Tag Archives: Frederich Nietzsche

Kata Lab # 2220: Refreshing Recollection With Kata

21 Jul


“I have done that,” – says my memory. “I cannot have done that,” – says my pride, and remains adamant. At last – memory yields. (See Endnote # 1)

Welcome to this installment in my Kata Laboratory Series, Kata Lab # 2220: Refreshing Recollection With Kata ©



For those readers who have no experience with the spiritual bunkai (analysis) of kata, the following kata laboratory identifies a very simple means to practice kata so as to introduce you to the topic.

Please remember that spiritual bunkai of kata does not refer to religious, or supernatural states. Rather, spiritual bunkai refers to the method by which kata affects internal non-physical processes which include, but are not limited to emotions, states-of-mind (mushin, zanshin, nenjuushin and the like) and levels of awareness.

Exploring the spiritual bunkai of kata is markedly different from exploring the physical bunkai of kata. One area of divergence is that physical bunkai always requires a partner whereas spiritual bunkai need not require a partner, but always requires visualization.


One of the most basic means of stimulating our state-of-mind is to recollect past memories. We can readily recollect these memories while they remain fresh in our minds. As time progresses, or as we involuntarily “choose” to suppress them, such memories are not so easily recalled.

During my years as a trial attorney, I had many opportunities to confront uncooperative witnesses. At times, these witnesses could not recall past events. It was my obligation to refresh these witnesses recollections as to what they had experienced. Refreshing recollection could come in the form of sounds, smells and any other sensory-based stimulus. There is; however, one form of refreshing recollection that lay outside the legal boundaries of a trial, using kata to refresh recollection.

As an aficionado of kata, I developed a practical means of experiencing the spiritual nature of kata using kata to refresh your recollection of a past memory. Kata can, and often is, associated with:

  • people – (the person that taught you the kata, tested you, practiced with you or simply watched you perform a certain kata) (See Endnote # 2);
  • places – (any location within or external to the Dojo wherein you performed the kata, the more unique the location, the more vivid the memory)(See Endnote # 3);
  • things – (unique physical objects associated with a kata) (See Endnote # 4).
  • events – (tournaments, funeral ceremonies, memorials, rank tests wherein the kata was performed) (See Endnote # 5).
Memories Circa 1974: myself & others with Sensei Nick D'Antuono & my first trophies for kata (Gekisai) & kumite.

Memories Circa 1974: myself & others with Sensei Nick D’Antuono & my first trophies for kata (Gekisai) & kumite.

To this end, I submit the following Kata Laboratory.

Kata Laboratory (Recommended Reader Experimentation):

The following is my procedure to experiment with kata as a means of refreshing your recollection. It allows you to begin to experience kata not as a physical endeavor, but as a spiritual art.

1. Prior to kata practice, think about a person, place, thing or event associated with the kata. It helps immensely if the memory is directly linked to a specific kata. The above examples may help you choose such a memory.

2. Practice your kata concentrating on the past event you associate with the kata. Unconsciously perform the physical movements of the kata while being hyper-conscious of your mental recollection of the event associated with the kata. Your recollection should contain as much detail as possible;

3. Repeat as many times as you would like;

4. After concluding the kata session, remain in a state of zanshin (remaining mind); however, do not remain in a state of mind as to the kata, rather, remain in zanshin as to your refreshed recollection.


Using kata as a means of refreshing your recollection of a past event is advantageous for many reasons including, but not limited to

  • Introduces bunkai (analysis) of the spiritual component of kata as defined above;
  • Stimulates an awareness of the internal cognitive aspect of kata (versus physical aspect);
  • Provides a foundation for incorporating more advanced spiritual bunkai (analysis) of kata.

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. Nietzsche, Frederich, Beyond Good And Evil, Maxims and Interludes, Maxim number 68.

2. Video of my Sanchin Hatsu Bon in Memory of Shihan Wayne Norlander

3. Video of my Nami-Kiribi (Cutting-Wave) Kata performed on vacation in Cape Cod, MA 

4. Video of Seienchin performed in an evening lightening & thunderstorm

5. Video of Sanchin (shobu Version) during an “event” with vultures

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

You may enjoy the Goshin-Do Karate-Do blog using the following link: WWW.DeFeliceRyu.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

KAMAWANU – Accept The Challenge

4 Jul

Our vanity would have just that which we do best count as that which is hardest for us. . . (See Endnote # 1)

While the above commentary was made in the late 1800’s by Friedrich Nietzsche, it seems to have become the raison d’etre for modern society. Today, preservation of the status quo, political correctness and conformity have so imbued our individual and societal persona that we have all become weakened. So that we don’t “Rock the boat”, we languish in our conformity and hide from challenge. While fully believing to the contrary, we no longer seek to challenge ourselves so as to afford our psyche the ability to rise to the challenge. Rather, we simply consider ourselves to be challenged by that which is, at best, mundane. That which we consider a challenge is derived from a position of internal weakness. That is to say that we lack the confidence to truly challenge ourselves.

How then do we pull ourselves out of this psychological mire? I submit the answer is to reacquaint ourselves with our individual internal strength and instill an attitude derived from the phrase “Kamawanu”. Kamawanu is not the sole province of the martial arts. It has in fact been embraced by various aspects of popular society to convey the populist ideology of the moment. There is; however, an oral tradition within the martial arts that breathes life into the challenging potential ascribed to the mystique of Kamawanu.

Oral tradition states that Dojo of old sometimes hung a rather esoteric sign outside of the Dojo. This sign was not hung for public view by Dojo that were for the faint of heart. Rather, the sign was hung outside of Dojo wherein the training was hard core physically, spiritually pure and from the heart. The sign contained no words. In place of words, it simply depicted three symbols: a sickle (Kama), a rice bowl (wan) and the phonetic symbol for the sound “nu.”

These symbols read together formed the phrase Kamawanu (See endnote # 2). While there is no direct translation of Kamawanu, the phrase is interpreted variously as “It doesn’t matter” and “I(we) don’t care.” Martial oral tradition has a more figurative interpretation. (See endnote # 3) When hung and displayed outside “hard-core” Dojo, the phrase Kamawanu was interpreted as:

We don’t care if you enter or not, we don’t care if you challenge us or not.

Interpreted in this manner, Kamawanu can be used to crave, desire and accept challenge as a means of improving oneself and rising above a conformed, mundane existence. One needs the inner strength and confidence so as to accept challenge rather than seek to define challenge as that which one readily and easily accomplishes.

Have faith in yourself, your resilience and your abilities. Then hang a figurative sign about yourself depicting a sickle, a rice bowl and the sound “nu” – Kamawanu. You no longer care if others or situations challenge you or not. Rather, you crave and desire the challenge and your ability to ride to the challenge.

Until the next article, I remain ready to rise to the challenge – Kamawanu to you.



Sensei John Szmitkowski


  1. Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good & Evil, Part Four: Maxims & Interludes (1885), Maxim # 143.
  2. The Kama in the photo is one of a pair of authentic Japanese Kama given to me by Shihan Wayne Norlander in 1995, R.I.P my friend.
  3. Kamawanu is an integral part of oral tradition of Goshin-Do Karate-Do. It is the companion to the tale of Dojo Yaburi, or those that would challenge a Dojo owner and keep his fees for one month’s teaching  if he was not up to the challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with Goshin-Do Karate-Do tradition, the following reference to Kamawanu may be both of interest and helpful: Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (O’Hara Publishing, Santa Clarita, CA, 1996) p. 40.

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.Wordpress.Com

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