Tag Archives: Goshin-Do Karate

Kata Based Short Story

16 Jan

I had hoped to post a notice that my Ghost Hands Kata book was finished. https://senseijohn.me/2018/11/07/new-book-update-ghost-hands-revealed/ Maybe even post an excerpt and a video. While I’ve made substantial progress, the final stages of refining the draft and editing have been difficult.

Video shoot, Cape Cod, 2018

Extraneous circumstances have drained a good amount of my mental and emotional energy. I eluded to these dilatory matters in my Christmas blog. https://senseijohn.me/2018/12/18/christmas-2018/

My daily kata still keeps me sustained despite the drain; just not enough to motivate me to finish the Ghost Hands book- at least not today. I came a contest for new writers. So, I’ve channeled my energy into a fact-based short story for a new writers contest.

It is a true story based upon otherworldly events that happened to me a few years ago. I never published it; thus making it eligible for the contest. Additionally, except for the people in the story, I’ve only told one other person of the event. That was Shihan Wayne Norlander. I often confided the otherworldly result of my esoteric kata practices to him. He would patiently listen and offer suggestions. With his untimely passing seven years ago, those conversations ended. Nevertheless he continues to inspire and help – but, that is another story for another day.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout. Circa 2008

Naturally, the story has a kata element. Each day I practice my kata, including the Ghost Hands Kata, and write. My esoteric experiments with kata allowed me to experience the unexplainable, otherworldly event told in the story. So, since I don’t have an update on the Ghost Hands Kata book – just yet, I thought I would share with you the opening of my short story. Hopefully it will win the contest and be published, if not, well then I’ll be able to post it here and share it with you.

   And so, the story begins – – –

The Umbrella

Sensei buried his father. It was a troubled time.

The day of the funeral and several days before, it rained so hard Noah would have built an ark.The dreary, soul drenching weather reflected both the funeral and the last three weeks of his father’s life. Rod Stewart sang, “Its late September and I really should be back in school.” Well, it was September 30th and Sensei’s father did not have to die so soon. But, he did. That was yesterday, the past. In the present, Sensei was ready to go home.

Three months ago, Sensei and his wife, Dee-dee, locked their house in Arizona. With their dog, a miniature pincher named Zoe, they started their Toyota Tundra and began a four day road trip to New Jersey. They were going to visit family, especially their five year old grandson, Sheldon. They intended to stay for two weeks. Once they arrived, Sensei’s father’s health began to fail. Sensei’s father had been on oxygen for the last two years; even that did not deter his smoking. Now with advanced lung cancer, each day his lungs failed more and more. After three months, of increasing immobility and pain, Sensei’s father’s life ended. And so did Sensei and Dee-dee’s visit. But, before they would once again enter their front door, Sensei would make an otherworldly discovery. Sensei would find an umbrella.

Sensei wasn’t his name. His given name was John. Sensei, pronounced Sen-say, is a title. John earned it decades ago when he was promoted to the karate rank of Sho-dan, first degree black belt. Sensei’s black belt was the result of eleven years of progressing through the lower ten student ranks. John walked into his Sensei’s karate dojo in Palisades Park, New Jersey a shy ten year old boy. There is a saying in the martial arts, “It was my mother who bore me, but my Sensei who made me a man.” At twenty-one years old, John was a man, and aSensei. The word itself is formed by two root word. “Sen” meaning “before.” and “Sei’ meaning “being” as in a physical presence. Sensei, therefore literally means“Before-being” or “One who has knowledge before another;” in western terms, a teacher. Sensei’s style of Okinawan Karate is Goshin-Do Karate. The english translation of the style meant “Strong-heart way of the empty hand.”Sensei forged a strong heart and an iron spirit. Now, at fifty-seven years old he holds the advanced rank of nana-dan, seventh degree black belt. The forty-seven years since he tied on his first belt, a white belt, seemed like both the blink of an eye and a lifetime ago, as if it was in a past life.

For the past twenty years, Sensei covertly explored a hidden, esoteric path of karate. He delved into the highly guarded, secretive, non-physical aspects ofthe the rituals of karate known as “kata.” Kata are the martial forms, like deadly dances, designed to hone not only the practitioner’s physical combat skills, but also produce a heightened state of mind and spiritual awareness. Sensei took kata a major step further. His kata revealed an otherworldly realm. Kata became Sensei’s version of the Shaman’s ayahuasca, the Native American’s peyote ritual and dances, the Yogi and Guru’s esoteric practices and other such otherworldly rituals. Sensei’s kata opened the portal to an understanding of the nature of the physical and non-physical realm beyond the ken of the average person. As his title implies, Sensei came to this knowledge before any other past practitioners of the Goshin-Do style. In all the world, you could count on your fingers the number of practitioners that understood the reality in which Sensei lived.

Because of his secret, esoteric skills, Sensei found the umbrella. It is both my pleasure and my curse to tell you the story of his discovery.

   As the contest is for unpublished stories, that’s all I can post for now. I’ll keep you posted as to whether it wins or not.

Yours in kata,

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 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Kata – Becoming A Thanksgiving Tradition?

21 Nov

Becoming a tradition?
Once again, it’s Thanksgiving time.
Once again, I’m romanticizing the thrill of the open road.
Once again, I can connect both with Kata.
As I do so, let’s revisit this theme I originally posted about last Thanksgiving in an article I called, “(Wish’n I was) ‘On the road again with kata.”

===============

(Wish’n I was) “On The Road (again) with Kata”

Ah, the call of the open road.

I ride my motorcycle every day regardless of weather. Not; however when the roads are covered in snow or black ice. But give me clear asphalt and I’m on two wheels logging the miles. Even if its “just” my daily commute, the trip is always something new.

Still, I find myself missing a nice long road trip. A few days on the road, nights in a cheap motel meeting people along the way, changing scenery. When I lived in Arizona, I logged at least two road trips a year to New Jersey to work or see family. Since I’ve moved back to my home state, that “need” is gone.

Chloe on the road – circa 2006

Yup, I’ve got the itch to burn the miles. Unfortunately, its the busy season at work and a few days off is impossible. So, what to do?

The answer – Kata!

My last road trip was the return trip back to New Jersey after the Arizona house sold. I made that trip alone as my wife flew out ahead of me and my road companion Chloe had passed. I started the trip the Monday of Thanksgiving week 2014 and arrived in New Jersey Thanksgiving Day. Too late for either Thanksgiving dinner or pumpkin pie. But it was another safe road trip in the books.

Naturally I used kata along the way to enhance the pleasure of being on the road and to refresh myself physically and mentally during the four day, 2,600 mile trip. As I knew it would be my last long trip for a while, I videoed my kata and journey. Looking at my videos, I realized I can again enjoy the memory of the journey through my kata. So, Monday of this week, I began to perform my “On The Road Kata.” As for this writing, I’ve completed the first two days (Monday and Tuesday) kata and am working on day three (Wednesday) as this is posting. Tomorrow, I’ll symbolically end my journey.

Come along, try a kata or two (some I recreated based upon my needs during the trip) and watch the videos. Here’s the journey:

Day 1: Monday – San Tan Valley, Arizona to Shamrock, Texas ( 789 miles)

1. Takiyouku Shodan modified to use Sanchin Kata method on the blocks – last kata performed in my house

2. Wansu Kata – Route 66 Casino/Truckstop west Albuquerque, New Mexico

3. Seipai Kata – slow to stretch my muscles Flying C Ranch Truck-stop, west of Santa Rosa, New Mexico

4. Sanchin Kata Hybrid – Best Western Motel, Shamrock Texas

Day 2: Tuesday – Shamrock, TX to West Memphis, Tennessee (1,169 miles traveled)

1. Hybrid Kata – using Seienchin, Suparunpei and Sanchin Kata to get the “blood flowing” (5:30 a.m. illuminated by truck headlights)

2. Ananku Kata – Truckstop Shawnee, Oklahoma

3. Fuku Kata – Rest Area, Altus, Arkansas

Day 3: Wednesday – West Memphis, TN to Salem, Virginia

1. Hybrid Kata 5:30 a.m. using Suparunpei and Hakutsuru Kata)

2. Kunchaba Kata – my weekly Wednesday Kata tribute to Shihan Wayne Norlander filmed at Loretta Lynn’s Country Kitchen, Hurricane Mills, Tennessee)

3. Gekisai Kata (Deconstructed) – Comfort Inn Motel, Salem, VA. Kata on the road like this led to my “Kata Laboratory.”

Day 4: Thursday, Thanksgiving Day (2014) Salem, VA to Bergen County, New Jersey

1. Sanchin Kata (Shobu version) at a gas station on highway I-78 in Pennsylvania.

Thanks for reading and watching. Have a really Happy Thanksgiving, 2018.

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/category/kata-laboratory/

© Copyright 2018 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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

Buddha Nature Of Kata, Or Is It Just Me?

26 Sep

The morning flew by as I diligently worked on my new kata as moving meditation book (you can read a release about it here ( https://senseijohn.me/2018/07/25/dont-read-this-unless/ ). It was time for a break. I needed to stretch my old muscles. I and my dog, Maharet, went outside to the backyard. She would do her doggie kata (run around like a nut chasing squirrels and birds) and I can do mine.

Maharet

Naturally, this involves the meditative kata I developed and am writing about and traditional karate-do kata. Rejuvenated, Maharet and I returned inside. Cracking open the laptop, I was about to resume writing.

First a bit of a distraction. I took the opportunity to cruise Facebook while Maharet took the opportunity to contemplate her existence, a/k/a take a nap.

Scrolling through my newsfeed I saw a meme that caught my attention.

Made sense to me. I routinely use my kata to cut off thinking and clear my head. Whether I’m at home, at work, at the shore or out for a ride, my kata, particularly the meditative  ones are always with me. When needed, they reset my body and mind.

But, I was also perplexed. “If you cut off all thinking for one minute, then you become a Buddha for one minute,” how can there not be a multitude of karate-do Sensei teaching the Buddha nature of Kata? In my thinking the meme clearly provided a link to the Buddha nature of Kata. Clearly, as I would like to sell my latest book, I’m not going to go into great detail about this concept here. Suffice it to say, for me the Buddha nature of kata is clearly self evident. I am some sort of aberration?

I learned my first kata in 1971. Since then, I have always enjoyed kata. Although some martial artists have disparaged the “practical utility” of kata, I saw not only the martial utility, but the higher purpose of kata. Am I reading too much into kata? I can’t say. But, I can say kata enriches my life. Even now, forty-seven years after I first learned my kata, it not only keeps my proverbial sword sharp, it balances me. It gets me through my day.

I can’t say whether my views on kata are some sort of anomaly or that I read too much into my kata. I can say this simply and directly – without my kata, I would not be the person I am. Period. So, “Thank-you kata and the Sensei that taught me them.”

To gain insight into the deeper utility of kata, take a look at and ponder my “Ten Virtues Of Kata” article ( https://senseijohn.me/2011/07/31/virtues-of-kata/ ).

This week’s featured video illustrates the concept of spontaneously creating your own Kata. Enjoy.

Respectfully submitted,

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.

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 –
   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

Hatsu Bon For Sensei Nick D’Antuono

12 Sep

On September 13th, 2010, Sensei Nick D’Antuono was taken from us. That days training training and the following Hatsu Bon Poem are offered to his spirit. Should you so desire, please join us and perform a kata of your choice in memory of Sensei Nick and a fallen comrade you may wish to remember on that date. May Sensei’s spirit find our training and poem worthy.

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

Hatsu Bon Poem:
Please don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am
Nor am I sleeping for eternity
SEE!!
I am already part of the breezes
numbering a thousand
I am part of the light
that brightens this world
Like a diamond glittering in the snow
Like the sun that coaxes seeds to sprout
And in the Fall I become the gentle rain
that nurtures all.
When you open the window in the morning
I am the breeze
That causes your hair to flutter;
And at night, I am the star
That watches over your sleep.
So, please . . . don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am.
I am not dead.
I have been born anew.

Memories Circa 1973: myself & others with Sensei Nick D’Antuono & my first trophies for kata (Gekisai) & kumite.

Sincerity in sweat, rest in peace, Sensei.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Sanchin In The Outermost House

22 Aug

There are many things I enjoy about summer; kata outdoors, going to the beach, riding my Indian (without freezing), and revisiting my annual “summer-reads.” There are a few books I enjoy re-reading during the summer, Hemingway’s “The Old Man and The Sea”, Nick Lyons’ compilation, “Hemingway On Fishing”, Thoreau’s “Cape Cod” and Henry Beston’s “The Outermost House.”

Recently I was at the beach in Asbury Park, NJ. My toes in the sand, time stood still. Hour after hour I floated in the cool blue waters of the Atlantic, performed Sanchin Kata in the sand and in the surf (a Sanchin Surf-N-Turf). Resting on my blanket under the shade of my umbrella, I re-read Beston’s “The Outermost House.” As always a few passages resonated deep within me. Including this one:

 “The world today is sick to its thin blood for lack of elemental things, for fire before the hands, for water welling from the earth, for air, for the dear earth itself underfoot.” (See Endnote # 1)

Time marched forward and all too soon it was time to pack and return home. There are certain inevitable natural and man-made forces that simply can’t be avoided. On such example is traffic on the Garden State Parkway. Somewhere around exit 130 it started. It was going to be a long trip home. Rather than let this inevitable fact dampen my beach rejuvenated spirit.

Asbury art – my “third-eye”

I reflected on how, over the years Sanchin Kata (and others) have maintained my connection with the natural environment. Unlike those other’s on the Parkway that angrily sat hating their fate, disconnected from nature, I am refreshed by my kata and elemental things.

A Sanchin pontoon boat ride with Miko (R.I.P.), Lake George, NY circa 1999

Let me share a few photos and videos with you. It is my hope that this will inspire you to learn not only Sanchin Kata, but also my method of moving meditation I call “Jiriki Kata-Do” (“The way of self-wellness through kata”). Hint – hint – I hope to have the latest manual on the newest techniques available by year’s end. Curious? Check out this link: https://senseijohn.me/2018/07/25/dont-read-this-unless/

Videos can be found on my FlyFishingDojo You-tube channel or the video page above.

 

Performing Sanchin I see a seagull fly past, Cape Cod, 2016

Highland Light Overlook, Cape Cod, 2014

I hope you remain connected to the elemental things.
Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Endnote:

1. Beston, Henry, The Outermost House ( Henry Holt & Co, New York, NY, 1928) p. 10.

Seienchin Kata during Sturgis Bike Week, Badlands State Park, 2003

   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.

Simmering With Sanchin Kata

6 Jun

I was simmering and never knew it.
In fact I was not alone.
Both I and my wife were simmering.
Actually for us, simmering is a normal everyday occurrence. My wife and I constantly, hold hands, hug, give each other small kisses and similar behavior. Then, one day while watching t.v., we learned that such conduct has a name, to wit: simmering. So what is simmering? A quick google search revealed that simmering is part of a nouveaux trend –

A core sex therapy technique that helps couples cultivate sexual arousal even when they don’t have time or energy for sex. It involves simple hugging, kissing, holding hand, gazing into your partner’s eyes and other similar conduct.

“Well, what do you know,” I said to my wife, “We’re trend setters!” To us, this was simply normal behavior for us; even after over twenty years together, we simmer.

Then it occurred to me – “What other behavior that I consider routine behavior was trendy?”

For decades, I have long advocated that not only should Karate-Ka (practitioners of karate) practice Sanchin Kata at least once a day, but everyone, even non-martial artists (what heresy!) should learn and practice Sanchin as a form of daily moving meditation. In fact, that idea is what started this blog. For example, this link provides a series of articles offering methods to practice Sanchin Kata regularly https://senseijohn.me/category/a-sanchin-pilgrimage/

It was (and still is) my belief that Anybody (male/female, young/old ,rich/poor) should practice Sanchin Kata Anytime (no special clothes required, no extra training equipment) and Anyplace (indoors/outdoors, work/play). Here’s one video example of Sanchin during a motorcycle ride

The simple fact is “You are Sanchin and Sanchin is you” – https://senseijohn.me/2014/06/15/3-states-of-sanchin-katas-3-battles/

With that said, daily Sanchin is a means of Kata-Simmering. In addition to having benefits in and of itself, such daily practice of Sanchin stimulates the desire to practice your other kata both in and out of the dojo. Not only does this kata-simmering stimulate the desire to practice your other kata, it also stimulates you to innovate.

Here are two video of my own Sanchin innovations:

Four Direction Sanchin (filmed in the cooling waters of the Lower Salt River, Arizona)

and Shobu-Sanchin (filmed with vultures)

My Kata Laboratory project ( https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/ ) was, perhaps stimulated by my own personal Sanchin-simmering. It fostered a desire for me to “Think – Sweat – Experiment” ™ with Sanchin, and eventually all my other kata.

So, give Sanchin-Simmering a try. Use it to build a desire for not only more kata practice but also more innovative, imaginative ways to enjoy your kata – in other words to – “Think – Sweat – Experiment”

Respectfully submitted,

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

%d bloggers like this: