Archive | June, 2015

Bluegills & Warlords

29 Jun

What does a fisherman catching a bluegill and a Daimyo (Warlord) ordering a Samurai to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) have in common? They are both affected by perception.
When I lived in Arizona, fishing in the hot dry summer months was summed up in one phrase – brutally tough. “Low” temperatures often hovered in the mid-ninety degree range and high temperatures, more often than not, exceed one hundred and five degrees. Though an occasional largemouth bass can be found in these extreme conditions, the most plentiful species is the humble bluegill. When fishing for bluegill, I adjust my tackle accordingly. I fish a ultra-light equipment with light leaders usually with a 7x or 8x tippet. Catching bluegill in this manner is productive and fun; with each bluegill released, my smile broadens and my mood relaxes more and more.

boulder-green sunfish-bluegill- copy

My suffering through the summer would pay dividends in the late fall when temperatures finally return to a level that is tolerable. It is at this time that Arizona Game and Fish would embark upon an aggressive rainbow trout stocking program. All thoughts and efforts on the water turned to catching that lucent shimmering magnificence that is the rainbow trout. During my quest, it is inevitable that a bluegill will also be caught. It is somewhat disingenuous to the bluegill species that so delighted me during the summer that hooking one now brings a thought of, “Ah, only a bluegill.”
What is different? It is still the same bluegill species that had me smiling all summer. It is still just as much fun to catch. But, it is not a rainbow trout. It is only a matter of perception. My perception of catching and releasing a bluegill has been altered.

As I hit the keys of my laptop producing these words, it is early Spring. After a decade in Arizona, I’ve relocated back to my home state of New Jersey. As I reacquaint myself with the waters of my youth, one goal is ever-present; find fish. Though I’m presently targeting bass and pickerel, I am grateful for any tug on my line. That tug is more often than not provided by bluegill.

blugill rat-l-trap

Whenever I am fortunate to have my six year old grandson fish with me, the one species that provides consistent action and mile-wide smiles and laughs is, well you already know. Ah, perception once again exalts the status of the bluegill.

bluegill-stratt

Perception affects not only how we technically fish but also how we react to the overall fishing experience. The ancient sages knew the power of perception. In fact, oral traditions and myths told of the ramifications of how perception shapes our world.
Here is a mythical tale from the oral traditions of the martial arts that illustrates how perception can alter the manner in which you perceive a current event. The next time you fish, think of the tale and the manner in which perception affects your fishing reality. It is called the Daimyo and the Samurai.

In feudal Japan there was a powerful daimyo, a warlord. Amongst his many retainers, the daimyo had an extremely loyal Samurai whom he favored. The samurai had accompanied the Daimyo to the Shogun’s Court in far off Edo, many days journey from their home. One day the samurai received an urgent message advising that his father, also a very distinguished samurai loyal to the daimyo’s family, had fallen gravely ill. Being in a hurry to attend to his dying father, the samurai desired to mount his horse and rush home. The samurai found that his horse had become lame and could not make the long journey home. Worried about seeing his ill father, the samurai made use of the daimyo’s favorite horse. This was a serious crime punishable by beheading.
When the daimyo heard of the samurai’s use of his horse, he declared, “The samurai and his father are loyal retainers of my family, what a devout samurai to be so concerned with the welfare of his father that he risked his own life so as to attend to his ill father.”
Business at the Shogun’s Court had concluded and the daimyo returned home to his castle. The samurai went to see his master and they walked in the daimyo’s gardens. The samurai saw the most lovely cherry blossom. He picked it and offered it to his master as a token of his appreciation, saying, “Amongst flowers, the cherry blossom; amongst men, you, my Lord and master.” The other samurai that were in attendance were shocked that he dared to pick a cherry blossom from the daimyo’s favorite tree. The daimyo took the proffered cherry blossom and praised the samurai for his generosity.
As happens in all human relationships, the daimyo and the samurai eventually had a falling out. The daimyo angrily and publicly chastised the samurai, “You impudent servant, you disgraced me by making use of my horse.” “You insulted me by picking my own cherry blossom and giving it to me as a present.” In the presence of the daimyo’s court, the samurai was ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide).
The next time you are on the water hunting for a game fish and are “only” catching “junk” fish, think about the Daimyo and the Samurai. Adjust your perception and relax and enjoy the simple pleasure of being outdoors, catching a fish.(See Endnote #1).

Samurai seppuku

Samurai seppuku

I hope you enjoyed the tale and the within exploration as to how perception is a key ingredient in your fly fishing repertoire.
In closing I remain, open to my perception of my world and wishing I could cast a fly into clear water and find a bluegill at the end of my line.

Sensei John

Sensei John

wicked catch  In the photo I’m wearing an uv protection shirt I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaff-JSzmitkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes). Or, you can also log in with my personal link (as of January, 2015)
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ENDNOTES:
1. I had heard this fable several times in the Dojo. I was able to locate a similar tale, which you may also enjoy reading. It is called “The Thief Of The Peach” and may be found in: Furuya, Kensho, Kodo: Ancient Ways (Lessons In The Spiritual Life Of The Warrior/Martial Artist (O’Hara Publications, Inc., 1996)   p. 48.

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor  As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.75 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.75, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

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“Fish On!” – Fishing Kiai

2 Jun

   CIMG5462  “Fish on!” – “Got one!” – “Y-E-S!” – “Woo-hoo!”

These are all examples of an exciting characteristic of fishing that has its roots in the martial arts. Ethnicity and language do not affect this characteristic.“Et Viola!” is an example from Andre Paradis, host of one of my favorite fishing shows, King Of The RiverOther examples include,

    CIMG3943 “Damn!” – “Lost him!” – “He’s off!”

What is this fishing characteristic?
It is a yell, born of excitement or frustration that occurs when we fish. It does not matter if you fish with bait, a lure or a fly. It matters not that you are young or old, a weekend angler or competitive tournament angler, anytime a fish bites and you set the hook, you will shout or yell. A few tournament fisherman have an almost trademark-type yell that is known by the public as specific to that fisherman.
This yell is interconnected with a martial arts practice known as “kiai” (pronounced “Key-eye”). When written in kanji (Japanese calligraphy) the word kiai is composed of two root words, “ki” meaning “spirit” and “ai” a contraction of the word “ to yell.” Thus kiai loosely translates as “spirit yell.”

KiaiKanji

Kiai is therefore not simply yelling. It is a yell or shout derived from, and incorporating your internal spirit. It is completely different that a loud exclamation lacking of emotion. Spirit or emotion is the driving force behind the kiai. The physical source of the kiai is from the inhaled breath stored within your lower abdomen. (See Endnotes # 1). This is important because a poorly executed kiai which originates from your throat will produce a sore throat whereas a properly executed kiai will not.
In addition to an expression of excitement or frustration there are other reasons to kiai. Within the martial arts, there are three reasons to kiai. They are, to scare your opponent, to boost your confidence and to provide or add to the strength of your technique. In fishing, only two of these three reasons are applicable. Since it could be argued that the fish is your opponent, while fishing, you would not kiai to scare your opponent. You may; however, wish to kiai to scare away those fisherman that are encroaching on your fishing waters, but perhaps that topic is best avoided.
Let’s look at the kiai from the perspective of boosting your confidence. In battle or any individual fight, one fighter may feel out classed by his opponent. To overcome this negative attitude, a sharp kiai is helpful as a confidence booster. Similarly when fishing during difficult conditions a kiai may be helpful. These external difficulties include wind, driving rain, excessively hot temperatures and the like. Through no fault of your own, these external factors make your fishing difficult. They often have the effect of dampening your spirit, decreasing your confidence and making you susceptible to giving-up. A sharp kiai may serve to cast out the negativity and rejuvenate your desire to fish enjoyably and successfully in these adverse conditions. Examples include,
saguaro   “Come on already!” – “To Hell with this weather!” – “Enough!” – “Get your head back in the game!”
Similarly, adversity may come from factors within yourself. Even on a picture perfect day and conditions that are optimal, fishing can be difficult. During these times, you may experience negative emotions. You may begin to doubt your abilities, doubt your chances for success (“There’s only three hours in this tournament and there’s no way I can win.”) or you may simply prematurely accept defeat (“What’s the use of changing lures?”). At this time, a deep breath and a powerful kiai can snap you out of your negativity and turn your attitude into a positive one. During such times, I take two minutes to kiai, perform an aggressive form of Sanchin, called Shobu (combat) Sanchin and again kiai. Then, with my mind back in the game, I return to my fishing. Here is a video of Shobu-sanchin filmed on the Lower Salt River, Arizona with watchful vultures.


Even the esteemed author and fisherman Ernest Hemingway was known to kiai. “Fornicate the illegitimate!” was heard during one eventful fishing trip on the Gulf Stream. (See Endnote # 2)
Kiai is also used when you find it necessary to increase your strength. Imagine a martial artist about to break bricks or a weightlifter lifting a tremendous weight over his head. Does he remain silent or does he yell and groan? Naturally he yells, grunts and groans. This is a clear example of kiai used for the purpose of increasing your strength. In fishing, you may encounter times when such a kiai is useful. If so, go ahead and kiai. This aspect of kiai is the one that is commonly manifested during the hook set. You finally feel a tug at the end of your line and your spirit swells from within and produces that kiai, that exclamation of excitement – “Yes”, “Fish-on”, “Got him”, etc. So, go ahead and kiai as you reel that fish in.
Another aspect of kiai to to alert others to your predicament. In karate, very often the sound one produces with a kiai is akin to “ai-ya.” I have students modify this. When I teach children karate, I teach them to kiai the word “help.” Similarly, I teach adult students to kiai the word “fire.” Why? Again, the word itself has no effect on the kiai so use the word to your advantage. Most people that hear a child yell for help will look in that direction and offer assistance. However, “help” yelled by an adult may not elicit the same response, rather people may actually look away. Thus, the kiai of “fire.” Everyone looks to see where the fire is. Similarly, the word used in your fishing kiai should be of additional help to you. Once a fish is hooked, you want to alert your partner to that fact. Once alerted they can help land the fish. They may need to get the net or gaff, pull in other lines to avoid tangles, adjust boat position, and the like. A kiai of “Fish on!”or “Got one!” accomplishes this goal whereas “Yes! or “About time!” may not.
Ultimately, the exact wording of you kiai is unique to you. It serves its intended purpose and represents your own uniqueness. Hey, you never know, you could become a famous fisherman and trademark your kiai. “Bam, Fish on!”
So, enjoy your kiai. Kiai often with tight lines.
In closing, I remain, casting, (hopefully) hooking, but always with kiai.

Sensei John

Sensei John

hatch helicopter copy  Whenever I fish, I wear sun protection shirts I purchased from Wicked Catch gear. You can visit their website at http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/fishing-shirts/
use promo code: WCProstaffkowski at checkout for a 5 % discount (not applicable to shipping costs and taxes). Or, you can also log in with my personal link

http://www.wickedcatchgear.com/#_l_23

 

FFD-STICKERS-2_Fotor    As a Thank-you for reading, I have listed a two-pack of FlyFishing Dojo on E-bay for only $ 1.75 which includes mailing. To get your FFD sticker two-pack, simply go to e-bay and search “Fishing stickers-FlyFishing Dojo Logo blog” – do not bid more than the $1.00, I’ll keep listing while supplies last.

ENDNOTES:
1. Deep abdominal breathing can easily be practiced with a procedure known as “Sanchin Kata”. You can acquaint yourself for free with this procedure using this convenient link to my karate blog: http://senseijohn.me/sanchin-book/
2. Lyons, Nick (editor), Hemingway On Fishing, (The Lyons Press, 2000) p. 119. From “On Being Shot Again: A Gulf Stream Letter”, originally appearing in Esquire magazine, 1935.
Sensei John is available for guest speaking engagements. Please see the “GUEST SPEAKING” Page tab above for more information.

Follow FLY FISHING DOJO on FACEBOOK, please send a friend request on Facebook; see our “Video & Media” Page for more information.

ffd coffee mug  Please feel free to “window shop” our unique logo products by clicking on the “SHOP” page tab above.

CIMG5516     Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life at http://senseijohn.me

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