Tag Archives: Sensei Nick D’Antuono


8 May

While the within is expressed in terms of Karate-Do, I submit that the topic of Nenjuushin, “everyday mind” applies to any sport, hobby, and artistic endeavor, such as painting, music and the like. For your enjoyment and everyday use, I submit the following.

Training within Shihan Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Dojo, I was schooled in the idea that training in the martial arts should not be made into a special event. Rather, it should be a necessary part of our daily lives. This is referred to as “Nenjuushin”, the “everyday mind.”  Later in life, when I began training in Kobudo, the art of ancient weapons, my various instructors made the point that the ancient weapons of the Okinawa peasants were, with limited exception, everyday farm implements. (See endnote #1). In times of turmoil, these everyday farm implements were utilized by the Okinawa peasants to defend themselves against the sword wielding Samurai. Whenever I learned a new weapon, my instructors insisted that the weapon first be used while performing basic, such as push-ups and sit-ups. Such rudimentary practice was necessary to indoctrinate me to the most fundamental use of the weapon.

There is a Zen fable which exemplifies this point. A young priest once asked a Zen master, “What is the most important aspect of practice?” The Zen master replied, “Did you just finish eating?” “Yes,” replied the young monk. “Then go wash your bowl,” came the master’s reply. The meaning of this parable is that practice can never be separated from the essential daily activity of our lives. Indeed, our martial arts must become one within ourselves, not something external to ourselves which we are hopelessly try to grasp. (See Endnote # 2).

The corollary maxims of Nenjuushin maybe found in an article I posted a few weeks ago wherein I set forth the “Twenty Percepts Of Funakoshi-Sensei” – here is a convenient link to the article: https://senseijohn.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/warrior-ideology-part-1-of-2/

Relevant to the concept of nenjuushin are the following three percepts:

8. Do not think that Karate is only in the Dojo.

9. Karate practice is lifetime work; there is no limit.

10. Put your everyday living into Karate, you will find peace.

Applying the above and the everyday mind of nenjuushin to any human endeavor, one may begin to understand how to broaden one’s appreciation and usage of any art. For example, the percept “Do not think Karate is only in the Dojo” stands, inter alia, for the idea that an art is not limited to the physical confines of the place where it is “normally” practiced. Karate-Do is normally practiced in building, called a Dojo. However, at a very young age, my first Sensei, Sensei Nick D’Antuono (one of Shihan DeFelice’s Yudansha), introduced me to the idea that Karate-Do should also be practiced outdoors, in nature. This idea became permanently instilled in my heart. My greatest expression of Karate-Do is now to be found in the most esoteric natural environment. For example, below are two photographs of me practicing the Seienchin Kata at various times in my life. The first is circa, 1999 and was taken at North Truro, Cape Cod, Ma during low tide. The second is circa 2003 and was taken during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally at the Badlands, ND.


Leaving the confines of one’s studio will provide a fresh experience and perspective of one’s art form. Thus, write music, play music, paint, and the like any where, not just inside. Practice your sport, including  so-called “indoor sports”, outside. If you are an indoor swimmer, swim in a lake or an ocean as part of your training. If you are a basketball player practice outdoors where the spontaneous elements of wind and even rain will help to improve your game.

Looking to the second percept above, “Karate practice is lifetime work; there is no limit” one can begin to understand that such training includes everyday “elements”. I recently taught a senior-level class at Shihan Norlander’s USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo, I utilized an “ancient training device” so that the students can practice technique and Kata with the goal of improving their grip. What was the ancient training device? Two cantaloupes.

Again, this idea can expand any art or hobby. Instead of painting with a brush try something different; remember when you were young and painted with your fingers. If you are a musician, find a non-traditional instrument to use in your songs. I once saw a television documentary about a rock formation in Pennsylvania that is a major tourist location. These rocks, when struck with a hammer, makes beautiful sounds.

When you open yourself to the possibilities of enhancing and experiencing your art, hobby or life’s pursuit, such as Karate-Do by employing the concept of nenjuushin, you will find peace. Thus, the third percept from above; “Put your everyday living into Karate, you will find peace is realized.”

Makiwara practice in the snow, Circa 1998

In concluding this article, I will modify another of Funakoshi-Sensei percepts, “Real ART (Karate) is as hot water returning to cold water if energy is not constantly applied. Nenjuushin will help you keep your art, sport, hobby, or other pursuit fresh, alive, a source of inspiration for many years – in other words, HOT.

In closing I remain, a believer in the everyday mind,




Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do

For a view of Nenjuushin in the form of Kata in nature, here is a link for a promotional video about my Sanchin Kata & Jiriki Kata-Do DVD filmed in the Tonto National Forest. Arizona. Please see the “SANCHIN DVD & BOOK” page tab above for information on how to purchase the DVD.    LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-pC-tPUrYE


  1. The exception to the farm implement origin is usually found in metal weapons, such as the Sai. Metal was costly in ancient times. Tools made from metal, except those  with a specific need, were beyond the normal financial means of the average peasant. Metal tools needed for a specific purpose, such as the sickle, or Kama, which was necessary to trim and cut vegetation, would be purchased only when absolutely necessary. The remaining traditional metal weapons of Kobudo, such as the Sai, Nunti and Naginata were used by members of the police or palace guards.; thus they did not originate as farm implements.

2. Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (Lessons In The Spiritual Life Of The Warrior/Martial Artist (O’Hara Publications, Inc., 1996) p. 48.

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit the “Sanchin Book” page of this weblog.

You may wish to view my blog dedicated to fly-fishing by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Wordpress.Com

On The Road With Sensei John – Part 2: NJ Reflections

25 Apr

After slightly more than three days on the road, I arrived back in Arizona (USA) at 9:30 am Tuesday, April 20th. All in all, it was a good road trip. I had trained along the way and enjoyed the 2,550 mile journey. It will take some time for me to compile all of my notes and photographs from the trip so as to be able to compose an article worthy of the journey. So, I thought I would submit an interim article reflecting back on those I visited with and trained with while still in New Jersey (USA). As I continue to compile my notes, I hope you enjoy the within. Again, although the within is written in terms of Karate-Do, I suggest that the concepts expressed apply equally to any human art form and in fact to life itself. It is my hope that you are able to incorporate the within thoughts into not only your Karate-Do training regime, but also into your life itself.

 I arrived in New Jersey on January 18th. As always, it was good to see family; my Dad, Mom, brother Rob and daughters Jess and (Sensei) Kim. It was especially good to see how big Jess’ son, my grandson, Stratton had grown since he was born on July 5th, 2009.

My first night of training in a formal Dojo was Wednesday January 20th when I visited the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander. On Monday, January 25th, Shihan Norlander and I paid a visit to the Dojo of a longtime friend, Sensei Tom Van Tassel (see Endnote # 1). I have the pleasure of knowing Sensei Van Tassel for many years. In and around the year 1995, Sensei Van Tassel, Sensei Fred Carrel and myself became the charter members of the Goshin-Do Okinawa-Te Association. Eventually, with the demands of time, the Association disbanded, but the bonds of Karate-Do and mutual friendship remain.

Patch of the Goshin-Do Okinawa-Te Association

It was good to again visit Sensei’s Dojo (which is located in Rockaway, NJ) and see not only him, but, his partner, Sensei Jack Kramer. I was also glad to see several Yudansha (Those of Black Belt Rank) from the Goju-Ryu style that regularly visit Sensei’s Dojo. The night was filled with an open, imaginative exchange of Kata, ideas and concepts. The visit to Sensei Van Tassel’s Dojo maybe best characterized as one of remembrance and comradeship.

When I saw Sensei Kramer, now a Yon-Dan, I was reminded of the time that I was an honored guest at his Sho-Dan examination which took place at Sensei Carrel’s All Okinawan Karate Institute, then located in Jefferson Township, NJ. As Bob Seger sang, “It seems like yesterday, but oh so long ago. . .” (see Endnote # 2).

Patch of the All Okinawan Karate Institute

Mental memories were not the only ones to be rekindled at Sensei Van Tassel’s Dojo. Physical memories were shared as well. I was very fortunate to take a walk down Kata memory lane with not only Sensei Van Tassel and Sensei Kramer, but also with Yudansha that had trained in traditional Goju-Ryu. I had exposure to traditional Goju-Ryu in the years I attended college at Fairleigh Dickenson University in Rutherford, NJ (1979 to 1984). It was nice to again perform and see the traditional Goju-Ryu Kata as a point of comparison to the Goshin-Do Karate-Do counterparts. At night’s end, hugs were exchanged, photographs from days passed viewed and new photographs taken. On the ride home, Shihan Norlander and I reminisced a bit more on these longtime relationships. It is my hope that you, my dear readers, remember those from your past well and with care for the memories you are entrusted with. I think that is the lesson of my visit to Sensei Van Tassel’s Dojo.

At the American Center For Martial Arts

Every Wednesday evening, I had the honor and pleasure of attending Shihan Norlander’s Dojo located in Bogota, New Jersey. This experience was rewarding on several levels. Shihan Norlander possesses a very rare capacity unique amongst Kancho (Kancho are the overseers or Chief Instructors of a Dojo). In my experience, within the sphere of their Dojo, Kancho tend to be autocratic in nature and disposition. Shihan is just the opposite. He is open and receptive and permits his invited guests to not only enter upon his training floor, but to also openly express and share ideas and concepts. So, on one level, my attendance at Shihan’s Dojo is characterized by an open sharing of Karate-Do. It was invigorating for me to again share and receive ideas, methods, concepts and Kata not only with Shihan, but also his Yudansha, Sensei Pablo and Sensei Scott (I had the distinct honor of hosting Sensei Scott’s Sho-Dan examination at my Issho Dojo in East Rutherford, NJ). Also present were Shihan’s Numansha (those of under Black Belt Grade) , Matt and Al (who did not formally train due to illness). During the training sessions I received from Shihan and his students many treasured Karate-Do gifts. I do not mean gaudily wrapped presents. Rather, the gifts of Karate-Do are honor, love, sweat , black and blue bruises, and even, at times, blood. Hopefully, I repaid their gifts by sharing my ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (see Endnote # 3) , various Karate-Do training methods, techniques and the Kata, Ufuichiku No Eaku, Suparunpei and Hakutsuru and my Jiriki Kata-Do Sanchin in Four Directions. Now that I am back in Arizona and again train in my backyard desert Dojo, devoid of human Karate-interaction, I miss this sharing. To share from the human heart is one of the most cherished capacities bestowed upon us. Karate-Do is but a means of accomplishing the end result of sharing. As such, it is my hope that all that read the within remember this well and openly share your own unique gifts with another.

Shihan Norlander’s Dojo also provided tremendous satisfaction on another level. Shihan’s Dojo became an informal gathering environment for several of my Goshin-Do Karate-Do brethren. Not only did I have the ability to see Shihan Thomas DeFelice on several occasions at Shihan Norlander’s Dojo, but many of my Goshin-Do brethren stopped by for a visit. It was good to once again “take the floor” with these individuals from my past. I enjoyed seeing them including Sensei Bob (who several years ago composed and presented me with an inspiring poem concerning the timeless teaching of Goshin-Do Karate-Do), Sensei Dave, Sensei Richie, Sensei Mike, Sensei Rudy (who cooked a particularly delicious breakfast for several of us one Sunday morning) and my Yudansha who earned Black Belt rank directly under me, Sensei Kim and Sensei Jimmy (one-half of the “Boangeres”, see Endnote # 4). Now, as I train in the presence of Chloe (See the “Meet Sensei“ page) and under the watchful eyes of my desert brothers, the coyote, javelina, hawk and lizards, I think of and miss my Goshin-Do brethren.

Sensei Scott - Shihan Norlander - Myself - Sensei Jimmy - Sensei Pablo

There was one less than happy aspect of my visit to New Jersey. In late March I learned that my first Sensei, Sensei Nick D’Antuono (see Endnote # 5) was hospitalized with complications from his treatments for cancer. I was able to visit Sensei Nick at the hospital on several occasions. I regretted having to leave New Jersey with Sensei still in the hospital. Little did I know that Sensei’s status would change.

Sensei Nick - Myself (age 14) - Shihan Don Nagle (Isshin-Ryu Karate) (Circa 1975)

And so, I began to prepare to leave New Jersey with fond memories, concern with Sensei’s hospitalization, sadness at leaving my brethren and a promise. Over two thousand years ago, a remarkable man broke bread and shared wine his followers. He asked his followers to “Do this in memory of me.” To this very day, I fondly recall how Sensei Nick would end the Saturday morning Junior Division training sessions with multiple performance of the three Takiyoku Kata. Therefore, I promised that during my first desert training session, I would dedicate my sincerest sweat produced by multiple performances of the Takiyoku Kata to Sensei Nick. I will do that in memory of him.

Until the next installment of this “On The Road With Sensei John” series, I remain, on the road, fondly remembering, not only mentally, but physically all who I encountered on my visit to the Garden State.

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do
 For the first installment of the “On The Road With Sensei John” series, please click on the “Older Posts” icon at the bottom of this page.

1. You may visit the website of Sensei Van Tassel at WWW.AmericanCenterForMartialArts.Com.

2. From the song Against The Wind, by Bob Seger,

3. Jiriki Kata-Do translates as “The Way Of (Attaining) Inner Salvation Through Kata“. It is my ideology and methodology of extending Karate-Do Kata, protocols and ideology to those that seek the benefits of same without embarking on learning a full Karate-Do curriculum.

4. When Sensei Jimmy, who is now a San-Dan (3rd degree black belt) earned his Sho-Dan (1st degree black belt) in January 2000, I had bestowed the name of Boangeres onto him and his brethren. Boangeres is a phrase from the ancient, Biblical Aramaic language. It was mentioned in the Gospels as the title Jesus bestowed upon the Apostles (and brothers) James and John. In Aramaic, the phrase translates as “Sons Of Thunder“.

5. In 1971 when I started training in Goshin-Do Karate-Do at age ten, Sensei Nick D’Antuono was my first Sensei. Sensei was then a Ni-Dan and was appointed by Shihan Thomas DeFelice as the chief instructor of the Junior Division of the Academy Of Goshin-Do Karate-Do. He was assisted by Sensei Dave. Sensei Nick was my first Sensei and I was, as he called it, a “pork chop”.

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit the “Sanchin Book” page of this Blogsite, or my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com. For more information on my ideology and methodology of Jiriki Kata-Do, please review the articles herein filed in the category “Kata as enlightened meditation“.

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