Tag Archives: Shibumi

Zanshin (Remaining Mind) -Shibumi Project

23 Feb



The goal of performing my Shibumi Kata is to modify your physical, emotional or  psychological state to a more favorable state than prior to such performance. This is true of Sanchin Kata or any karate kata. Once this goal is achieved, you must maintain it for maximum effect. Your modified physical state, from fatigue to exhilaration for example, is readily apparent. A modified emotional or psychological state, from anxiety or depression to a positive state for example, is more subtle.

As to your emotional or psychological state, a martial arts state-of-mind known as Zanshin (pronounced Zohn-shin) is relevant. The kanji for Zanshin translates as “remaining mind.”

Kanji - Zanshin

Kanji – Zanshin

After a kata is performed, Zanshin is invoked by martial artists to maintain a martial state-of-mind. Their mind “remains in the battle.” Within the context of Karate, this means that the mind remains alert to further confrontation wherein one would be required to defend oneself. Once assured that either the continuation of the conflict or attack from another is no longer a threat, the martial artist then returns to his default state-of-mind. I propose that such a default psychological state should be the state of mushin-no-shin.

Within the context of my Shibumi Kata, or Sanchin Kata, Zanshin means that your improved emotional or psychological state is to maintained throughout the rest of your day. Thus if you find you are suffering from a dilatory emotional or psychological state (anxiety, depression, etc.) you should perform one or all of the movements of the Shibumi Kata for the purpose of transforming that state to a more positive state of mind. For example, you may feel physically well but be anxious or depressed. Notwithstanding your physical well-being, you should perform Shibumi for the sole purpose of modifying your mental state. Once Shibumi is performed and your mental state modified, you want to maintain that state. Thus the “remaining mind” of Zanshin.

If you find your mental state deteriorating, you are able to either perform Shibumi Kata again, or if you are unable to then mentally recall the transformative process of the Shibumi techniques.

In extreme emotional or psychological situations Zanshin serves as a bridge to more advanced and aggressive psychological states. An example of one such advanced, aggressive state of mind is that of Tomaranu Kokoro (“Unstoppable Mind”).

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,


Sensei John Szmitkowski

Shibumi – Kata Tactics: Physical Movements – 8 Ancient Concepts

4 Dec


The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient            link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Tactics (Physical Movements OF Kata):

The tactics employed in the Shibumi kata to modify “Dean’s” depleted physical condition associated with cancer and chemotherapy and the psychological effects of fighting the disease are ancient in nature. These principles date back in time to the earliest formulation of the martial arts.

It has been said that there are eight primordial principles that envelope the martial arts and karate. These principles have been delineated in an ancient martial text called “The Bubishi”. The principles are also inferred within the martial work known as the “Eight Poems Of The Chinese Fist.” (See below for the full text of the poems).

I have used these eight ancient principles to create the foundation for the physical movements and psychological and emotional aspects of the Shibumi Kata.

I have grouped the eight principles into four sequences. Each sequence has two competing principles. The physical movements and psychological aspects of each sequence provide a varied means of modifying the performers physical and emotional states. The performer can either select a specific sequence as he determines his needs at any point in time or he may elect to perform the entire Shibumi Kata by performing all four sequences in the recommended order. Each group is discussed in detail in the foregoing chapters.

Using their historical names, the four sequences (in recommended order) containing the eight primordial principles are:

Sequence # 1:

  •      To swallow;
  •      To spit;

Sequence # 2:

  •      To float;
  •      To sink;

Sequence # 3

  •      To burst;
  •      To bounce;

Sequence # 4:

  •      To spring;
  •      To lift.

An exact description of the physical movements and psychological states that I ascribe to each of the above follows in the foregoing chapters.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,



Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

The “Eight Poems Of The Chinese Fist” are as follows:

  • 1. Jinshin wa tenchi ni onaji.
  • The mind is one with heaven and earth.
  • 2. Ketsumyaku wa nichigetsu ni nitari.
  • The circulatory rhythm of the body is similar to the cycle of the sun and the moon.
  • 3. Ho wa goju no donto su.
  • The way of inhaling and exhaling is hardness and softness.
  • 4. Mi wa toki ni shitagai hen ni ozu.
  • Act in accordance with time and change.
  • 5. Te wa ku ni ai sunawachi hairu.
  • Techniques will occur in the absence of conscious thought.
  • 6. Shintai wa hakarite riho su.
  • The feet must advance and retreat, separate and meet.
  • 7. Me wa shiho womiru wa yosu.
  • The eyes must not miss even the slightest change.
  • 8. Mimiwa yoku happo wo kiku.
  • The ears listen well in all eight directions.

Shibumi – Kata Framework: Posture

4 Dec


The foregoing is one component Chapter of an overall work describing the Shibumi Kata. To read the work in the order intended, please either click on the Shibumi Kata Page Tab above for a full Table Of Contents or this convenient             link: https://senseijohn.me/shibumi-kata/

Shibumi Kata Posture:

As a condition precedent to learning the tactics (physical movements) of the Shibumi Kata, it is necessary to explore the mechanics of your posture. The exploration of posture begins with the act of standing erect. This is to say that one stands with one‘s head held high, eyes focused straight ahead, shoulders parallel to the floor and the back is straight. Though this is a common posture, standing erect has a very specific meaning.

Posture correction:

The point of departure from the normal meaning associated with standing erect is the function of standing with one’s back straight. Normally, one physically defines the back as straight by elongating the spine, by expanding the upper chest outward and elevating the shoulders upward. Such a definition is not adequate within the Shibumi Kata.

When one stands in the manner described above and places one’s hands in the small of the back, one notices that the small of the back is not straight but curved. This curvature is natural and helps to support the body through the spine. It is; however, improper for the Shibumi Kata.

To stand erect for purposes of the Shibumi Kata, the natural curvature of the spine must be temporarily straightened. To manipulate the back into a straight position, one should perform the following exercise.

Stand relaxed with both feet shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Slightly bend your knees. The technique to straighten your back is to squeeze the cheeks of the buttocks tight and to rotate the hips down and forward. Now your spine is straight. Take a moment to try this movement then feel your lower back with your hand. If you have performed the hip rotation properly, you will notice that such rotation has removed the natural curvature of your spine so that your spine is now straight from top to bottom. This is the erect posture necessary for the Shibumi Kata. You can practice achieving this posture by standing as above and rotating your hips to achieve the posture and then subsequently relaxing the hips so as to again achieve natural curvature of the spine. Repeat this a few times to begin to have a feeling of comfort with the posture.

The above posture will be used throughout all of the stances and postures of the Shibumi Kata.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,

SHIBUMI-lotus sunset


Sensei John Szmitkowski

 © Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

A Kata Rx – Shibumi

1 Dec


A close acquaintance, I’ll call him “Dean” (after Jack Kerouac’s Dean Moriarty), has asked me to do something.

Dean recently learned that he has (stage 3C) cancer. He underwent an eight hour abdominal surgery and now faces chemotherapy starting in about a month.

Dean has asked me to create a kata that will help him heal from surgery and build himself up to withstand the dilatory effects of the chemotherapy. Most importantly, he has asked that the kata not only address his changing physical needs, but also takes into account his changing psychological needs.

In effect, Dean has asked for a kata prescription.

To be sure, many kata have physical and psychological healing properties. However, the concept of “Take one Seienchin for strength and two Suparunpei for depression” simply will not work under Dean’s circumstances. To my knowledge, such a task of devising a kata for the specific needs of one individual has not previously been undertaking in karate-do. This project is the culmination of my ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (Salvation From Within Oneself Through Kata).

Dean has provided the parameters for this assignment and I have added one of my own.

Dean has requested:

  • The kata be specifically created for his individual physical and psychological health needs;
  • While it will be created by me drawing upon my karate-do and kobudo experience, Dean will actively contribute ideas during the creative process;
  • The movements, breathing and concepts must be easy to learn by a person with no karate-do experience;
  • The kata must be usable by not only Dean, but also his caregiver;
  • Dean must be able to perform the kata in a limited space, in any environment, and at anytime;
  • The kata must be flexible so as to allow Dean to adjust for his oft-changing physical and psychological needs;
  • To this, I added the following requirement (not important to Dean) – while the main purpose of the kata is Dean’s physical/ psychological (spiritual) health, like any kata, it must have martial efficacy (else it would not qualify as a “kata”).

Hubris does not compel me to share this prescriptive concept of kata with you. Rather, I hope it awakens in you the idea to use your karate-do skills to develop a kata for the curative help of a person in physical or psychological need. As in Dean’s case, these efforts should be in conjunction with his physician.

The name of the prescriptive kata for Dean shall be

Shibumi” meaning “Understated elegance.”

Posts related to Shibumi shall be submitted in a new category of the same name. Again, though shared with you, these posts are directed towards Dean and his battle with cancer.

In closing, I wish you – Shibumi,


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/

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/category/kata-laboratory/

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

© Copyright 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

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 ***

Sensei John is now on Facebook, under – FLY FISHING DOJO, you are invited to send a Facebook friend request.

You may enjoy the Goshin-Do Karate-Do blog using the following link: WWW.DeFeliceRyu.Com

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

%d bloggers like this: