concepts

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient            link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Tactics (Physical Movements OF Kata):

The tactics employed in the Shibumi kata to modify “Dean’s” depleted physical condition associated with cancer and chemotherapy and the psychological effects of fighting the disease are ancient in nature. These principles date back in time to the earliest formulation of the martial arts.

It has been said that there are eight primordial principles that envelope the martial arts and karate. These principles have been delineated in an ancient martial text called “The Bubishi”. The principles are also inferred within the martial work known as the “Eight Poems Of The Chinese Fist.” (See below for the full text of the poems).

I have used these eight ancient principles to create the foundation for the physical movements and psychological and emotional aspects of the Shibumi Kata.

I have grouped the eight principles into four sequences. Each sequence has two competing principles. The physical movements and psychological aspects of each sequence provide a varied means of modifying the performers physical and emotional states. The performer can either select a specific sequence as he determines his needs at any point in time or he may elect to perform the entire Shibumi Kata by performing all four sequences in the recommended order. Each group is discussed in detail in the foregoing chapters.

Using their historical names, the four sequences (in recommended order) containing the eight primordial principles are:

Sequence # 1:

  •      To swallow;
  •      To spit;

Sequence # 2:

  •      To float;
  •      To sink;

Sequence # 3

  •      To burst;
  •      To bounce;

Sequence # 4:

  •      To spring;
  •      To lift.

An exact description of the physical movements and psychological states that I ascribe to each of the above follows in the foregoing chapters.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI-snow-daffodil

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

The “Eight Poems Of The Chinese Fist” are as follows:

  • 1. Jinshin wa tenchi ni onaji.
  • The mind is one with heaven and earth.
  • 2. Ketsumyaku wa nichigetsu ni nitari.
  • The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the cycle of the sun and the moon.
  • 3. Ho wa goju no donto su.
  • The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness.
  • 4. Mi wa toki ni shitagai hen ni ozu.
  • Act in accordance with time and change.
  • 5. Te wa ku ni ai sunawachi hairu.
  • Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.
  • 6. Shintai wa hakarite riho su.
  • The feet must advance and retreat, separate and meet.
  • 7. Me wa shiho womiru wa yosu.
  • The eyes must not miss even the slightest change.
  • 8. Mimiwa yoku happo wo kiku.
  • The ears listen well in all eight directions.

Shibumi – Kata Framework: Inner Energy

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient            link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Concept of Bio-energy:

Externally physical and psychological change is facilitated by bodily movement. Internally change is facilitated by directing your body’s inner energy. In ancient times this inner energy was referred to as “Chi” or “Ki”. In modern times these terms are still utilized in specific fields of endeavor.  I call this energy simply “Bio-energy.” BIO-energy resides within your “Hara” or belly. The exact point is located slightly below the belly button.

The ability to transport bio-energy within the confines of one’s own body is an integral component of the Shibumi Kata. In short, this is the ability to expand and contract one’s bio-energy from the Hara to the physical boundary of the entire human body. While the physical movements of the Shibumi Kata are somewhat easy to begin to learn, the internal transport of one’s bio-energy will take faith, time, energy and commitment to learn.

To learn to contract and expand your bio-energy, you must first perceive that it exists. It is important that you do not “visualize” your bio-energy. Visualization is wholly inadequate. Visualization is the mere physical effect of light passing through your eyes to the organ known as the brain where the light is processed. Every organ has a function (the stomach to digest, the heart to circulate blood, and the like). The higher function of the brain is the mind. It is the mind that processes the light from the eyes to form a recognizable pattern. It is this higher brain function, the mind, that is used to perceive the existence and movement of bio-energy within your body. Thus, you do not use your brain to visulaize the movement of bio-energy in your body, you use your mind to perceive such movement.

You must start to perceive its existence and residence within the Hara. As you inhale (in any of the manner previously discussed) perceive and be aware of your own energy. Perceive it contained in the Hara. As you exhale (again in any of the described manner), perceive that the bio-energy flows from your Hara throughout your body. The effect if that of filling and deflating a balloon. The ballon starts empty, symbolizing the bio-energy residing in the Hara. As you exhale, thus filing the balloon, the bio-energy flows to all points of your body and is bounded only by your skin. Again, like air fills the entire balloon.

The expansion and contraction of bio-energy is a fundamentally important internal process of the Shibumi Kata. The awareness of bio-energy and its flow can only be achieved through dedicated practice.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI-lotus sunset

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Shibumi – Kata Framework: Posture

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient             link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Kata Posture:

As a condition precedent to learning the tactics (physical movements) of the Shibumi Kata, it is necessary to explore the mechanics of your posture. The exploration of posture begins with the act of standing erect. This is to say that one stands with one‘s head held high, eyes focused straight ahead, shoulders parallel to the floor and the back is straight. Though this is a common posture, standing erect has a very specific meaning.

Posture correction:

The point of departure from the normal meaning associated with standing erect is the function of standing with one’s back straight. Normally, one physically defines the back as straight by elongating the spine, by expanding the upper chest outward and elevating the shoulders upward. Such a definition is not adequate within the Shibumi Kata.

When one stands in the manner described above and places one’s hands in the small of the back, one notices that the small of the back is not straight but curved. This curvature is natural and helps to support the body through the spine. It is; however, improper for the Shibumi Kata.

To stand erect for purposes of the Shibumi Kata, the natural curvature of the spine must be temporarily straightened. To manipulate the back into a straight position, one should perform the following exercise.

Stand relaxed with both feet shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Slightly bend your knees. The technique to straighten your back is to squeeze the cheeks of the buttocks tight and to rotate the hips down and forward. Now your spine is straight. Take a moment to try this movement then feel your lower back with your hand. If you have performed the hip rotation properly, you will notice that such rotation has removed the natural curvature of your spine so that your spine is now straight from top to bottom. This is the erect posture necessary for the Shibumi Kata. You can practice achieving this posture by standing as above and rotating your hips to achieve the posture and then subsequently relaxing the hips so as to again achieve natural curvature of the spine. Repeat this a few times to begin to have a feeling of comfort with the posture.

The above posture will be used throughout all of the stances and postures of the Shibumi Kata.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI-lotus sunset

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Shibumi – Kata Framework: Breathing

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient             link:  https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Kata Breathing

In order to perform Shibumi Kata for optimum effect it is necessary to breath efficiently. To do so requires breathing in a natural method and in an appropriate manner.

Breathing Methodology:

At birth we breathed naturally. In a desire to breath better than nature intended, we devolved our breathing into what we perceived as more efficient.

To illustrate this point, stop reading and take a deep breath. The majority of you probably sought to ‘fill your lungs with air” by expanding your upper chest, raising your shoulders, arching your back and contracting your abdomen. Some of you may have even accomplished this deep breath by inhaling through the mouth. This method of inhalation and exhalation is unnatural, inefficient and must be corrected immediately.

The methodology of Shibumi Kata breathing is a three step process. First is the development of the natural method of inhalation and exhalation. The second step is the method of deep abdominal breathing. The third and final step is the manner of breathing.

Inhalation and exhalation:

You must now remember a very basic, but all to often forgotten, cardinal rule of breathing, to wit: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Without giving a lesson in biology, the nose was specifically designed for the inhalation of oxygen and the other beneficial gases contained within our atmosphere.

To facilitate proper inhalation and exhalation, I have developed is an easy technique.

Consciously make an effort to inhale through the nose. While inhaling, close your mouth and emphatically press your tongue upwards against the roof of your mouth. By performing this maneuver, it is difficult, if not impossible, to open your mouth and breath in. Therefore, the only alternative means available for inhalation is to utilize the nose for its intended purpose. Now to complete the act of breathing, you will need to exhale. To exhale you open your mouth and allow the air to flow outward. You do not exhale through the nose. To facilitate the use of the mouth during exhalation, as you open your mouth, emphatically press the tongue downward against the bottom of your mouth. By using your tongue in this manner, you will be physically conscious of the manner in which you inhale and exhale. You may note that your exhalation now produces a somewhat audible sound. This sound is akin to a mild roar, much like the sound of ocean surf.

Continue to practice inhaling and exhaling in this manner. When the act of breathing again occurs naturally through the nose and out the mouth, you can de-emphasize the emphatic use of your tongue as described above.

Abdominal breathing:

The next step in the physical process of Shibumi Kata breathing is to efficiently fill your lungs with air. Please take careful note that I did not define this step as filling your chest with air. Filling the chest cavity with air implies the use of only the upper portion of the lungs, and does not therefore fill the lungs with air. As a direct result, there is an inefficient exchange of gases within the body. To achieve efficiency, you need to inhale and exhale through the lower abdomen.

The following simple exercise is designed to acquaint you with this concept. Lie down on your back and relax. While lying on your back, rest your hands, palms down, on your lower abdomen, commonly referred to as your “belly“. This placement of the hands does not facilitate breathing, rather, your hands will provide an added sensory indication of the proper breathing method through the sense of touch.

Open your mouth, as previously described, relax your belly and allow the natural force of gravity to decompress your belly, thus expelling air through your mouth. Keep your hands in contact with your belly and allow your hands to lower with your belly. Now, close your mouth, pressing your tongue on its roof and inhale through the nose. As you inhale, willfully direct the air to the lower belly so as to force it to expand and rise upwards. Keep your hands in contact with your belly and allow your hands to rise with your belly. You will again exhale by opening your mouth, pressing your tongue downward, relaxing and decompressing your belly so as to exhale. Allow your hands to lower and decompress with your belly. The duration of exhalation should be slightly longer than the inhalation. Both processes should be completely relaxed. Continue to breathe in this manner for a period of about five minutes.

As you practice this breathing you can increase the duration of the floor exercise to about five minutes. You can also remove the hands from your belly and place them in a relaxed position at the sides of your body.

As you become accustom to this method of inhalation and exhalation, you can perform the exercise while in the standing position. Stand in a relaxed manner with your feet shoulder width apart and the knees slightly bent. Keep your head raised and your back straight (there will be more discussion on that directive later). Place your hands at your side and begin the abdominal breathing. Again, if necessary, you may place your hands on your belly to facilitate the sense of proper breathing. At this juncture, you will begin breathing more naturally and efficiently. You can and should now incorporate this breathing methodology into your daily routine. We have all experienced points in time throughout our day where either we told ourselves, or were told by others, to “Relax and take a deep breath.” Well, my dear readers, now you know how to properly do just that!

Manner of breathing:

The next phase in the Shibumi breathing is to perform the act of inhalation and exhalation in a specific manner. In  Karate-Do we referred to the manner of breathing as either “Hard” or “Soft“. It is important to remember that the methodology of inhalation and exhalation remains the same as described above. Only the manner of breathing is altered as follows.

Soft breath is a relaxed form of breathing. The body remains relaxed as air is gently inhaled in a steady manner. Once inhalation is complete, exhalation begins. During the process of exhalation, the body remains relaxed and air is expelled softy and in a steady manner. The process then begins a new.

Hard breath is the direct opposite of soft breath. The inhalation of air is swift and crisp. Hard inhalation is, therefore, more audible than soft inhalation. During inhalation, the body remains relaxed. Once inhalation is complete, exhalation occurs in a prolonged and crisp manner. This results in an audible “roar” that sounds much like the surf in the ocean.

Hard exhalation is coupled with a state of movement known as “dynamic tension“. Dynamic tension generally means that the ALL muscles are hardened, sinew and tendons are strengthened and the abdomen is tight and hard. The process of exhalation is more prolonged than the process of inhalation.

When breathing is combined with the three states of the Shibumi strategy, we can see that:

The default (everyday state) water state involves soft inhalation & hard exhalation or hard inhalation with soft exhalation. The “hard” aspect involves dynamic tension.

The steam state involves soft inhalation with soft exhalation (and a gentle flow of the muscles).

The ice state involves hard inhalation and hard exhalation with a dynamically tensed body.

In the Shibumi Kata, the three states flow with the breath to combine with the tactics (the physical movements movements of Shibumi) to control and modify your physical and psychological state.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI-snow-daffodil

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

© Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Shibumi – Kata Framework: Strategy

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient

link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Kata Framework:

The framework upon which I am building the Shibumi Kata (with direct inout from “Dean”) is as follows:

1. The strategy by which “Dean” will modify his physical and psychological state to offset the dilatory effects of cancer in general and specifically chemotherapy;

2. The conduit from translating the strategy to the actual tactics used in such modification;

3. The tactics, or the specific means which will enable “Dean” to achieve his goals of modifying his physical and psychological states.

Strategy:

The strategy employed by the Shibumi kata is grounded the most elemental aspect of nature, namely the three states of matter. All matter exists in three states: solid, liquid and gas. To assist “Dean”, I have ascribed a very simple symbolism with each state. The three states shall be represented by water, steam and ice.

All three states modify their existing environment. By adapting a state, “Dean” chooses the means by which he interacts with the environment.

The three states shall be applied to Shibumi as follows.

Water State:

The “Water State” is the default state. It is the state that is desired at all times. Like water, this state is completely flexible and bounded only by the container. As a glass contains water, a river bed contains a steam and the shores contain an ocean, the environment within which Dean exists at any moment in time shall be the sole boundary within which he is confined. This is to say that as “Dean” defines his boundary, so he defines his limits.

This concept may be understood by the following example.

During chemotherapy, “Dean” shall be placed in a private room, in a comfortable chair and have the chemotherapy chemicals delivered into a port (previously placed on “Dean’s” chest).  “Dean”, like an average person, may choose to define his limits as the confines of that room.  In nature, absent an “effect” (such as an event that causes a tsunami, for example) water modifies its boundary slowly, steadily and over time. Thus in this state “Dean” acquiesces to and accepts his situation both physically and psychologically.

While accepting it, he also fully understands that with patience, he can modify himself physically and psychologically. He can modify how he chooses to perceive his physical environment, in this case the room for chemotherapy. He can also modify his external environment and situations that confront him. For example, a rainy “depressing” “gloomy” day can be welcomed as a means for bringing life-giving water. An irritable person encountered during the course of a day, while initially irritating, can be viewed as a positive experience by understanding the contrast emotion – by contrast to irritability, “Dean’s” composure can be savored.

Modification Of the Water State:

“Dean” may need to psychologically modify his water state. To so benefit, he may choose to contract his perception of that which confines him within his own mind. For example, in the water state, “Dean” may consider himself confined to the chemotherapy room. If he contracts his perception, he would limit his confinement to the chair he sits in rather than the room within which lays the chair. He may also expand his psychological view of his confinement. In this instance, “Dean” may consider himself confined  not to either the chair or the room for chemotherapy, but rather to the Hospital within which the room is contained. Such expansion and contraction is achieved through the “Steam State” and the “Ice State”

Steam State:

The Steam State is a lighter, more adaptable state. As water turns to steam, its boundaries are lessened; steam flows and exists more freely than water. By adapting the steam state, “Dean” can lighten any physical or psychological burden.

To accomplish this, “Dean” will perceive steam being absorbed by its unbounded environment. If for, example “Dean” suffers from a specific discomfort, say a pain in his chest from the burning effect of the chemotherapy drugs, he can dissipate the pain by perceiving it as flowing through and out of his entire body and not just contained within his chest. Similarly, if “dean” suffers from a depressed state, he can dissipate the state by recognizing it exists and allowing it to envelope him so as to expel it from him. Steam affects its environment quickly and profoundly. A fast burst of steam can drive a steam engine, a quick burst of steam can burn and scar human skin. As such, by lightening his physical and psychological state from the water state, “Dean” can quickly modify himself and the effect his surroundings have upon him.

Ice State:

The ice state is a compressed, hard state. As water turns to ice, it compresses and solidifies its molecules. Similarly, the ice state will allow “Dean” to contract within himself. In effect, he will take a generalized physical or psychological state contract it and ultimately “lock it away.” The most common side effect of “Dean’s” chemotherapy is a generalized fatigue and malaise. Such side effect will effect “Dean’s” water state. “Dean” can contract these general feelings (turn them to ice, if you will) thereby removing the generalization of same throughout his body. Once reduced from a larger state to a smaller state, these effects can be compartmentalized, managed and expelled from within “Dean”

The next chapter looks at the catalyst for the strategy – the act of breathing.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI - bonzai lake

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Shibumi – What Is Kata?

4 Dec

IMPORTANT:

The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient             link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Update on “Dean’s” condition: (Where relevant, provided so that you may identify with Dean’s cancer & participation in Shibumi) —–Dean had his first post-operative meeting with his surgeon-oncologist. Originally chemotherapy was to start in thirty days from the surgery. Dean; however, has made excellent post-operative recovery. As such, chemotherapy will start next week; three weeks ahead of schedule. The frequency will be one chemo treatment per week with a duration of 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours for a period of eighteen weeks. Since surgery, Dean has made a great effort to walk and breath in the manner described below. He is now ready to begin the first sequence of Shibumi described in the chapter of the same name.

====

What is Kata?

As the Shibumi Kata is designed for the non-martial artist I thought it appropriate to acquaint the reader with the concept of “Kata”.

Kata is a martial arts formal exercise composed of prescribed sequences of karate-do movements performed in a set pattern. Many daily activities could be considered, to some extent, as kata; to wit: dancing, football plays, the rhythm of casting in fly fishing, a golf swing, and the like.

So, how does kata differ from these activities? Kata differs in one significant respect. The purpose of kata is martial in nature. The movements are designed primarily for the purpose of defending oneself. In addition to this primary benefit, as with the above activities, kata has the secondary benefit of promoting physical and psychological well-being. Thus, kata is a martial procedure with the side benefit of promoting physical and mental health.

The Shibumi Kata is unique in that I am creating it with the primary purpose of promoting and maintaining the physical and psychological well being of one person,“Dean” as he endures the rigors of cancer and chemotherapy, with the secondary benefit of martial efficacy (the movements are self-defense in nature). If martial efficacy was absent then (properly so) Shibumi could not be considered a Kata.

The “Three Aspects” of kata.

Within most karate curriculum is an ancient and treasured kata known as “Sanchin Kata.” Sanchin translates as “three battles.” Within this context the word “battle” does not refer to fighting. Rather, it refers to three aspects of our human condition. These aspects are required for life and permeate each and every second of our existence. They are, breathing, bodily movement and a state of mind.

Notwithstanding that these three battles are highlighted and augmented in the Sanchin Kata, they permeate each and every kata. Similar to the ideology of Sanchin, the three battles form an integral part of the Shibumi Kata. They are the exact means by which physical and psychological wellness will be achieved.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

 

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

A Kata Rx – Shibumi

1 Dec

SHIBUMI-snow-daffodil

A close acquaintance, I’ll call him “Dean” (after Jack Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty), has asked me to do something.

Dean recently learned that he has (stage 3C) cancer. He underwent an eight hour abdominal surgery and now faces chemotherapy starting in about a month.

Dean has asked me to create a kata that will help him heal from surgery and build himself up to withstand the dilatory effects of the chemotherapy. Most importantly, he has asked that the kata not only address his changing physical needs, but also takes into account his changing psychological needs.

In effect, Dean has asked for a kata prescription.

To be sure, many kata have physical and psychological healing properties. However, the concept of “Take one Seienchin for strength and two Suparunpei for depression” simply will not work under Dean’s circumstances. To my knowledge, such a task of devising a kata for the specific needs of one individual has not previously been undertaking in karate-do. This project is the culmination of my ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (Salvation From Within Oneself Through Kata).

Dean has provided the parameters for this assignment and I have added one of my own.

Dean has requested:

  • The kata be specifically created for his individual physical and psychological health needs;
  • While it will be created by me drawing upon my karate-do and kobudo experience, Dean will actively contribute ideas during the creative process;
  • The movements, breathing and concepts must be easy to learn by a person with no karate-do experience;
  • The kata must be usable by not only Dean, but also his caregiver;
  • Dean must be able to perform the kata in a limited space, in any environment, and at anytime;
  • The kata must be flexible so as to allow Dean to adjust for his oft-changing physical and psychological needs;
  • To this, I added the following requirement (not important to Dean) – while the main purpose of the kata is Dean’s physical/ psychological (spiritual) health, like any kata, it must have martial efficacy (else it would not qualify as a “kata”).

Hubris does not compel me to share this prescriptive concept of kata with you. Rather, I hope it awakens in you the idea to use your karate-do skills to develop a kata for the curative help of a person in physical or psychological need. As in Dean’s case, these efforts should be in conjunction with his physician.

The name of the prescriptive kata for Dean shall be

Shibumi” meaning “Understated elegance.”

Posts related to Shibumi shall be submitted in a new category of the same name. Again, though shared with you, these posts are directed towards Dean and his battle with cancer.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

HANKO

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/

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/

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© Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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 ***

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