Tag Archives: Kata Practice

Katannabis – Cannabis As An Entheogen

6 Feb

Cannabis Entheogen: Its purpose in Katannabis

I wholeheartedly advocate the wellness and mindfulness aspect of Kata. I fell in love with kata at age ten; over fifty years ago. I embrace the idea that anyone can and should learn and perform kata. Thus, Kata need not be taught solely as part of a karate program. I called this belief “Kata-RX.” 

 I not only advocate Kata-Rx, I practice it daily. Twenty years ago, I started feeling that something was missing. Kata sustained and nourished me. But I felt more was possible. Through contemplation and experimentation I realized that a more fulfilling experience and a greater ascendancy was possible. Cannabis was the key. Cannabis accelerated the process. What do I mean?

 Experience showed me that a certain level of mindfulness was achieved after performing Kata-Rx for about thirty to forty-five minutes followed by ten minutes of Zazen meditation. Experimentation showed me that a micro-dose of cannabis prior to the start of Kata-RX accelerated the mindfulness process. The micro dose prior to Kata-RX took me to that heightened state achieved at the end of a Kata session at the very start. The Katannabis experience, Kata combined with Cannabis,  then took me further. The result was stunning. 

For the last twenty years, I have been exploring, documenting and memorializing my Katannabis. Cannabis, as an entheogen, is an accelerant that quickens and elevates that state of meditative, higher, consciousness that can derived solely from Kata. It is a natural entheogen that requires no processing to be effective. As an entheogen, it is a tool to assist the Katannabis practitioner on achieving a higher state of physical and non-physical self.

 A word about cannabis dosage. I want to stress that it is important that you use a micro-dose of cannabis. You are not looking to get “stoned.” 

You must be able to perform the Kata with technical proficiency. Sloppy, stoned Kata will NOT invoke the physical and mental benefits of Katannabis. If stoned you will not achieve the fullest Katannabis experience.

The casual observer should not notice a difference in your Kata performance during the Katannabis ceremony. I emphasize casual observer because to the enlightened observer (one that has expanded consciousness through Katannabis) a difference can be seen in your eyes during the Kata. The eyes reflect your your inner consciousness. Thus, they will disclose an enhanced Kata experience to those with similar vision.

So a little goes a long way. Consideration should also be given to the manner in which you interact with and utilize the cannabis. Simply put, treat the cannabis with respect. Just like your kata, the more respect you pay to cannabis the more embracing your experience and relationship with the herb.

If Katannabis is not for you, that’s okay. Fine. But keep the dogmatic criticisms to yourself. Particularly those that think the “masters of old” were angels. Do your research, many consumed alcohol to excess. Some even advocated gambling, brawling and frequenting prostitutes as a means of testing and bettering their karate. So, before you open your mouth, know the history. See, for example, a comment on a Facebook page regarding one such master (from his top student no less).

I’ve also attached my notes regarding some of the pioneers of entheogen research, Timothy Wyllie, Sasha Shulgin and Terrence McKenna to encourage you to take a deep dive into not only Katannabis, but also entheogen in general and how they can be applied to Kata. 

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Katannabis Mandala-Effect – Introduction

30 Jan

I’m going to post a series of articles that explore the “Mandala-effect” found within the practice of Katannabis ritual mediation. This effect is explored though various sequences of both the traditional Suparunpei Kata and my Sanchin-Dai Kata. 

So that the Mandala-effect can be explored by those who do not know either Kata, such as my Katannabis students that do not practice a karate kata curriculum, I’m posting here an introduction to my “Sanchin Kata In Four Directions.”

Sanchin Kata in Four Directions was a hybrid Sanchin Kata that I developed in the early 2000’s for my “Sanchin-Kata-For-Everyone” students. It is a very convenient way for anyone to enhanced themselves physically and mentally. A fortiori, it easily becomes part of the Katannabis meditation ritual. Take a look and try it yourself as part of your won Katannabis session. Then you too, can embark upon your own study of the “Mandala-effect” of Katannabis.

I hope you enjoy the video. It was filmed many years ago on the Lower Salt River in Tonto National Forest, Arizona. Enjoy.

You can start in the “shallow end of the river” of Katannabis ritual meditation for FREE using this safe, convenient link to my online school: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation The course is FREE! 

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

Sensei JohnSzmitkowski

The Great Three Battles

31 Oct

Katannabis, the entheogenic combination of Kata and cannabis as a meditation ritual, is an ongoing process of experimentation, documentation and analysis. Recently, I developed a new Kata to augment my own research. I call it the Sanchin-Dai Kata, the “Great Three Battle” Kata.  

The Kata incorporates elements from the “Sacred Trinity” of Kata, Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei together with internal chanting to produce a powerful meditative experience as part of the overall Katannabis session.

It provides a great framework for my meditations on the three battles of Katannabis, energy flows and access to the so-called higher dimensions. To help me visualize these concepts, I codified my many pages on notes into a schematic. Often after a Katannabis session I will utilize the schematic during Zazen (seated meditation).

At this juncture, I am not comfortable divulging my sights. Simply put, and I mean no disparagement, but these concepts are too advanced for online disclosure. My desire to memorialize and sometimes publish my findings is tempered by a nagging feeling that by publishing my experiences, I am trivializing them by making them too easily attainable. To put my concerns at rest, I’m not going to re-type my notes. Rather, I simply going to upload them as Jpegs. You’ll have to go through the “effort” of clicking on the to read. That may dissuade all those save those who are really interested in probing the profound meditative effects of Katannabis. All others, press the “escape” button and click off this site then go purchase your self-help books, crystals, new yoga pants and incense. This isn’t for you.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

You can start in the “shallow end of the pool” of Katannabis ritual meditation for FREE using this safe, convenient link to my online school: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation The course is FREE! 

Katannabis – Effect of Sacrifice & Prayer

17 Oct

Katannabis Ritual Meditation, my entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and Cannabis, is an acutely, intense practice. It is solemn. I am compelled to practice, experiment, and memorial my experiences. One of my most rewarding exploroations of the depths of Katannabis is the combination of Katannabis and “prayer.” 

My desire to memorialize and sometimes publish my findings ion this website s tempered by a nagging feeling that by publishing my experiences, I am trivializing them by making them too easily attainable. To put my concerns at rest, I’m not going to re-type my notes. Rather, I simply going to upload them as Jpegs. You’ll have to go through the “effort” of clicking on the to read. That may dissuade all those save those who are really interested in probing the profound meditative effects of Katannabis. All others, press the “escape” button and click off this site then go purchase your self-help books, crystals, new yoga pants and incense. This isn’t for you.

Here are my most recent notes on Kata as a sacrifice attendant to prayer:

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

How far you want to explore its depths is up to you.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Katannabis and Prayer – Enhanced Meditation

3 Oct

Katannabis Ritual Meditation, my entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and Cannabis, is an acutely, intense practice. It is solemn. There are aspects that cannot be toyed with.

It is for this reason that I selectively disseminate its methods not only here on this blog, but also in my free online courses. It’s deepest secrets I reserve only for in-person instruction. There is always a tension; however, between what is safe to disclose to the uninitiated and what cannot be disclosed. “ In her book Psychic Self-Defense, Dion Fortune, the nome d’plume for Violet Mary Firth, faced a similar conundrum, “To disclose sufficient to be adequate without disclosing sufficient to be dangerous.” (E-Book, Chapter 1).

With this in mind, I’m going to disclose a technique used in Katannabis that is profoundly, solemn and rewarding. It is to combine Katannabis ritual meditation and “prayer.” Now, one of the things I am not going to fully disclose is my definition of “prayer.” Such definition, while recognizing the ancient concept of prayer does not have religious underpinnings. It does; however, require a “sacrifice” (the physical performance of Kata-Rx), an unbounded psyche (provided by the cannabis entheogen) and most importantly a pure, cleansed and atoned spirit. Only then can the profound Divine be encountered.

Prayer is most profound during the performance of my “Sacred Trinity” of Kata, Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei. You can view a video of a portion of Sanchin Kata below.

I will only teach the exact methodology to advanced students in person. Below, you can see my highly redacted personal Katannabis notes for one aspect of the Sanchin Prayer methodology.

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

How far you want to explore its depths is upto you.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the priviledge and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

External Factors Involved In Katannabis – Part 2 of 2

12 Sep

Katannabis Ritual Meditation, my entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and Cannabis, is an acutely, intense practice. It is solemn. I am compelled to practice, experiment, and memorial my experiences. Most recently I have been deeply exploring internal and external factors, processes, and “unknowns” that affect, intermingle with and are present during a Katannabis session.

My desire to memorialize and sometimes publish my findings is tempered by a nagging feeling that by publishing my experiences, I am trivializing them by making them too easily attainable. To put my concerns at rest, I’m not going to re-type my notes. Rather, I simply going to upload them as Jpegs. You’ll have to go through the “effort” of clicking on the to read. That may dissuade all those save those who are really interested in probing the profound meditative effects of Katannabis. All others, press the “escape” button and click off this site then go purchase your self-help books, crystals, new yoga pants and incense. This isn’t for you.

External factors – Overview:

External factors – Introduction:

External factors – Discussion:

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

How far you want to explore its depths is up to you.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Internal Factors Involved In Katannabis – Part 1 of 2

8 Aug

Katannabis Ritual Meditation, my entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and Cannabis, is an acutely, intense practice. It is solemn. I am compelled to practice, experiment, and memorial my experiences. Most recently I have been deeply exploring internal and external factors, processes, and “unknowns” that affect, intermingle with and are present during a Katannabis session.

My desire to memorialize and sometimes publish my findings is tempered by a nagging feeling that by publishing my experiences, I am trivializing them by making them too easily attainable. To put my concerns at rest, I’m not going to re-type my notes. Rather, I simply going to upload them as Jpegs. You’ll have to go through the “effort” of clicking on the to read. That may dissuade all those save those who are really interested in probing the profound meditative effects of Katannabis. All others, press the “escape” button and click off this site then go purchase your self-help books, crystals, new yoga pants and incense. This isn’t for you.

Internal factors – Overview:

Internal factors – Introduction:

Internal factors – Discussion:

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

How far you want to explore its depths is up to you.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the Superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Katannabis – The Mandala Effect, a little fun

25 Jul

Journal Entry # : The Mandala-Effect: A Bit of Fun

I’ve been deeply exploring and documenting a very intense aspect of Katannabis Ritual Meditation, the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx For Wellness and cannabis. I call this aspect the “Mandala-Effect” of Katannabis. I first discovered the mandala-effect several decades ago while practicing the Kata on the sands of Cape Cod Bay. That fun little story is for another day.

The intense nature of the mandala-effect dictates that I selectively and slowly release information on not only its nature but how to experience it. It is has peril and is not for the intermediate practitioner of Katannabis and certainly far too dangerous for the novice.

Having said that, while my exploration of this topic is often serious, it does have its lighter moments. One such moment came during a Katannabis session exploring the “mandala of the hands” in Suparunpei Kata. I tried to visualize the three dimension aspect of these mandala and was having difficulty. While meditating on the topic, it came to me. I put my idea to work and using video, my visualization problem was solved.

I continue documenting my research.  I currently have over fifty pages on the Mandala-effect, and over 250 pages on Katannabis in general. For now, I’m releasing it slowly and safely. One step at a time. I don’t think anyone is at the stage where they can safely delve into the more intense and profound aspects of Katannabis ritual meditation. The rewards are great, but there is danger that only an adept can safely navigate.  In her book Psychic Self-Defense, Dion Fortune, the nome d’plume for Violet Mary Firth, faced a similar conundrum, “To disclose sufficient to be adequate without disclosing sufficient to be dangerous.” (E-Book, Chapter 1). That is my current conundrum. I reflect deeply before disclosing aspects of Katannabis.

You can start in the “shallow end of the pool” of Katannabis ritual meditation for FREE using this safe, convenient link to my online school: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation The course is FREE! 

How far you want to explore its depths is upto you. I am reminded of the words of Casey Hardison, “The cartography of the Inner Soul is nothing to be afraid of.”   (Casey Hardison – Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia S1 E6: The Lazy Lizard School Of Hedonism).

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque 

(with the privilege and permission of the superiors)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Exploring Katannabis – Add A Koan

18 Jul

I supplement my daily Katannabis (the combination of Kata-Rx and medical cannabis) with the use of a koan. (See Endnote # 1)   In my practice I do not restrict myself to traditional koans. I include philosophical concepts, quotes and other such mind-benders. A few of my personal favorites are from Dante’s Divine Comedy, especially, Inferno. One passage in particular is from Canto III which I love paring with the opening sequence of Seienchin Kata. I find that this passage nicely meshes with the breathing and movement of that set of three sequences.

You can see the surreal pairing in the video below. This video is of the first sequence, I repeat in for the next two sequences of the kata.

I find my Katannabis meditation experiences allow me to live a fulfilled, complete life in the manner in which, I believe, human life was intended to do. If you have a pure heart and open spirit, you too can embark on a Katannabis meditation practice. Is it easy? No, nothing worthy is. Will it enlighten you? Absolutely, but remember enlightenment isn’t unicorns and roses, it often involves a cold slap in the face.

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

Enjoy your Kata-Rx and Katannabis,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

1. For those of you not familiar with a koan, the general definition is 

a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.

A classic example is the question, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

For me, the meditation and contemplation of such traditional koans are unsatisfactory, unfulfilling and unenlightening. I prefer something less esoteric to meditate on. One of my favorites is shown in the above video.

Exploring Kata-Rx & Katannabis – Sanchin Kata In A Side Stance

27 Jun

Kata-Rx For Wellness and Katannabis Ritual Meditation (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and cannabis) are both highly adaptable to your personal needs. One of my favorite adaptations is to perform the Sanchin Kata* in a side stance.

This is a very simple adaptation of Sanchin that fosters an augmented meditation experience. It also introduces you to another component of both Kata-Rx and Katannabis known as “Seienchin.” Seienchin is a ceremonial kata that illustrates the duality of our existence. 

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

The kanji (Japanese calligraphy) for Seienchin translates as “Calm in the storm / Storm in the Calm.” In Katannabis, this concept is exponentially increased.

Try it yourself for FREE:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Instagram:

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);

Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;

Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.

Endnote:

  • * The Kanji for Sanchin translates as “Three Battles” – I define the three battles of Sanchin as the Physical Dimension )breathing & bodily movement), the Spiritual Dimension (states-of-mind, psyche, emotions) and the Environment within which they occur (physical & non-physical dimensions).

Exploring Kata-Rx & Katannabis – Reverse Sanchin Kata

6 Jun

Both my Kata-Rx for wellness program and my Katannabis * meditation are highly adaptive. You can easily modify each according to your individual needs. *Katannabis is the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx and medical cannabis.

In fact both systems required I revaluate and modify the traditional Kata I learned as part of my Goshin-Do Karate training. The modifications generally shifted the emphasis of Kata from a self-defense (with a hint of spirituality) perspective to the exact opposite. The perspective was now one of wellness and mindfulness with a hint at self-defense applications.

One of the cornerstones of Kata-Rx and Katannabis is a Kata known as Sanchin. 

There are those that feel that Sanchin Kata is “too easy.” Personally, after forty-three years of Sanchin, I find this a ridiculous statement. But, let’s see. Sanchin is too easy only if your imagination and introspection is limited. 

Once you have become familiar with the three battles of Sanchin you can then play around with the Kata to challenge your understanding. One technique is to perform the kata in reverse order. I posed this challenge to students of traditional karate in the form of a Kata Lab (you can view that here   https://senseijohn.me/2014/10/20/kata-lab-reverse-sanchin-kata/ )

I was surprised at how many karate-ka (practitioners) had difficulty with this! Regardless of experience very few were able to perform Sanchin Kata in reverse order! 

To assist you, I have prepared a short video. (If you are unfamiliar with Sanchin, you can learn it for FREE using the link below). There is a full class on this topic in my FREE online course.

There are many benefits and insights to be gained from this simple exercise. It fosters a richer understanding of Sanchin for my Kata-Rx students. It also enhances the meditative experience of Katannabis.

Give it a FREE try:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Respectfully,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

Exploring Katannabis – Advanced Meditation

9 May

Kata-Rx For Wellness and Katannabis Ritual Meditation (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and cannabis) are both highly adaptable to your personal needs. One of my favorite adaptations is to perform the Sanchin Kata* in four directions (you can learn Sanchin online for FREE  https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation ).

You can see this advanced form of Sanchin Kata in the video below which was filmed at the beautiful Lower Salt Rive, Tonto National Forest, Arizona.

This is a very simple adaptation of Sanchin that fosters an augmented meditation experience. It also introduces you to another component of both Kata-Rx and Katannabis known as “Seienchin.” Seienchin is a ceremonial kata that illustrates the duality of our existence. 

The kanji (Japanese calligraphy) for Seienchin translates as “Calm in the storm / Storm in the Calm.” In Katannabis, this concept is exponentially increased. Below is a unique video of Seienchin filmed amongst the herd of wild horses that call the Lower Salt River, Arizona home. 

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

Try it yourself for FREE:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Instagram:

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);

Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;

Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.

Endnote:

  • The Kanji for Sanchin translates as “Three Battles” – I define the three battles of Sanchin as the Physical Dimension )breathing & bodily movement), the Spiritual Dimension (states-of-mind, psyche, emotions) and the Environment within which they occur (physical & non-physical dimensions).

Katannabis Kata – Modifications – Fuku & Gekisai Kata Part 1

25 Apr

In my upcoming Katannabis* classes and videos I’ll provide insight into the syllabus of kata used in the ritual. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Katannabis” is the name I’ve given to my combination of Kata-RX and medical marijuana that provides a rich and fulfilling entheogenic meditative experience.

Katannabis kata are traditional karate kata that I slightly modified to enhance the entheogenic experience. In these blogs, I’ll be disclosing and discussing some of those modifications.

First allow me to address the purpose for modification.Katannabis does not emphasize self-defense. It emphasizes spirituality. Thus changes are made to foster that emphasis. It is important to note that the changes do; however, maintain martial efficacy. This is a hallmark of kata in general. Further, the changes also inspire a martial analysis, called “Bunkai,” so as to understand the practical self-defense application of the modification made for Katannabis.

Let’s turn to the first two kata in the Katannabis ceremony, Fuku and Gekisai Kata. I modified the opening and forward punches performed in both kata. Traditionally, As you can see in the videos, Fuku opens by stepping forward to a right Sanchin stance while executing a right closed middle block with Sanchin breathing and dynamics. Gekisai opens by stepping forward to a right Sanchin stance while executing a double closed middle block with Sanchin breathing and dynamics. I modified Fuku to open the same as Gekisai. My reasoning is that any lost bunkai (analysis of the kata, see Endnote number 1) is offset by the advantage of illustrating the inter-connectivity of kata. This is in reflection of a similar opening being maintained through Sanchin, Suparunpei and kata outside of the Goshin-Do style such as Sanseiryu and Shishoshin (and others that I am unaware of as they are outside of my Kata syllabus).

I also slightly modified the mechanics of punching. This modification serves two purposes. First, it again should the concept of unification of the kata within Katannabis (all kata are hidden in each other so as to form one conceptual kata). Second, the modification pays homage to the implied fighting distance reflected within each kata opening. (See Endnote # 1).

You can see both the traditional kata openings and the Katannabis kata modifications in these two videos.

Fuku Kata:


Gekisai Kata (For those viewers that find the traditional opening a bit unusual that is because the Goshin-Do Karate Gekisai is not derived from either Gekisai-Dai-Ichi not Gekisai-Dai-Ni, but is actually drawn from the Gekisai-Da-San Kata of Sensei Seikichi Toguchi.


Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Endnotes:

1 – By analyzing the first two moves of Fuku and Gekisai Kata, an implied distancing (“Ma’ai”) is found unique to each. Fuku that starts with the above opening and proceeds by stepping forward to a left front stance executing a left lunge punch emphasizes a middle distance fight. Such a fight occurs at a distance whereby each opponent must step forward to contact the opponent with a hand strike or kick with the rear leg so as to cover distance. Further the opening posture of having one hand in front of you and one hand back in chamber represents a defensive posture where the desire to block and immediately counter is illustrated. By starting with a double hand middle bock and a stationary reverse punch, Gekisai indicates a close distance fight. In such a fight the desire is, first and foremost, protection. This is because at close distance you can hit your opponent without stepping forward or quickly, and deceptively, kick with the front leg. There is no need to close distance. Thus, both hands are in front of your body.



Sensei’s Journal: Entry # 20 – The Picture

18 Apr

I’ve had some, oh shall we say, unusual experiences as a result of my exploration of Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx and medical cannabis). Some I have shared. One I recently shared is “The Umbrella” story.  https://senseijohn.me/2021/03/01/senseis-journal-entry-6-i-find-an-umbrella/

Recently I had another experience. Unlike previous experiences that were unique in and of themselves, this one had a message. It hinted at the way forward for me to navigate an unbalanced situation. Since my brother’s untimely death in December 2020, I was estranged from my mother. It was a weight. It seemed there was no end in sight. Reconciliation goes both ways. We both needed first to be open to the idea then bold enough to see it through. When and how was a mystery that loomed large. 

That changed early one morning in February at a garbage transfer station in Fairview, New Jersey. 

It was a normal work day, except for the cold, grey, dreariness that is. The first order of business is to dump the prior days construction waste and “tear-down.” Now, the dump is my least favorite place to be. It starkly contains all the refuse of humanity. All the nasty-bits that we like to believe just mysteriously disappears by little waste management elves after we put it neatly curbside. 

I finished at the weigh station and turned the truck so that I could back into one of the five bays to dump. I began to back into position causing the ever present flock of seagulls to raise their voices in protest and begrudgingly scatter. The closer I got, the large piles of ripe, festering, oozing piles of garbage came into view. The crew and I exited the truck. They climbed onto the bed to begin throwing the debris of the truck. I carefully negotiated a path around the strewn debris and started to roll up the tie down straps. Something caught my eye. It was a small, maybe 6 x 8 picture frame. I finished lashing the last strap and went over to investigate. 

Why? I have no idea. But, it did strike me that here was this relatively new, undamaged picture frame laying face up, nice and neatly “displayed” on an open black bag of garbage. The bag itself lay a top a festering, stinking pile. It looked as if it was carefully placed on top of this mess. I picked it up and put on the reading glasses hanging around my neck. Looking at it, the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It wasn’t the bone chilling cold that did that, it was the image I saw. I decided I needed to take it home. It was prophetic. It provided a path forward. It was a guide. I made my way back to the cab and place it safely in my backpack. So what was in the frame?

Wow, talk about weird timing. On this cold day with wind chills in the teens, in the throes of wondering if my path could be balanced with my mother, I found this. Maybe not tea, but I sure could have used a hot cup of coffee and a time to think about what I just found – what were the odds? 

Was it coincidence? A sign “from Above?” Am answer to my prayers? A message? Dumb luck? I mean, “What the hell did I just stumble on?” “Was now the time to reconcile?”

Little did I know, this strange event was just the tip of the iceberg – – until recently – – – well, that is a profound and disturbing experience and frankly, I’m not ready to tell that tale (yet). At least I’m out of the hospital, oops I said too much.

Experience My Kata-Rx for FREE:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

I remain,

walking my path,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

Sensei’s Journal: Entry # 19 – Symbols Of The Shaman

21 Feb

There are no symbols of rank in either my Kata-Rx for Wellness program or my Katannabis (Kata-Rx entheogenically combined with medical cannabis). Karate was different. There were ten levels (called “Kyu” grades) from beginner to black belt. These levels being represented by various colored belts, starting with white, and/or stripes on the belt. At black belt there are also ten levels, called “Dan” grades. The lowest being first degree (San-dan) and the highest being tenth degree (Ju-dan). The various black belt degrees from fourth grade (Yon-dan) to tenth grade (Ju-dan) are somewhat exotic involving combinations of the colors black, red and white. For a description of the black belts in the Goshin-Do system please use this link https://senseijohn.me/2011/02/27/the-burden-of-rank/

In the photo below are the three black belts that have the most meaning to me. They best represent my development and views on kata throughout the years. They are, my first degree black belt (now a grayish-white with age), my fourth degree (Yon-dan) belt, (red and white stripes on one side and black on the other) and my seventh degree black belt (Nana-dan) (red and black sides). See endnote # 1

You will notice the Kanji on the one tip it reads, “Ichi-Nichi Issho” or “One day one lifetime.” I was so enamored of this philosophy that, beginning with my fourth degree belt, every belt thereafter had the embroidery. I also named my Kata-Rx for wellness hallmark kata for the philosophy.

My original black belt represents the period during which I became comfortable with developing and experimenting with the physical aspects of kata. I had also earned the title of “Sensei” (literally “Before-being”, but loosely “Teacher”). This period brought about a deep rooted imagination to discover so-called “hidden” self-defense techniques in the Kata. Thus began a period of introspection and discovery.

Decades later I was awarded my fourth degree black belt and the title “Karate-Do Renshi” (karate advanced teacher or coach). At this time I began to develop my concept of the “Three battles of Kata” to represent the idea that there was more to kata than just the physical. There was the spiritual which codified state-of-minds, emotions and psyche and the environmental which represented the interrelationship between Kata and the physical environment. These were the earliest stages of my Kata-Rx for wellness program and its humble beginnings with my “Sanchin Kata for everyone” campaign and book.

Even more decades later when I was awarded my Seventh Degree (nana-dan), I began to develop my Katannabis program – the entheogenic combination of my Kata-Rx and medical cannabis as a meditative, mind-expanding practice.

So there you have it, the evolution of my Kata-Rx and Katannabis programs symbolized by three belts. I look at them now not as symbols or ranks, but as my “Symbols of the Shaman.” But, that is for another day.

Until the next time, I remain, 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

And by-the-way:

You can try my Kata-Rx for FREE, safely and conveniently in the comfort of your own home by enrolling for FREE in my online class: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Endnotes:

 1. I had passed my fifth degree black belt (same coloring as the fourth degree except that the white stripe is black) onto my senior black belt. I buried my sixth degree black belt (one side alternating red and white panels with the other side black) with my father who would drive me to my earliest lessons when I was ten years old.

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

  • Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;
  • Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);
  • Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.

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