Tag Archives: USA Goshin-Ryu Karate

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

18 May

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the passing of my friend and karate-do comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander. To his eternal spirit I offer my training this month and the following Hatsu Bon poem. May his spirit find my training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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 Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.


Sensei John Szmitkowski

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

19 May

May 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of the passing of my friend and karate-do comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander. To his eternal spirit I offer my training this month and the following Hatsu Bon poem. May his spirit find my training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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

 

Ground Zero Motorcycle Run – myself, my wife, Dianne, Sensei Jimmy Dimicelli, Shihan Wayne Norlander, Bergen County Courthouse, circa 2002

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.


Sensei John Szmitkowski

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

Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

9 May

May 18, 2011, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us.
Please join me in dedicating our training on May 18th 2016 to his eternal spirit and the spirit of all those fallen comrades we wish to remember. May their spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970's, West New York, NJ

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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.

With Shihan Norlander after a spirited workout.

My graveside Sanchin memorial to Shihan:

Sincerity in sweat, Sensei.
Sensei John Szmitkowski

HANKO-master

SHU, HA, RI – A Different Perspective

4 May

There is a concept from the martial arts that is applicable to any relationship whereby one individual relies upon another individual for education, instruction or guidance. That martial arts concept is known as “Shu-Ha-Ri.” It applies to any student-teacher, mentor-protege or other similar relationship.
Shu-Ha-Ri has been analyzed ad infinitum from the standpoint of the student. I myself have often engaged in such analysis. Here is a convenient link to an article I had posted a few years ago https://senseijohn.me/2010/06/20/the-martial-arts-learning-process-of-shu-ha-ri/ 
One night, while teaching at the USA Goshin-Ryu Dojo of my late friend, Shihan Wayne Norlander, I realized that this historical analysis is limited to one-half of the dynamic of transmitting karate-do from one person to another. In so far as the teaching of karate-do implies an obligation to accurately transmit the karate of one’s Sensei, I propose that the common trend to analyze Shu, Ha, Ri form the standpoint of the student must be overcome (See Endnote # 1).

In this submission, I would like to set forth an alternate perspective from which to consider the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri; namely the perspective of the teacher, or Sensei, of karate-do, who was by definition once a student him or her self.

By way of introduction, a review of the popular discourse on Shu, Ha, Ri is appropriate. There are three stages of the martial learning process which are generally accepted and a fourth, more esoteric stage. The three generally accepted stages are the stages of “Shu”, “Ha“, “R1“.

Kanji for Shu-Ha-Ri

Each particular stage is described as follows.

SHU(pronounced “Shoe”) means to correctly copy all of the techniques of one’s instructors;

HA (pronounced “Ha”) means the liberty allowed to a student to develop his own way of executing techniques based upon the demands of his own physical stature and his own individual understanding of Karate;

RI (pronounced “Rhee”) means “transcendence” or “mastery”. It is when a student can perform all of the techniques automatically and becomes a teacher himself (See Endnote # 2).

A fourth, more esoteric, stage of the process of learning the martial arts has come to be identified. This stage is called the “Ku” (pronounced “Cue”) stage. Kuis the stage of emptiness. It means everything is gone and no trace is left behind. The student has reached the highest level and no one can trace his movements or capture his techniques.

I submit that the concept of Shu-Ha-Ri transcends the bounds of the student’s perspective and can (and should) be extended to include an analysis from the perspective of the teacher. A natural consequence of learning the martial arts, as set forth in the description of the Ri stage above, is that the student becomes a teacher him or herself. Once the student becomes a teacher himself, the analysis and application of Shu, Ha, Ri historically ceases. I proffer the following analysis of Shu, Ha, Ri as applied to the teacher who was once, naturally, a student himself.

SHU means to correctly copy the technique, kata, method and manner of one’s Sensei as one teaches one’s students. While the technique and kata of one’s Sensei are easily governed by stylistic dictates (see Endnote # 3), the method and manner of one’s Sensei are unique to the Sensei under whom a student (now teacher) originally learned his or her art. Each individual instructor of a style of karate-do, while teaching the technique and kata of the style, combines these physical dictates with the non-physical traits of the style (philosophy, ideology, spirituality, etc) as set forth by the style’s founder and progenitor. While so teaching the “style”, the Sensei imbues and infuses the teaching with his or her own unique character and personality traits. These character and personality traits generally may be of a positive nature, but, as dictated by the frailty of the human condition, may also include the instructor’s character flaws; even those that may considered less than admirable (See Endnote # 4). It is the “style” of karate, as imbued and interpreted by a Sensei that is transmitted to the student (who is now the teacher).

HA means the liberality to be allowed an instructor (by his original Sensei) to develop his own way of teaching. I submit this development is influenced by two key factors. The first key factor is the teacher’s unique individual physical and psychological traits. These factors would have been accentuated or modified as necessary during the teacher’s tenure as a student. IF the teacher’s Sensei was a Sensei of merit, then his Sensei would have discovered and been aware of these individual traits during the time period wherein the teacher was a student of the Sensei. During this time, Sensei would have nurtured the student’s meritorious traits and modified or corrected the student’s character flaws. Thus, Sensei would have guided his student, now a teacher, so that these individual traits do not offend the tenor and tone of Sensei’s style of karate-do. The second key component is highly variable. Surely, Sensei is aware that his student will encounter this factor but cannot predict the specific character of same. This second trait that the student, now teacher, will encounter are the physical capabilities and mental attributes of his individual students.  The student turned teacher must be allowed the liberality to mold his instruction of karate-do on these two key factors. If this liberality is granted, the student-teacher, now Sensei, starts to represent the embodiment of the karate he learned from his Sensei.

RI means “transcendence.” Transcendence occurs when a Sensei becomes the living embodiment of the karate-do that he continues to practice and subsequently teach. This karate is no longer the karate that he learned from his Sensei; it is more than that. It is that learned karate as interpreted by the individual Sensei’s physical and spiritual traits AND as transformed by the mechanism of Sensei’s continued practice of karate-do and individual teaching methods and manner.

KU is the stage were the Sensei no longer affirmatively teaches. Rather, Sensei transmits karate-do by virtue of being an active Sensei. This is to say that Sensei has become his karate-do. Sensei has come to embody and represent his interpretation of karate-do in such a way that the students are capable of learning by Sensei’s example. This means that the student no longer learns by rote drilling, they learn by being in the presence of Sensei as Sensei lives in karate-do. This stage is the lifeblood extension of the observation of Shihan Peter Urban, Ju-dan, USA Goju-ryu, “A Karate man in training is in karate.” At this stage, “A Sensei who practices and teaches karate IS karate.” (See Endnote # 5).

I submit that understanding the various stages Shu, Ha, Ri from both the perspective of a student and a Sensei is necessary so as to fully understand the total dynamic within which the art of karate-do is transmitted from one person to another.

Respectfully submitted for your contemplation,

HANKO-master

 Sensei John Szmitkowski

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

KATA LAB  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/

ENDNOTES:

1. I use the word “implies” because there are those Sensei that are perhaps less than meritorious and simply teach without regard to a sense of duty or obligation to purely transmit the teachings of their Sensei.

2. The following symbolism has been ascribed to each stage. Such symbolism may assist you in further understanding the three stages of transmittal and learning.

SHU is symbolized by an egg. The first stage is hard, the form or shape of the technique must be mastered or protected, just like a mother protects her egg.

HA is symbolized by the breaking egg. The basic form is broken into its infinite applications. It means the fundamentals are now mastered and are applied in all situations.

RI is symbolized by the fully released chick that has matured and flies away from the nest. The student forgets all forms and masters the formless technique, leaving old ideas behind him. He has fully matured in his training.

3. This means simply that a student of Goshin-Do Karate will teach the technique and kata of the Goshin-Do Karate style. Similarly a student of Goju-ryu, Shorin-ryu, Isshin-ryu or any other style will teach the technique and kata of their particular style.

4.Since we are human, we are inevitably fallible. Thus, by human nature, a Sensei carries his personal flaws with him as he teaches karate. Such flaws may include, ego, jealousy, anger and the like. It is a direct consequence that the karate transmitted will be influenced by both the instructor’s positive and negative personality traits during the transmission process.

5. Urban, Peter, The Karate Dojo, (Charles E. Tuttle & Co., Tokyo, Japan 1967) p. 77.

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and
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Hatsu Bon For Shihan Wayne Norlander

18 May

Two years ago today, Shihan Wayne Norlander was taken from us. Today’s training and the following Hatsu Bon Poem are offered to his spirit. Should today’s readers so desire, please join us and perform a kata of your choice in memory of Shihan Norlander and a fallen comrade you may wish to remember. May Shihan’s spirit find our training and poem worthy.

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970's, West New York, NJ

Shihan Wayne Norlander with friend & comrade, Shihan Peter Urban, circa 1970’s, West New York, NJ

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 Wayne Norlander, R.I.P.

With Shihan Wayne Norlander, R.I.P.

To view my Sanchin Kata-Hatsu Bon at Sensei’s gravesite (August, 2012), please click the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASAVKhh-Hhs

HANKO Sensei John Szmitkowski

To view photographs of Shihan Norlander’s elevation to Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt), please click this convenient link:http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=wayne+norlander+promotion&f=hp

From 2000, Shihan’s promotion to Nana-Dan (7th degree black belt)  at the Kearny Martial Arts Dojo, Kearny, NJ, group photograph with the Goshin-Do Karate-Do Yudansha.

SENSEI WAYNE 7TH DAN

Kneeling (L-R): Shihan Thomas DeFelice,  Shihan Wayne Norlander,

Standing (L-R): Myself, Sensei James DiMicelli, Sensei Walter Byrne, Sensei Dave Crum, Sensei Bret Moore (R.I.P.), Sensei Gil Breit, Sensei Rich Sheilds, Sensei Kim Szmitkowski.

A New Intriguing Feature

5 May

Announcing 

a new featured blog category – 

KATA LAB

In this regularly featured category, Sensei John will provide unique and innovative insights, thoughts and “experiments” on kata and bunkai so as to inspire and challenge you to deeply practice and reflect on the kata of your particular style of karate-do. While the material is presented using the kata of Goshin-Do Karate-Do, the hypothesis, experiments, tests and conclusions are NOT contingent upon the specific kata of any one style. As such, this category is designed for any martial artist, regardless of style, geographic or national origin of the style and kata contained therein.

CIMG3936

In Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory, kata and bunkai theory and hypothesis will be presented not for the purpose of having the same routinely accepted by the reader. Rather, Sensei John will present his unique insights so as to invite you to test and analyze them for yourself (in other words work and sweat!) If, after your own experimentation,  you agree with Sensei John’s theories that is satisfactory. If; however, your own experimentations lead to conclusions that differ from those of Sensei John, then that is even better; such divergent and differing conclusions will ultimately invite debate and more experimentation so as to raise the total kata and bunkai experience of all to greater heights.

think

A word of caution is appropriate. You should not simply read the submissions in Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory. To do so would not only result in a wholly unsatisfying experience, but would also violate the intention of experimentation, namely discovering new concepts for yourself.  Instead, you should (in fact must) read the submissions in the category and then apply the motto of Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory;

in equal parts you must:

Think           Sweat          Experiment 

Look for more in this category in the near future to guide and transform the manner in which you experience kata.

Sincerity in sweat,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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all items have a minimal mark-up of only $ 0.75 to $ 1.00 over base prices! Here are ONLY SOME of our support products:

Shop-cups-home

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENDNOTES:

A very big “Thank-you” to Chandra at ProMed Apparel in Mesa, Arizona WWW.ProMedApparel.Com for her assistance in providing the official “Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory” lab coat.

ProMed Apparel – 6610 E Baseline Road, Suite 101, Mesa, AZ

Image

The idea for a lab coat started jokingly at the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo of Sensei Pablo Peneque and Sensei Scott Zamora in Bogota, NJ. On April 3rd, 2013 as we were in the process of videotaping a kata and bunkai session, I hinted at the idea of a “kata laboratory” wherein I would wear a lab coat over my gi. I guess the idea stuck.

NJ REFLECTIONS – 2012

22 Apr

And so, another trip to the Garden State comes to an end.

As in the past, such a trip involves a wide range of interactions and emotions. As always, seeing and spending time with family is the greatest highlight. Spending time with my little grandson is an experience that can not be expressed by mere words.

At such times, words cannot do justice to the experiences of the past three and a half months.

So too with my Karate-Do interactions and relationships. Relative to the martial arts, here are a few of my Karate-Do reflections.

It was with great excitement that my Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, I and my Goshin-Do Karate brothers embarked upon a project chronicling the history and development of our branch of the Goshin-Do Karate tree. To experience this distinct historical and intuitive experience, simply click the following link: WWW.DeFeliceRyu.Wordpress.Com

In addition to the above project, training with my Karate-Do comrades provided satisfaction on a regular basis. Most Wednesday nights I found myself at the USA Goshin-Ryu Dojo of Sensei Pablo Peneque and Sensei Scott Zamora in Bogota, New Jersey. I say most Wednesday nights because, unfortunately, external factors dictated that my attendance was less than regular. While I always find it pleasurable to visit with Sensei Pablo and Sensei Scott, I found I was somewhat crestfallen. While the spirit of Shihan Wayne Norlander bountifully roams the Dojo, I miss his joie d’ vive. Every Wednesday, I dedicated a performance of his Kunchaba Kata (derived from the Uechi-ryu Kanshiwa Kata) to his spirit. During one training session at the Dojo I had the good fortune to meet Shihan Ken Zuck of Isshin-ryu Karate-Do (Left to right in the photo below are: Sensei Bob, Sensei Pablo, myself, Shihan Zuck & Sensei Scott).

The Wednesday night training sessions were a great lead-in to Sunday morning training sessions with Shihan DeFelice and the yudansha. These sessions were punctuated with in-depth analysis of Kata and the associated bunkai and provided not only satisfaction but imaginative insight was well.(Left to right in the photo below, Sensei Rudy, Shihan, myself, & Sensei Dave).

I was also once again fortunate to visit the Dojo of Shihan Thomas Van Tassel and Sensei Jack Kramer in Rockaway, New Jersey (http://www.americancenterformartialarts.com). During the visit, Shihan Van Tassel and Sensei Kramer debuted their new patch design as shown below.

With a heavy heart, I paid respects to the gravesite of Shihan Wayne Norlander. These gravesite visits marked a solemn time of reflection on the life of a true Karate-Ka.

And so once again I find myself geographically apart from family and training in the “dry” heat of the low desert of Arizona amidst the hummingbirds, coyote and lizards. More to follow.

HANKO

 Sensei John Szmitkowski

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You can find information on how to purchase a Sanchin DVD r Book by clicking the following convenient link:http://www.dynamic-meditation.com/references.html

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

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

SHIHAN WAYNE NORLANDER

20 May

It is with an extremely heavy heart that I submit this post announcing that on May 18th, a mentor, and a dear friend, Shihan Wayne Norlander, unexpectedly and untimely passed away. Since that date, the stars do little to illuminate the dark void of my heart, even the rising sun fails to pierce the blackness as it humbly attempts to herald the splendor of a new day.

For those who wish to pay their respects to Shihan and his family, you may do so at

Petrick Funeral Home, 140 Palisade Avenue, Bogota, NJ (201) 487-3053.

Sunday, May 22nd from 7 to 9 pm and Monday, May 23rd from 2 to 4 pm and 7 to 9 pm.

You are encouraged to contact the funeral home to verify the above arrangements as they become final.

My condolences to Shihan’s wife, children, family, Yudansha & students.

To view photographs of Shihan Norlander’s elevation to Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt), please click this convenient link:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=wayne+norlander+promotion&f=hp

I shall have a more fitting memorial to Shihan on the Memorial Page at the appropriate time, for now I simply say –

Shihan, I shall miss our conversations.

EVERYDAY MIND – NENJUUSHIN

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,

HANKO-wood

 

 

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

ENDNOTES:

  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.

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NEW JERSEY REFLECTIONS

24 Apr

Three months of steady work in New Jersey have come to an end. Now back in Arizona, it will take me a few days to settle in and begin to submit to you articles that I trust will inspire you to think, imagine, ruminate and contemplate the method and manner in which your life can begin to be improved through my martial ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (The way of inner salvation). While I adjust to Arizona, allow me to submit my reflections on the past few months in New Jersey.

My stay in New Jersey was rewarding and fulfilling on many levels. I was able to again see family, including my dad, mom, daughters, Jess and Kim and especially my grandson Stratton. At 19 months, the little guy is turning into quite a handful and a bit of a daredevil. He even took his first ride in a cherry picker with his mom, Jess!

          

I was able to spend time with my Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) and hone my physical, mental and spiritual skills.

With great pleasure, I attended weekly training sessions at the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) in Bogota, NJ.

Shihan Norlander gave me the honor of teaching his senior Yudansha a Eaku (Okinawa Oar) Kata. I digitally recorded the Kata and was able to produce a unique video for my Fly Fishing Dojo weblog entitled “Fisherman As Warriors”. If you would like to see the Kata, here is a convenient link to the video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

I was especially honored to have attended the senior black belt promotion of Sensei Pablo Peneque, Roku-dan (6th degree black belt) and Sensei Scott Zamora, Yon-dan (4th degree black belt).

The promotion ceremony was a forum for a reunion of several of Shihan DeFelice’s Yudansha (black belts).

After three and a half days on the road, we arrived back home in Arizona on April 18th.

And thus, begins another segment of the Sensei John weblog; now brought to you from the Valley Of The Sun, Arizona. Much more to follow. I remain,

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do

Please feel free to visit my Fly Fishing Dojo weblog which explores the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology & fly fishing. WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

INTERACTIVE EXPERIMENT – PART 4 OF 4

13 Feb

This is the week my interactive experiment with you concludes. By now you should have two journals, one for each week of our interaction, representing the fourteen things that made you smile each day.

What was different about each of the two weeks that you were to find something daily to smile about? In part two of the experiment, you were simply asked to find something to smile about each day. To be sure, not necessarily an easy task, but a relatively simple one. Part three of the experiment changed the task. First you were asked to recall and write down the thing or event that made you smile. Second, you were asked to continue to find something to smile about each day. Third, you again had to recall and write down that which made you smile. The recording of the event (that which made you smile) and the knowledge of the recording requirement is the difference between part two and part three.

I think it is fair to say that in part two of the experiment, you simply smiled each day. That smile was pure and heart-felt. I would hazard a guess that in part three of the experiment, many of you focused not on the pure act of smiling each day, but rather, on being required to remember and to write down that which made you smile. Thus many felt “compelled” to smile and constrained to document the exact scenario that made you smile. Thus, the pure enjoyment of the smile was diminished.

I suggest that, in part three, you were more concerned with the recollection and recording of the thing, event, or object, that made you smile then you were in experiencing the smile itself. Recall the simply story in part one of this interaction. Your actions are like the candidate that entered my Dojo. The candidate focused on the black belt and not the knowledge that the belt symbolizes. As such, I suggest that your recorded notes, particularly in part three of this experiment, merely represent a symbol of your efforts. They are a reflection that your focus was on that symbol and not the experience of the joy the thing or event gave you that made you smile. I would suggest that a journal entry representing a heart-felt, pure smile might simply read, “I can’t recall what exactly made me smile that day, but I so thoroughly enjoyed it with my entire being.”

So, from this day forward, embrace the example of the candidate and the black belt. Do not focus on the symbol, simply experience, embrace and enjoy that which the symbol represents. Please continue to find something each and every day to smile about,. Do not worry about remember it, rather savor the moment; simply absorb, embrace and enjoy it. It’s okay if you don’t remember what made you smile, just remember you smiled and were happy!

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do

I smiled today when I played with computer generated photo effects and placed Goshin-Do/Ryu Karate patches onto America’s Cup Racing Yachts. From left to right are the patches of Shihan Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Do, Shihan Wayne Norlander’s USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do and my Goshin-Do Karate-Do Issho Dojo patch.

Practice Does NOT Make Perfect

19 Jul
We have all had teachers, instructors, coaches, and similar mentors repeatedly tell us that “Practice makes perfect.“ Such mentors uttered this phrase as a form of axiomatic inspiration whereby we were encouraged to reach the unknown height of perfection. In the past, whenever this phrase was chanted like a mantra, all those under the tutelage of their mentor would try harder, sweat abundantly, study more and otherwise reach into their inner most self to produce a level of achievement which they believed was incapable of manifesting. The time has finally come to rebel against this axiomatic dogma. It is time for every one that reads the within to firmly stand their ground. The next time some one tells you that “practice makes perfect”, look them directly in the eye and tell them they are wrong.
That is correct, look the dogmatic mentor in the eye and tell them to stop universally uttering such nonsense. After your mentor recovers his or her composure, inform them that their concept of practice is not only incomplete, but also lacks intuition. Practice does not make perfect. Rather PERFECT practice makes perfect. Imperfect or half-hearted practice only nurtures and fosters complacency and imperfection. Remember this well the next time you set out to practice (or otherwise engage in) your favorite hobby, sport, past-time, art form or other activity. In fact, remember it well as it applies to life in general. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. (See Endnote # 1).
 
Until the next article, I remain attempting always to perfectly practice.  
HANKO-master
Sensei John Szmitkowski
 
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

ENDNOTES:

1. I wish to make it abundantly clear that the concept that “Perfect practice makes perfect” is in no way my own. I have heard it many times in the Dojo of both Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, Goshin-Do Karate-Do and Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do. Their oral tradition attributes this concept to the late Karate Pioneer, Shihan Peter Urban, Ju-Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) USA Goju-Ryu, who was a friend to them both.
 
Coming Soon: Sensei John’s newest Blogsite – you are invited to click this link for a preview: WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Wordpress.Com. 
On-Line Store: Please feel free to visit Sensei John’s new online store containing various Jiriki Kata-Do products with the unique logo of Sanchin. The Sanchin logo depicts the three battles of Sanchin in a new contextual paradigm. You may find Sensei’s store by clicking the following link http://www.cafepress.com/sanchin_logo.
 
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“.

Sensei John Szmitkowski, Soke, Jiriki Kata-Do

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