Tag Archives: Altering Perceptions

Kata Lab # 4260 – Kata & Perception – A Puzzle

18 Jan

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Un homme se définit aussi bien par ses comédies que par ses élans sincères.” (“A man defines himself by his make-believe as well as by his sincere impulses.”) Albert Camus



This Kata Lab is based on an episode of one of my favorite television shows, “Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman.” The specific episode was entitled “Mysteries Of The Subconscious.” It featured an experiment devised by Dr. Alan Snyder of the Center For The Mind in Sydney, Australia. The experiment looked to test a method of altering the brain’s perceptions (See Endnote # 1 for details of the experiment).

It occurred to me that Dr. Snyder’s experiment can be it can be used to test my theory that kata can be used to alter brain perception. (See Endnote # 2) There have been studies as to enhanced brain function resulting from zazen (seated mediation) and prayer, most notably the experiments of Dr. Andrew Newberg, M.D. (See Endnote # 3) My idea that kata, like prayer can stimulate specific areas of the brain is by far no “leap of faith.” I have previously submitted the idea that kata is the functional equivalent of the Apostle Matthew’s “inner room.” (See Endnote # 4) Not withstanding the effects of kata as analogous to prayer, no experimentation has been done as to kata and enhanced brain function. Dr. Synder’s experiment offers a means to test this enhanced brain function as it relates to kata.

The Experiment:

As in Dr. Snyder’s experiment, there are a series of puzzles which you are to solve. Each puzzle is written in matchsticks using roman numerals and depicts an incorrect mathematical equation. You are to move the position of ONE matchstick to correct the equation. For example, the first puzzle, as written is 1 + 3 = 9. You must move any one matchstick to correct the equation.

Puzzle # 1


Puzzle # 2


Puzzle # 3


Puzzle # 4


Most of you can solve the first three puzzles. Many of you will have experienced difficulty in solving the final puzzle; in fact, many will not be able to solve the puzzle at all. This is because the final puzzle requires the use of the creative areas of your brain. Kata will be used to stimulate specific areas of your brain. After stimulation, you should then be able to correctly solve the puzzles.

Kata Guidelines:

  • It must be remembered that the fuel of the brain is oxygen; in order to function properly and efficiently, the body needs to maximize the exchange of oxygen to the brain. Thus while my theory applies to any karate-do kata, it is more evident when kata based upon deep abdominal breathing and bodily movement are performed. To this end, certain kata derived from Goju-ryu, Pang-Noon-Gai-ryu or Uechi-Ryu are preferred. My personal favorite (in general terms) is what I call my “Sacred Trinity” Kata; performing Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei Kata as one kata.
  • Your choice of kata and combinations thereof will require continued future performance of this and other Kata Labs designed to alter perception. In fact, you should have performed all of the “Spiritual” Kata Labs before attempting this experiment. Please refer to the Table Of Contents using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

Your Experiment:

  • Choose your kata in accord with the above guidelines;
  • Your kata should be deeply and sincerely performed; NO interruption should be tolerated;
  • Practice should be continual for at least one-half hour; do no stop (if you must catch your breath slow your pace and decrease the intensity of the kata, but keep active). You should strive to use your kata to enter “your inner room and close the door”;
  • After your practice, try to solve the puzzles;
  • More than one kata-problem solving session may be required to achieve success. Do not give up if your first attempt does not result in success.

Solutions to the puzzle are posted in Endnote # 5.


This Kata Lab is but one of many gateways to start to explore how kata can alter your brain’s perception and empirically test same. It is intentionally submitted in general terms to stimulate your own self-exploration of kata. Realizing that that is a formidable task, I have set forth my own specific kata regime to alter perception in great detail in Kata Lab # 4270 – A Kata Riddle.


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

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1. The experiment required a subject to solve a series of mathematical puzzles. The first few puzzles required the subject to make use of the analytical areas of their brain. These puzzles were solved with relative ease. The solution to the next series of puzzles required the subject to use the creative area of their brains. These puzzles presented difficulty, which, more often than not, resulted in the puzzles being unsolved. Dr. Snyder then stimulated the brain’s creative areas with electrical impulses and the subjects were able to solve the puzzles.

2. My theory is codified in a philosophy I call Jiriki Kata-Do (“JK-D”). For those unfamiliar with the term, JK-D is my dynamic-philosophy of using kata to attain well-being from within oneself. Well-being in this context is physical, spiritual (state-of-mind, emotions and psyche) and environmental (how your environment interacts with you and vice-versa). To understand the manner in which I conceived of Jiriki Kata-Do from the practice of Goshin-Do Karate-Do, please feel free to read the following article: https://senseijohn.me/2011/10/02/jiriki-kata-do-an-epiphenomenon-of-goshin-do-karate/

3. You are wholeheartedly encouraged to read Dr. Newberg’s experiments, findings and conclusions contained in his book: Newberg, Andrew, M.D., D’Aquill, Eugene, M.D., Ph.D. And Rause, Vince, Why God Won’t Go Away: Brain Science & The Biology Of Belief (Ballantine Book, New York, NY 2001).

4. “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.” . . . “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray. . .” Matthew 6:5-6 (Emphasis added).

5. Solutions to the Puzzles:

puzzle-1          puzzle-2

puzzle-3          puzzle-4

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