Tag Archives: #Kata For Wellness

Holiday Stress? Try Kata-RX For FREE!

23 Nov

   It seems but the blink of an eye. Or perhaps, more appropriately the jingle of a bell. Once again the Christmas Season is upon us. That means one thing – extra Holiday stress. To compound that, “Christmas comes early this year” seems to be on everyone’s lips. It seems somehow, Thanksgiving conspired to add to the stress by “Coming late” and thus, there’s less time to shop for Christmas.

   Is there no relief? “Yes!” Treat yourself to the wellness and mindfulness benefits of Kata-RX for FREE!. Take a moment to give back to yourself. Take a deep breath and clear your mind. You have nothing to loose, its FREE!

Kata-RX For Wellness makes the perfect Christmas Gift! ANYone, ANYwhere, ANYtime can use Kata-RX for physical wellness and mental well-being and mindfulness. Since the first course is free, why not also treat yourself?

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

See you in class!

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Kata-Rx & Cannabis – Legal and FREE

9 Nov

       Here in New Jersey the people have spoken in the recent election New Jersey has extended its medical marijuana program to include recreational use. Now, you have an opportunity to explore the entheogenic meditative experience of combining My Kata-Rx for wellness program with cannabis. A ceremonial practice I call “Katannabis.”

     You can prepare now for the effective date by learning Kata-Rx for FREE in the privacy of your own home at your convenience. by enrolling for FREE in my online school – https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

You can also follow my weekly insights into both Kata-Rx For Wellness amd Katannabis (Kata-Rx and your cannabis) by viewing my blog:

     Katannabis specific articles may be found here: https://senseijohn.me/category/katannabis/

      Kata-Rx articles can be found here: https://senseijohn.me/category/kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness/

Here’s a sneak peak at Kata-Rx For Wellness:

 

Here’s one of my guidelines for Katannabis:

Enjoy, yours in 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,

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

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Kata-RX & Medical Cannabis – Katannabis

26 Oct

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

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

Now, for this week’s installment which kicks off a series of articles about my marriage of Kata-RX and medical marijuana.

Kata-RX is a sacrament-like component of an entheogenic ceremonial medical cannabis ritual. To anyone, martial artist or not who has difficulty wrapping their minds around the idea of combining the sacredness of kata with medical marijuana – “Get over it.” First, until you experience first hand or through the eyes of someone struggling with the great physical, mental or emotional pain, do not judge the use of medical cannabis. Second, cannabis and other medical, sacred plants have been used in entheogenic ceremonial rituals for centuries. Kata-RX is the perfect ritual for a devout exploration of the entheogenic use of medical cannabis.

Society has finally began to understand and acknowledge the beneficial medical use of cannabis. We are only now touching upon the medical benefits, both in the treatment of physical illness and dilatory mental illness and emotional difficulties. But, is this enough? The answer is “Yes” and “No.”

While it is true that a great exploration of the medical use of cannabis is underway, it unfortunately falls short. Such a use is exponentially enhanced when cannabis is utilized as part of a ceremonial ritual. The ritual of Kata-RX is an indispensable sacrament to the entheogenic use of cannabis. Kata-RX is rich in the mind/body techniques of breathing, relaxation, dynamic tension, visualization and perception. These factors when combined with medical cannabis produce a profound, almost other worldly physical and mental realization of “self.” Kata-Rx and medical cannabis is a baptism to the higher self we are all capable of achieving.

But, I have a problem with my concept of ritualizing Kata-RX plus medical cannabis into an entheogenic ceremony. How to educate others who can benefit from the experience?

Everything nowadays needs a brand, a hashtag, a catch-phrase. So despite my concern that labeling the profound ceremonial ritual of Kata-RX and medical cannabis will bastardize its solemnity, I must yield to such convention. I call the sacramental integration of my Kata-RX and cannabis, “Katannabis.” ™

Kata + Cannabis = Katannabis

Katannabis is a handy reference to the sacramental practice of combining the ritual of Kata-RX and cannabis as a solemn ceremony exploring the wellness and mindfulness of the enhanced human experience. I will organize future articles and videos into a new category, Katannabis” for handy reference.

Sneak-peak: Katannabis works extremely well with Kata-Koan practice as shown in the video – much more on that later.

See you in class – its FREE! Simply use this link, you have nothing to lose!
https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Kata RX – A Perfect Summer 2020 Souvenir (Part 1)

22 Jul

Learn Kata For Wellness for FREE in the comfort of your home, at your convenience! Use this convenient link to join the FREE online course:   https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/core-kata-course

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Summer, 2020.

What a year its been so far. And what more is to come?

It is at this time of year that I historically would encourage you to use your Kata-Rx For Wellness to collect summer souvenirs. Well, now with the Coronavirus still upon us and the various COVID-19 restrictions on travel, large gatherings and the like, it seems that this summer will be – different. That’s not to say though that you cannot explore and enjoy the “souvenir-effect” of your Kata-RX experience.

Before I guide you upon this “new normal” Kata-RX experience, I’d like to take a look back at the Kata-Rx souvenir experience as it existed pre-COVID-19. In my own personal Kata-RX journey there is a fortiori to the COVID-19 restrictions. The journey this year in the midst of the pandemic has been more introspective. It has afforded me the opportunity to more fully engage, explore and understand my Kata-RX. To borrow the motto from my Kata Laboratory project, I “Think *Sweat * Experiment” with my Kata-RX. 

So, before I discuss the new souvenir-effect experience, let’s take a look at summer, one year ago.

=== from Summer, 2019 ====

Ah, summer is here!

A time when many of us travel. Whether we journey to an exotic location for an extended stay, simply indulge ourselves in a long weekend, or take the refreshing day trip, a hallmark of summer is travel. In an effort to preserve our experiences, such travel usually involves the ritual of obtaining souvenirs. Here is a simple way to collect a souvenir for no financial cost; the sole cost may be expressed in terms of a little sweat.

Seienchin Kata, Badlands, SD, Circa 2004 – Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Since I was first introduced to the concept at ten years old by Sensei Nick D’Antuono, I have always enjoyed performing kata outdoors in any location. I can unabashedly admit that I prefer to perform kata in the magnificence of Nature’s Dojo instead of the relative sterility of a traditional dojo. To be sure, the traditional dojo carries an aura and mystique for me, but, I carry such a dojo in my heart and prefer to exhibit it in nature.

Tensho Kata practice, Cape Cod, MA, circa, 1999

For decades, I have collected kata souvenirs of my many travels. Much like looking through a photo album, I am able to revisit my travels by recalling them while performing my kata. Regardless of my present location, I can perform a kata and recall a memory of performing the kata at a different time and in a different place.

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

Here is a video of my most last kata souvenir filmed in 2014 amongst the wild horse herd at the Lower Salt River in the Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

Here are a few tips to assist you in collecting your own kata souvenirs.

  • Wherever you travel perform your kata. For those readers that acquainted themselves with Sanchin Kata, perform Sanchin. (You may use this convenient link to acquaint yourself with Sanchin Kata https://senseijohn.me/sanchin-book/ ) Karate practitioners, please see the recommendations of the the “Kata Sommelier” below);
  • During your performance note the experience of your surroundings, what are the sights and smells? If barefoot, how does the ground feel (is it sandy, rocky, watery, etc). Pay attention to the weather conditions; was it hot, sunny, cold, rainy?
  • Remember the time of day of your performance; sunrise, midday, sunset, etc. Take notes of your experiences before and after the kata performance so that they will be associated with the kata;
  • If you are with someone, recall their presence during your kata;
  • If possible, to assist you, take a photo of a pose from your kata, video record the performance or simply jot down a few notes for future reference;
  • Remember that you interact with the environment during your kata performance, therefore, you leave a part of you in the environment. Thus, a part of you will always remain “on vacation” at that location.
  • Kata Sommelier: For my karate colleagues I would recommend that you perform a different kata at each of the various locations you visit this summer. This way a specific kata will be associated with a specific location, thus giving you a lasting “souvenir.”

Sanchin at the Lower Salt River, AZ

Good luck and have a great summer collecting Kata souvenirs! Once again, the online course is FREE  https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/core-kata-course

 

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If you enjoy the FREE posts, videos, or have tried my FREE Kata-RX course & have the ability to donate, please feel free to do so & help defray the costs of same. Thank-you & please try the FREE course.

$5.00

Sensei John Szmitkowski

       Bonus FREE course for all martial artists who perform Kata – FREE Kata Laboratory mini-course (Time as a fourth dimension of distance) – learn conveniently, safely at your own pace in the comfort of your own home using this convenient link     https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/course-1-kata-laboratory-introduction

 

I Preach Kata-RX / I Practice Kata-RX

20 May

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If you enjoy the FREE posts, videos, or have tried my FREE Kata-RX course & have the ability to donate, please feel free to do so & help defray the costs of same. Thank-you & please try the FREE course.

$5.00

I frequently get the same form of question, “So, this Kata-RX For Wellness thing, you preach it, but do you walk the walk?” Short answer, “Yes.” But more often than not I relate a story from the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Interested in Kata-RX? Try it absolutely for FREE using this convenient link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/core-kata-course

 

A woman once brought her small daughter to Gandhi with a simple request, “Tell my daughter not to eat candy. It is bad for her teeth. She respects you and will obey you.” But Gandhi refused. “Come back in three weeks,” Gandhi told her. “I will see what I can do.”

When the woman returned in three weeks with her daughter, Gandhi took the little girl on his knee and gently instructed her, “Don’t eat candy. It is bad for your teeth.”
The girl shyly nodded her assent. Then she and her mother left for their home. When they were gone, some of Gandhi’s associates were upset and confronted him.

“Bapu, did you know that the woman and her child had to walk hours to see you, and you made them walk that great distance twice in three weeks? Why didn’t you give that simple advice to the girl when they first came?”

Gandhi laughed. “Three weeks ago I did not know if I could stop eating candy. How could I advocate a value unless I myself practice it?” (See Endnote # 1)

Now, that’s a little more memorable than simply answering “Yes” to the question. The fact remains, each and every day I practice my Kata-RX. I have woven it into the fabric of my daily routine. It takes a little as three to five minutes. Again, that’s three to five minutes. Seriously, if you can’t find three to five minutes at least once a day, well, that’s something that need fixing.



The two or three sessions I do during the day keep me focused, well and able to get through the day. My reward, later in the early evening, is a more comprehensive Kata-RX session that I expand to thirty or forty-five minutes and often add-in zazen (seated meditation) at the end.

So, it must be understood that I preach Kata-RX ONLY because I know how it helps me during my day. If it didn’t have that effect on me, rest assured I would not preach it. Certainly, I would not offer it for FREE, I would want a buck for my “snake-oil” product.
Unsure, try it absolutely for FREE using this convenient link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/core-kata-course

Yours in Kata-RX for Wellness

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Endnote:
1. Goswami, Amit, The Self-Aware Universe, (G.P. Putnam & Sons, New York, NY, 1993) p. 264-265.

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

Coronavirus Poll – Worst Case Scenario

14 Mar

Another day of Coronavirus news. Stress, anxiety, fear and yeah, panic are taking hold in mind-boggling numbers. All data relates to one thing – the expansion of the Coronavirus. But, is that the worst case scenario?

Yesterday I finished my nightly Kata-RX mediation and was quietly sitting in Zazen letting my mind wander. It wondered down a path inspired by Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone T.V. series.That path led to the following poll question:

Which scenario would cause the most fear and panic – You wake up tomorrow morning and learn that:

 

Think about it, meditate and take part in the poll. Then, share it with a friend so they can vote too. I’m very interested in the results.

Thanks, be safe and be healthy,

To learn my Kata-RX For Mindfulness for FREE, please click to my E-Dojo page https://senseijohn.me

 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 

Kata-RX Origins – Martial Utility

5 Feb

Donations are appreciated

If you enjoy the FREE posts, videos, or have tried my FREE Kata-RX course & have the ability to donate, please feel free to do so & help defray the costs of same. Thank-you & please try the FREE course.

$5.00

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

===========

Now, for this week’s installment: Kata-Rx For Wellness Origins (continued) – Martial Utility.

In continuing my discussion of the major events during my almost fifty years of training in karate kata that led to my Kata-RX For Wellness, one of the “light-bulb” moments occurred when I was a shy, introverted ten year old training under my first Sensei, Sensei Nick D’Antuono.

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

I had previously discussed the origins of my Kata-RX For Wellness as it related to how Sensei Nick would kill the last fifteen minutes of Saturday morning class. Basically, he would have us creatively modify an existing kata using combinations we thought of. (For more, please see https://senseijohn.me/2019/07/24/origins-of-my-1-day-1-lifetime-kata-killing-time-on-a-saturday/ )

Once I earned the title of “Sensei” and was authorized to start my own Dojo, I carried on Sensei Nick’s tradition. I encouraged my own students, even the children’s class (age 7-14), to creatively modify a basic kata – with one crucial difference.

I noticed students began to modify the kata with esoteric, acrobatic combinations. There was one very real problem. The combinations they created sometimes utterly lacked a practical martial utility. That is to say that the combinations were totally impractical in a self-defense scenario.

One week I decided to surprise the students. I had them demonstrate their created kata and identity the combination that formed the basis of the kata sequences. The next class, I had them engage in kumite (sparring). The one, new rule was that the only fighting combination they could use was the sequence from their created kata. Oh boy, did they learn something. What they learned is the cardinal rule for kata that distinguished it from any other ritual, formal movements, such dance.

What is that cardinal rule of kata that separates it from all other ritual, formal movement?

The initial purpose of kata is martial. Kata is first and foremost for self-defense. Yes, I extoll and celebrate even, the non-martial benefits of kata, but first and foremost there is a martial utility.

That same martial utility is found in my Kata-RX For Wellness. Every movement and every state of mind found within my Kata-RX has a martial purpose! This is true of each and every kata and component you will learn in my online classes, including the Ghost Hand Kata, Sanchin Kata and my 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata.

The difference between my teaching karate kata and Kata-RX is not within the movements or mindset. Rather, it is my approach to teaching you. In a karate curriculum, I would teach the kata from a self-defense standpoint and teach as a “secondary” benefit – the wellness and mindfulness benefits. Whereas my approach in Kata-RX is one of wellness and mindfulness. I can, for anyone interested teach the “secondary” benefit of self-defense.

So, with this article I want to take away the fact that the origins of Kata-RX For Wellness include the martial (self-defense) nature innate to all kata. Though you perform Kata-RX primarily for wellness and mindfulness, innately you cast a glance towards the martial role of the kata.

Here is a brief look at the FREE Kata-RX For Wellness online course filmed in beautiful Cape Cod and the New Jersey shore – enjoy and feel welcome to enroll in my online school. https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

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

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Kata-RX In The Depth Of Winter

22 Jan

Donations are appreciated

If you enjoy the FREE posts, videos, or have tried my FREE Kata-RX course & have the ability to donate, please feel free to do so & help defray the costs of same. Thank-you & please try the FREE course.

$5.00

=== 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): 

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