Tag Archives: Seisan Kata

Time Modification Of Kata – Rhythmic Adaptation – Seisan Kata Example

8 Nov

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This article is a continuation of my exploration of time as a fourth dimension of distance. For those unfamiliar with this concept there are several video and other resources in Endnote # 1. Simply put, most martial artists think of distance as a function of the three dimensions of length, width and height. To do so omits the all important fourth dimension of time.

Time as a fourth dimension of distance is easily appreciated when you practice your kata. Exploration of the time dimension is facilitated by expanding your kata bunkai (analysis) to include consideration of time. How does time affect kata and its application is a subject limited only by the imagination of the karate-ka (practitioner).

Kata bunkai is a continuing on-going process. It is limited only by your imagination. The within article is a good example of that process. I was practicing my Fuku and Gekisai Kata by modifying certain interim movements. Specifically, I was exploring the block, lunge punch block sequence (see Endnote # 2 for a full discussion of this concept). Traditionally, the three movements are performed with kime (focus). To facilitate my study, I found it helpful to perform the last block in the series not with kime, but, with breathing and dynamic tension as in Sanchin Kata. I was studying had the corollary effect of modifying the rhythm of the sequence.

In the past, I had briefly explored a modification of kata rhythm using the Seienchin Kata as an example. (See Endnote # 4 for a video of same). This exploration was but a fundamental step in my on going process. I began to utilize the opening of the Goshin-Do Karate Seisan Kata to explore how the concept of time as a fourth dimension of distance can result in a corollary rhythmic modification of a kata. (See Endnote # 5 for a video of the Seisan Kata and a bonus – historical footage of Hanshi Frank Van Lenten performing Seisan!). Using the opening of Seisan Kata, I began to understand the corollary rhythmic modification. To illustrate the concept, the abbreviation “K” will signify that the movement is performed with kime (focus- hard and fast). “S” will signify the movement is performed with Sanchin breathing and dynamic tension. Using the photos below you can see the time modification of combining the block and counter and the resulting corollary rhythmic modification.

Let’s look at the traditional sequence of Seisan Kata of Goshin-Do Karate. Due to time constraints, I had to take the photos during a break at work. But, a fortiori, the photos illustrate my concept that kata does not require a gi (uniform) or a dojo. Kata is anyplace and anytime. As I say “Life is a kata.” ©

Move # 1: Open hand ridge hand block (K);

Move # 2: Rotate hand and “grab” (S);

Move # 3: reverse punch (K)

As this series is repeated three times in the Kata, the resulting rhythm is:

K-S-K / K-S-K / K-S-K

In the time modified sequence, whereby the block and counter is combined into one move, we can see the corollary rhythmic change:

Move # 1 (move # 1 and # 3 combined) : Open hand ridge hand block with simultaneous reverse punch (K);

Move # 2: rotate hand and “grab” (S).

The corollary rhythmic change for the three move sequence is then:

K-S / K-S / K-S

Exploring how the change in rhythm affects not only the kata but your bunkai (analysis) is full of possibilities. For the inquisitive practitioner it affords the ability to see into the full range of bunkai available from not only a physical aspect but also a spiritual and environmental aspect. (See Endnote # 6 for a full discussion of the three aspects of bunkai).

Understanding the fourth dimension of time as a component part of your kata will provide you with a rich and more complete understanding of not only your kata, but, also yourself. It is fertile ground limited only by the boundaries of your own imagination.

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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   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/


1. To understand the basic concept of the three basic dimensions of lenght, width and height as they relate to the martial arts and the fourth dimension of time, please click this link:

To view the first two articles in this series please use these two convenient links

Sequence Adaptation – Kanto Kata Example:


Interim Movements – Fuku/Gekisai Example:


2. Please use this link for my article on Time as a function of interim kata movemens: https://senseijohn.me/2017/10/25/time-modification-of-kata-interim-movements-fukugekisai-kata-example/

3. Reverse Seienchin video

4. Seisan Kata Video BONUS: This video features historical footage of Hanshi Frank Van Lenten

5. Please use this convenient link for a discussion of the three aspects of bunkai:

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.
“Life is a kata.” separately copyrighted.


Okinawa Karate Song

1 Sep

Submitted for your enjoyment and consideration, is the Karate-Do Sanka (Empty-hand way song) written by Shihan Shoshin Nagamine (founder of Matsubayashi-Ryu). The sanka was utilized during the memorial service for Hanshi Frank Van Lenten who passed away July 1st, 2010. (See Endnote # 1 for videos featuring Hanshi Van Lenten)

Scanned Image 110310000

English translation:  (Please see Endnote # 2 for the original Japanese version)

Ah, beautiful islands of sunlight,
And the color of the sea,
The proud fighting spirit of the islanders 
And the empty handed Sword of Justice,
Training spirit and training body,
Ah, This is Okinawa Karate-Do!

Oh, but if an enemy should happen to attack us,
And the method of courtesy proved to no avail
If he should cut our flesh with his iron weapon,
Even then will we punch through to his bones,
Courtesy and defense together,
This is Okinawa Karate-Do!

Oh, ever since the mythical ancestry of Japan,
The bell of peace has been ringing continually in Okinawa,
The way of courtesy and the five bodily weapons of Karate together,
To make a straight character and good etiquette,
This is Okinawa Karate-Do!

Respectfully submitted,

HANKO Sensei John Szmitkowski

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

For details on how to “cyber-participate” in my most recent group Sanchin Kata session, please use this link: https://senseijohn.me/category/a-sanchin-pilgrimage/


1. For several videos with archival footage of either Shihan Van Lenten, or members of his Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kyokai (Association), circa the late 1960’s to early 1970’s please visit the “Kata Syllabus” page tab above.

Here are two additional videos of Hanshi Van Lenten that are not included on the Kata Syllabus page:

2. The original Japanese version of the Karate-Do Sanka

Aa sanjento hi no hikari
Myo gunjorno umi no iro
Saekeki shima no tokonga
Saegigaumishi mute no ken.
Kokoro o Kitau, mi o kitau
Aa, Okinawa no, Karate-do!

Aa ware osou tekki araba
Shurei no kuni ni shingiari
Tetsu no kobushi wa kanzento
Niku o kirasete, hone no utsu
Kokoro o mamaru, Mi o mamaru.
Aa, Okinawa no, Karate-do!

Aa tensenshi kodai yori
Hewa no kane wa naritsutau
Semeru ni arazu fusegu waza
Gotai ga bukizo kono karate
Kokoro o tadasu, mi o tadasu
Aa Okinawa no Karate-do!

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE

** If you experience any difficulty in purchasing online using the above links, please contact me via a “comment” on this blog & I will e-mail you instructions on how to purchase a Sanchin product using a check or money order ***

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You may wish to view my blog dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

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