Tag Archives: Kodo Ancient Ways


6 May

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Within the context of traditional Okinawa Karate-Do one attribute of the Sanchin Kata is that, inter alia, it conditions one physically and mentally to endure pain so as to (when necessary) be able to inflict pain in the course of defending oneself. The ability of Sanchin Kata to allow one to endure physical, spiritual, and emotional pain or discomfort is exemplified in a poem concerning the water ladle utilized in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony (Cha-No-Yu).

This poem is by an anonymous author. (See Endnote # 1) The water ladle is emblematic of the hardships one is capable of enduring through regular practice of the Sanchin Kata and the state of mind called “Mushin“(See Endnote # 2). It is as follows:

The dipper that passes to and fro between
The hells of heat and cold
Has no mind of its own and
Suffers not at all.

I hope the poem inspires all to endure what they feel they cannot. There is a saying derived from the Samurai, “To bear what one perceives one cannot bear is really to bear.” In this context, endure the hardships of life, for in so enduring, the beauty of this wonderfully existence will reveal itself. Walk with certainty on your life’s path and perform the Sanchin Kata at least daily with a sincere and pure heart.

Session Parameters:

Date:  Any time during the week ending Saturday, May 12th

Time: Anytime when a either a physical, spiritual or emotional hardship is thrust upon you.

Location:  Any location.

Salient Points:

  • Whenever and wherever you feel physically, spiritually or emotionally overburdened this coming week, use this Sanchin pilgrimage as a means of accepting the burdens,  absorbing them and triumphing over them;
  • Before performing Sanchin Kata, read the above poem;
  • Perform Sanchin Kata;
  • After performing Sanchin, give yourself a quiet time period to reflect on your performance in light of the poem. You may consider, “How does Sanchin allow you to become like the tea ladle that ‘suffers not at all’?”
  • The last requirement of this Sanchin Pilgrimage is to remain in an enraptured physical, spiritual and metaphysical state throughout the day by way of the concept of  “Zanshin” (the “remaining mind” which is discussed in my Sanchin DVD and Book).

Once again, you may wish to not only perform the Sanchin Pilgrimage as scheduled, but may also revisit the specific pilgrimage and allow Sanchin to unlock the cage imposed upon your by the drama of daily life. Do this as an integral part of your regular Sanchin practice.

In closing I remain, passing through the Heaven of life’s joys and the Hell of life’s pains and sorrows, and the better person for it,


Sensei John Szmitkowski


  1. I first read the poem referenced in this article in the following book: Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (Lessons In The Spiritual Life Of The Warrior/Martial Artist) (O’Hara Publications, Inc., 1996)   p. 155. I highly recommend this book to any martial artist. Furuya Sensei’s insights are truly thought provoking. Though I did not know him personally, I was recently saddened to learn that Furuya Sensei passed away on March 6, 2007 while teaching a class at his Aikido Center located in Los Angeles, California.

2. The Mushin state of mind is inferred in the poem by the phrase “has no mind of its own.”

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