Tag Archives: Goshin-Do Karate

PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT

23 Aug

I was watching a few instructional fly casting videos submitted by a friend I have on Facebook. Watching my friend practice his fly casting spurred me to search the internet for similar instructional videos. My search yielded a cornucopia of instructional videos related to various fishing topics. You can watch and emulate through practice almost any aspect of fishing, including, though not limited to, the basics of casting (spin casting, bait casting and, fly casting), various techniques for rigging lures, “finesse” techniques such as specific fly casting techniques, flipping and jigging for bass and the like.

Quite frankly, I found the number of people who desired to practice their fishing skills, on and off the water, captivating. The sincerity with which people practiced their fishing skills compelled me to submit the following thoughts on practice derived from my martial arts experience.

We have all had teachers, instructors, coaches, and similar mentors repeatedly tell us that “Practice makes perfect.“ Such mentors uttered this phrase as a form of axiomatic inspiration whereby we were encouraged to reach the unknown height of perfection.  In the past, whenever this phrase was chanted like a mantra, all those under the tutelage of their mentor would try harder, sweat abundantly, study more and otherwise reach into their inner most self to produce a level of achievement which they believed was incapable of manifesting. The time has finally come to rebel against this axiomatic dogma. It is time for every one that reads the within to firmly stand their ground. The next time some one tells you that “practice makes perfect”, look them directly in the eye and tell them they are wrong.

That is correct, look the dogmatic mentor in the eye and tell them to stop universally uttering such nonsense. After your mentor recovers his or her composure, inform them that their concept of practice is not only incomplete, but also lacks intuition. Practice does not make perfect. Rather PERFECT practice makes perfect. Imperfect or half-hearted practice only nurtures and fosters complacency and imperfection.

The Results Of Perfect Practice:

    

Keep this idea the next time you set about to practice a certain aspect of your fishing. Set time aside to devote to your practice without interruption, be of a positive state of mind for your practice. Most importantly, practice truly and with a pure heart; no half-hearted practice. Remember this well the next time you set out to practice fishing or are on-the-water fishing. In fact, remember it well as it also applies to life in general. PERFECT PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. (See Endnote # 1).

As part of my practice, I practice a Kata using a fishing oar, called a “Eaku” used by the ancient fisherman of Okinawa to defend themselves.

Until the next article, I remain attempting always to perfectly practice.

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

1. I wish to make it abundantly clear that the concept that “Perfect practice makes perfect” is in no way my own. I have heard it many times in the Dojo of both Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, Goshin-Do Karate-Do  and Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt), Menkyo Kaiden, USA Goshin-Ryu Karate-Do, R.I.P.  Their oral tradition attributes this concept to the late Karate Pioneer, Shihan Peter Urban, Ju-Dan (10th Degree Black Belt) USA Goju-Ryu, who was a friend to them both.

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MAKE FISHING MISTAKES CORRECTLY

20 Jul

How does one improve fishing productivity and enjoyment? The answer is to learn to make fishing mistakes correctly.

It is inevitable that we will make mistakes. This is true not only when we fish, but also in life itself. We are human and thus, by definition, fallible. The key to mistakes is to make mistakes correctly and learn from them. If you make mistakes correctly and learn from mistakes, you will be on a path of continuously improving your fishing productivity and enjoyment.

At Canyon Lake, AZ, an observer waits for me to make a mistake while fishing

Training in Shihan Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate Dojo taught me many life lessons. Here is a story from Goshin-Do Karate oral tradition that will illustrate the need to make mistakes correctly.

In ancient Japan, the elephant was an unknown animal. The Shogun had heard tales of this mythical creature that lived in a far off land. Naturally, the Shogun wished to learn of this creature. He chose his three wisest ministers and dispatched them to find the animal and return to the kingdom with a description of this elephant. He instructed his ministers that time was of the essence. They should swiftly complete their task and report back to him. In a mythological twist of fate, the three wisest ministers were all blind.

The ministers arrived in the land of the elephant. Being blind, they began to feel this creature with their hands so as be able to describe it to the Shogun. The first blind minister touched the elephant’s ear and concluded that an elephant was a wide, thin and flat creature, much like an aquatic stingray. The second blind minister touched the elephant’s leg an concluded that an elephant was like a giant tree. The last blind minister touched the elephant’s trunk and describe the elephant as long and snake-like. They immediately returned to Japan and reported their descriptions to him. The Shogun was confounded by the differing reports and ordered the “incompetent” ministers to commit Seppuku (ritual suicide).

A depiction of Samurai seppuku

The point of this Goshin-Do Karate fable is, if the Shogun would have only allowed the ministers sufficient time to continue touching and describing the elephant, they would have made enough “mistakes” until they finally would have accurately described the magnificent elephant.

When we fish, whether on the water, or at home reflecting on the day’s fishing, we understand that mistakes are inevitable. In fact, sometimes mistakes are a signpost to great learning. It has been observed that, “A general of merit should be said to be a man who has one great defeat.” (See Endnote #1). So, don’t get frustrated when you are fishing and make a mistake. Take a moment, understand the mistake and learn from it.

In closing, I be out on the water once again making mistakes and learning from them as I pursue the next fish that is hiding around the next rock.

Sensei John

UNIQUE VIDEO: See an ancient fighting Kata translated within the context of a historical Okinawa fisherman – FISHERMAN AS WARRIORS, click this convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

ENDNOTES:

  1. Asakura Norikage (1474-1555), fromWilson, William Scott, Ideals Of The Samurai, (O’Hara Publications, Santa Clarita, CA 1982), p.81.

Sensei John is available for lectures on the interrelationship of fly fishing and martial arts protocol, ideology and philosophy. Please see the “LECTURES & LESSONS” Page tab above for more information.

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THE FLY FISHING EXPO, Somerset, NJ

26 Jan

RATING:

Black Belt – 5 out of 5 – A Must See

Friday, January 21st dawned cold and with snow falling. For most people, the day foretold a cold gloomy weekend. For most that is except for those consumed by the passion called “fly-fishing”.  For those driven by a passion to flick feather and hook, at the denizens of the deep, there was a warming respite from the cold, gloomy, snowy weekend; as warming as a steeping cup of coffee laced with a good Irish whisky (for medicinal purposes, of course). That warm respite was The 19th Annual Fly Fishing Expo held at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, New Jersey.

As I post this article, the snow continues to fall on the Garden State, so grab yourself a cup of java; better still grab a mug of java in the official FFD logo mug (http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO.459912522) and allow me to tell you about this magnificent exhibition.

A shameless plug - I know

Over the course of many years, I have attended a cornucopia of expositions, to wit: fishing expos, hunting expos, gun shows, motorcycle shows, model railroad shows and the like. In evaluating any exposition, one must inevitably critique the promoter’s choice of venue. The Fly Fishing Expo’s choice of the Garden State Exhibit Center must be commended. The venue served to enhance the pleasant experience in attending this event. The Garden State Exhibit Venter is conveniently located and has sufficient parking for the anticipated number of attendees. Further, the parking is free. The venue provided readily available food, drink and refreshment. The floor plan for the exposition allowed for steady traffic flow, accessible lectures, and two well situated fly casting pools.

The next consideration I look at in evaluating an exposition is the quality of the “featured celebrities”. The Fly Fishing Expo provided access to a great many celebrities of every genre: authors, lecturers, fly tiers, artists, guides, lodges and even a master and a living legend. In fact, there were far too many celebrities to name each and every one of them here. That said, my two favorite dignitaries were a “Master” a “Legend”; both to be named hereinafter.

Due to my schedule I was not able to attend the exposition on “opening-day”, Friday, the 21st. I awakened Saturday morning, picked up my New Jersey comrade, Sensei Bob, and we ventured out. With each mile we drove down the NJ Turnpike, our anticipation grew. We arrived at the venue and were smoothly guided through the admission process and entered the vast exhibit hall.

Sensei Bob and I were soon standing aside the casting pool witnessing a stirring Kata performance by the Master, Lefty Kreh. What, you did not know that Lefty knows Karate Kata? Frankly, I do not believe that Lefty ever studied Karate. His Kata is the Kata of fly casting. There is a plaque in our Goshin-Do Karate Dojo which reads, “Only Through Man Does Technique Become Art.” Lefty is a living embodiment of this maxim. I will not divulge Lefty’s secrets in this article; it is not my province to do so. Having said that, I am sure his books, DVD’s and seminars will help everyone that just read these words become a more efficient fly caster. http://www.leftykreh.com/

My personal “must-stop-at” booth was the Cortland booth. I have fly fished with Cortland line since I first saved and saved and saved (that is pre-credit card days for you younger readers) to be able to by their 444 line when I was a boy of 14. Since then, Cortland line is always spooled on my reel.

Due to an overwhelming popularity of the event, during our stay, crowds were impressive. Sensei Bob and I negotiated the aisles as if they were swift rapids in a stream and went about the task of perusing vendors displays, watching the various fly tiers execute their craft and chatting with the various manufacturer representatives. As to the fly tiers, they all executed their craft magnificently. There were two talented and innovated tiers that stood out in my mind on this particular day.

This is not to say that the other tiers I witnessed on Saturday were less than talented; rather,  Pat and Steven’s skills and innovation with feathers and deer hair, simply struck a colorful cord in the dark recesses of my mind.

Steven Wascher holds one of his creations

 

Pat Cohen:

Pat Cohen

Pat's creations

After a few hours, Sensei Bob and I decided to take our leave.

I returned early Sunday morning. Given that it was early, the crowd was smaller than Saturday which allowed for a more direct and intimate contact with exhibitors.

My first stop was the booth of the local chapter of Project Healing Waters. I first learned of this organization, that assists our veterans in finding solace and enjoyment in the fly fishing experience, on a television episode of Curtis Fleming’s Fly Rod Chronicles. David Bucko was at the booth and gave freely of his time to further acquaint me with this organization. Take a moment and check out their website and Facebook pages (http://www.projecthealingwaters.org).

The Project Healing Waters Booth

The highlight this day was stopping by the booth of a living legend. I have known his name since the first time I purchased one of his books and tied one of his innovative fly patterns. The legend is, the distinct, Dave Whitlock (www.davewhitlock.com). In Karate there is a saying,  “It was my mother who bore me, but my Sensei who made me a man.” Well, since Sensei made me a man, Dave got me playing with feathers, hair and hooks – and – I am the better man for it.

The Legend, Dave Whitlock's, Booth

I very much enjoyed all of the people I spoke with. Several of them even greatly assisted me in purchasing a few Valentine’s gifts for my charming wife. Now, since this article will post well in advance of that most heartfelt of days, I cannot divulge certain facts that pertain to these vendors, less my spouse gain advance knowledge of the gifts that I will rain down upon her. I will, nonetheless, give a special “shout-out” (to use the modern vernacular) to: Scott Cesari (WWW.ScottCesariFlyTying.Com), Fish Pimp Co. (WWW.FishPimpCo.Com) and Bill Black (WWW.OTETackle.Com). Thanks in advance for helping to make February 14th great.

While shopping for gifts, I was intrigued by the use of flies as jewelry as displayed by Shawn Davis. His designs and jewelry are magnificent. They can be seen at WWW.Davisflydesigns.com

In addition, I spent a delightful time chatting with a talented artist who deserves a mention. She absolutely sparkles and her artwork is inspiring. She is Anne Dixon.

Before leaving the exhibition, I was treated to a glimpse into the very near future. Cheeky Fly Fishing will soon be debuting a new light-weight, technologically advanced fly fishing reel. I spent a few minutes with Ted Upton enraptured in a discussion about the technological marvel that this reel is. Look for it in the near future. Perhaps I will post a review of the reel upon its debut. www.Cheekyflyfishing.com.

And, thus, my visit to the exhibit drew to a close. It is impossible for me to mention all the people I spoke with or encapsulate the great time I had at the exhibit in this short article. As such, if you are not mentioned directly, please forgive me.

Until the next article, I remain,

Sensei John

If you have a minute, check out my “Sanchin Kata For Fly Fisherman” video. Proper breathing will help, not only your fly fishing, but every aspect of your life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

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

FLY FISHING FUTANREN

19 Jan

Futanren is a term derived from Goshin-Do Karate. It is used to define one of three martial , combat-related, fears. The within shall explore Futanren as it applies to fly fishing. Futanren describes the fear derived from inadequate training. Training in this context can also be read as “preparation”; thus Futanren can be used to described fear derived from inadequate preparation. (See Endnote # 1).

Anytime you have hooked “The fish of a lifetime” and wondered, “Did I tie that knot properly?”, “Is my reel mechanically sound?’ and similar questions, you are engaging in Futanren. I think back to my early years of training in Goshin-Do Karate. My Sensei would use various means to motivate us. One of his favorites was to rhetorically ask, “If you knew you would be attacked by an assailant first thing tomorrow morning, how earnestly would you train (at the Dojo) tonight?” Sensei’s motivational question can be applied directly to fly fishing as follows, “If you knew that four days from now you would be fly fishing and HOOK the biggest fish of you life, what would you do now to prepare?”

The answer to the question invokes a related question, namely, “When would your preparation begin?” Would you begin to prepare now or wait until the fateful day that you will set out to your favorite water? Perhaps you would immediately begin to check the physical integrity of your fly fishing equipment. For example, you may inspect your fly rod for nicks or gouges on the guides that would cut into your leader or fly line. You may also inspect the fly line for signs of wear and tear. Your fly reel should be inspected for mechanical integrity. You may also choose to examine your older flies for soundness. Perhaps you would inspect all hook points and sharpen those that require sharpening. You may inspect the new flies to insure that eyes of the hook are free of dried head cement.  So, knowing that you would hook the fish of a lifetime, you engage in such preparation to avoid Futanren invading that momentous moment. But, is such preparation enough?

So far the analysis of the method of preparation has looked to the tools involved in the process of fishing. In addition, preparation would encompass external factors. These factors may include advance knowledge of the weather forecast so that one may properly dress. It may also include advance knowledge as to the tides in the case of salt water fishing. To be sure, advance preparation is limited only by the imagination of the fly fisherman and one’s individual comfort zone as to the extent of variables to be considered and prepared for.

As to the extent of tangental preparation, permit me to submit the following observation from perhaps the greatest fishing author there was, Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway thought deeply about fishing. His thoughts, and advice, even extended to the type of breakfast one would eat prior to a long day of fishing for marlin.

There are two opposing schools about breakfast. If you knew that you were not going to be into fish (Marlin) for two or three hours, a good big breakfast would be the thing. Maybe it is a good thing any way but I do not want to trust it, so drink a glass of vichy, a glass of milk and eat a piece of Cuban bread, read the papers and walk down to the boat. I have hooked them on a full stomach in that sun and I do not want to hook any more of them that way. (See Endnote # 2).

If your preparation to meet the predestined encounter with a once in a lifetime fish is detailed and thorough; it is now time to ask, “Why not prepare in that manner prior to every fishing oddessy?” You may not have knowledge aforethought that you will hook a magnificent fish; but isn’t it better to prepare for each fishing adventure as if you did.

Preparation is the means of eradicating Futanren from your fly fishing. Such eradication will increase not only your productivity, but also your enjoyment of the overall fly fishing experience. Certainly you want to be able to hook that wonderfully majestic fish and  be fulfilled in the moment rather than be enveloped with Futanren.

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

1. There are two other identifiable martial fears, to wit: Kiki Oji: The fear of an enemy’s reputation and Mikuzure: The fear of an enemy’s appearance.

2.    Lyons, Nick, (editor), Hemingway On Fishing (The Lyons Press, New York, By, 2000), p. 102. There is a full review of this book on my weblog archived in the category “Sensei’s Reviews”.

SANCHIN KATA VIDEO FOR FLY FISHERMAN

21 Dec

I have just completed the first video installment in the “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master” series. This series is designed to improve and enhance your fly fishing using techniques and ideology derived form the martial arts. This first video, taped while fly fishing, is an introductory video designed to acquaint fly fisherman with the unique and ancient protocol, or “Kata” named “Sanchin”. The translation of the Kanji (Japanese writing) for Sanchin is “Three Battles.”

Kanji for Sanchin

Sanchin accentuates three aspects of ALL human activity, namely:

  1. Breathing;
  2. Bodily Movement;
  3. A State of Mind.

There are many versions of Sanchin Kata. The version in the video is the Sanchin Kata of the Goshin-Do Karate-Do style of Karate. Sanchin Kata takes very little time to perform, requires no special clothing or training apparatus and can be performed anywhere and anytime. Again, my performance of Sanchin on this video was recorded in the process of fly fishing and performed on uneven terrain.

This first video is designed to simply acquaint you with Sanchin and hopefully act as a catalyst to further your interest in learning this Kata. Performance of the Sanchin Kata will enhance ANY activity, including fly fishing.

While I will present future videos addressing the technical aspects of Sanchin, allow me to provide the following preliminary comments. As to the aspect of BREATHING, the method of breathing is addressed in an article entitled “Improve Your Fly Fishing With Proper Breathing.”  As to the aspect of a STATE OF MIND, the state of mind is known as “Mushin” (pronounced Moo-shin) and is addressed in an article entitled “Fly Fishing Using The Mushin State Of Mind.” Both articles are archived on this blog in the category “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master.” As to the aspect of BODILY MOVEMENT, all muscles of the body are relaxed during inhalation of air and are dynamically tensed, in an isometric-type manner, during exhalation of breath.

I hope you enjoy this introductory video in the “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master” series entitled “Sanchin Kata For Fly Fisherman.” A permanent link to the video will be archived on the “Video & Media” page. For now, here is a convenient link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

08-16-2011:  Here is a new link to the introductory video in my Sanchin Kata technical series designed for non-martial artists who desire to learn Sanchin. LINK: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyaHCp2EoUk

I remain,

Sensei John

If you are interested in more information on Sanchin Kata, you may wish to purchase my book on the Kata. You may find information on my book on the “Sanchin Book” page of my martial ideology weblog, WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

FLY FISHING WITHOUT BACK PAIN

26 Nov

The following is a a continuation of FLY FISHING DOJO’S “Fly Fish Like A Karate Master” series of articles. In the first two installments, “Improve Your Fly fishing With Proper Breathing” and “Fly Fishing and The Mushin State Of Mind”, Karate-Do protocol was explored as a means of enhancing the fly fishing experience. This article will continue such exploration with a means of mitigating the all too common nagging back ache that many experience during and after a long day on the water.

A day of fly fishing involves more than just casting flies to fickle fish. It often involves hiking rough terrain, rock climbing, wading swift moving water and periods of standing stationary; all of which can result in an aching back.

Thanksgiving Day, 2010: Sensei John has a long hike to find moving water at Coon Bluff on the Lower Salt River, AZ.

The cause of this experience is bad posture. The remedy is to be found in a unique posture derived from the Kata of Goshin-Do Karate-Do (See Endnote # 1). The key to the posture is to stand erect.

To stand erect for purposes of Karate, the natural curvature of the spine must be temporarily straightened. To manipulate the back into a straight position, one should stand relaxed with both feet shoulder width apart and flat on the ground. Slightly bend your knees. The Goshin-Do Karate-Do technique to stand erect and straighten your back   is to squeeze the cheeks of the buttocks tight and to rotate one’s hips down and forward. In this posture, the curvature of the spine is removed resulting in a straight back.

Take a moment to try this posture and then feel your lower back with your hand. If you have performed the hip rotation properly, you will notice that such rotation has removed the natural curvature of your spine so that your spine is now straight from top to bottom. You can repeat posture by standing as above and rotating your hips to achieve the posture and then subsequently relaxing the hips so as to again achieve natural curvature of the spine. Repeat this a few times to begin to have a feeling of comfort with the posture.

You can easily incorporate the posture into your fly fishing regime. For example, you can use it to facilitate a long hike to your favorite water. Simply adopt the posture while stationary and continue hiking while maintaining the posture. Further, you can readily perform the posture while in the process of fly fishing will little or no effort. In doing so you will find that repeated performance of the posture will alleviate pressure on your back. This will mitigate any back pain encountered during and after a day of fly fishing.

(7-11-19): Here’s a link to my new online school where you can learn more about the benefits of my Kata-RX for wellness – – Now 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

In closing, I remain, confident that you will stay on the path to “Fly fish like a Karate Master.”

Sensei John

ENDNOTES:

  1. The posture referred to in this article is elemental to performing the Kata of Goshin-Do Karate-Do. It is particularly emphasized in a Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kata called Sanchin (pronounced “Sohn-Chin”).

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A GOOD DAY OF FISHING???

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

ENDNOTES:

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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