Tag Archives: Kata Training

Kata-RX & Medical Cannabis – Katannabis

9 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

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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 & Koan Preview: Sea-Monsters In Your Ocean

25 Sep

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

========= Now, for this week’s installment, “Kata & Koan Preview – Sea Monsters In Your Ocean”

I’m toying with a new video series to help you practice your Kata-RX with me. In my personal practice I often combine my Kata-RX with a thought-provoking reading; a form of meditative koan, if you will. (See note 1) 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 practice your Kata-RX with the video. As you perform your Kata-RX you are immersed in the sounds of nature. As you absorb the sounds and beauty of the kata environment, the koan triggers your mind to enter a deeply contemplative state. The result? Well, the best description is for you to try it. The first step is simple – enroll in my FREE first course. In as little as a half hour, your well on your way. Use this link to join for FREE – https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Here is a preview of what I’m toying with. This video uses a reading from John Steinbeck – “We need Sea-Monsters . . . “ You can see the full text of the narration below.
Enjoy the video!

To further enrich your enjoyment of the Kata-RX here is the text of the narration in the video. It is from John Steinbeck’s “The Log Of The Sea Of Cortez” (Penguin Books, New York, NY) p.27-28.

Men really need sea monsters in their personal oceans.
For the ocean, deep and black in depths, is like the low dark levels of our minds in which the dream symbols incubate and sometimes rise up to sight. . . And even if the symbol vision is horrible, it is there and it is ours. An ocean without its unnamed monsters would be like a completely dreamless sleep.

One historical note. Those of you that are not new to this site know that this is not something new. In 2009 when I first launched my “Sanchin For Everyone” project, I devised my “Sanchin Pilgrimages” combining philosophy, ideology, scientific theorem and other such semi-knowable concepts with kata. Here are some early examples https://senseijohn.me/category/a-sanchin-pilgrimage/
From that starting point, I developed my kata concepts one step further with a more broadly defined Online Group Kata sessions, https://senseijohn.me/category/thats-ok/

During the pendency of my producing more koan videos, you may use some of my past submissions to tailor make your own meditative Kata-koan experience.

I look forward to seeing you in class.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Use this link to get the first course for FREE https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

Endnotes:

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.

Cape Cod Kata-RX Epiphany

18 Sep

Wow!
   Course # 1 in my Kata-RX For Wellness & Mindfulness Program 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, “P-Town Kata Epiphany”

While recently enjoying a long weekend on Cape Cod, MA, I had an epiphany. My realization if your bonus.

I understand the importance of promotional videos to advertise my Kata-RX. I had previously hesitated posting videos of my complete “1 Day / 1 Lifetime” Kata. My hesitation was the result of a concern that viewers would simply try to mimic the physical movements.

I feel strongly that in the “wellness arena” there is too much emphasis on form over substance – the physical over the internal. Though lip service is given to the concept of “mind-body unity,” the reality is that the body and coveted “perfection” of same is where emphasis is placed. In my opinion, this had befallen many mindfulness activities including yoga and Tai Chi. It has even touched and diminished Zazen, seated meditation. Internal concepts of breathing, states-of-mind and internal energy flows are missing.

Advertising and branding has transformed these fundamentally spiritual activities into bastions of physicality requiring the latest (most expensive) yoga pants and attire, mats, equipments, uniforms and “quiet-rooms” for practice and meditation. Simply put, you can merchandize and brand the physical but not the internal.

I wanted to use video to promote my Kata-RX but didn’t want a viewer to copy and mimic the physical movements thus forsaking the internal processes. I would post online videos but not the complete Kata-RX. With movements missing, I felt the physical movements could not be copied. The downside, of course, is that a potential student could not see the entire Kata-RX unless enrolled.

Here is one such video.

During my weekend on Cape Cod I had a change of heart. I decided to make the first course available for FREE. No trying to “steal” the movements by watching a promotional video. Now, you can learn these fundamental movements and concepts for FREE. Then, I am confident you would want to expand and build upon the kata and purchase the second, more advanced, course.

Moving forward I see no reason to not show the full kata in promotional videos. Here’s the first release. To celebrate my Cape Cod epiphany, it shows the full kata, as a compilation, using all the videos filmed in various locations throughout the Cape.

So, the first course is yours for the taking! Use the kata properly and you will want more! Why? Simple. You will realize how beneficially the kata improves you; physically, mentally and emotionally. How could you not want a more fulfilling experience?

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

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

Kata RX For Wellness & Mindfulness Course # 2 Opens For Enrollment

10 Jul

Today’s the day!
The second course in my three part “Kata For Wellness & Mindfulness” online classes is now open for enrollment. You can view the course and full curriculum using this link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/full-kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness
The second course is available to all students that have completed the first course. For a limited time the second course is available for a one payment option of $ 55. or a two payment option for $ 30. each. As always, if you are not completely satisfied, there is a 30 day money back guarantee.
You can view the course description and full curriculum using this convenient link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/full-kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness

Attention New Students:
Please remember you MUST start with the first course.
For a limited time you can enroll in the first course for only $ 10. with a full 30 day money back guarantee. 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

Here’s a few more screen shots from the most recent videos filmed at Ringwood Manor, NJ.

I look forward to seeing you in class,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Online Kata-RX For Wellness Course Number 2 – Opens July!

26 Jun

My three part Kata For Wellness and Mindfulness online course takes the next step with course number two.

The first course has already opened for enrollment. https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation
The second course is well underway to opening in the next ten days. This second course will teach the full, enhanced movements of the three kata presented in the first course. More significantly this course will teach more of the internal processes found within the kata. The Ghost Hand Gaze, Ghost Hand perception, Mushin state of mind, contracting and expanding bio-energy and Nenjuushin (the everyday mind) to name a few of the internal processes.

To date all that remains is editing and final tweaking. So, it looks like the second course will launch around July 4th. In the meantime, here’s a few screen shots from the videos. I hope you enjoy them.

From the Ghost Hand Kata Gaze class

 

From the Mushin-No-Shin mindset class

 

Practice your Ghost Hand Kata with me – a unique approach

 

Practice your Sanchin Kata & Mushin-No-Shin mindset with me

Please remember that new students must start with the first course. The second course builds on the core techniques and internal principles taught in the first course. This course has already opened for enrollment. Welcome to all the new students!

The first course teaches the core movements of three kata: my Ghost Hand Kata (Yurei-Te Kata), the Sanchin Kata and the 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata (“Ichi-Nichi / Issho” Kata). It is the starting point for all students. For a limited time you can still enroll for only $ 10. (that’s a savings of $ 15 off the regular price) & there’s a 30 day money back guarantee if not completely satisfied. You may view the entire curriculum and enroll, if you choose to do so here: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

I look forward to seeing you in class. My best to all,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 

Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

13 Mar

In Part One of this article, https://senseijohn.me/2019/02/20/do-away-with-kata-formalities-part-1/ I set forth my idea that in so far as after Sho-dan grade, one must practice both the spontaneity of kata and the phenomenon that kata reside within you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, one must do away with the formalities of kata. (see Endnote # 1 for a video example) These formalities, represented by the three step process of rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and ready posture inhibit the process of kata as a ritual that resides within you percolating under the surface until needed. Or, do they? Perhaps the formalities symbolize a higher meaning of kata. So now, here’s the conclusion of that article. 

Do away with kata formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

As I began to advocate my concept of doing away with the formalities decades ago, my answer was yes, they should be done away with as a condition precedent to beginning and ending a kata. Just do the kata and be done. Now, as I get older (maybe wiser?) I have rethought the concept. I have once again incorporated the acts of preparation into my kata – just not as you may think.

To understand what I propose, one must appreciates the “Three Battles” of kata. Specifically all kata involve three aspects or battles. While they exist in all kata, they are emphasized and harmonized in the Sanchin Kata. By name, Sanchin, represents three battles.

Kanji (Japanese calligraphy) for “Sanchin” – Three Battles – or – Three Aspects of Life

Throughout time and from karate style to karate style, Sensei have defined the three battles in various, sometimes euphemistic ways. For my part, I define the battles, on a fundamental level as breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind. Once a kata-ka has trained kata from the standpoint of these battles, they are ready to appreciate my more advanced definition of the three battles, to wit: a physical battle (breathing and bodily movement), spiritual battle (psyche, mental states and emotions) and an environmental battle (the outside world wherein the kata is performed and how you interact with same). (For more on this topic, please see endnote # 2) You can readily see that whether you adopt the fundamental definition or the more advanced, the three battles, symbolized by Sanchin, are present in each and every kata.

By extension you should then acknowledge that the three battles are present in each and every moment of life itself. You must breath to live. Your body must move each and every second to live. Yes, you may be immobile during times of sleep or even unconsciousness, but your blood must flow, cells must metabolize, organs function and the like. Similarly as you live your life, you will interact with and be affected by the outside environment. Thus, I conclude and submit that “Life is a kata.” ™

Once I came to the understanding that “Life is a kata,” ™ I began to rethink my position on the formalities. Instead of doing away with the formalities, I now advocate that they should be performed before and after each kata. What, a complete reversal? Not quite. The issue is no longer whether to perform the formalities, but when does kata start and end. My conclusion is that my kata starts the moment I get out of bed, the new day, another day of life, is the beginning of my kata. I need not perform a kata as soon as my feet touch the floor. I do; however perform the three formalities. I look out my bedroom window and rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and assume a ready posture for a moment or two and then start my day – my kata, my life. Surely, before fully engaging my day, I perform my daily routine of Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei Kata and my own personal kata, Yurei-Te Kata (Ghost Hand Kata). I go about my day, including training my other kata. At days end, I perform the three formalities in reverse order and settle in to bed. My Life is my kata.

To be sure, this is but the best I can do to symbolize my acceptance of my own life as a kata. Had I thought of my concept fifty-seven years ago, I would have had a much greater symbolism, but I lacked the training, knowledge and experience to do so. The greatest symbolism would have been to perform the formalities only twice in my life. The first immediately after exiting my mother’s womb. The second time I would the perform all three in reverse order at the moment immediately before my death – the ultimate symbol of my life, my kata. Perhaps, notwithstanding I did not start life in that way, I am still be able to perform the formalities (in reverse order) at the end of my life – my kata. But – that will only be half the symbol. Maybe once I enter what comes after death I will stand tall in the next world, and bow, mediate and be ready for the kata-yet-to-come.

Here’s 2 screen shots of my soon-to-be-release Yurei-Te (Ghost Hand) Kata video and book, enjoy!

 

 

      

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

1. In my forthcoming Kata Laboratory book I have set forth many unique training concepts to explore the esoteric aspects of kata including my assertion that kata resides within you twenty-four hours a day seven days away percolating util such a time it bursts forth. If are interested in this topic, you may see this introductory article and video. https://senseijohn.me/2018/01/31/kata-lab-3250-kata-within-you-intermediate/

2. For more on the three battles of kata, and by association, bunkai (the analysis of kata), you may refer to this article from my Kata Laboratory, https://senseijohn.me/2013/05/20/kata-lab-101-three-states-of-bunkai/

 For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

 For a refreshing and innovative discourse on kata and bunkai, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory and “THINK * SWEAT * EXPERIMENT” using this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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