Tag Archives: Fischer Chess

KATA & CHESS – 2016 World Chess Championship

11 Nov

Today, in the far reaches of my backyard, New York City, marks the start of the 2016 World Chess Championship. The defending World Champion, GM Magnus Carlsen will defend his title against GM Sergey Karjakin. Photos from Wikipedia.

GM Magnus Carlsen, defending World Champion

GM Magnus Carlsen, defending World Champion


GM Sergay Karjakin

GM Sergey Karjakin

In the past I have posted a few articles on the similarity of kata and chess. Kata being a form of physical chess. My posts were inspired by my own kata practice and various chess tournaments and matches. I am sure this coming word championship will provide fertile ground for more inspiration. In the meantime, here’s a link to some of earlier articles and videos inspired by kata and chess.

FEYNMAN    Dr. Feynman Visits Sensei’s Kata Lab. This post was inspired by the 2015 Sinquefield Chess tournament. In a field of eight of the highest rated chess GM’s GM Levon Aronian emerged victorious. https://senseijohn.me/2015/09/28/dr-richard-feynman-visits-senseis-kata-lab-part-1/

BUNKAI--beauty of move copy   Kata Lab # 4210 – Random Sanchin Kata. This was inspired by the “Fischer-Chess” discussed in the 2014 Sinquefield Chess tournament. https://senseijohn.me/2014/11/03/kata-lab-random-sanchin-kata/

3 commentators   Kata, My Curse? This post was inspired the 2014 Sinquefield Chess tournament. https://senseijohn.me/2014/09/22/kata-my-curse/

Chess fans may wish to visit http://nyc2016.fide.com This site has exceptional coverage on the match, links to live feed of the games, and much more.

Enjoy the match. Respectfully submitted,


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/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2016 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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Kata Lab # 4210: Random Sanchin Kata

3 Nov

BUNKAI--beauty of move copy  “The beauty of a move is not in its appearance, but in the thought behind it.”

Chess Grandmaster Aron Nimzowitsch




Precursor Labs:
Kata Lab: Reverse Sanchin Kata, link: https://senseijohn.me/2014/10/20/kata-lab-reverse-sanchin-kata/

This Kata Lab takes the Reverse Sanchin Kata Lab (a link is above) one step closer to its natural conclusion. The idea for this lab came to me while watching a chess tournament, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup held in St. Louis Missouri. For details, please use this link, Kata – My Curse? https://senseijohn.me/2014/09/22/kata-my-curse/

Experimental analysis (Recommended Reader Experimentation):

  • Perform the movements of Sanchin Kata spontaneously, in a random manner. Do not pre-plan your performance.;
  • This is extremely difficult. Even though the movements are performed in a random manner, they MUST be performed accurately, in the correct stance (for example, the three punches must be executed in a right sanchin stance);
  • You should perform your random Sanchin Kata with a partner observing. The partner must verify that all the movements were performed in the correct stance and the all movements are accounted for (for example, 3 right sanchin stances, 3 left sanchin stances, 2 mawaski-uke with tora-zuki, and the like). If you do not have a partner, you should record video of the performance. You can then watch the video to verify all movements were performed.
  • Once you achieve success, try performing the movements of Tensho Kata in random order.

For your consideration, I have prepared the following video of one example of Random Sanchin Kata, filmed in the spectacular Lower Salt River canyon, Arizona.

Points To Consider & Compare:
Please consider the following points and compare with the points I set forth in the Reverse Sanchin Kata Lab as follows:
In the Reverse Sanchin Kata Lab, I asked you to keep the following points in mind.
1. The movements of reverse Sanchin are calculated or intentional.

2. Even though the movements are performed in reverse order, the breathing pattern is exactly the same, to wit: a step & single move, a step and single move a step and a triple move, a step and a triple move, a step and a single move and a step and a single move.

3. Given the above, of the three battles of Sanchin (Physical, Spiritual and Environmental battles) only the Physical aspect of the kata is changed in reverse Sanchin.

Now, compare each point of reverse Sanchin to the random version of Sanchin.

1. The movements of random Sanchin are (and must be) utterly spontaneous.

2. As the movements are random, the breathing pattern varies with each random performance.

3. Given the above, both the physical and spiritual battles of Sanchin are affected. With increased development of the random Sanchin Kata, you will also affect the metaphysical battle. For those needed a refresher on my definition of the three battles of Sanchin, please see Endnote # 1.

4. Deeply reflect on the concept that although the movements were performed in random order, you can find a pattern hidden within your random Sanchin. For example, though unplanned on my part, the pattern hidden with my video taped performance is 1-3-1-1-3-1.

5. In the future, you can elongate the random Sanchin kata by stepping on each triple move. So, in lieu of remaining in a right sanchin stance for the three punches, you can perform each punch using a separate step BUT ALWAYS in a right sanchin stance. The 3 ridge-hand strikes performed in a left sanchin stances must be performed as separate steps to balance the kata. Notice that the intricacy of any hidden pattern is reduced, exempli gratia (e.g): 1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1.

6. Consider that mathematically, the 6 movements of Sanchin Kata can be performed in 720 random ways (expressed by the mathematical notation: 6! & formula: 1x2x3x4x5x6)

7. You may notice that with a “little” practice of Sanchin Kata, anyone, regardless of martial-arts experience can engage in bunkai (analysis of kata) as I had set forth in my article, Bunkai: A Dirty Little Secret, Link: https://senseijohn.me/2014/08/18/bunkai-a-dirty-little-secret/

Once again, you get from Sanchin (and every other kata) exactly what you put into it. If you consciously (or unconsciously) put in boredom, stagnation and dullness, that is what you will receive in return. You set your kata boundaries and must live within them. If you are bored wit Sanchin and other kata, blame yourself. Period.
If you look at your kata with a wide open imagination, innovation and a pure spirit, you will always find more and more below the surface.

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is


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


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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1. My definition of the three battles of Sanchin are the

  • Physical Battle, the physical movements of the kata;
  • Spiritual Battle, the manner in which Sanchin affects your mental, physiological and emotional state;
  • Metaphysical Battle, the manner in which Sanchin connects you with your external environment and how same affects you.

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Kata – My Curse?

22 Sep

November 3rd, 2014: UPDATE: I have completed the “Kata Lab: Random Sanchin Kata” article and video which was inspired by this article. A link is at the conclusion of the article. Enjoy.

October 20th, 2014: UPDATE: I posted the “Kata Lab: Reverse Sanchin Kata” which is referred to in this post. There are links to the video and full article at the end of this post. Enjoy

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I live for karate kata. It sustains and fulfills me. My desire to share my kata insights beyond the dojo walls led me to start this blog in 2010. In 2013 I introduced Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory. My goal is to stimulate those readers that may have lost interest in kata. (link: https://senseijohn.me/category/kata-laboratory/ ) With my over four decades of karate experience behind it, my Kata Lab is a fresh look for those with tired, uninspired kata eyes.


But, I wonder whether my love for kata is a curse. If it is a curse, then am I wrong to encourage practitioners to passionately pursue kata and bunkai? How can my love for kata be a curse? Here is one example. Coincidentally, it comes from the world of chess which requires as much deep practice and analysis as kata. (See Endnote # 1 for my comparison of chess and kata)

Saturday, August 30th, I was feeling quite ill. I spent most of the day in bed exhausted. Though a mere recreational amateur, I enjoy the game of chess. I had my laptop in the bedroom and was watching a live feed of the highest ranking chess tournament, the 2014 Sinquefield Cup held at the St. Louis Chess Center. The broadcast was moderated by GM (Chess Grandmaster) Yasser Seirawan and WGM (Womens Chess Grand Master) Jennifer Shahade with analysis by GM Maurice Ashley.

3 commentators

I lay in bed, half awake, listening to the games, analysis and commentary. Every so often, I would watch when an innovative move was played, or there was an uncommon analysis. But for the most part, it was background noise. Until, the moderators commented on a game in round six between GM Levon Aronian and GM Fabiano Caruana.


It was noted that GM Levon Aronian was once a world champion of 960 chess. That penetrated my brain. “What the hell is 960 chess?” I wanted to stay under the covers, but I had to know. I pulled back the covers and looked online.

960 chess is also known as “Fischer chess” after world champion GM Bobby Fischer. GM Fischer invented 960 chess. He randomized the starting position of the major pieces on the home ranks (King, Queen, Bishop, Knight and Rook). According to Wikipedia (I have a link in Endnote # 2),

Fischer’s goal was to eliminate what he considered the complete dominance of openings preparation in chess today replacing it with creativity and talent. (My emphasis)

Damn! I had to read that! I kicked off the covers, took my laptop into my office and began to write. My mind was swirling with a kata idea. I had already written a Kata Lab discussing the merits of performing the movements of Sanchin Kata in reverse order. Now, I was haunted by the idea that I could use the concept of Fischer chess to advance that Kata Lab one step further. I thought of a randomized “Fischer-Sanchin” Kata Lab. Worried that I would forget my thoughts, I hurried to write them down. So much for being sick, trying to recuperate in bed.

And that is my kata curse. Ideas and innovation occur at any time; whether you welcome them or not. I would like to say that the motivation for my Kata Laboratory is to motivate you to practice your kata with imagination, talent and creativity. Perhaps; however, I simply want to lure you into the dark depths of my kata curse.

The motto of Sensei John’s Kata Lab is, “Think * Sweat * Experiment.” I’ve thought about the concept of “Fischer-Sanchin.” Now, I’m sweating and experimenting, practicing it daily (another part of the kata curse). Eventually, I’ll post links for both the Reverse Sanchin Kata Lab and the Fischer-Sanchin Kata Lab together with accompanying videos when I finish them.

November 3rd, 2014: I have completed the video and article “Kata Lab: Random Sanchin Kata” which was inspired by this article. Enjoy.

Link to full article (which also contains the video): https://senseijohn.me/2014/11/03/kata-lab-random-sanchin-kata/

October 20th, 2014: I posted the video and article for my “Kata Lab: Reverse Sanchin Kata.” Enjoy.

Link to full article:

Until then, please enjoy two of my Sanchin variants, “Shobu (Combat) Sanchin” filmed with watching vultures and “Four Direction Sanchin.” Both were filmed in 2011 at the beautiful Lower Salt River, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Until the next submission, I remain haunted and cursed by my beloved kata,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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1. I find it interesting that there are other similarities between kata and chess including the following:
A. both have exotic names, for example;
Kata                                   chess opening
Gekisai (To destroy)      Benoni Defense (“Son of my sorrow”)
Seienchin                         Pterodactyl Defense
Suparunpei                      Fried Liver Attack
and so forth

B. both have rankings for experts, black belts are ranked by belt level, chess masters are ranked by ratings points

C. both inspire the most enlightened participants to use their imagination to develop a more creative approach (Fischer chess being one example). Another example is found in the case of GM Seirawan (shown above) who created Seirawan-chess, also known as “Sharper-chess.” For more, please use this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seirawan_chess

2. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on Chess 960: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess960

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 that is dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com


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