Tag Archives: Goshin-Ryu Karate

Origins Of My 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata – Killing Time On A Saturday

24 Jul

   At a recent Kata-RX For Wellness & Mindfulness seminar I was asked where I got the inspiration to create my 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata.© I answered that there were many sources, but the root source occurred about forty-seven years ago. More specifically, it was during the last fifteen minutes of Saturday morning karate classes. What do I mean? Well, lets take a trip down kata memory lane.

But first, let’s look at a sneak peak of my unique, groundbreaking kata, filmed on a beautiful summer day in Asbury Park, NJ:

   Forty-seven years ago I was well into my first year at Sensei Tom DeFelice’s Academy Of Goshin-Do Karate in Palisades Park, New Jersey.

At ten years old I was enrolled in the “Junior Division” for students under eighteen years old. The chief instructor of the junior division was Sensei Nick D’Antuono, one of Sensei DeFelice’s senior black belts.

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

The last class of the week was the Saturday morning class. The last fifteen minutes of this class subconsciously molded my views on kata. A bit of kata background.

The first kata a student learns is the Taikiyoku Kata. The word “Taikiyoku” translates as “To build the body (Tai) and the spirit (Ki).” The kata is a series of three numbered kata. The series involves a simple sequence of one of three blocks with a counter punch. The three different kata interchanged the three basic blocks of the Goshin-Do Karate style. Thus, Taikiyoku number 1 (or Taikiyoku Sho-dan) incorporated the low block. Taikiyoku number two (Nidan) utilized the middle block and Taikiyoku number three (Sandan) incorporated the high block. The pattern of the kata traces the letter “I” on the floor.

The last fifteen minutes of the Saturday morning class, we, as a group, would perform the three Taikiyoku Kata as Sensei Nick called out the cadence. This usually took about five minutes. In the ten remaining minutes, Sensei Nick would then call out differing numbers of Taikiyoku to perform. For example, Sensei might say, “next Taikiyoku number thirty-eight.” One of us would raise our hand asking, “Which one is that Sensei?” Sensei would reply, “That’s with a open parry block and a hammer-fist strike.” We would perform the kata using the same basic “I” pattern simply substituting the dictated block and counter. In this manner, we would do various versions of the Taikiyoku, each with a made-up number, until class ended. There was a simple practical reason for the Taikiyoku variations. Little did Sensei Nick know the full impact of this practicality.

As I advanced to the Dai-Sempai (“Oldest Brother”), the highest ranking student in the junior division, I began to help Sensei Nick teach the Saturday morning beginner’s class. I asked them about the tradition of Taikiyoku Kata during the last fifteen minutes of the class. The answer I received was mundane. Its impact was profound.

First, the mundane. The Saturday morning class was the last class for the week. Sensei Nick worked full time during the week and taught karate part time. So, the Saturday morning class was his last “official” work related function before he could enjoy his weekend. As I soon learned by assisting him, the last fifteen minutes of a class were the most difficult. In so far as the pleasures of the weekend lay immediately ahead they tended to drag out. Sensei Nick used the Taikiyoku variations to basically kill those last fifteen minutes. He would simply make up a combination of a block and a counter strike, give it a number, et voila, time would fly by. The kata were simply created in the mind of Sensei.

Now, the profound. This simple little exercise to kill time opened students imagination. For me it expanded my thoughts and conceptions about kata. It ultimately led me to “Think-Sweat & Experiment” ™ fully with kata. The penultimate result of this process being my 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata which you can learn online.

So, I guess you can say that it was the need for Sensei Nick to kill the last fifteen minutes of Saturday morning classes that was the catalyst to my creation. Like lightening for Doctor Frankenstein, it that lit the spark for my quest to explore kata and create a kata for you, the non-martial artist that desires the mind-body benefits of kata.

Here is a little preview of the first course which teaches the core physical movements and internal processes of the kata.

You can use this link to view the full curriculum and click the “enroll” button if you would like to start your class. https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

See you in class,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

15 May

May 18, 2011, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us.

Sensei Wayne, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) promotion. Photo: Shihan Don Nagle, Sensei Wayne, Shihan Peter Urban)

Each year I post a Hatsu Bon in his honor and dedicate my kata to his eternal spirit. Please join me in dedicating our training on May 18th 2016 to his eternal spirit. May his spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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.

With Shihan Norlander, Ku-dan, Menkyo Kaiden, USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do, at his Bogota, NJ dojo.

In the years since his passing, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my friend. Each time I throw a leg over my motorcycle, I think, “Come on Wayne, let’s go for a ride.” Each Wednesday (May 18th, 2018 the day of his passing was a Wednesday) I perform the Kunchaba Kata (a non-Goshin-Do Karate Kata I learned from him) in dedication to his spirit. His spirit remains eternal in the wind in my face and in the kata. A video of the Kata appears at the end of this article.

Ground Zero Motorcycle Run – myself, my wife, Dianne, Sensei Jimmy Dimicelli, Shihan Wayne Norlander, Bergen County Courthouse, circa 2002

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Sensei Wayne:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.
Sensei John Szmitkowski

©Copyright 2019 Sensei John Szmitkowski and Issho Productions

The Kunchaba Kata Sensei Wayne shared with me:

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

19 May

May 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of the passing of my friend and karate-do comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander. To his eternal spirit I offer my training this month and the following Hatsu Bon poem. May his spirit find my training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout. Circa 2008

 

Ground Zero Motorcycle Run – myself, my wife, Dianne, Sensei Jimmy Dimicelli, Shihan Wayne Norlander, Bergen County Courthouse, circa 2002

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.


Sensei John Szmitkowski

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

9 May

May 18, 2011, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us.
Please join me in dedicating our training on May 18th 2016 to his eternal spirit and the spirit of all those fallen comrades we wish to remember. May their spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970's, West New York, NJ

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout.

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.
Sensei John Szmitkowski

HANKO-master

Kata Lab # 1150: Kata – Makiwara – Kata

23 Mar

“A pond which is not fed by a fresh stream becomes stagnant and will die and so will an ardent karate-ka continually modify their art.” —- Chosin Chibana

KATA LAB

Kata Lab: Kata with makiwara or heavy bag

Background:
Too often kata is viewed as either an individual pursuit limited to performing the kata or one requiring a partner (bunkai practice). The purpose of this Kata Lab is to introduce you to the idea that you can begin to expand your kata practice and bunkai (analysis) by yourself, without a partner, beyond the scope of the kata itself.

Experimental analysis (Recommended Reader Experimentation):

Select a favorite kata that you are very familiar with and can perform technically well. Practice the kata using the following procedures:

procedure # 1 (full kata-heavy bag):
Perform the kata with the appropriate speed and power with a state-of-mind that you are in a real fight; (at the end of your kata, you must have “survived” the fight);
Immediately after the kata, use either a makiwara or heavy bag (practice only basic technique – simple reverse punches, front kicks and the like) full speed and power,
Immediately after that, perform your kata slowly, paying attention to executing the movements;
during the kata performance, recall how your body felt as you hit the heavy bag – what your knuckles or ball of the foot felt like, what the bag itself felt like as you impacted it, how your stance felt at the moment of impact and the like;
try to recall this feeling into your future kata practice.

procedure # 2 (kata interrupted by bag, return to kata):
This will require either a partner or a self-timer. If using a timer, set the timer to ring at about halfway through your kata;
Begin your kata ;
At a random point in the kata performance, the partner calls out a command (or when the timer rings);
At that signal, interrupt your kata and practice on the makiwara or heavy bag as in procedure # 1 for about 30 to 45 seconds
After the time limit stop the makiwara or heavy bag work, remain where you are and in whatever direction they are facing;
Then return to performing your kata, but you must begin at the point where you left off and finish the kata;
Advanced version: during the time you are striking the heavy bag, use strikes, kicks and combinations from the kata itself.

I have filmed the following brief video to illustrate the concept of kata interrupted. The video was filmed at the spectacular Lower Salt River, Arizona.

Conclusion:
The above procedure will help you begin to expand your kata practice beyond the scope of the kata itself. This will enable you to advance to more difficult procedures both without the need of a training partner and with a partner when one is available.

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is

lab-collage-6

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO-master

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

If you enjoyed this Kata Lab, please visit the online store to help fund more kata experiments.

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Shop-cups-home    dreams-seisan  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

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 combining martial arts protocol with fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com

and

DOJO STICKER-1  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata Lab # 1110 – Kata With Custom Kiai

23 Feb

KATA LAB

Background:

This Kata Lab will help you practice and explore the benefits of non-traditional kiai.

Within the martial arts, there are three reasons to kiai. They are, to scare your opponent, to boost your confidence and to provide or add to the strength of your technique. In my opinion, there is another aspect of kiai. That aspect is to to alert others to your predicament. In Karate, very often the sound one produces with a kiai is akin to “ai-ya.” I have students modify this. When I teach children karate, I teach them to kiai the word “help”. Similarly, I teach female students to kiai the word “fire.” Why? Again, the word itself has no effect on the kiai so use the word to your advantage. Most people that hear a child yell for help will look in that direction and offer assistance. However, help yelled from an adult may not elicit the same response, rather people may actually look away. Thus, the kiai of “fire”; everyone looks to see where the fire is.
Another example comes from my background as a criminal defense attorney (now retired). I tell students to consider another non-traditional kiai – the phrase “stop hitting me” as you defend yourself. In the event of police reports or legal action, witnesses may not recall the exact circumstances of the encounter, but they may recall that you had said you were being hit and asked for it to stop.

Experimental analysis (Recommended Reader Experimentation):
Select a non-traditional, individual kiai to explore. The kiai maybe the word “help” or “fire” or “stop hitting me” as in the above narrative.
Practice your kata and where a kiai is specified in the kata, use your non-traditional kiai.
You may also use your non-traditional kiai in kumite , self-defense and other Dojo practice.

Conclusion:

Practicing a non-traditional kiai within your kata, sets the stage for you to actually use the kiai when and if you are required to spontaneously defend yourself in the street.

Lastly, the practice is also fun for students (and thus encourages practice and imagination). To this end, I had my children’s class one week before Christmas use the kiai “Ho.” They were encouraged to use this kiai in kata. They were permitted to also use it in self-defense and kumite. The only stipulation when using it in kumite or self-defense was that they had to execute three consecutive techniques. Thus the full kiai was a Christmasy “Ho-ho-ho.”

Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is

lab-collage-6

 

HANKO-wood

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

Please feel free to visit our store with Kata Lab logo products

Come visit my store on CafePress!

all items have a minimal mark-up of only $ 0.75 to $ 1.00 over base prices! Here are ONLY SOME of our support products:

Shop-cups-home

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 combining martial arts protocol with fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com

and

DOJO STICKER-1  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

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

 

 

KATA LAB

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

Background:
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/

Conclusion:
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

lab-collage-6

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

HANKO-master

Sensei John Szmitkowski

If you enjoyed this Kata Lab, please help fund future experiments and visit my Cafepree store using this convenient link:

Come visit my store on CafePress!

all items have a minimal mark-up of only $ 0.75 to $ 1.00 over base prices! Here are ONLY SOME of our support products:

    sensei_johns_kata_lab_vintage_clipboard   Shop-cups-home

ENDNOTES:

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.

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 combining martial arts protocol with fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com

and

DOJO STICKER-1  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

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