Tag Archives: Kata Training

Kata-RX For Wellness & Mindfulness Course # 2 Opens For Enrollment

10 Jul

More news from Sensei John’s Online Kata-RX For Wellness & Mindfulness classes! We’ll let Sensei John tell you himself.

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Today’s the day!
The second course in my three part “Kata For Wellness & Mindfulness” online classes is now open for enrollment. You can view the course and full curriculum using this link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/full-kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness

Let’s take a quick peak at my innovative, groundbreaking kata, filmed on a beautiful summer day in Asbury Park, NJ:

The second course is available to all students that have completed the first course. For a limited time the second course is available for a one payment option of $ 55. or a monthly two payment option for $ 30. each. As always, if you are not completely satisfied, there is a 30 day money back guarantee.
You can view the course description and full curriculum using this convenient link: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/full-kata-rx-for-wellness-mindfulness

Attention New Students:
Please remember you MUST start with the first course.
For a limited time you can enroll in the first course for only $ 10. with a full 30 day money back guarantee. You can use this link to view the full curriculum and click the “enroll” button if you would like to start your class.
https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

======== put flyer here

Here’s a few more screen shots from the most recent videos filmed at Ringwood Manor, NJ.

I look forward to seeing you in class,

 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

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Sensei John’s Online Kata Course Number 2 – Coming July!

28 Jun

Sensei John’s next course (number two) in his three part Kata-RX: Kata For Wellness & Mindfulness Online school will open in July. We’ll let Sensei John tell you how the course is progressing.

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My three part Kata For Wellness and Mindfulness online course takes the next step with course number two.

The first course has already opened for enrollment. https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation
The second course is well underway to opening in the next ten days. This second course will teach the full, enhanced movements of the three kata presented in the first course. More significantly this course will teach more of the internal processes found within the kata. The Ghost Hand Gaze, Ghost Hand perception, Mushin state of mind, contracting and expanding bio-energy and Nenjuushin (the everyday mind) to name a few of the internal processes.

To date all that remains is editing and final tweaking. So, it looks like the second course will launch around July 4th. In the meantime, here’s a few screen shots from the class videos. I hope you enjoy them.

Sensei John explains Mushin-No-Shin Mindset

 

Sensei John explains the Ghost Hand Gaze

 

Sensei John’s Practice Together Class On The Ghost Hand Kata

 

Practicing Your Sanchin using Mushin-No-Shin with Sensei John

Please remember that new students must start with the first course. The second course builds on the core techniques and internal principles taught in the first course. This course has already opened for enrollment. Welcome to all the new students!

The first course teaches the core movements of three kata: my Ghost Hand Kata (Yurei-Te Kata), the Sanchin Kata and the 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata (“Ichi-Nichi / Issho” Kata). It is the starting point for all students. For a limited time you can still enroll for only $ 10. (that’s a savings of $ 15 off the regular price) & there’s a 30 day money back guarantee if not completely satisfied. You may view the entire curriculum and enroll, if you choose to do so here: https://kata-rx.teachable.com/p/preview-kata-as-moving-meditation

I look forward to seeing you in class. My best to all,

 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Update – Sensei John’s Kata-Rx Coming June, 2019

24 May

We have an update on Sensei John’s newest project – a unique, innovated kata for wellness and mindfulness he created for anyone regardless of prior marital arts experience. We think its best he tell you in his own words. (Reprinted, in part from his blog):

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I completed my newest kata for wellness and mindfulness project. In it I introduce non-martial artists to two kata I specifically created for the project, the highly meditative “Ghost Hand Kata” (Yurei-Te Kata) ™ and the penultimate “1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata” (Ichi-nichi- Issho Kata). ™ The manuscript is fully written and I am almost finished filming video.

The online school name that I am toying with is “Kata-Rx.” ™ Naturally, I’ll announce the opening, which will include full support on social media via a private FaceBook group, new You-Tube channel, Instagram and Twitter (before this I thought only birds tweeted). My target date is June 1st or as close to that as possible.

I promise a unique learning experience. You can get a sample from the teaser video below. Move over Yoga! Step aside Tai Chi! The gym, forget-about-it. The time has come for kata as wellness and mindfulness, and Sensei John is the innovator!

As you may know all martial arts and all kata start with – – – yup, you guessed it – – – BREATHING. So naturally the teaser gives a look into the first class in the curriculum, proper breathing. Take a look and enjoy the “Dojo” and the teaching “props.”

 

More to come!

Sensei John Szmitkowski

Sensei John’s Up To Something!

17 May

   We recently dropped in on Sensei John at his home. Our visit stoked our curiosity – Sensei John was up to something.

As we sat and chatted, Sensei was busy at his laptop. Under the guise of using the rest room and going to our car because we “forgot” something we were able to get a few glimpses of his screen. We asked “What’s going on?” His reply was cryptic, “Wait until June 1st and it will be ready to go live.” Okay, now we had to know more, but Sensei was tight lipped. He did mention something about trademarks and copyrights, Hmmm.

Sensei was a gracious host. He generously refilled our coffee cups. For our part, when Sensei was in the kitchen making coffee, we just happened to catch a few more glimpses of his laptop. It also seems that we, shall we say “accidentally” got a few screenshots.

Here’s what we can deduce he’s upto. But. Oops! Are we letting the proverbial cat out of the bag?

So, based on the screenshot below, it seems safe to say Sensei John is launching an online school to teach his most updated version of kata as a means of physical & mental wellness for anyone – no need to learn a full karate curriculum. It also seems that he’s thinking of calling the website – – Kata-rx.Com.

 

Sensei hasn’t been around much and now we think that he went so far as to create a unique and innovative kata just for this purpose. Maybe that’s why the trademarks and copyrights?

Naturally, Sensei’s lessons and videos are all filmed outdoors.

It also seems Sensei has, well shall we say, “The gift of gab.”

To be honest, we have no idea what his motorcycle has to do with kata. We’re not sure if he’ll tell us or we’ll have to buy his course and see.

Assuming Sensei John doesn’t see this and assuming we get invited back to his house for my coffee (which by the way was pretty good), we’ll have more updates.

Respectfully submitted,

– – Anonymous
(Hey don’t blame me, Sensei makes a good cup of coffee and I want to get invited back to his house)

Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

15 Mar

Here’s the conclusion of Sensei John’s two part series on the formalities of kata. Let’s see what he has to say:

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In Part One of this article, https://senseijohn.me/2019/02/20/do-away-with-kata-formalities-part-1/ I set forth my idea that in so far as after Sho-dan grade, one must practice both the spontaneity of kata and the phenomenon that kata reside within you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, one must do away with the formalities of kata. (see Endnote # 1 for a video example) These formalities, represented by the three step process of rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and ready posture inhibit the process of kata as a ritual that resides within you percolating under the surface until needed. Or, do they? Perhaps the formalities symbolize a higher meaning of kata. So now, here’s the conclusion of that article.

Do away with kata formalities – Part 2: Not Quite

As I began to advocate my concept of doing away with the formalities decades ago, my answer was yes, they should be done away with as a condition precedent to beginning and ending a kata. Just do the kata and be done. Now, as I get older (maybe wiser?) I have rethought the concept. I have once again incorporated the acts of preparation into my kata – just not as you may think.

To understand what I propose, one must appreciates the “Three Battles” of kata. Specifically all kata involve three aspects or battles. While they exist in all kata, they are emphasized and harmonized in the Sanchin Kata.

Kanji For Sanchin – Three Battles

By name, Sanchin, represents three battles. Throughout time and from karate style to karate style, Sensei have defined the three battles in various, sometimes euphemistic ways. For my part, I define the battles, on a fundamental level as breathing, bodily movement and state-of-mind. Once a kata-ka has trained kata from the standpoint of these battles, they are ready to appreciate my more advanced definition of the three battles, to wit: a physical battle (breathing and bodily movement), spiritual battle (psyche, mental states and emotions) and an environmental battle (the outside world wherein the kata is performed and how you interact with same). (For more on this topic, please see endnote # 2) You can readily see that whether you adopt the fundamental definition or the more advanced, the three battles, symbolized by Sanchin, are present in each and every kata.

By extension you should then acknowledge that the three battles are present in each and every moment of life itself. You must breath to live. Your body must move each and every second to live. Yes, you may be immobile during times of sleep or even unconsciousness, but your blood must flow, cells must metabolize, organs function and the like. Similarly as you live your life, you will interact with and be affected by the outside environment. Thus, I conclude and submit that “Life is a kata.” ™

Once I came to the understanding that “Life is a kata,” ™ I began to rethink my position on the formalities. Instead of doing away with the formalities, I now advocate that they should be performed before and after each kata. What, a complete reversal? Not quite. The issue is no longer whether to perform the formalities, but when does kata start and end. My conclusion is that my kata starts the moment I get out of bed, the new day, another day of life, is the beginning of my kata. I need not perform a kata as soon as my feet touch the floor. I do; however perform the three formalities. I look out my bedroom window and rei (bow), mukso (meditation) and assume a ready posture for a moment or two and then start my day – my kata, my life. Surely, before fully engaging my day, I perform my daily routine of Sanchin, Seienchin and Suparunpei Kata and my own personal kata, Yurei-Te Kata (Ghost Hand Kata). I go about my day, including training my other kata. At days end, I perform the three formalities in reverse order and settle in to bed. My Life is my kata.

To be sure, this is but the best I can do to symbolize my acceptance of my own life as a kata. Had I thought of my concept fifty-seven years ago, I would have had a much greater symbolism, but I lacked the training, knowledge and experience to do so. The greatest symbolism would have been to perform the formalities only twice in my life. The first immediately after exiting my mother’s womb. The second time I would the perform all three in reverse order at the moment immediately before my death – the ultimate symbol of my life, my kata. Perhaps, notwithstanding I did not start life in that way, I am still be able to perform the formalities (in reverse order) at the end of my life – my kata. But – that will only be half the symbol. Maybe once I enter what comes after death I will stand tall in the next world, and bow, mediate and be ready for the kata-yet-to-come.

Respectfully submitted,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

*** Teaser Alert ***

Here’s a few more screen shots from my forthcoming Yurei_Te (Ghost Hand) Kata Book and Video:

   

ENDNOTES:

1. In my forthcoming Kata Laboratory book I have set forth many unique training concepts to explore the esoteric aspects of kata including my assertion that kata resides within you twenty-four hours a day seven days away percolating util such a time it bursts forth. If are interested in this topic, you may see this introductory article and video. https://senseijohn.me/2018/01/31/kata-lab-3250-kata-within-you-intermediate/

2. For more on the three battles of kata, and by association, bunkai (the analysis of kata), you may refer to this article from my Kata Laboratory, https://senseijohn.me/2013/05/20/kata-lab-101-three-states-of-bunkai/

For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link http://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

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: http://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

Sensei John: Do Away With Kata Formalities – Part 1

26 Feb

He’s at it again – our own Sensei John advocates doing away with Kata formalities (or does he?)(reprinted from Sensei John’s blog, WWW.SenseiJohn.Me , with permission)

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Do away with kata formalities
Part 1: Understanding the formalities

Every karate-ka (practitioner of karate) is familiar with the formalities of kata. Whatever form they take, these formalities may be summarized as three procedures before and after each kata. I submit, they are “outside” of the kata and are not part of the actual kata. (See endnote number 1) In this article, I make the argument that at the dan rank (black belt) level, they should not be performed at all, save one exception.

Generally speaking the kata formalities may be parsed into the following three steps. Step one is the “rei” or formal bow. This step symbolizes respect. Respect first and foremost is for the solemnity of the kata itself. Respect then expands to include the individual that created the kata, those that maintained it throughout history and preserved it in its present form. You can extend the concept of respect ad infinitum, such as respect for the dojo, your Sensei, karate in general and the like. As my own Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, was fond of saying, “All kata begins and ends with respect.”

The second step is one of “mukso” or meditation. This step has many effects, including, inter alia, the need to clear your mind of all preconceptions, dilatory psychological states (extraneous thoughts) and emotional effects (anxiety, fear, depression and the like). Unchecked these dilatory states would impose themselves on the kata. As the karate Sages would say, you need to “Part the clouds to see the moon.” This state of mind is called “Mushin” or “mind no mind.” You perform mukso after the kata to facilitate the state of mind known as “Zanshin” (“remaining mind”) to imbue yourself with the physical and spiritual by-products of the kata.

Lastly one assumes a “ready” posture. This is a physically neutral posture that takes many forms. Examples include standing with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, hands low, feet together with hands touching at groin level and the like. Regardless of the exact posture, it is always neutral. The neutral posture ends upon starting the kata.

After the kata, the kata-ka (my term for a performer of kata) then performs the formalities in reverse order.

Okay, so far so good. The formalities clearly have a purpose and are relatively innocuous in so far as they are neither physically demanding or spiritually negative. So, you may wonder why I advocate that you do away with these relatively noble acts of respect, purifying your spirit and readiness before kata. Well, lets see.

First, it must be completely understood that the formalities are of significant importance to the student below Sho-dan (first degree black belt). To those of numansha grade (under black belt) they must be performed before and after each and every kata. Period. (caveat – see endnote # 2) After sho-dan, one must begin a transition into a fuller understanding and appreciation of kata. To this end, the formalities should be dispensed with.

I would like to begin by looking at the nature of the formalities. To reiterate, they prepare you physically and mentally for the kata. On a purely physical level, it is axiomatic that the kata symbolizes a battle, a physical attack scenario. At a basic, almost Planck Scale-like level, kata is a ritualized shadow-boxing dance. It represents a fight. A karate-ka trains to put the odds of surviving such an encounter in their favor by employing the techniques of the kata with the proper mental state.That being said, if you are attacked you do not hold up you hand, stating “Please wait” while you bow, meditate and assume a ready posture. So, why train this way? I am reminded of the following humorous scenario.

In the mid-1990’s I was officiating and competing as a young San-dan (third degree black belt) in Sensei Ed DiNardo’s (RIP) annual karate tournament at the Wayne (NJ) P.A.L. building. We just concluded the officials meeting presided over by both Sensei DiNardo and Hanshi Frank Van Lenten (RIP). This was one of the handful of times I met the founder of the Goshin-Do Karate style and association. Sensei DiNardo’s tournament always began with the black belt competition in kata, kobudo and kumite. This allowed the competing black belts to be free later for officiating when the lower ranks competed. Before we adjourned the meeting, Sensei DiNardo turned to Hanshi Van Lenten and asked,”Should we give the black belts a few minutes to stretch out and get ready to compete?” Hanshi Van Lenten put his left arm around Sensei’s shoulder and looked him dead in the eye, “If I jumped on your back right now, would you ask me to let you stretch out?” And thus, lightening struck and awakened my subconscious thought as to the formalities of kata. Much like you would not perform the acts prior to an actual encounter, you should train to perform your kata utterly spontaneously. You must develop the concept that all your kata reside within you at all times – twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.. They simmer within you, percolating, ready to be released when you need them to burst forth. (See endnote # 3) To perform the formalities before and after each and every kata obfuscates this spontaneity.

This phenomenon of kata within you can be trained with the aid of a Sensei who understands the heart of kata (and not simply the rhetoric of kata). You can, and should, specifically train your body and spirit so as to be aware of the kata within you and let it burst forth. This is first accomplished by training the immediacy of self defense scenarios within the kata. In my Kata Laboratory project, I have multiple training concepts. One example, “Kata To Modify Emotions” is set forth in endnote # 3. Another example is “Kata Lab – Dr. Jekyll’s Potion. You may see the details of this kata lab using this convenient link https://senseijohn.me/2014/02/09/kata-lab-122-kata-dr-jekylls-potion/ and also this video example.

I therefore humbly submit that you must train your kata to be deployed at a moments notice in times of need. The formalities become an unnecessary impediment to the spontaneity of such performance. Removing the symbolic formalities is the first and necessary step to accomplish this spontaneous transition form one’s normal everyday world to the world represented by the kata. Again, this includes a physical world (attack and physical health scenarios) and a spiritual world (mental, psychological and emotional states). Thus, the need for the formalities is nullified. You must be prepared at all times. You must act with respect, maintain a clear mind and be ready in a noncommittal manner so as to act when it is time to act. In essence, like kata, the formalities simply blend into and simmer within us. Respect becomes part of our lives. Mushin, a clear mind and spirit, becomes our default mental state. We remain neutral until the time to act is appropriate then we act swiftly and decisively. If the goal is full integration of kata within ourselves, why symbolize the formalities when we begin and end each and every kata? So, do we simply get rid of the acts of preparation?

I’m going to let you chew on this a bit. Let the concept percolate within you as you practice your kata. See what you think. In my next post, I’ll give you my insights and how after forty-seven years of kata, I incorporate the formalities into same.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Sensei John Szmitkowski

   For information on my “no-risk”, kata seminars, please visit the seminar page using this convenient link http://senseijohn.me/seminar-kata/
My seminars are the ONLY seminars that allow you to pay at the conclusion, thus insuring your complete satisfaction!

   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: http://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

© Copyright 2019 Issho Productions & John Szmitkowski, all rights reserved.

ENDNOTES:

1. There may be others that disagree with my assertion that the kata formalities lie outside of the kata itself. Frankly, that is fair, but wrong. Simply ask any instructor to teach you the first three moves of a new kata (or think back to when you learned a new kata), I bet you, as my father would say, “A dollar to a donut” that they do not show you (for the N’th time) the three formalities. Rather, they show you the first three movements of the actual kata. Thus, impliedly, agreeing with my assessment.

2. During my training in Sensei DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate dojo, the formalities were, at times, summarily performed. That is to say that when a kata-ka was asked to perform several kata, such as during testing or class, they would perform the formalities before the first kata, perform all kata asked and the perform them again after the last kata. Thus, avoiding performing the formalities before each kata in the series. I also observed this summary performance at other dojo including the former Bogota (NJ) dojo of my friend and comrade, Shihan Wayne Norlander, RIP. I note that this experience may have subconsciously infused my mind with the idea that the kata formalities should be done away with entirely.

3. Please notice I do not say “ready for when you may be attacked.” I deliberately chose my words to reflect the idea that kata are more than physical self-defense. They are also of great benefit in developing your spiritual self. They are moving meditation than produce a heightened mental and perceptive state when fully understood. But, that is beyond the ken of this article. It is; however, the entire subject of my next book. To tease you a bit on this topic, you may see how kata can be used to modify your emotions using this link and video.https://senseijohn.me/2013/10/06/kata-lab-221-kata-as-an-emotional-modifier/

Don’t Read This – Unless

27 Jul

     We just received a very exciting update from Sensei John. You can read about it below, or visit Sensei John’s blog using this link: https://senseijohn.me/2018/07/25/dont-read-this-unless/

Reprinted from Sensei John’s blog:

Don’t read this unless, you realize you need a means of maintaining physical, mental and spiritual well-being in an increasingly hostile world – – – – and – – – – you’re are ready to be solely responsible for your own such well-being. With that being said, here’s a sneak peak into my latest project.

The start of a very exciting summer heralds the start of a new project. This project will continue my Jiriki Kata-Do (self-wellness through kata) dynamic ideology. Jiriki Kata-Do was launched in 2009 with my Sanchin Kata manual, “Sanchin Kata: Gateway To The Plateau Of Serenity” and DVD.

Now, almost a decade later and tens of thousands of hours “Thinking, Sweating and Experimenting” ™ with kata, a second, updated installment is underway.

My concept of Jiriki Kata-Do (“JK-D”) brings the benefits of select karate kata to the general public, without the need to study a full karate curriculum. The kata are practiced not from a martial perspective but from a moving meditation perspective. By undertaking the practice of JK-D, the average person can experience not only the physical health benefits of dynamic, moving meditative rituals (called “kata”) but also realize the mental, emotional benefits of such meditative rituals. Additionally, the practitioner begins to understand and appreciate the manner in which the world, one’s external environment, affects and interacts with these physical and mental processes and vice-versa.

JK-D differs from other non-active forms of mediation called zazen, or seated mediation, in that, well, you are physically active during the JK-D meditative process. Unlike other endeavors, such as yoga and tai-chi, which have not only lost their meditative aspects in favor of physical exercise but also become commercialized though fashion, JK-D only requires the use of your own body and mind. There are no special clothes, accessories, classroom and the like. JK-D remains within you at all times, wherever you are. The benefits of JK-D are , therefore, available to you anyplace and anytime.

Sanchin footprints in the sand, Cape Cod, MA 2016

At present, I am preparing the manuscript and scripting the videos. It is my hope that both will be finished by the end of summer. The plan is then to film photos for the manuscript and video for the DVD in Cape Cod. MA in early September. The release date would then be mid-November for this long awaited continuation of the JK-D project.

Scouting video locations – its a “dirty-job”

 

Check back often for more information, and maybe a few teasers from the manuscript and test videos.

To read more about the evolution of my Jiriki Kata-Do from its Goshin-Do Karate roots, please use this convenient link: https://senseijohn.me/2011/10/02/jiriki-kata-do-an-epiphenomenon-of-goshin-do-karate/

Featured Video:

As Sensei John says, “Life is a kata.” ™

Respectfully submitted,

“Think – sweat – experiment with Kata” and “Life is a kata” are trademark protected.

  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: http://senseijohn.me/kata-lab/

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