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Katannabis – Spatial Distortion: Introduction

12 Apr

“Spatial distortion” is one of the first phenomenon of Katannabis to manifest itself. Together with “Time-slip” these two phenomenon help build the foundation of your Katannabis meditation experience. I had previously posted an introduction to time-slip ( see endnote # 1), so this article will introduce you to spatial distortion.

Although spatial distortion is a unique epiphenomenon of Katannabis, I first encountered it as a young man in Sensei’s Dojo in Palisades Park, New Jersey. It was around 1973. I was twelve years old preparing for my purple belt test. For that rank, a candidate was required, inter alia, to demonstrate competency in the six kata required for that rank. An integral part of the test was to perform at least one of the six kata (if not all six, at Sensei’s discretion and whim) blindfolded. Incidentally, as you can see in the photo below, I passed my purple belt test – that’s me, number 4, receiving my rank from Sensei Nick D’Antuano, number 3 (for a full roster, see Endnote # 3).

With your sense of sight deprived, Sensei would be able to test the extent to which the Kata was ingrained within your body and spirit. In addition, being blind folded also tested your technical proficiency in the physical performance of the Kata. This proficiency relates to a concept that I call positional coincidence. (See endnote # 2). Performing Kata blindfolded causes you to lose your orientation within the dojo. You have no idea of the direction you are facing relative to the direction your started in, or your position on the floor relative to any external factors (the walls, etc). This is the cornerstone of spatial distortion.

Katannabis builds upon this cornerstone. During a Katannabis session, you should perform parts of the Kata with eyes closed. Your internal compass keeps you visually oriented to what’s in front, back and on your sides. As you sightlessly move through the Kata, the sequences disorientate your internal compass. Thus, your position within space is disoriented. You and the Kata are abstract, a free-flowing form. You move instinctively on a sub-conscious level. The body (as aided by sight) is divorced from the conscious mind. This is spatial distortion. 

The loss of spacial relativity – the distorting of your sense of “self within space” is a building block upon which a deeply rewarding meditation experience unfolds. Effectively, what is “You” disappears. Your sense of an individual moving the space within the pattern of a Kata is lost. You effectively become first the Kata and then space itself. Through the Kata you merged or morphed into space. I have included some of my Katannabis notes whereby I attempt to capture this sensation for your review.

You may become concerned when you first experience spatial distortion. The lack of orientation in space could be, well, disorientating. Do not worry. It a natural part of the process. Further, if you are concerned about achieving positional coincidence (and thus performing the Kata technically “correct”) – forget about it. Such is a vacuous concern that distracts form the beauty of Katannabis. Rather, embrace the sensation of spatial distortion, welcome it, become enveloped in it. As you develop proficiency within your Katannabis ritual meditation, spatial distortion and time-slip will help move you along the path you are seeking.

I say the above, with humility. I have had some very significant experience with my Katannabis meditation in the past two weeks. To be honest, I am still digesting not only the profound experiences but also their meaning. I do not disclose my revelations at this point in time as not only am I submerging myself within their light. In addition, and I am sorry to say, you are NOT ready for such disclosure — frankly, I hope I am ready for the revelations  . . .

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque*

Sensei John Szmitkowski

* with the privilege and permission of the superiors


1. For an introduction to time-slip, please use this link:  https://senseijohn.me/2023/03/07/katannabis-time-slip-introductory-comments/

2. Positional coincidence is a unique attribute of modern (post 1930’s) karate kata. A kata will start and end at the exact same point on the dojo floor. By having your eyes blind folded, you are unable to track your location relative to your starting point during the kata performance so as to “force” positional coincidence by artificially hitting the mark. Thus, the blind fold is a physical test of the technical proficiency by which you perform the kata.

3. In the photo of my purple belt promotion: Sensei Dave Crum (1), Sensei Dave Church (2), Sensei nick D’Antuano (3), Me (4), Sensei Toni Fabi (5), Shihan Tom DeFelice (6), Sensei Paul Recchia (7) & Sensei Jeff Tyne (10).


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