Tag Archives: Sensei John

Time Modification Of Kata – Kanto Example

11 Oct

 

Ah, I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Provincetown, Cape Cod. This annual sojourn gives me the time to think. And what better topic to think about than – time. Not the scientific concept of time, but time as it relates to martial arts.

Time is an ignored element of the martial arts. It is almost never considered in kata bunkai (analysis). Whether they realize it or not, most martial artist think in terms of distance as three dimensional. Distance is only defined as a function of the three dimensions of length, width and height. In reality, there is a fourth dimension that mandates exploration – time. Please see the resources in Endnote # 1 for an introductory discussion of this topic.

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).

The following two videos provide two examples.

The first is from the Gekisai kata. In the video the kata sequence whereby an open middle block followed by a front snap kick is manipulated. You can see how time is manipulated to gain an advantage over your opponent. This is commonly referred to as “speed.”

In the second video you see a sequence whereby a reverse punch is followed by a front snap kick; a very common sequence in many kata. In so far as one’s leg is longer than one’s arm, there is a distance problem (see the video). This is overcome by manipulating the timing of the punch and kick as show. Again, while the dimensions of length, width and height traditionally determine range to the target, the fourth dimension of time must be accounted for.

Once you begin to analyze your kata and practice kata with an awareness of time, you may be confronted with kata sequences that are not so readily manipulated. This results in a necessary change to the sequence of the kata to overcome the limits of the time dimension. An example may be found in the Kanto Kata of the Goshin-Do Karate system. (See Endnote # 2 for a video of this unique kata) Kanto translates as “Fighting Spirit.” It was created by Hanshi Frank Van Lenten to illustrate the techniques and ideology of the Goshin-Do Karate style. Within Kanto Kata there are sequences which are difficult, if not impossible, to achieve maximum time efficiency. One such sequence is as follows.

Move # 1: Stepping forward on a forty-five degree angle, a middle block is performed.

Move # 2: The blocking hand then executes a jab to the opponent’s nose.

Move # 3: This is then followed by a reverse punch.

To achieve maximum time efficiency in any kata, a block and a counter should be executed simultaneously. (see Endnote # 3) So in the above sequence, if not for the jab, it would be simple to execute the middle block and reverse punch simultaneously. The jab causes a problem. It is impossible to block and jab with the same hand simultaneously. To be sure, you can perform these two movements as fast as possible, but never at the exact same time. Further, if you perform the middle block and link the jab and reverse punch to hit simultaneously, you have achieved time efficiency with the two counter attacks, but you still have not linked the block and counter as simultaneous. To overcome this problem, you must modify the sequence itself.

You step forward and perform the middle block and reverse punch simultaneously (moves # 1 and # 3), then,

You perform the jab (move # 2)

 

In modifying the sequence, you will now counter attack as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Thus achieved efficiency in the fourth dimension of time. This concept can readily be applied to your other kata. I’ll soon post an article extending the concept to Seisan Kata.

You should strive to include the fourth dimension of time into your kata bunkai (analysis). I not only do this when I have a partner available to apply my bunkai, I also do this when practicing alone. I perform my kata using the traditional sequences and then perform the kata using the time modified sequences as above. In this manner you are performing bunkai solo while simultaneously performing your kata (more on this at a later time).

If you subscribe to the training maxim that kata is one tool that will help you achieve maximum efficiency in a self defense situation, then you must include this type of practice into you regime.

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Endnote:

1. Use this convenient link for a basic understanding as to how the three dimensions of distance – length, width and height apply to all karate technique and the necessity of understanding the fourth dimension of time –
https://senseijohn.me/2015/11/23/underground-bunkai-sneak-peak/

2. Kanto Kata video

3. Those familiar with the five responses to attack will understand that transitioning from a block followed-up by a counter attack to a block and counter as one movement is a transition from the state of GO NO SEN (after, later-before): block & counter attack to a state of SEN NO TE (before-hand): block and counter attack are in one movement.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
     my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
   the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Why Are You Practicing That Kata?

27 Sep

“Life is a kata.” ©

A recent day at work once again illustrated how my saying is true.

Working at the garden center is physically demanding. According to my FitBit, during a nine hour shift, I would walk an average of 11.7 miles and burn around 3,100 calories. In addition to walking, activity includes loading and unloading 40 pound bags of garden product (soils, mulches, and the like) and carrying tanks of propane for barbecuing. During a normal shift, I’m paired with a part-timer for about four hours. Usually my co-worker is a young college student. This particular day, I was with Dave (a fictional name).

At Work

It was a particularly hot day, sunny day. This type of day is difficult as there is little to no shade. Dave and I just finished loading a customer with twenty-four bags of mulch (each weighing forty pounds). Before returning to our normal duties, Dave went and sat down for a minute or two. I went to get my water. Just then, the owner decided to leave the comfort of his air conditioned office and take a leisurely walk outside.

As he walked past me, he saw Dave sitting. He commented, “It drives me crazy when people sit and do nothing.” I told him that not only was that the first time Dave had sat down, but we also just finished loading a relatively large order. In less than five minutes both of us would be back to the physical task of our normal work. The owner’s reply was simply, “I didn’t know, thanks.” And that’s the point, the owner saw fit to observe and judge without knowing all the facts. He presupposed that he needed to correct the situation without knowing the totality of the circumstances.

Throughout the years I’ve encountered similar scenarios in the Dojo. One such instance is burned deeply into my memory. So deeply is it burned that it changed the way I interacted with my own students. From that day forward I pledged to always ask a student, “Why are you practicing that Kata?” “What is the purpose for doing the Kata?”

The time was the early 1990’s.I just finished a particularly bad day at work, It seemed nothing went according to plan. Additionally, I was having difficulty in my personal life.It seemed I could do nothing right.

Except, my kata. Even back then, kata sustained and nourished me. So I went to the Dojo. It was an “off” night; no classes were scheduled. I had the key to the Dojo and knew I would have it to myself. I entered, changed into my Gi and began to run through my kata. My mind was cluttered and my emotions were frazzled. This greatly affected my kata. I knew my kata wasn’t fully on par, but that was okay. The kata were special and historical treasures. Kata is not known by the average person. Knowing them and being able to perform them made me feel unique. Could I actually be doing something above and beyond a normal person? Could I be ding something “right.” “Yeah, I feel good”, began to fill my thoughts.

After a while I heard the lock turn and door open. Sensei had stopped by the Dojo. He paused and watched a bit. The first words out of his mouth were, “Your timing is off and your focus isn’t quite there; you’d best concentrate.” No “Hello”, no greeting, no “Hey I saw your motorcycle outside and stopped in.” Just a presumption that Sensei needed to correct my kata – and – that I wanted correction at that exact moment. “Well, so much for doing something right”, snapped into my mind. Had Sensei asked, I would have acknowledged that my kata was a bit off. I wasn’t trying to improve my kata, I was simply trying to enjoy myself at something that was unique to me. End of story. With that, I thanked Sensei, changed, left the Dojo and took a long motorcycle ride. I found a quiet wooded area and alone, again, performed my kata.

The point is first find out the totality of the circumstances before judging another and presuming they want an answer. From that day forward, whenever I observed a student perform a kata, I would ask the student “Why are you performing the kata?” Depending on the answer, I would offer correction, if appropriate.

So, before judging or correcting someone, find out the totality of the circumstances. Often this means asking the person “Why.” Why are you resting at work?” Why are you not joining the party?” “Is everything okay?”

If you do so, you will greatly improve your kata that is life. After-all, as I say, “Life is a a kata.”

This week’s featured video:

 

Respectfully Submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata Lab # 2250: Kata Within You – Introduction

30 Aug

A dream is an answer to a question we have not yet learned to ask. Fox Mulder, The X-Files, (Paper Hearts episode, S4, E 10)

Background:
Kata is always within you.
In fact, you intentionally train to have kata within you. If a time comes when you are confronted by an attacker, kata rises to the surface and you can successfully defend yourself. The kata sequences that you instinctively use in your defense will vary based upon a great number of circumstances. Nonetheless, your training in kata will pay dividends in an actual street scenario. This kata lab explores that actuality. This Lab also functions as an introduction to the advanced concepts contained in Kata Lab # 4210: Kata Within You – Advanced.
Experiment:

  • Do not pre-select a kata for this lab. Your kata should be as spontaneous as possible;
  • Do not “spontaneously” perform your “favorite” kata. To do so defeats the purpose of this Kata Lab.
  • As you go about your day be aware of the fact that your kata is brewing inside you, waiting to let itself out;
    At a random point in time (you may also use a timer as in previous kata labs), let the kata out;
  • Perform the kata as you require at that specific time. For example, in Kata Lab number 2230, you performed the kata in a “life and death” scenario. This time, perform the kata as your specific needs may require, examples include, performing the kata to rejuvenate yourself if you are tired, or performing the kata to “stretch your legs” and “get your blood flowing” if you’re lethargic;
  • The kata that bursts forth from within you should be as random as possible based upon your physical and psychological needs at the time.

Conclusion:
This is a very basic kata lab to acquaint you with the idea that at all times, you are your kata and your kata is you. As you go about your day, kata simmers within you waiting to be called forth to help you through your day.
This lab also provides a firm foundation for Kata Lab # 4210: Kata Within You – Advanced and for other more advanced labs that follow.
This week’s featured video is

Bonus video from my new “Underground Bunkai” series:

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (“With the privilege and permission of the superiors”)

Sensei John Szmitkowski

  For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

© Copyright 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.
You may wish to view my other blogs –
  my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
  the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Surprise – Are You Educated Or Trained?

16 Aug

Many years ago my friend, Shihan Wayne Norlander (R.I.P.), had presented the Issho-Dojo with a gift of a plaque bearing a quotation from Ray Bradbury.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout. Circa 2008

The subject of the quotation is the need for astronauts to continuously train to avoid surprise in the void of space.

If you don’t rehearse over and over –
Your going to be surprised in space –
And, the surprised man out there is the dead one.
We get ready then, by trying to surprise
Ourselves.

Looking at the plaque has brought the concepts of karate-do practice and surprise to the forefront of my thoughts.

As martial artists in general and karate-ka in particular, we often think about, discuss, theorize and debate the impact of practice on the element of surprise as it applies to actual combat. (See Endnote # 1) In my experience, such discussions, while highly enjoyable, are less than conclusive. There simply is no consensus amongst karate-ka as to the practice of karate-do and it’s impact on surprise.

In this article, I would like to stimulate your thoughts as to karate-do practice and surprise. To this end, I ask the question,

“As karate-ka, when it comes to the element of surprise, are you “trained” or are you “educated” as to this eventuality?”

In order to answer the question, you need to understand the difference between being “trained” as contrasted with being “educated.”

In his book, Finite and Infinite Games, James P. Carse (See Endnote # 2) defines the terms as follows:

To be trained is to be prepared against surprise. (The opponent) must appear to be something he isn’t. All (his) moves must be deceptive: feints, distractions, falsifications, misdirections and mystifications.” To be trained is to avoid surprise caused by such deception. The trained person desires to anticipate every potential scenario so as to hope to control the future (surprise) in an effort to prevent it from altering the present (the fight).

To be educated is to be prepared for and expect (the inevitability) of surprise. The educated man does not avoid surprise but accepts and expects it. The educated man conducts himself so as to expect surprise. Thus, surprise is the natural expression of the future upon the present.

Now, I again ask, “In practicing karate-do are you a trained man or an educated man?”

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

ENDNOTES:

1. I intentionally use the term “theorize” because the vast majority of modern karate-ka simply have not engaged in actual combat. Naturally, the highest aim of karate-do is to avoid physical confrontation. Having said that, I submit that when one who has not engaged in actual combat states what will or will not occur in combat, such statements are merely hypothetical. It is rather spurious for them to state as fact that which in reality is theory. And, “No” tournament kumite is not actual combat.

2. Carse, James P., Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision Of Life As Play And Possibility (Ballantine Books, New York, NY 1986) pp. 22-23.
  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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
 my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Kata – A Solution – Part 1

5 Jul

   New Jersey loves its shore.

That wondrous place where the sand is kissed by the Atlantic Ocean Songs have been written about it, movies made around it and until recently a great place to visit.

If you live in New Jersey or have followed the national news, you are familiar with the state’s budget battle. The battle resulted in government, including several state parks, being shut down during the Fourth of July weekend. One such state park was Island Beach State Park.

This park in particular became a flash point. It became “the” example of political arrogance. It showed we deserve to be powerless.

Island Beach State Park contains a vacation residence for the governor. Did our esteemed governor, Chris Christie, stand in solidarity with others that could not use the park? Did he even understand their frustration? Most worked all week and looked forward to a long weekend. Several, like me, had to work part of the weekend and maybe only had one day off. Now, the ocean was off limits. No frolicking in the waves. No playing in the sand. No reading a book to the melody of the ocean.

For all of New Jersey, except the Christie and family, the entrance to Island Beach State Park was barricaded by highway cones. Three rangers turned people away. The park was closed. The ocean was off limits.

So how did Governor Christie connect with the people he represents? He and his family used their vacation residence. They had the entire park to themselves.


The media soon circulated photos of a sunbathing Christie adorned in his oversized beach outfit. He was surrounded by smiling family and no one else. When asked if this was unfair, the Governor looked up from his straining beach chair and glibly told us:

“The governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t. That’s the way it goes. Run for governor and you can have the residence.”

Soon social media was abuzz. On Facebook, a few media outlets were posting live video feeds with the governor’s statement. Angry New Jerseyians soon took to posting their live comments online.

My first thought was, “What a bunch of sheep; teach the guy a lesson.” The logistics were simple. Island Beach would normally have been filled to capacity on a holiday weekend. Thousand of people would have been in attendance. So it seemed simple. I almost posted a comment,

“Go use the State Park despite the shut down. There is no way three rangers can turn away thousands of people. Don’t sit on Facebook complaining, its your state park, use it as is your right as a resident.”

Then reason took hold of my thoughts. “Bad idea.”

Notwithstanding that the governor’s political arrogance need to be called out, it would be chaos to defy the governor in such a way. I understood there was one reason people could not defy the governor. They could not use the park in defiance of his closing. It was simple. People did not know kata.

Since people did not know kata, they “deserved” to have the park closed. Had they known kata, they could have swam in the ocean, played in the sand and otherwise relaxed. Without kata this was (voluntarily) lost to them. Even if only martial artists used the park, it would still be problematic. Most martial artists do not sufficiently understand kata so as to make this act of defiance feasible The truth is not enough people understand my saying that “Life is a kata.” ©

For now I’m going to let that hang in the air a bit. Think about it and see if you can figure out what I mean. If not, further along I’ll post my thoughts on the idea that Kata can be a solution to political arrogance.

In the meantime, I wish the governor well with his on going political battles, including his battle with his bulging persona and ego.

Until next time, I’m out and about. Riding my motorcycle to anywhere I please. Always, my kata is packed with me. For me and a few select others, our motto is “Kata – Anybody, anyplace, anytime.” ©

 

This weeks video features Sanchin Kata during a motorcycle ride alongside the cotton fields of San Tan Valley, Arizona (my home from 2004 to 2014).

Respectfully submitted

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 

   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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Memorial Day Kata

24 May

Memorial Day soon approaches. It is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American Armed Forces. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, started after the Civil War to honor the Union and Confederate dead.May 24, 2015

With that in mind, I propose that in addition to your BBQ, parades, picnics and other activities, you engage in one solemn practice. For martial artists, I sugeest you dedicated one kata in memory of those that have died serving in the American Armed Forces. From Memorial Day, 2015, my Sanchin Kata footprints, North Truro, Cape Cod, MA:

Session Parameters:
Date: Memorial Day, May 29th, 2017
Time: any quiet time during your day;
Location: any location, but, as you know, I prefer an outdoors in nature;
Salient Points:
During kata, reflect upon and remember that have died in the service of our country. Through your honor, their memory will not be lost.

Thank-you for your participation,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

     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 2017 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

You may wish to view my other blogs –
   my fishing blog which includes my fishing journals and the interrelationship between martial arts protocol to fishing http://flyfishingdojo.com
and
 the Goshin-Do Karate blog at http://defeliceryu.com

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

11 May

May 18, 2011, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us.

Please join me in dedicating our training on May 18th 2017 to his eternal spirit. May his spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Each year I post a Hatsu Bon in his honor and dedicate my kata to his eternal spirit. This year is a bit different. This year, I am more deeply indebted to him https://senseijohn.me/2017/02/01/a-deceased-sensei-saved-my-life/

 

Sensei Wayne, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) promotion. Photo: Shihan Don Nagle, Sensei Wayne, Shihan Peter Urban)

 

HATSU BON POEM:
Please don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am
Nor am I sleeping for eternity
SEE!!
I am already part of the breezes
numbering a thousand
I am part of the light
that brightens this world
Like a diamond glittering in the snow
Like the sun that coaxes seeds to sprout
And in the Fall I become the gentle rain
that nurtures all.
When you open the window in the morning
I am the breeze
That causes your hair to flutter;
And at night, I am the star
That watches over your sleep.
So, please . . . don’t cry before my grave
That’s not where I am.
I am not dead.
I have been born anew.

 

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout. Circa 2008

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Sensei Wayne:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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