Tag Archives: Martial Philosophy

Sensei’s Journal Entry # 9: Kamawan

12 Apr

I’m going to use this week’s nightly Katannabis to more deeply explore the depths of meaning of this cryptic sign that was displayed outside “hard-core” dojo in antiquity.

As you can see, the sign has two elements. A Kama (sickle) and a Wan (rice bowl). Together they symbolize the word “Kamawan.” While there is no direct translation of Kamawan, the phrase is interpreted variously as “It doesn’t matter” and “I(we) don’t care.” Martial oral tradition has a more figurative interpretation. When hung and displayed outside “hard-core” Dojo, the phrase Kamawan was interpreted as:

“We don’t care if you enter or not, we don’t care if you challenge us or not.”(See endnote # 1)

I’ve often meditated on the implications and applications of Kamawan. Last month during a nightly Katannabis session, I began to see more, let’s say “spiritual” applications. Normally, I would include my thoughts in a journal entry and post it here. However, since I somewhat recenlty discovered Instagram, I’ll post my observations daily all this week on Instagram. Simply follow me at “1Day1Lifetime.

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Until next time, Kamawan,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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1. Kamawanu is an integral part of oral tradition of Goshin-Do Karate-Do. It is the companion to the tale of Dojo Yaburi, or those that would challenge a Dojo owner and keep his fees for one month’s teaching – if he was not up to the challenge. The following reference to Kamawanu may be both of interest and helpful: Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (O’Hara Publishing, Santa Clarita, CA, 1996) p. 40.


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The Last Thing You Will Read Before You Die

15 Feb

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This is the last sentence you will read before you die.
Let’s try – after reading this sentence you will contract a life changing illness. Hmmm, still healthy? Okay so, you’re not dead and still healthy, good. But, what have we learned from reading these last few sentences?
You begin to understand a concept that existed at the time of the samurai. It is found within traditional Eastern-based martial arts to this day. That principle is “Ichi-nichi-Issho” or “One day, One Lifetime.” The samurai lived with the idea that they could die (hopefully in combat) at any time. They trained to be ready for this contingency and incorporated it into their daily regime. Each day they woke could be their last. Each hour they lived could be their last. Each minute, each second, therefore could not be taken for granted. A lifetime was not measured in the number of years (as we do in modern times). Rather, it was measured in terms of one day to the next; the sum being a lifetime.
Imagine living your life in this manner. Would you savor your next meal knowing it was (or could be) you last? If you would never see your family again, what would you say? To adopt an ideology of Ichi-nichi-issho means that no single moment, or event, or conversation, personal interaction during your day can be taken for granted or wasted. You may not have another.
So, since you did not die after reading this, or did not receive a call from your doctor with life threatening news, then, go out and live the next moment of your life as if it will be your last. Really live it that way. Believe (because it is true) that you can never recapture that moment, or opportunity again. Then extend that to the next moment, the next minute, hour, and day.
There is an inevitable truth that you cannot escape. At some point, after having read this you will die. The gap in time may be one second later of decades later, but you will do so. Now, live knowing that what you do in between reading this and your death will define that gap.

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Respectfully submitted,
Sensei John Szmitkowski

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