Tag Archives: Zazen

Cannabis As An Entheogen In Katannabis Meditation

31 May

I wholeheartedly advocate the wellness and mindfulness aspect of Kata. I fell in love with kata at age ten; fifty years ago. I embrace the idea that anyone can and should learn and perform kata. Thus, Kata need not be taught solely as part of a karate program. I called this belief “Kata-RX.” 

I not only advocate Kata-Rx, I practice it daily. Twenty years ago, I started feeling that something was missing. Kata sustained and nourished me. But I felt more was possible. Through contemplation and experimentation I realized that a more fulfilling experience and a greater ascendancy was possible. Cannabis was the key. Cannabis accelerated the process. What do I mean?

Experience showed me that a certain level of mindfulness was achieved after performing Kata-Rx for about thirty minutes followed by ten minutes of Zazen meditation. Experimentation showed me that a micro-dose of cannabis prior to the start of Kata-RX accelerated the mindfulness process. The micro dose prior to Kata-RX took me to that heightened state at the very start. The Kata-RX experience then took me further. The result was stunning. 

This is illustrated by the chart below. Starting at the bottom, you can see the levels of ascendancy that are possible through Kata-Rx. All the tools of ascendancy are within you and Katannabis which is the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx and medical cannabis.

A word about cannabis dosage. I want to stress that it is important that you use a micro-dose of cannabis. You are not looking to get “stoned.” 

You must be able to perform the Kata with technical proficiency. Sloppy, stoned Kata will NOT invoke the physical and mental benefits of Katannabis. If stoned you will not achieve the fullest Katannabis experience.

The casual observer should not notice a difference in your Kata performance during the Katannabis ceremony. I emphasize casual observer because to the enlightened observer (one that has expanded consciousness through Katannabis) a difference can be seen in your eyes during the Kata. The eyes reflect your your inner consciousness. Thus, they will disclose an enhanced Kata experience to those with similar vision.

So a little goes a long way. Consideration should also be given to the manner in which you interact with and utilize the cannabis. Simply put, treat the cannabis with respect. Just like your kata, the more respect you pay to cannabis the more embracing your experience and relationship with the herb.

Until next time, I remain,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

  • Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;
  • Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);
  • Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;
  • Kata Laboratory where you can “Think – Sweat – Experiment” with your Kata & Sensei John’s innovative concepts.

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.

My Zazen – Part Two: Hand Movements

8 Feb

There’s been growing interest in my daily Kata-Rx and Katannabis sessions in general and specifically post about my daily Zazen component. Many of you want to learn the supplemental hand movements I added to my Ghost Hand Kata. So, here it is.

First a three points to remember.

           You can learn my Ghost Hand Kata and my Kata-Rx for wellness and mindfulness for FREE by enrolling in my online school using this convenient, safe link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation ,

        My Zazen involves, not only sitting in meditation, but also chanting and hand movements (the Ghost Hand Kata. You can read more about my zazen here: https://senseijohn.me/2021/01/18/senseis-kata-rx-journal-entry-2-my-daily-zazen/ ,

        The supplemental movements are performed immediately after the Ghost Hand Kata (single hand version).

With that said, here’s a video, filmed in the calm of a recent snow storm here in New Jersey, showing the supplemental movements. Please remember that zazen is seated meditation. for ease of viewing the video was filmed with me standing.



These movements are derived from the Suparunpei Kata (pronounced Supa – roon – pay). Suparunpei is an important, integral component of both my Kata-Rx program and my Katannabis ritual (the entheogenic combination of medical cannabis and my Kata-Rx). In the Suparunpei the movements is actually only performed on the right side. It is also performed in all four directions beginning with North, then South, West and East. This is important for spiritual reasons. For now, these reasons are beyond the ken of this article.

In Zazen the movements are performed in only one direction. However, they are performed both right sided and left sided. There is an additional twist to these movements. They are performed physically when part of my daily evening Katannabis ritual. However, they are only visualized in my daily morning Kata-Rx session. This is extremely important. While I would like to share the reason with you, I cannot do so at this time. Simply put, it is not for a novice to my ways and must be used cautiously.

I hope you enjoy the zazen component of my daily Kata-Rx and Katannabis. Again, you can get started on benefitting from both physically, mentally and spiritually for FREE: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation


Until the nest submission I remain,


Sensei John Szmitkowsk

        Follow Sensei John on Instagram. Simply follow “1day1lifetime” for daily updates on all of Sensei’s projects:

  • Kata-Rx for wellness & mindfullness;
  • Katannabis (the entheogenic combination of Kata-Rx & medical cannabis);
  • Kata-Rx & Koan daily meditations;
  • Kata Laboratory where you can “Think – Sweat – Experiment” with your Kata & Sensei John’s innovative concepts.

Enjoy your Instagram experience with Sensei John.

 

Kata Lab Central Theme: Three States Of Bunkai

20 May

KATA LAB

Master, their meaning is hard for me.” 

And he to me, as one who understands, 
“Here, let all fear be left behind, let all cowardice be dead . . .”
“We have come to the place I have told you . . . “
And when he had placed his hand on mine,
With a look from which I took comfort,
He lead me amongst 
the secret things – 
(Citation, see Endnote # 1)

secret-1

With the above quote, the poet Virgil led Dante Aligheri through the portal to Hell. I thought it a fitting way to introduce the overriding theme of my Kata Laboratory where I will guide you amongst the “secret things” of kata.©

Background:

After almost four and a half decades of the study of karate-do, it is my firm belief that kata exists in and are performed in three defined states, namely a physical state, a spiritual state (which includes state-of-mind, emotions, psychological factors) and an environmental state (the manner in which the external environment affects kata and vice-versa).
For many martial artists, this simple concept will be difficult to understand. Even more difficult is my proposal that given that kata embraces the three above states, bunkai, the analysis of kata, must also include these states. I designed my Kata Laboratory to provide you with specific training tools and techniques to enhance your kata experience. My Kata Laboratory is not style specific. Thus my methods include any and all kata from any style of karate-do or martial arts other than karate-do. Allow me to begin by guiding you through the three states of kata.(See Endnote # 2 for an important caveat). Historically, the term kata has been amorphously defined. I submit that a full understanding of kata is achieved not by attempting to define kata, but by first simply parsing kata into its most fundamental elements and second, regrouping the fundamental elements into the larger states of kata. On an elemental level, the two elements of kihon (basic techniques) and the two elements of zazen (seated meditation) combine to form the three elements of kata.

KIHON  elements +   ZAZEN elements  =   KATA elements

KIHON  elements           + ZAZEN  elements          =     KATA elements
Breathing Breathing Breathing
Bodily Movement N/A (see Endnote # 3) Bodily Movement
N/A (see Endnote # 4) State-Of-Mind State-Of-Mind

Thus, on an elemental level, kata is moving meditation. Combining the fundamental elements so as to form a larger, systemic expression of kata, we find that kata contains a physical state (breathing and bodily movement) and a spiritual state (see Endnote # 5 for examples). These two states express kata as it is contained WITHIN the individual performer. It is fundamental fact that the kata performer does not perform kata in a vacuum. Kata is performed in an external environment (parenthetically I note it is unfortunate that the majority of practitioners perform kata exclusively in the sterile environment of an enclosed Dojo. Hint: Get out into nature!) Thus, the performer interacts, connects and synchronizes with the external environment during the performance of kata. Therefore, kata exists in two states internal to the performer and one state external to the performer. I call this third state the metaphysical state. These states are derived from the three basic elements of our existence. By extension, these three states are not only present in each and every kata, they are present in each and every human activity. I call my ideology that kata exists in the three aforementioned omnipresent states “Jiriki Kata-Do” (The way of attaining salvation from within oneself using kata). As the three states are readily apparent in the kata Sanchin, that kata is the cornerstone to the ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do. The physical state of kata has been analyzed, ad infinitum (and I submit ad nauseam). Such widespread analysis looks only at the “practical self-defense application” of kata. Each and every individual kata yields a wide variety of physical self-defense techniques unique to the kata being analyzed. Practitioners ignore the spiritual and environmental states of kata analysis. These states when properly (and finally) subjected to analytical scrutiny (bunkai) will yield a rich and diverse understanding of kata. Thus, bunkai (the analysis of kata) must be extended to include not only the common and familiar analysis of the physical state of kata, but also the lesser analyzed spiritual and environmental states of kata (the “secret things”)
The term “Bunkai” has been commonly, and improperly, interpreted as “practical application” or “application”. Not only is this interpretation misleading, it tends to confine one’s analysis of kata solely to physical applications. A more correct translation of bunkai is “analysis” or “disassembly”.
Preliminarily, it is interesting to note that the improper translation of “practical application” or “application” infers a passivity to the study of bunkai. By this I mean that one may be taught an application of a kata by another. Thus, the student need not expand any intuitive effort. The student need only learn, and robotically copy the application as taught by the teacher. Analysis, on the other hand, demands action, one cannot be passively taught analysis. One must actively analyze.
As previously submitted, the vast majority, if not the totality, of bunkai study has been geared towards determining the application of the physical movements of kata. This is because the analysis of the physical movements of kata, while demanding intuition and commitment, is relatively “comfortable.” We spend the totality of our time experiencing the physical world and relish our physical experience of such world. Thus, the analysis of the physical aspect of any subject (including kata) is “commonly comfortable.”
To be sure, physical bunkai is as difficult as a practitioner decides to make it. To date, the physical bunkai of kata has been expressed as three increasingly difficult levels. Without shrouding these levels in mythological and debatable terms derived from the Japanese language, they are:
1, basic bunkai (apparent analysis, for example, usually based upon a storyboard approach, a strike is a strike, a block is a block),
2, intermediate bunkai (covertly apparent, a block could be something else, a joint application for example, a turn in a kata could be a throw and the like) and
3, hidden, or as I like to say “introspectively-intuitive” bunkai (deeply covert and highly subjective, technique is discovered by and works for the individual performer). A practitioner is free to engage in the depth of bunkai as he sees fit. It is a question of personal satisfaction as to how superficially or deeply one desires to study kata and physical bunkai, if at all. As one progresses from basic to intermediate to advanced the level of individual commitment, toil, self-discovery and introspection increases. In my experience, few practitioners are sufficiently committed to this arduous process.
Given the increasing level of commitment, physical energy, mental acuity and intuition required to progress from the basic physical bunkai to the intermediate and introspective-intuitive physical bunkai, it is not surprising that a select limited number of practitioners have endeavored to conceive, yet alone explore the spiritual bunkai (analysis) of kata. It is commonly recognized that the masters of old expressed the concept that the highest aspiration of karate-do is spiritual in nature. (See Endnote # 6). In my kata laboratory, it is fundamental that once you have engaged in a deep, and prolonged exploration of the physical bunkai of kata, the spiritual bunkai begins to be revealed. This phenomenon; however, only begins to manifest itself with continuos, progressive, intuitive and demanding analysis of physical bunkai in a never ending, but always expanding process. Simply put, it is not a practice that develops over-night, when it is convenient or without thinking, sweating and experimenting over many years. It is an arduous journey.
This manifestation of spiritual bunkai commences with a basic level. As in the case of physical bunkai, spiritual bunkai has the same three progressive levels of basic, intermediate and introspectively-intuitive (hidden).
In a similar fashion, environmental bunkai (the manner in which one interacts with the external environment) will begin to manifest itself at a basic level. That is to say that when a practitioner continuously explores both the physical and spiritual bunkai of kata, the environmental bunkai will begin to be self-evident.
It is therefore mandatory to train and experiment with bunkai not just within the physical state, but also on all states of the kata itself. Thus, since kata exists in the three states of the physical, the spiritual and the environmental, bunkai must also exist in the same three states. Bunkai, must be conducted on all three levels commencing with the readily discernible physical stage to the difficult spiritual stage and the environmental stage. To this end, future submissions in my kata laboratory category will guide you.

Recommended Reader Experimentation:

First, begin your kata practice session by performing Sanchin Kata so as to augment your awareness of the three battles, or states of Sanchin, namely a physical state (breathing and bodily movement), a spiritual state (state-of-mind) and an environmental state (interconnection with the external environment).

Next, proceed to practice your other kata, paying particular attention not only to the physical state of the kata, but also being aware of the spiritual state (state-of-mind) enveloped within that specific kata. You should pay particular attention to discovering the state-of-mind to be found within each different kata.

Finally, when you have sufficiently practiced this, begin to be cognizant of the manner in which each specific kata functions on an environmental state – how the kata specifically compels you to interact with your external environment and how such interaction differs from kata to kata. This will lead you on the path of Jiriki Kata-Do which exists integrated, but hidden, within your own style of karate-do or martial art; the “secret things.”

Closing:

It is mandatory that bunkai (analysis) of kata progress from the physical state to explore the spiritual and environmental states of kata. Thus, bunkai (analysis) will exist within the three states of kata. Given that bunkai is limited by the majority of practitioners to the physical aspect of kata, the uncommon nature of the spiritual and metaphysical aspect of bunkai makes them the “secret things” worthy of analysis. Future editions of Sensei John’s Kata Laboratory will contain defined analysis as to how to accomplish the task of analyzing kata on three levels, the physical, the spiritual (state of mind) and the environmental (synchronizing with the external environment).
Please remember, the mandate of the kata laboratory is

☑ Think   –  read and reflect on the narrative of each kata experiment

☑  Sweat  – work, again and again, the protocol of the experiment as set forth. This aspect is crucial. I wholeheartedly invite commentary and yes, even criticism but please SWEAT FIRST, do not pontificate. Comments such as “That’s not the way we do it”, or, “That’s not traditional”, “That’s not pure in our system” and the like are not only egotistical and insulting, but will show the depth of your hubris, and laziness. 

☑  Experiment  – after sufficiently working the specific protocols, begin to experiment with your own thoughts and variations. Do not be afraid of failure – the only failure is not thinking and sweating for yourself but being a slave to dogma.

Cum superiorum privilegio veniaque (With the privilege & permission of the Superiors),

HANKO

Sensei John Szmitkowski

 Please note that, as with most Kata Laboratory submissions, the following is a highly digested and summarized version of my seminar and several of my works. For seminar information, please use the following link: https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/

© Copyright 2006 and 2013 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

ENDNOTES:

1. Alighieri, Dante, Inferno, Canto III.

2. Caveat: the term kata is not restricted solely to kata of karate-do, by functional necessity, the term must also include the kata of all martial arts regardless of nomenclature. Thus, the within applies to the kata of Tae Kwon Do, Kung-fu, Kendo, Kobudo and the like equally.

3. By definition, zazen (seated meditation) does not have the element of bodily movement.

4. Though others may take exception to the following statement, I submit that during the practice of kihon or basic karate technique, the novice performer does not have a clearly defined state-of-mind. In martial terms, the sole expression of a state of mind may be termed a clouded state. That is to say that the novice is solely concerned with and mentally concentrates on the proper copying 9or performance) of basic technique as directed by his instructor. This is the clouded “Shu” stage of Shu-Ha-Ri. It is also the basis by which the practice of martial arts endeavors, inter alia, to “uncloud” the mind. For those unfamiliar with the concept of Shu, Ha, Ri, you may acquaint yourself with same using the following convenient link http://defeliceryu.com/2012/10/07/shu-ha-ri-a-different-perspective/

5. States of mind include not only martial arts states of mind, for example Mushin (mind-no-mind), Nenjjushin (everyday mind) and Tomaranu Kokoro (unstoppable mind), states of mind also include the common, non-martial states of mind such as depression, anxiety, alertness, joy, sorrow, envy, greed and the like.

6. For a detailed explanation of the interrelationship of Jiriki Kata-Do to Goshin Do Karate-Do, please use this convenient link: (Jiriki Kata-Do An Epiphenomenon Of Goshin-Do Karate-Do) – https://senseijohn.me/2011/10/02/jiriki-kata-do-an-epiphenomenon-of-goshin-do-karate/

While the three states exist in every kata, they are codified and amplified in the kata Sanchin. Close scrutiny of the three battles of Sanchin illustrates the inconsistency and redundancy within which the battles have commonly been defined. My research into, practice of and examination of the three battles of Sanchin results in the commonly accepted three battles being rejected and redefined as the physical battle, the spiritual battles and the environmental battle. The term “battles” as represented by the kanji for Sanchin, is representative of the “states” of human existence. Thus the three battles of Sanchin represent the three states of human existence.

For seminar information, please use the following link: https://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/  For information on my Sanchin DVD and Book, please see the notes below.

8. A full dissertation of the masters expression as to the spirituality of karate-do is beyond this article. Quite frankly, if the reader does not comprehend this concept, then, unless it is too late, he or she needs to acquaint him or herself as to this concept.

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

You may wish to view the Goshin-Do Karate blog at WWW.DeFeliceRyu.Com or my blog dedicated to the interrelationship between martial arts protocol & ideology to fly-fishing and fishing in general by clicking WWW.FlyFishingDojo.Com

“MERE” JOURNEYMAN OR KING OZYMANDIAS – A Matter of Confidence

14 Feb

The within is submitted to all who tread along life’s journey in a continuing search for knowledge and improvement of that amorphous concept known as “self”. Once again, on the surface, the within article would appear to apply simply to the martial arts. I suggest that on a broader level, the within applies to all aforementioned journeymen.

Whenever a new student would enter the Dojo, I would ask the initiate what he or she hopes to achieve by undertaking the study of Karate-Do. The answers I receive from such potential initiates are as varied as the individuals themselves. There are, however, certain general themes that emerge. One such theme is the attainment of self-confidence. I would like to explore the effect of attaining self-confidence in this article.

Initially, I note that I will not address the mechanics of how and why Karate-Do and other martial arts build self-confidence. I submit that it is axiomatic that self-confidence is discovered and nurtured through Karate-Do. The same is true of other art forms such as music, painting, Yoga and Zazen (seated meditation). In fact any endeavor that mandates periods of introspection by the practitioner will foster self-confidence as a consequence of self-discovery. Having said that, there is a crucial turning point in the evolutionary process of self-discovery that leads to the attainment of self-confidence. The turning point is at the event horizon when one’s self is discovered, realized and defined. It is at this event horizon that one’s awareness of oneself breeds a sense of self-confidence. Once self-confidence is attained, the event horizon dictates that one can undertake two possible future paths.

 Path of Multiple Torii at Fushimi Inari Taisha, Kyoto, Japan

The first path is the path that recognizes that the concept of self (and the associated self-confidence) is transitory and subject to continuing definition and evolution. This path is defined by the idea that while one is awakened to and confident in the person that one is, such a psychological state is merely momentary and subject to the continuum of the life experiences to be had. One’s deeds, ideas and actions are viewed as evolving. By this I mean that continued deeds, ideas and actions incubate and give birth to continued knowledge. Continued knowledge gives rise to new theories, concepts and innovations. Thus, one is confident within the boundary of acknowledging that such confidence extends to one’s ability to continue to embark on the unknown journey of life as it unfolds. If one lacked this confidence, the future unknown journey would stagnate one’s personal quest for knowledge and growth out of fear. On this path, the self-confident journeyman continues the quest in anticipation of unknown knowledge for the purpose of perpetually rediscovering oneself.

The second path is the path that views one’s achievement in the chosen field of endeavor as the pinnacle of the discovery process, to wit: one has become the “best” one can be (The slogan, “Be all you can be” comes to mind). This means that one’s self-confidence is finite in place, time and achievement. This path is defined by ego. The path of ego mandates that one sees the continuum of life not as a process of continued discovery, but as a conclusion to be ratified by the remarkable person that one has become. One’s deeds, ideas, and actions are internally viewed (and to be perceived by others) as omnipotent and mighty. This means that one’s deeds are to be glorified in and of themselves. One’s deeds, ideas and actions are to be viewed as a historical event and as supreme and final. Of course, this is a fiction. Such self-confidence has fallen prey to the Siren’s call of ego. The paradox of this psychological path is that it results in a stagnation of personal growth to be attained by future knowledge. The result is similar to the stagnation experienced by an utter lack of self-confidence. In the former case the stagnation is caused by ego and in the latter case it is caused by fear. Thus, the fulfillment of the paradox.

Everyone is susceptible to falling prey to the draw of one’s ego. So as to be able to fend off the attraction of succumbing to the mythical Siren‘s call of ego, one needs to always bear in mind the transitory nature of life. As much as one cannot rest on one’s laurels, one must always understand that accomplishment is but a portal to future achievement. This is not to say that one need be forever humble. One can, and should, enjoy the successful feeling that comes from accomplishment. One need simply remember that accomplishment which breeds self-confidence should be perpetually challenged and redefined within oneself.

Again, there are many introspective endeavors wherein one can obtain a sense of self-definition and self-confidence. For myself, the mechanism is the continuous study of was Karate-Do and specifically, the study of Kata. The principle characteristic of any introspective endeavor is that it will eventually lead the practitioner to the event horizon of choosing the path of either continuing self-discovery through knowledge or to the path of finite ego. Ego is finite and, being self-propagated dissipates with time. History is replete with examples of the dilatory effect of ego as a factor of time. There are many examples contained in mythology, history and literature. One such example is the following poem, Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It is a favorite of mine. I keep the poem in my psychological database as a reminder that the journey for knowledge never terminates. One’s momentary achievements, should be acknowledged but never glorified.

 

From: Williams, Oscar, Immortal Poems Of The English Language (An Anthology), (Washington Square Press , NY, 1952) p. 295 

I met a traveler from an ancient land

Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on those lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal these words appear:

“my name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside them remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far and away. 

 Colossus Of Rhodes, a 16th Century engraving by Martin Heenskerck, part of the series The Seven Wonders Of The World . While it does not depict Ozymandias, the  picture  perhaps conveys the concept of Ozymandias and is another example of the dilatory effects of Ego.

The remarkable journey to obtain knowledge has presently brought me to the new contextual paradigm of Kata within my methodology and ideology of Jiriki Kata-Do (The Way Of (attaining) Inner Salvation Through Kata). Jiriki Kata-Do is a new exploration into the hidden secrets of Kata heretofore believed to be the sole province of the martial artist now extended to all followers of my methodology and ideology. I remain, as I hope you do, a journeyman, willing to share the journey with my initiates. To borrow from Shelley, it is my sincere hope that all remain eager to continue to tread upon the lone and level sands (of knowledge) that stretch far and away”.

The reader may wish to consider the evolutionary process of self-discovery as set forth in my article entitled Dante’s Issho Dojo which is filed in the category Martial ideology Applied To Daily Life. For more nformation on my ideology and methodology of Jiriki Kata-Do, please review the articles herein filed in the category Kata as enlightened meditation.

For more on either Sanchin Kata as meditation or my new book on Sanchin Kata, please feel free the Sanchin Book page of this Blogsite or visit my website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

The poem Ozymandias was from Williams, Oscar, Immortal Poems Of The English Language (An Anthology), (Washington Square Press, NY, NY 1952) p. 295.

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