Tag Archives: Ghost Hand Kata

Sensei’s Kata-Rx Journal Entry # 2: My Daily Zazen

18 Jan

Zazen, seated meditation, is an integral part of my daily Katannabis / Kata-Rx practice. I use two different forms of zazen each day.

The first is part of my evening Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and medical cannabis, for more please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/2020/10/26/kata-rx-medical-cannabis-katannabis-2/ ).

During my evening zazen, I sit quietly in my darkened bedroom. I perform a “Sa-Ta-Na-Ma” chant (I’ll have an article on this in the near future). Then I perform a single hand Ghost Hand Kata while seated. This is followed by a series of movements from the Suparunpei Kata (I’ll video on this soon). I then close with a final “Sa-Ta-Na-Ma” chant.

The second zazen session I perform sitting on my motorcycle after I have arrived at work.



I do this session with eyes closed until the final chanting. I start with a “Sa-Ta-Na-Ma” chanting session. I then again, “perform” the ghost hand except that I do not physically do so. I sit still and perform the Ghost Hand Kata completely in my mind. I also perform the movements of Suparunpei Kata entirely in my mind. I then close with a “Sa-Ta-Na-Ma” chanting session.

So there’s my daily zazen which is an integral part of my daily Katannabis (evening) and Kata-Rx (morning). You can learn Kata-Rx for FREE in my online school using this secure link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

See you in class,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

          Wow!
Course # 1 in my Kata-RX For Wellness & Mindfulness is now FREE!
Use this link to join for FREE – https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Sensei’s Kata-Rx Journal Entry # 1: A Sensei Inspires . . .

11 Jan

“Goshin-Do Karate Black Belts can’t be killed. We only die when we are ready to die and not before.” Shihan Thomas DeFelice, January 3rd, 2021
———-oooooOOOooooo———-

2020 was a tough year. I don’t think anyone reading this would disagree. By New Years eve I couldn’t wait for it to end. The final straw that broke my mental state was the loss of my younger brother Rob on the day after Christmas. Bruised and battered, I had enough. I bordered on beaten.

Circa 1975, my brother Rob a purple belt standing next to me on the far right.

I had e-mailed my Sensei, Tom DeFelice, to let him know of Rob’s passing. He replied and asked how things were going. My response was that things were rough. I referenced an ethos within Sensei’s dojo – Anyone that earned the rank of black belt in our style would be physically, mentally and emotionally men of iron. This standard is reflected in the numbers. Sensei DeFelice taught thousands during four decades of operating his Dojo. Yet, only twenty-four persons ever earned black belt rank. The standards were that high. https://defeliceryu.com/yudansha-roster/

Iron can rust and crack. So too can men (of iron). I was rusted but not quite cracked.

Sensei replied to my e-mail. In addition to expressing his condolences, Sensei included the above quote. Now, obviously, Sensei was talking from a philosophical, psychological standpoint, not a physical fact. That quote was exactly what I needed to hear. It struck a cord to the point that I dedicated my daily Kata-Rx meditations to it. I meditated deeply attempting to discover each level of thought contained in that seemingly simple statement. To be sure, I continue my exploration of its riches.


It is said in the martial arts, “When a student is ready the teacher will appear.” What is not said is how a good, pure teacher knows not only when, but also how to reappear. Sensei’s profound words were exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks Sensei – With those words one of your Goshin-Do Karate black belt takes yet another step up the rocky mountain.


Submitted with gratitude,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

To learn my Kata-Rx For Wellness & Mindfulness for FREE please use this safe, convenient link – https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Welcome To My Kata-Rx Journal

4 Jan

The cartography of the inner soul is nothing to be afraid of.” – Casey Hardison

I wonder often, “How to spread the word about both my Kata-Rx and Katannabis without seeming like a cheesy ad-man?” Unable to come to a decision, I held off promoting my online school on social media platforms and the like. Now, after a deep reflective Kata-Rx / Katannabis session, I’ve found an answer.

Its time to pull back the curtain. The only way I can tell you about the benefits of my programs to to bring you right into my world. I practice both Kata-Rx and Katannabis daily. I do this because, well, life isn’t easy. Without my daily ritual I would say its unbearable at times. So to this end I’ll be launching a journal of my trials, tribulations and how Kata-Rx and Katannabis get me through. It may, at times, be dark, but it will be real.

   You can learn Kata-Rx For Wellness & Mindfulness for FREE! Use this safe, convenient link to my online school https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation . Learn at your convenience, at your own pace in your home.

   For more on Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and medical cannabis, for more please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/2020/10/26/kata-rx-medical-cannabis-katannabis-2/

Here’s a preview of my Kata-Rx filmed in Provincetown, MA 

My best,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

2021 – The Mind Of The White Belt

28 Dec

Its been one helluva 2020. That’s soon to be the past. 2021, what will it bring? I’m not sure but I know that I’ll approach 2021 with the mind of a white belt. 

The concept of the mind of a white belt is derived from a Goshin-Do Karate percept, “Observe with the mind of a white belt.” 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.

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. Over time, the white belt would become soiled. The belt would even be used to wipe the sweat from one’s brow after training. Thus, the belt would become discolored, eventually turning black from use, wear and tear. This is the humble birth of the all too coveted black belt.

To cast off 2020 and welcome the unknown of 2021, we need to shed our internal black belt. Our preconceptions, emotions and perhaps even thoughts have become “soiled” over time. In the first millisecond of 2021, we should commit to don the belt of a novice and view the minutest details of the unfolding year with a pure and innocent heart and spirit. Let’s all become the exalted white belt.

   To help you achieve the mind of a white belt, you can join for FREE online Kata-Rx For Wellness course. Again, its FREE, safe convenient, learn to your own pace in the privacy of your own home using this link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

You can read the many articles in my Kata-Rx For Wellness Blog here:  https://senseijohn.me/category/kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness/

See you in class,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Ghost OF Christmas Future – A Katannabis Koan

30 Nov

     I supplement my daily Katannabis (the combination of Kata-Rx and medical cannabis) with the use of a koan. A koan, in general is a thought provoking Zen riddle. The classic, “What is the sound of one hand clapping,” is an example. In my practice I include philosophical concepts, quotes and other such mind-benders. Though many are derived from the numerous books I read (38 this year as of today according to my Goodreads account) they can come from many sources, some unexpected.

    Tradition dictates that the Saturday after Thanksgiving my wife and I put up our Christmas tree. This year, we were blessed to have our young grandson join us. As background noise, we were watching a recording of the Dr. Who “A Christmas Carol” episode (S6 E 0, air date 12/25/10). No plot spoilers here except to say that there was an interesting plot liberality when The Doctor acted as the Ghost Of Christmas Future. Instead of showing the Scrooge-character named Kazran, played by Michael Gambon, his future, The Doctor showed Kazran as a child what his future was, in effect, what he would become. For some reason, that whole concept hit me hard. “What would it be like if my 19 year old self could see my 59 year old self?”

Sensei Nick, myself, Shihan Don Nagle, Circa: 1975

Nineteen was a pivotal age for me. It was therefore a good age upon which to base my reflection. That night during Katannabis I meditated on the idea. It was so profound that I continued for several nights and plan on doing so until Christmas. I am keeping a journal of my thoughts. Page after page I recorded memories long buried. Some good, others not so. I’m curious to see what else will be revealed in the coming days. The process is profound. Not easy to be sure, but painfully honest, cleansing like a spiritual colon-cleaning. The memories, comfortable and uncomfortable produce and foster an acceptance, for lack of a better word.

My results were and continue to be so deep, I would encourage you to embark on your own Katannabis journey and meditate on what a younger version of yourself would think if it met you today.

    You can learn My Kata-Rx to use in your Katannabis ceremony using this safe, convenient link to my online school enrollment is FREE!   https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation 

      For more on Katannabis, the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx and medical cannabis, please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/2020/10/26/kata-rx-medical-cannabis-katannabis-2/

For more on the use of Koans with either your Kata-Rx For Wellness or Katannabis, please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/2019/09/25/kata-koan-preview-sea-monsters-in-your-ocean/         Here’s a video of one of my Katannabis/Koan sessions in the “Depth Of Winter”


Enjoy your Kata-Rx and Katannabis,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Coronavirus FREE Resources

2 Nov

With the current increase in Coronavirus cases and the current cold and flu season, I thought I would provide a quick reference to my FREE Coronavirus resources. I particularly recommend entry number 3 as a means of maintaining good lung capacity.

All resources are FREE, please take what you need.
Entry # 1 – How the #Coronapause journal started – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/22/coronapause-day-1-it-starts/
Entry # 2 – Boketto (gazing absentmindedly) – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/23/coronapause-entry-2-boketto-gazing-absentmindedly/
Entry # 3 – Introduction to Sanchin (efficient breathing) – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/25/coronapause-entry-3-breathing-efficiently-sip-of-sanchin-overview/
Entry # 4 – Zanshin (the “Remaining Mind”) – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/29/coronapause-entry-4-zanshin-the-remaining-mind/
Entry # 5 – Calm In The Storm Technique – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/31/coronapause-entry-5-calm-in-the-storm/
Entry # 6 – A Caregiver Is A Samurai – https://senseijohn.me/2020/04/07/coronapause-entry-6-a-caregiver-is-a-samurai/
Entry # 7 – Go Inside (Yourself) – https://senseijohn.me/2020/04/18/coronapause-entry-7-go-inside-yourself/
Stay well, healthy and happy,

Consider a donation

If you like this article, and my other FREE resources, please consider a $ 5.00 donation

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Coronapause Entry # 7 – Go Inside (Yourself)

18 Apr

So, there’s a new target date in my #Coronapause; May 15th. Governor Murphy has extended the New Jersey stay-at-home order until that date.

The situation here gets more and more real, or surreal as the case may be. My grandson’s paternal grandfather tested positive for COVID-19 three days ago. Three of my brother’s in-laws are sick, but do not meet the criteria for testing. Eight business clients have passed away due to Covid-19 or complications of having the virus. So lately it takes quite an effort to stay balanced.

I’d like to share with you a simple technique I use when I need to reset myself. I’ve been doing it more often lately. It provides sustenance through introspection that gets me through each day of my #Coronapause.

I combine my Kata-RX with a thought-provoking reading; a form of meditative koan, if you will. I find the combination of Kata and koan (or thought provoking concept) produces a far-reaching physical and mental experience. Now, you can too.

You can easily do this too by using the breathing and movement exercise I gave you in my Entry # 3: Sanchin (efficient breathing) https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/25/coronapause-entry-3-breathing-efficiently-sip-of-sanchin-overview/
Simply select, a poem, a quote, or other thought you would like to contemplate and read through, then think about it as you perform the technique. After that you may wish to sit in quiet, seated meditation, called “Zazen” and deeply meditate on it. The result is not only refreshing, but also sustaining and nurturing.

Here’s one example using a quote from The Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

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.

I hope you enjoyed the within. Stay well, safe and healthy.


Sensei John Szmitkowski


Want more of my #Coronapause, Sanchin Kata or the other topics in this series? My entire first Kata-RX course, which includes all the topics in my #Coronapause series is available for FREE. You may enroll for FREE using this link to enroll in the E-Dojo, then select the first “Core Kata Course” for FREE! or access the online school here: https://kata-rx.teachable.com

Coronapause Entry # 6: A Caregiver Is A Samurai

7 Apr

So, this week started with dire warnings that this week would be alarming.
I hope the deep breathing exercise I gave you in entry # 3 is helping. Here’s the video and link again, in case you missed it https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/25/coronapause-entry-3-breathing-efficiently-sip-of-sanchin-overview/


With the dire foreboding, it gets more and more likely that if not one of us become infected, that one of our loved ones will. This transforms us into the role of the caregiver. Five years ago, when my wife was battling cancer, I wrote a post comparing the role of a caregiver to that of a Samurai. It applies even more today. So I submit this sixth entry in my #Coronapause journal: “Caregiver As Samurai.”

You are a caregiver. YOU are a Samurai!

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.
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. The entries in this Coronapause series are submitted to help you achieve that outlet.
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.”

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 Covid-19 relative or friend who has been entrusted in your care is akin to the nobility. As they are physically and possibly emotionally debilitated from their illness, they are noble in their quest to overcome their debilitation. As such, their needs are tantamount to your needs as caregiver.
In times of physical, emotional or psychological difficulty, you must reach within your inner being and psyche. Use these #Coronapause entries to help you remove these difficulties.

In closing, I wish you courage and fortitude during these strange times. And, remember, You are a – – Samurai.


Sensei John Szmitkowski

Want more of my #Coronapause, Sanchin Kata or the other topics in this series? My entire first Kata-RX course, which includes all the topics in my #Coronapause series is available for FREE. You may enroll for FREE using this link to enroll in the E-Dojo, then select the first “Core Kata Course” for FREE! or access the online school here: https://kata-rx.teachable.com

Coronapause Entry # 5: Calm In The Storm

31 Mar

Once again, things are ramping up here in the Tri-State area. #Coronapause and social distancing is of the utmost importance to mitigate the strain on the hospital system. March 30th, the USNS Comfort arrived in New Your City to help with their overflow. New Jersey isn’t far behind.
Today, I’ll show you how to use that technique to help modify your emotions and cope with anxiety, fear, worry and the like during these strange times and also when things normalize.

We will use the breathing concepts and hand movements from my #Coronapause Entry # 3 “Sip Of Sanchin” https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/25/coronapause-entry-3-breathing-efficiently-sip-of-sanchin-overview/

I would suggest you watch the video first.
Note that the video uses the Sanchin Introductory exercise from my FREE course – but – the concept is exactly the same for the stationary ten movements and breathing I gave you in the “Sip Of Sanchin” above.


I developed the above from a karate kata called “Seienchin.” Seienchin translates, inter alia, as “Calm in the storm / Storm in the calm.” Seienchin acknowledges that, at any time, there are conflicting forces in the universe. So called “harmony” is achieved as a result of the opposing forces being in balance.

Kanji for “Seienchin”, sumi-e ink on rice paper

Similarly at any moment we experience conflicting emotions. Each battling to rise to the surface to control our overall state-of-mind. The following, which is a distillation of Seienchin principles, I believe, will help you too.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Want more of my #Coronapause, Sanchin Kata or the other topics in this series? My entire first Kata-RX course, which includes all the topics in my #Coronapause series is available for FREE. You may enroll for FREE using this link to enroll in the E-Dojo, then select the first “Core Kata Course” for FREE! or access the online school here: https://kata-rx.teachable.com

If you would like to see a video of the Seienchin Kata (filmed in Arizona where I spent 10 years and with a herb of wild horses, you can see that here — the kata starts at 01:20 before that is commentary on how I happened upon the herd.

Coronapause Entry # 4: Zanshin – The Remaining Mind

29 Mar

If the techniques I’m showing you only benefit you when you are actually doing them, the experience, while satisfying, will not be nurturing and fulfilling. To do so, I need to tell you about a state-of-mind called “Zanshin,” the “Remaining Mind.”

In the martial arts, Zanshin, the “Remaining Mind” means that your mind “remains in the battle after the battle is finished.” Zanshin is present in the ritual forms, called “Kata” of karate. After performing a kata (with the appropriate state-of-mind ascribed to the kata) the performer stands poised, but relaxed and He revisualizes the battle of the kata so as to retain its effects and remain vigilant and alert. 

Kanji – Zanshin

In your #Coronapause, you not only perform a specific technique to attain physical and mental well-being, you also retain those benefits after your performance. To date, I’ve given you two techniques, one mental, Boketto
https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/23/coronapause-entry-2-boketto-gazing-absentmindedly/ and one physical, Breathing as in Sanchin Kata https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/25/coronapause-entry-3-breathing-efficiently-sip-of-sanchin-overview/ . Naturally you cannot go about your day doing nothing but Boketto or Sanchin. To bridge the gap, you use your Zanshin.

Unfortunately, my own #Coronapause has prohibited me from providing you with a written description of Zanshin. However, I saved my class video of Zanshin from my Kata-RX online course. I hope you enjoy the concept of Zanshin and find it useful during your own #Coronapause.

Keep in my, Zanshin applies to not only Boketto and the Sanchin breathing exercise. Use Zanshin to extended the benefits of any mind cleansing activity. Walking, meditating, painting, cooking, any activity that brings you emotional comfort can be extended with Zanshin.

Well here in New Jersey and the entire Tri-State area, things are ramping up pretty quick. As it does, I hope you and yours remain well, stay vigilant and stay home during this #Coronapause. 

March 30th, 2020: USNS Comfort arrives in New York City:

 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Can’t wait for more? My entire first Kata-RX course, which includes all the topics in my #Coronapause series is available for FREE. You may enroll for FREE using this link to enroll in the E-Dojo, then select the first “Core Kata Course” for FREE!
https://kata-rx.teachable.com
Here’s another look at Sanchin Kata which you can start learning now in my FREE course above – this one while riding my H-D Electra-Glide in Arizona where I lived for a time period.

Coronapause Entry # 3: Breathing Efficiently – Sip Of Sanchin (Overview)

25 Mar

I want to get this #Coronapause post out as fast as possible to help you with efficient breathing. These concepts come from a procedure steeped in antiquity and martial tradition called Sanchin. Please excuse the roughness but will fine tune in more detail once you’re breathing efficiently whether or not you have the virus.

I would suggest you watch the video first and use the streamlined text here as a form of reminder notes.

 



Here are the bullet points from the video:

** One preliminary point is as you practice, your state-of-mind should be as in Boketto, absentmindedly gazing in the distance as you breathe and move your body. For my Boketto presentation and video please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/23/coronapause-entry-2-boketto-gazing-absentmindedly

Method Of Breathing:

– In through the nose – out through the mouth (using the abdominal muscles to exhale);

– Deep abdominal breathing, force the inhaled air down deep into your abdomen;

Manner Of Breathing:

– The manner of breathing falls into two general categories; soft breathing and hard breathing.
Inhaling is “soft” – exhaling is “hard” – see below

– Soft breathing, as the name implies, is a relaxed. The body remains relaxed as air is gently inhaled in a quick, but steady manner. Once inhalation is complete, the breath is held for a fraction of a second and exhalation begins. During the process of exhalation, the body remains relaxed and air is expelled softy and evenly. The process then begins a new. The duration of exhalation is always longer than inhalation.

– Hard breath is the direct opposite of soft breath. The inhalation of air is swift, and crisp. It is even audible. During inhalation, the body remains relaxed. Once inhalation is complete, exhalation occurs in a prolonged and forcible manner. It not only uses the lungs, but also all the abdominal muscles. These muscles “work” at expelling air. This results in an audible “roar” that sounds much like the surf in the ocean.

Hand Movements:

– Remain stationary – stand straight, shoulders relaxed, knees slightly bent, head up
– Begin with hands relaxed at your side – then start with the closed hand movements as follows

– Closed Hand (3 or 5 repetitions depending on your ability)

Ball your hands loosely into fist (don’t “tighten” you fists):
Roll your fists upwards and outward – as wide as your shoulders, fists as high as your collar bone.
Cross your hands in front of your groin (note: it does not matter which hand is over the other);
To repeat simply lower your hands to position number 2 and repeat.

– Open Hand (3 or 5 repetitions depending on your ability)

Same as above with hands open – your palms face into your body at all times (again just like the closed fist only with hands open).

Combine Breathing & Movement (Sip Of Sanchin)

Two points here:
– Coordinate breathing with movement
– Dynamically tense ALL muscles of your body during inhalation. Isometric tension using the muscles. Think of an”Iron Body”

Coordinate Breath:
– As you lower your hands to groin level, inhale softly. Super-relax your body as you inhale. As your rotate your hands up and outward, exhale. Breath and movement should finish at the same time.

Dynamic Tension: 

As you Sip Sanchin, the manner of breathing is also reflected in the state of the body’s muscles. That is to say when breathing is soft, muscles are relaxed. When breathing is hard, then ALL muscles of the body, not just abdominal muscles, are dynamically tensed. Dynamically tensing the muscles is similar to isometric exercise. Instead of using a resistive force, the muscles of the body provides the necessary tension.
Sanchin synchronizes the breath to specific bodily movements, As inhaling in a soft manner is coupled with a relaxed body, these movements are timed to when the body is not naturally exerting itself. By comparison, exhalation in the hard manner, combined with the dynamic tensing of the muscles is exhibited during movements that require force or exertion of the body. Let’s look at a routine example other than Sanchin. Pretend that you have to lift a heavy object. It is utterly wrong to do so while holding your breath. In fact, if you hold your breath during exertion, you may actually hurt yourself. Instead, you take a deep breath in (through your nose and fill you abdomen). Then you reach down and while lifting exhale. Exhalation always occurs with exertion.

Note: If you are congested, this may cause you to expectorate (spit up the flam in your lungs – do so – don’t hold back – spit it out into a sink or go outside if possible and expel)

Next post/video:
In the next post and video, I’ll show you how to easily modify the above to adjust your mental state of either:
– anxiety, anger, frustration to calm, and
– lethargic to energetic

As always my best to you during this time of #Coronapause. As of this post here in New Jersey as I write this Governor Murphy has warned the worst is coming. New York at present is inundated, we are about to become so. Good luck, and stay healthy. More is coming to hopefully help get you through.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Can’t wait for more?  – my entire first course, which includes the above material and MORE is available for FREE – use this link to enroll in my Kata-RX school then select the first course for FREE!! https://kata-rx.teachable.com

Now that you had a sip of Sanchin, here is a video of Sanchin Kata filmed in a snowstorm:

 

Coronapause Entry # 2: Boketto – Gazing Absentmindedly

23 Mar

To see how my #Coronapause journal started please click here: – https://senseijohn.me/2020/03/22/coronapause-day-1-it-starts/

Now, for today’s #Coronapause topic – Boketto (Gazing Absentmindedly)

Real bad, depressing morning during my #Coronapause, but I got through it with Boketto & hope you will too. I think it would be best if you please start with this video:



So, another day of our #CoronaPause. What to do with the time on a Monday morning? Ironic, huh? Normally filed with hectic activity, Monday morning has become – this – the “new normal” to borrow a term from my wife’s oncologist.

Throughout the day I’m using my Kata-RX techniques to keep moving forward, one step, one foot simply moving in front of the other. One of those techniques I’d like to share with you today. It is a simple, meditative practice called “Boketto.”

Boketto is the practice of gazing into the distance without preconception or thought. Whenever possible, I really like to do Boketto outdoors but I was reminded today that even indoors Boketto is fulfilling.

Now, there’s two tricks to Boketto.
 – no distractions
 – no thinking. – even minimal thinking such as mentally labeling things is not permitted.

It is recognized that the higher concept of the mind is born in the squishy, gelatinous organ known as the brain. For Boketto you need to turn off, to quiet, the mind – to be “absent-minded.” Let me give you an analogy. It is extremely relaxing when I sit and pet our dog, Maharet (named after an Anne Rice character). Why? Like Boketto it is done absentmindedly. You just sit and enjoy, you don’t analyze, you don’t label, you just do and let it flow through you. Same with Boketto only not with your hands, with your eyes – and – you don’t get dog hair all over you.

Let’s see what I mean. Here’s a photo of the spare bedroom that my eleven year old grandson uses when he sleeps over. Yes, that’s Maharet (“Maha” for short) in the photo.



I used Boketto on this room many times today. The feeling of loss not being able to have him visit, to hug him and just be Grandpa and Grandson weighs like a boulder on me. Boketto helps lessen the weight. Notice I didn’t say removes the weight. But, it does help. So let me offer some points on your Boketto practice:

1. The view doesn’t matter.
You don’t need to gaze at Mt. Fuji during cherry blossom time, or the Grand Canyon, or a pristine beach. For many reasons, the view is immaterial. The view, for now, is but a tool to facilitate the gazing. I can’t say it enough, ANYbody, ANYplace, ANYtime can use these techniques;

2. “Eyes of a white belt.”
Don’t label or describe what you see, use the “eyes of a white belt.” Gaze at everything, wonder at everything – understand nothing of what you see. I can still remember my first karate class – I had no idea what I was seeing. It was a crazy spectacle where names held NO meaning, “Reverse punch” meant nothing. “Block and counter” was like a foreign language. And, what the heck is Sanchin Kata? Heaven help! All I could do is watch and observe. See what the labels did not describe. Then, slowly over time came the application of my gazing, my Boketto – analysis, recognition, and dare I say, comprehension.

For example, today I didn’t gaze at my grandson’s room for the purpose of thinking of him. Rather, I just simply gazed at his room for NO reason. That is Boketto.

3. Souvenir effect.
Practicing Boketto outdoors triggers what I call the “Souvenir Effect.” I would practice my Kata-RX wherever I go, using Boketto, I’ve imprinted not merely memories, but sensations, feelings, emotions of that place and time. A Souvenir if you will. As you read above the souvenir effect applies not only to places but also to people.If you’re curious, here’s more https://senseijohn.me/2019/10/16/kata-rx-souvenir-effect/

4. Higher states-of-mind to come.
Boketto is the building block to achieve a higher state of mind called “Mushin-No-Shin” or “Mushin” for short. Mushin is the state of “Mind-No-Mind” unique (perhaps) to the martial arts but every valuable in everyday life. I think a video/post on Mushin is about a week away.

So, if you’d like, take a #Coronapause today, give Boketto a try. Let’s see if you can use Boketto to feel the souvenir effect as I did:
Find an object that some one you miss gave you or something else connected with them. Using Boketto gaze at it without though and preconception. Use it to let your quiet calm mind recall that person, not details, but abstracts. Their joy, warmth, sense of humor, the WAY they smile and use that goodness to get you through the next moment of your #Coronapause, and the next and moment yet to come.

Stay well, healthy, find one thing to smile at & tomorrow we’ll look at basic breathing and body movement. And – now here’s my official seal, so its “official”

Sensei John

Kata-RX In The Depth Of Winter

22 Jan

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=== Now, for this week’s installment, “Kata-RX In The Depth Of Winter Snow”

A primary advantage of my Kata-RX over other forms of moving meditation such as yoga or Tai-Chi is that ANYbody, ANYwhere and ANYtime can perform Kata-RX. I am living proof of this simple reality each and every day.

This weekend was no different. Snow was in the forecast for the first time this year. Though the storm produced less snow accumulations than predicted, by days end, I still had to go out and shovel. How to get ready to combat the winter?

Simple, time for a little pre-shovel kata in the snow! And, to increase the effects of my Kata-RX, I added a koan to contemplate during the kata. Adding a koan facilitates the ascendancy experience (See endnote # 1) https://senseijohn.me/2019/09/25/kata-koan-preview-sea-monsters-in-your-ocean/

My koan was a quote from Albert Camus:

“In the depth of winter,
I discovered that
Within me there lay
An invincible summer.”

 Here’s a preview video from that Kata-RX session, enjoy and click the link to learn Kata-RX For Wellness for FREE! https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation The video gives you a peak at the three easy but profound Kata-RX For Wellness you will learn: 

Ghost Hand Kata – to adjust visualization & perception;
Sanchin Kata – the three aspects of life (Breath – Body – Mind);
1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata – ascendancy

See you in class, again its FREE https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Endnotes:

1. Kata-RX facilitates the ascendancy experience of meditation. The depth of attention ascending (from the least attentive at the bottom to the most attentive) will go something like this: (note: there are 2 types of ascendancy): 

New Book Update – Ghost Hands Revealed

7 Nov

As I’ve been teasing about my newest kata as moving meditation project (https://senseijohn.me/2018/07/25/dont-read-this-unless/), including hinting at the Buddha nature of kata, (https://senseijohn.me/2018/09/26/buddha-nature-of-kata-or-is-it-just-me/), I thought I would update the status to date. Let’s say a “Sanchin For Everyone, version 2.0.”

I’ve returned from spending Halloween in Cape Cod, MA where I filmed video and still photos for the project. Writing the book is about ninety percent complete, give or take. It seems just when I think I’m done, there’s a new avenue I wish to explore and reveal. I guess that’s an inherent problem with a project that you not only wish to educate people about, but also practice daily. There’s always a new insight, twist or nuance you find. In general a good thing, but a nightmare for deciding what to share and include in a book or video at any specific point.

So, as things move along with a tentative January 1, 2019 deadline in mind, I give you a few more teasers.

 

This updated version of my 2009 Sanchin Kata as Dynamic Meditation project, combines the insights and nuances I garnered from the last decade of practicing what I preach. Also I’ve incorporated a new meditation technique that I encountered years ago and still practice. I have taken an esoteric kata from ancient karate-do called, “Gassho No Kata.” Now, don’t go searching this kata online. I did and I did not find the kata I am referring to. There are other kata with this name on line, but not the one I will share in the book. Further, based upon my experience in performing the kata, I modified it. I stress; however, that I did NOT modify the physical movements of the kata. Rather, I modified the perception and visualization of the kata. This modification provides a mental, emotional and psychological reset for your mind. This modified kata I am tentatively calling “Kami-Te Kata” or “simply “Ghost-hand Kata.” While it provides a daily reset for your mind, I felt more was needed.

I began to practice my Ghost-hand Kata in conjunction with Sanchin Kata and the results were staggering. The visualization and reset of the Ghost-hands Kata when combined with the spiritual and physical benefits of Sanchin (too numerous to list here) produced a most rarefied meditative experience.

 

I then realized that by incorporating physical techniques and spiritual aspects of the Seienchin Kata (translated as “Calm in the storm, storm in the calm”) and the Suparunpei Kata (“108 Hands”) I had discovered a well rounded, yet relatively simply method for daily meditation and rejuvenation.

The end result does not require a major commitment of time. The whole moving meditative process took less than five minutes. It could, therefore be performed anytime throughout the day as often as needed. As I emphasized in 2009 with my Sanchin project, no special equipment is required, no uniform or unique clothing and no dojo, school or structure was required. Simply put, it can and should be performed by anybody, anytime and anyplace. This is the true nature of my moving meditation process I call, “Jiriki Kata-Do,” “Wellness from within you through kata.”

Enough teasing for now, back to writing and video editing. More to come during this very exciting and enlightening time.

This week’s featured video – from 2012, AnyBody, Anytime & Anyplace can do Sanchin Kata! (filmed in San Tan Valley, Arizona)

Respectfully,

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 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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

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