Tag Archives: Kata Enjoyment

(Wish’in I was) “On The Road (again) With Kata”

22 Nov

Ah, the call of the open road.

For as long as I can remember, 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.

Dojo (Winter) – circa 2001

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.

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.

Chloe on the road – circa 2006

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. (See Endnote # 1 for a video which includes a touching soundtrack by Warren Zevon).

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, 2017.

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/
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1. My video tribute from the road to Shihan Wayne Norlander featuring the song, “Keep Me In Your Heart” by Warren Zevon. I miss the Karate-Do training we shared and motorcycle rides we took.

 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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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One Inch . . . That’s OK

6 Apr

One Inch.
One inch is not a large unit of measurement, but it can symbolize a great deal.

This “ . . . That’s OK” (Online Kata) group session will explore such symbolism.

Many of you have acquainted yourself with Sanchin Kata using my free resources. For those readers unfamiliar with Sanchin Kata, you can freely acquaint yourself with the kata and join in this group session using the following link: https://senseijohn.me/sanchin-book/
In the Sanchin Kata you take three steps forward and three steps backward. Thus, when you are finished with your Sanchin performance, you end at the exact point that you started. I call this phenomenon of starting and finishing a kata at the exact same location “positional coincidence.” Positional coincidence exists in all modern (approximately 1945 and thereafter) karate kata. Karate Sensei often attribute a philosophical concept to positional coincidence.

You are traveling through life. Your life’s journey is interrupted by a confrontation with an aggressor. You pause your journey to defend yourself (represented by the kata performance). You defeat the aggressor. Being victorious, you continue along your life’s path from the exact point of interruption. Symbolically, the confrontation had no effect upon you at all.

Let’s use this “. . . That’s OK” (Online Kata) session to explore and alter that philosophy.

I cannot emphasize enough that performing Sanchin Kata, at least once daily, will benefit you physically, emotionally and psychologically. So, why subscribe to the above philosophy attributed to positional coincidence? To do so simply symbolizes that you are living your life, you perform Sanchin Kata, and after doing so return to your life exactly as you lived before the performance of Sanchin Kata. Wrong! You are better physically, emotionally and psychologically for performing the Kata. So, why not symbolize that betterment? Intentionally violating positional coincidence by moving forward one inch provides that symbolism. My karate colleagues may find Endnote # 1 to be of interest on this point.

So, lets voluntarily adjust and “violate” the phenomenon of positional coincidence during this group “ . . . That’s OK” (Online Kata) session.

dreams-seisan           Only One Inch . . . That’s OK

As always, you can perform either the Sanchin Kata, my Shibumi Kata (Link: https://senseijohn.me/2013/12/05/shibumi-kata-the-movements/ ) or any karate kata. For my karate brethren, the “Kata Sommelier” has an interesting recommendation for this session.
Remember, the group dynamic is not fulfilled by all of us being geographically present, rather, it is fulfilled by each of us performing our kata in the proscribed manner.

Session Parameters:
Date: Starting Monday April 7th, 2014;
Time: Anytime
Location: Any location;
Salient Points:

  • Perform your Sanchin, Shibumi or Karate Kata as normal, and remain in position on the last move;
  • As you step forward from the last move to the ready posture, intentionally, shift forward at least an inch, so that you do not finish at the same point you started, but forward from that position;
  • Recognize that finishing forward from your starting position acknowledges that you are better off physically, emotionally and psychologically for performing the kata than not performing the kata;
  • Kata Sommelier: For my karate brethren, I would recommend any “flowing”, graceful kata. My favorite kata in this regard is the Seipai Kata. You may also enjoy Wansu Kata, Seisan Kata or similar kata during this session. But remember – violate the positional coincidence by moving forward at least one inch at the end.

The last requirement of this “. . . That’s OK” session is to remain in a positive physical, emotional and mental state throughout the day by way of the concept of “Zanshin” (the “remaining mind.” For information on the Zanshin state-of-mind, please use this LINK: https://senseijohn.me/2014/02/23/zanshin-remaining-mind-shibumi-project/

Once again, you may wish to not only perform this “. . . That’s OK” session as scheduled, but may also revisit the session as a regular part of your kata practice.

In closing I remain, inching forward in life through my kata,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

I found a few old photos that I thought readers may enjoy, the two below are from about 1973 from my purple belt promotion they feature several notable Yudansha as follows: 1) Sensei Dave Crum (as a brown belt) 2) Sensei Dave Church, 3) Sensei Nick D’Antuono, 4) myself receiving purple belt (age 12), 5) Sensei Tony Fabi, 6) Shihan Thomas DeFelice, 7) Sensei Paul Recchia, 8) Sensei James Kingston, 9) Sensei Steve Malmoud, 10) Sensei Jeff Tyne. I am blessed and honored to have personally known every black belt in the Goshin-Do Karate-Do style we call “DeFelice-Ryu.”
purple-2-#     purple-1-#

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300-cactus.jpg  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

1. For my karate colleagues, it is about time to re-examine the dogmatic philosophy attributed to positional coincidence. We need to acknowledge the truth of a real life fight in the street – after the fight you do not return to your life exactly as you were before the fight. Initially, you are all the better for surviving the encounter; you survived to go-about your life, love and provide for your family. After the initial euphoria of survival wears off, you will always carry the gravity of having to defend yourself. Either way, you are never the same. I simply suggest, that on occasion (such as in this kata session) your kata practice should acknowledge that simple truth. Voluntarily avoiding positional coincidence as above is one way to do so.

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona.
LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE
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