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Tournament Fishing – Missing From Your Pre-Tournament Preparation – YOU

17 Jun

** This article includes a FREE offer to start on your path to wellness & mindfulness with Sensei’s Kata-RX Online school. Learn in the privacy & comfort of your won home, at your own pace. You have nothing to loose – its FREE! **


Tournament fishing, what a thrill!
Grant it, I never really made the “big” jump into serious tournament fishing, but there was a time when I did enjoy a few local tournaments. In the late eighties, I even fished in a few regional tournaments, part of the larger Bass’in America tournament circuit.

A look back – Circa 1988: Fishing the Bass’in America Tournament circuit

Then, as now, I am struck by the preparation that the most successful angler’s engage in even before putting the boat in the water on tournament day. Without listing every detail from maintaining the boat to sharpening the last hook, the most successful tournament angler leaves nothing to chance. Except one thing – Him or Her own self.

It is very rare that I would see a tournament angler preparing themselves physically or mentally for a long day on the water. Martial artists have long understood the benefits of united their physical self and their mental, emotional, non-physical self to achieve maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, most other sports competitors down play this interplay. And that includes the professional or semi-professional tournament fisherman.

Now; however, that can easily change.

  Drawing upon my almost five decades of karate kata experience, I have created a “Kata For Wellness and Mindfulness” curriculum that will benefit you. The online curriculum allows you to conveniently learn in the privacy and comfort of your own home, at your own pace.

The first course teaches the core movements of three kata: my Ghost Hand Kata, the Three Battles Kata and the 1 Day / 1 Lifetime Kata. this course is the starting point for all students. For a limited time enrollment is FREE! Yup, you heard right – FREE! You may view the entire curriculum and enroll, if you choose to do so with this convenient, secure link: – simply enroll in Sensei’ school and then click the link for the first course – “Course # 1: Kata Core Course.” That’s it – its FREE!

Let’s look at a sneak peak filmed on a beautiful summer day in Asbury Park, NJ:

More information my be found by on my blog:

It was once observed that “The will to win is not nearly as important to prepare to win.” Why not begin the preparation to win? Enroll today! You have nothing to loose.

See you in class,

Sensei John Szmitkowski

For Sensei’s karate pedigree, please use this link:


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.


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
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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.

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Merry Christmas, 2014

22 Dec

To all my readers, please accept my sincerest wishes for a joyous & peaceful, Christmas Season.

FFD logo stocking

FFD logo stocking

This Christmas is particularly special for me. In the ten years since I moved to Arizona, it is only the second one that I will spend with family in New Jersey. The thought of being there when my five year old grandson opens his presents paints a profound smile on my face.

Best of all, I have permanently relocated to, if not New Jersey, then the east coast.

santa fish

My very best wishes that we may embrace this Christmas with joy and hope. I’m even thinking of a white Christmas. To set the mood, please enjoy my Sanchin Kata with winter poems video.

I remain,

Sensei John

Sensei John

2014 – Are You Ready?

29 Dec

Reposted from my Karate-Do Blog,

– – – – – * * * * * * * – – – – –

As 2014 approaches, I ask you, “Are you ready?”

What do I mean by this question? The answer may be found within the following which is borrowed from one of my favorite myths. (See Endnote # 1)

When Heaven is about to confer
A great office upon a man,
It first exercises his mind with suffering,
And his sinew and bones with toil;
It exposes him to poverty
And confounds his undertakings.
Then it is seen if he is ready.

Happy New Year! I hope you are ready for 2014.

Until the next submission, I remain . . . Ready,


1. The poem is attributed to “Moshi” and is from the preface to: Jennings, William Dale, The Ronin ( Charles E. Tuttle Co, Tokyo, Japan, 1968)

NOW AVAILABLE – SANCHIN VIDEO SERIES designed specifically for the NON-MARTIAL ARTIST who desires to learn & unlock the secret treasure of Sanchin. Here is a convenient link a promotional video about the Sanchin DVD filmed on location at various scenic locations throughout Arizona. LINK:

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16 Nov

I went fishing early this morning to clear my mind.

I wanted to placidly revisit this article. I hoped to transform a straightforward  tale of a good day spent on a river into a melody of words worthy of all who cast feathery little flies with the hope of seducing nature’s magnificent creatures to our offering. This was the result; “A good day of fishing?”

I arrived at a favorite fishing location along the Lower Salt River here in Arizona. Prior to casting, I stood upon a rock outcropping and performed my form of moving meditation, to wit: several Goshin-Do Karate Kata

The rock outcropping on top of which I performed Kata.

I performed several Kata with exotic names, Sanchin (Three Battles), Seienchin (Walk far to quell and conquer), Nami Kiribi (Cutting wave), Chinto (Crane on a rock) and Hakutsuru (White Crane). I finished. I was physically and mentally sound. This state of being reminded me of a quote by Ernest Hemingway, “All I must do now was to stay sound and good in my head until . . . I can start to work again.” (See Endnote # 1).

Being “sound and good in the head” I set about fly fishing. Then it happened. A simple mental glitch. Clarity of thought was invaded by clouds of a once slumbering sentiment awakened. In the end,  all that remained was a haunted shadow of a poem, a tanka. So, I’ll simply relay Sensei Bob’s dazzling fishing journey and leave you with the tanka. Maybe after enjoying Sensei’s Bob’s good day on a river, you can figure out the rest.

FLY FISHING DOJO’S New Jersey Contributor, Sensei Bob had recently spent a bountiful day on the Ramapo River. He had previously fished a certain location on the river to no avail. After several visits to this unfruitful location, he once again cast into its seemingly barren depths. Drawing upon his martial arts induced tenacity and his instinctive feel for nature, he knew this location would bear fruit. This past Saturday was the day. In less than thirty minutes he had caught and released three shimmering rainbow trout. All exceeded fifteen inches in length.

One of three of Sensei Bob's magnificent rainbow trout.

Sensei’s tenacity and instinct bore fruit; it did not fail him. I know Sensei felt a sense of natural redemption. A feeling that nature inured him with the ability to enter its domain and leave fulfilled with a pure sense of satisfaction. It was a good day of fishing on the Ramapo River.

I had hoped that my own fishing sojourn would intuitively formulate the words that would breath life into Sensei Bob’s day. Words that would coalesce into phrases that would capture the essence of triumphing over frustration; eventually seducing three majestic rainbow colored trout. Those words failed me. All I was left with is this tanka.

  • On a river
  • In a barren desert
  • A trout rises; a fly is cast.
  • A fisherman recalls
  • A moment in time
  • Best left forgotten.

In closing I remain, shrouded in the cocoon of thought, perhaps to be forgotten on another day, on another river. Another “Good day of fishing?”

Sensei John


1. Lyons, Nick, Hemingway On Fishing, (The Lyons Press, New York, NY, 2000) p. 78 excerpting “The River” as appeared in A Moveable Feast.

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You may also wish to read Sensei John’s martial ideology weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


27 Oct
With Halloween soon upon us, I thought I would submit an article on Fly Fishing Monsters. The within concerns the manner in which we battle the day-to-day stress, our internal monsters, through the art of fly fishing. There is a maxim of Friedrich Nietzsche which can assist us in understanding this point.
 You may be familiar with the following, oft quoted, commentary by Friedrich Nietzsche, “when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.” The popularity of this comment overshadows Nietzsche’s preceding sentence which many fail to appreciate. It is, “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.” (See Endnote # 1).

Friedrich Nietzsche, Circa 1875.


We all use the art of fly fishing to battle monsters that lay deep within us. The pressures of daily life, including, work pressures, family, school, dictates of relationships all impose a burden upon our sense of well being. Emotions such as stress, anger, frustration are counter productive to our desire for physical and emotional comfort. These negative situations and emotions are like monsters that seek to invade our sense of being. Through fly fishing we can keep those monsters at bay. More often than not, a day spent on the water can perform wonders for our sense of self. I say, “more often than not” because, we must keep Nietzsche’s maxim in mind as we seek the calming effect of casting a fly to a fish. Many months ago, I had a day on the Lower Salt River here in Arizona that reminded me of the import of Nietzsche.

It was the beginning of another hot, almost inhuman, summer in the Valley of the Sun. Two to three months of unbearable heat, exceedingly high ultra-violet indices, and air quality alerts lay ahead. The prospect of the hellish summer had put me in a real bad mood. I sought to quell my mood; to do battle with this emotional monster. I went fly fishing in the cool, swirling, bountiful waters of the Lower Salt. The only problem was that in seeking to do battle with the monster, I became the monster. I let my foul, fetid mood destroy my fly fishing. I had seen fish lurking below the waters surface. My mood should have instantly improved. When I started fishing, it became apparent that my fly fishing technique was infected by my mood. I waded the waters with the grace of a hobbled Frankenstein monster. My casting technique was so vicious that not only did I foul hook a few bushes, I snapped two flies off the leader. The more I tried to relax the more angry I became.

It finally dawned on me that I was now the monster I sought to cast off. I took a deep breath and performed a Goshin-Do Karate Kata known as Sanchin. (See Endnote # 2). I then put my fly rod down and sat on the gravel bank letting the sound of the river quiet me. The last remnants of a cool breeze blew through the canyon flowing past my face. I finally began to expel the monster of anger. Had I not realized that I became the monster I sought to battle, the day would have been lost.

So, when you turn to fly fishing to escape the “monsters“ of daily living, keep Nietzsche in mind.

To assist you in enhancing your fly fishing experience, you may wish to review two articles previously posted on this weblog. Both are filed in the category “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master”. They are: Improve Your Fly Fishing With Proper Breathing and Fly Fishing Using The Mushin State Of Mind.

Until the next article, I hope we all can be on our favorite waters, in nature, casting a simple fly in pursuit of our favorite quarry, successfully battling our internal monsters and avoiding becoming the monster ourselves.

Sensei John

1. Nietzsche, Friedrich, Beyond Good And Evil, Part Four: Maxims And Interludes, Number 146.
2. Sanchin is a Goshin-Do Karate Kata that combines deep abdominal breathing, physical movement and a quiet state of mind called Mushin. It takes less than four minutes to perform and is physical refreshing and mentally rejuvenating. For more on Sanchin please see my martial ideology weblog and click on the “Sanchin Book” page tab. WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.



8 Jul


To the newest Blog by Sensei John entitled Fly Fishing Dojo

This Blog will explore the “Do”(pronounced “Doe”) or “Way” of fly fishing. 

There will be numerous topics exploring fly fishing from various standpoints, including BUT NOT LIMITED TO:   

Fly-fishing Do – Fly-fishing as a way of life,  

Fly-fishing Jitsu – or, the Art of Fly-fishing – Concepts, ideology and physical mechanics derived from the martial arts as they apply to fly fishing, 

 Sensei John’s a fly fishing journal,  – Sensei shares his fly-fishing experiences, and  

Sensei John’s Reviews – Sensei reviews various products related to fly-fishing.  All designed to enhance your fly fishing success and experience as you enjoy this wonderful past time. 

Expected start date is August 1, 2010. 

In the meantime, please feel free to visit Sensei John’s Jiriki Kata-Do Blog exploring martial ideology, lessons, protocol and concepts as they apply to daily life. WWW. SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.   

July 4th 2010 I was fly fishing on the Lower Salt River, AZ when a small herd of wild horses came down to drink.

Sensei John's offical Hanko seal to be used to authenticate all submissions.

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