Tag Archives: Goshin-Do Karate


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


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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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


  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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26 Jan


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

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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


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”.


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.


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


  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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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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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.



19 Oct

 Within the context of the traditional Martial Arts of Okinawa and Japan, the term Sensei is a title steeped in honor and is bestowed upon one who is commonly known in the western world as a “Teacher”. When the term Sensei is parsed into its two root words, a more distinctive interpretation is revealed. The root word “Sen” means “Before.” The root word “Sei” means “Being“, as in a physical presence. Thus, Sensei literally means (a) “Before-Being“, or, one who came before me. Thus, a martial arts teacher (Sensei) came into his martial knowledge before the student. (See Endnote #1). 

In terms of familial relationships, a parent is, in effect, a Sensei of their child.
For Sensei Bob and me, in addition to being a chronological Sensei to our children, we were also Goshin-Do Karate Sensei to our children. Each of our children, to varying degrees studied Goshin-Do Karate. Sensei and I are also fishing Sensei as we introduced our children to the pleasure of fishing. This is the story of our recent fishing adventures.    


 Sensei Bob and his two sons, Trevor and Devon recently undertook a Salmon fishing adventure in upstate New York. As every parent knows, as your children grow older, the demands of work, education and their own desire for independence result in less time spent together. Sensei Bob and his boys enjoyed each others company during a nice weekend of fly fishing on the Salmon River in New York.

Sensei Bob displays one of the many trophy sized salmon.

 All three are accomplished fly fisherman and anticipated stalking the large salmon known to inhabit this river. By the end of the weekend, father and sons had many new fish tales to remember.

Devon displays another trophy lured to a fly.

It is such moments of sharing, bonding and enjoying each other’s company that are retold countless times in years to come. I am sure that when Sensei’s boys have children of their own, they will tell them their tales of stalking large salmon; of a time spent with a grandpa, who is a fisherman and a Sensei. On Sensei’s part, not only will he recount the tales of the mighty salmon with a future grandchild, inevitably he will also bestow upon his child’s child the secret knowledge of Goshin-Do Karate. Goshin-Do Karate and fly fishing, secret arts, passed from Sensei to son to son’s son.

In a photo from days long past, Trevor displays another trophy.


In mid-October, I was elated by an extended weekend visit from my youngest daughter, Sensei Kim. As with her sister, Jessica, Kim not only fished with me, but also studied Goshin-Do Karate. Kim spent 16 years studying Goshin-Do. When I relocated to Arizona, she assumed the day-to-day operations of the Issho Dojo.

Sensei Kim made a point that, in addition to visiting and Karate training, she wanted to fish in the Arizona desert. We were able to visit many of my favorite fishing locations, including Veteran’s Oasis Lake, Dog Park, Discovery Lake, and the “big” lakes, Apache Lake and Canyon Lake.

A family night spent fishing.

Although Kim, Jess and I have many fishing tales in our collection, including, falling out of boats, a seashell being dropped on Kim by a flying seagull and cutting her, fishing poles disappearing into the depths of water, mishaps with car doors and the inevitable “one that got away”, we added a few more this weekend. With the hotter than normal temperatures the primary catches (and subsequent releases) were bluegill, largemouth bass and catfish. The effect of these catches were memorable smiles, laughs, and a special, heretofore unknown “dance of joy” displayed by Sensei Kim as she landed a nice largemouth in the dark of evening. One to tell the grand-kids.

As she was reeling in this bass, Sensei Kim erupted into the infamous “dance of joy.”

Until the next article, may you all be fly fishing Sensei to your children,

Sensei John


1. In the dedication to my book, Sanchin Kata: The Gateway To The Plateau Of Human Serenity, I propose the following more embellished definition of “Sensei”:

The Honored One who came into mysterious, secret, knowledge before me and grudgingly bestows his mysterious teachings upon, a yet unworthy, me.

Please feel free to view my other weblog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.


10 Oct
In the first installment of Fly Fish Like A Karate Master, I discussed the most fundamental element of not only fly fishing, but life itself. That element is PROPER breathing. (See Improve Your Fly-fishing With Proper Breathing, posted on August 25, 2010). In this second installment, I would like to introduce you to an omnipresent state of mind, or spirit, that pervades Karate-Do. This state of mind is called “Mushin” (pronounced “Moo-shin“). Mushin is an abbreviation of the phrase “Mushin No Shin” which refers to a mental state described as “Mind, No-Mind”. Mushin is taken directly from my training in Goshin-Do Karate-Do. Using the Mushin state of mind, you will be able to purge yourself of external thoughts so as to be open to and absorb your complete fly fishing experience. Ultimately, such expansion of the mind or spirit will result in a more fulfilling experience while fly fishing and, perhaps, increase your productivity in catching and releasing the species of fish you seek.

An expression of the Kanji, Japanese calligraphy, for Mushin.

Mushin is a unique state of mind wherein one actively experiences one’s environment with the totality of one’s senses. The sensory inputs are transmitted to the brain. The brain processes these sensory inputs and accordingly transmits reactionary impulses to the body and simultaneously creates a state of mind, or spirit, attendant to the inputs received. Invariably, an undeveloped spirit will focus on what it believes to be the most pervasive of the sensory inputs, to the exclusion of the other sensory inputs, and evolve a mental or spiritual state to meet the situation transmitted via the sensory inputs. This state of mind is characterized as “clouded”.

The Mushin state of spiritual being is “unclouded”. Instead of focusing the mind or spirit onto a specific sensory input to the exclusion of the others, Mushin perceives all inputs from the sensory world and absorbs them totally. Prior to contrary belief, the Mushin perception does not necessarily focus the mind onto one specific sensory or mental inputs to the exclusion of all other sensory or mental inputs. Rather, a specific input is perceived within the context of all other perceptions. Thus, the spirit is uncluttered by a single exaggerated sensory input. The spirit is uncluttered so as to experience and accept all sensory inputs for exactly what they are.

Mushin can, and should be, readily be incorporated into one’s daily routine as a “default“ state of mind. In addition, Mushin can be used to foster the fly fishing experience. Mushin directly cultivates the physical technique, unclouded state of mind and spiritual enjoyment of fly fishing. To illustrate this point, I will share with you one particular day of fly-fishing I recently enjoyed. That day was Tuesday, September 14th, 2010.

The day before I had learned that my first Sensei, Sensei Nick D’Antuono, had passed away. This weighed heavily on my mind and I had a restless night, sleeping maybe three hours at best. At sunrise, I decided I would combine my morning Karate training with fly fishing in the hope that the combination would somehow waken my body and depleted spirit. I drove the short distance to the lake at Veterans Oasis Park. I decided that I would walk around the lake a bit to get my blood flowing. After walking the lake three times, I performed a Karate Kata called Sanchin. The Sanchin Kata takes less than five minutes to perform and is an excellent way to oxygenate and invigorate the body and mind. Sanchin also facilitates attaining the Mushin state of mind. (See Endnote # 1). Now I was ready to fish.

I selected my favorite double nymph combination, a # 14 Rainbow Warrior followed by a # 16 Ju-Ju Bee and tied them to the end of a 5X Tippet (See Endnote #2). For this outing, I was using my 7 ½ foot Cortland Pro-Crest Fly Rod with a five weight double taper floating line. I began casting and presented the brace of nymphs in an area that I know holds fish. Within in the Mushin state of mind, I was able to appreciate the sound of the water as it cascaded down the rocks from the recharge facility to the main lake. The air smelled sweet and clean. Even the sun lightly heating my body felt welcome. I was being absorbed into my environment and it into me. I caught a few bluegill and small bass. From experience, I knew it was time to change tactics and decided that my best chance of hooking a larger fish would be to walk along the lakeshore and sight fish for larger fish that may be cruising the shoreline.

I kept my fly rod at the ready holding the rod in my right hand and a few coils of loose line in my left hand. In this manner I would be able to immediately cast to any fish I might see. I walked along about three feet from the waters edge. In the Mushin state of mind, my mind was unoccupied by any thoughts, it simply perceived my environment. The sound, smell and rhythm of the lake simply entered my body. I walked along the gravel shoreline when I suddenly perceived a different sound. There was a unexpected slight splash from the lake, approximately twenty feet from the shoreline. I looked and saw the slightest ripple on the water. I inhaled in the special method of Karate breathing I call “Issho-ibuki” (Lifetime breathing) and cast to the ripple. The brace of flies landed delicately on the water. After a brief pause I began a melody of retrieving the flies whereby I would twitch the flies and pause and repeat. After three twitches, the line grew heavy. After an additional five minutes or so a decent size largemouth bass was in my hands. I persuaded the fish into posing for a picture and saw to his sound release.

Mushin allowed me to locate this bass.

After releasing the fish, I continued to walk the lakeshore. I walked to the opposite shore which is bordered by a concrete walkway and rounded, walled patio. For reasons unknown to me at the time, I decided to pause and again perform a Sanchin Kata. After the four minutes or so that it took to perform Sanchin, I bent down to pick up my fly rod. As I faced the lake, I immediately noticed a largemouth bass cruising along to my left. I remained crouched low close to the wall so that cruising fish would not see me. After it crossed in front of me, I again, inhaled in the unique manner of Issho-ibuki and began to false cast. I was able to use the rounded configuration of the patio to cast ahead of the fish without casting on top of it. I again paused and twitched. The fish immediately hit. After a few minutes of reconciling of desire to catch the fish and its desire to get away, I eventually won out. I walked the fish to a comfortable and adjacent grassy location where he posed for a picture. The photographic fish was then returned to continue on its journey. In less that twenty minutes I successfully procured two fish at opposite ends of the lake.

A hot 100 degrees, but Mushin provides again

I released the fish, paused a moment and considered my decision, if my act can be called decisive, to perform Sanchin. Had I not done so, I would have walked on before the fish cruised by. I came to understand that by having Mushin as a state of mind, I unknowingly perceived the fish. That is not to say that I foretold the fish would cruise by. Rather, Mushin allowed me to perceive and unknowingly read the lake. Perhaps I perceived the fish’s dorsal fin moving on the surface, or perhaps I perceived baitfish scattering, or saw a heron look interestedly at the water. This is the different between “seeing” and “perceiving“. I firmly believe that the state of Mushin dictated that I pause at that time and place.

After releasing the second fish, I decided that I was fulfilled by the mornings activities. I did not want to over stay nature’s welcome of me at her doorstep, so as is my custom, I turned and bowed to show my respect to the water. I drove home feeling physically, mentally and spiritually better.

Before concluding this installment, I would like to give you another scenario to contemplate. The above example illustrated a benefit of Mushin through an enhanced fly fishing experience. In the following imaginative scenario, I would like to illustrate how Mushin may be used to prevent danger. Imagine fly-fishing on a beautiful remote mountain trout steam, perhaps in Alaska. Imagine further that your mind is clouded and thus not open to absorbing nature through the use of Mushin. You are so focused on the trout fly as it floats on the surface of the water, and so determined to catch a fish that you know must be right there, that you fail to perceive the smell of the clean, pure air, the cool feel of the water against your legs, or fail to see the stray grizzly bear sneaking up for a view.

Until the next article, consider Mushin as a state of mind when fly fishing. May your flies always be on or in the water.

Sensei John


1. Mushin is fully discussed in my book entitled Sanchin Kata: Gateway To The Plateau Of Human Serenity. You may preview thee book by viewing on my martial arts weblog and clicking on the Sanchin Book page. You may visit the weblog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

2. For those of you that are not familiar with the fly patterns mentioned, they are available online through Big Y Fly Co.

Improve Your Fly-Fishing With Proper Breathing

25 Aug
  This article shall explore the most fundamental common element shared by Fly-fishing, Karate and every single aspect of human activity and life itself. That fundamental, primordial element is (proper) breathing. Fly-fishing, like Karate, and every single human activity, combines bodily movement with breathing. For the Fly-fisherman this encompasses, hiking to and from your favorite water, wading a stream or salt water flat, fly-casting, catching and releasing your quarry and ultimately enjoying your fly-fishing environment. As fly-fishermen, we should explore and implement proper breathing. The mechanism of proper breathing is derived from, emphasized and developed in a Goshin-Do Karate-Do Kata, steeped in antiquity, called Sanchin. (See Endnote # 1).

PROPER BREATHING - Key to the "Way" to Fly-Fish like a Karate master.

I call the proper breathing of Goshin-Do Karate-Do and the ancient, primordial Sanchin Kata “Issho-ibuki” (lifetime breath). Issho-ibuki will not only improve your mechanics of Fly-fishing, but also your overall enjoyment of the sport. Very few of us understand the components of proper breathing. To illustrate this point, stop reading and take a deep breath. The majority of you probably sought to ‘fill your lungs with air” by expanding your upper chest, raising your shoulders, arching your back and contracting your abdomen. Some of you may have even accomplished this deep breath by inhaling through the mouth. This method of inhalation and exhalation is unnatural, inefficient and must be corrected immediately. The manner of correction will be to adopt the method of Issho-ibuki. 
The methodology of Issho-ibuki is a three step process. First is the development of the natural method of inhalation and exhalation. The second step is the method of deep abdominal breathing. The third and final step is the manner of breathing. The starting point for one’s practice Issho-ibuki is the not-so-simple physical aspect of inhalation and exhalation. 
 Step One: Inhalation & Exhalation.
You must remember a very basic, but all to often forgotten, cardinal rule of breathing, namely: breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Without giving a lesson in biology, the nose was specifically designed for the inhalation of oxygen and the other beneficial gases contained within our atmosphere. To facilitate your implementation of proper inhalation and exhalation, I have developed is an easy technique. Consciously make an effort to inhale through the nose. While so inhaling, close your mouth and emphatically press your tongue upwards against the roof of your mouth. By performing this maneuver, it is difficult, if not impossible, to open your mouth and breath in. Therefore, the only alternative means available for inhalation is to utilize the nose for its intended purpose. Now to complete the act of breathing, you will need to exhale. To exhale you open your mouth and allow the air to flow outward. To facilitate the use of the mouth during exhalation, as you open your mouth, emphatically press the tongue downward against the bottom of your mouth. By using your tongue in this manner, you will be physically conscious of the manner in which you inhale and exhale. You may note that your exhalation now produces a somewhat audible sound. This sound is akin to a mild roar, much like the sound of ocean surf. Continue to practice inhaling and exhaling in this manner. When the act of breathing again occurs naturally through the nose and out the mouth, you can de-emphasize the emphatic use of your tongue as described above.

Step Two: Abdominal breathing.

The next step in the process of Issho-ibuki is to efficiently fill your lungs with air. To achieve efficiency, you need to inhale and exhale through the lower abdomen. The following exercise was developed by me for use in the Issho Dojo to facilitate this type of deep abdominal breathing. Lie on your back and relax. While lying on your back, rest your hands, palms down, on your lower abdomen, referred to as your “belly“. This placement of the hands does not facilitate breathing, rather, your hands will provide an added sensory indication of the proper breathing method through the sense of touch.

Open your mouth, as previously described, relax your belly and allow the natural force of gravity to decompress your belly, thus expelling air through your mouth. Keep your hands in contact with your belly and allow your hands to lower with your belly. Now, close your mouth, pressing your tongue on its roof and inhale through the nose. As you inhale, willfully direct the air to the lower belly so as to force it to expand and rise upwards. Keep your hands in contact with your belly and allow your hands to rise with your belly. You will again exhale by opening your mouth, pressing your tongue downward, relaxing and decompressing your belly so as to exhale. Allow your hands to lower and decompress with your belly. The duration of exhalation should be slightly longer than the inhalation. Both processes should be completely relaxed. Continue to breathe in this manner for a period of about five minutes. You should immediately begin to incorporate abdominal breathing into not only fly-fishing but all your activities.

Step Three: The Manner Of Breathing.

The next phase in the Issho-ibuki is to perform the act of inhalation and exhalation in a specific manner. In Goshin-Do Karate-Do we referred to the manner of breathing as either “Go“ or “Hard” and “Ju” or “Soft“. It is important to remember that the METHOD of breathing remains the same as described above. Only the MANNER of breathing is altered as follows. For purposes of this article, only the soft manner of breathing is relevant. Soft breath is a relaxed form of breathing. The body remains relaxed as air is gently inhaled in a steady manner. Once inhalation is complete, the breath is held for a fraction of a second and exhalation begins. During the process of exhalation, the body remains relaxed and air is expelled softy and in a steady manner. The process then begins a new.

You can and should incorporate soft Issho-ibuki into all aspects of your fly-fishing. Use Issho-ibuki to steady yourself during the hike to your favorite water or while wading a stream or salt water flat. You can use Issho-ibuki to calm yourself as you cast to rising, but wary fish. You can effectively increase the performance and technique of fly casting by using Issho-ibuki during the casting process. You must remember that you always want to exhale during your power casting for stroke. You will soon see that the mechanics and enjoyment of fly fishing greatly increase when you finally learn to breath properly. Proper breathing is the first step to Fly-fishing like a Karate Master and enriching you fly-fishing performance and enjoyment.

Sensei John (center) at the USA Goshin-Ryu, NJ Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander (2nd from left)

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If you are intrigued by this article or otherwise enjoy this blog, please remember to tell a friend. Check back weekly for more updates on how to fly fish like a Karate master, articles on the Way of Fly-fishing (Fly-fishing Do), fishing reports, product reviews and other fly-fishing related matters.

Sensei John


1. The Kanji, Japanese writing, for Sanchin translates as three battles. Fundamental to understanding the three battles of Sanchin is proper breathing. If you would like to learn more about either proper breathing or Sanchin Kata, please feel free to visit my martial arts blog WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com and website WWW.Dynamic-Meditation.Com.

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Focus On The Leaf But See The Tree

18 Aug
We fly-fishermen pursue fly-fishing with a passion. While such a passion drives us to better ourselves in furtherance to such pursuit, it has a down side. It is all too common that we so intently focus on the object of our fishing, catching our quarry, that the object becomes the end-all. We fly-fish with a cocoon built of goal oriented tunnel vision. As such, we fail to appreciate and enjoy the natural environment in which our fishing activity takes place. How can we assuage the personal deprivation caused by this tunnel vision phenomenon? This article will offer you one method of reminding you to pursue fly-fishing with a more open appreciation of the natural environment.
There is a saying from my Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo that will help you to moderate the phenomenon of goal oriented tunnel vision. The saying is derived from a recognition by Karate-Ka (those who practice Karate) that, in combat, if one focuses too intently on one’s opponent (to the exclusion of all else), one does so at one’s peril. The following saying reminds the Karate-Ka of the perils of such tunnel vision. “Focus on the leaf but see the tree.”
When applied to fly-fishing, the result is simple. While you wholeheartedly pursue your trophy fish, you remain open not only to the joy and aesthetic beauty of pursuing a fish through fly-fishing, but also allow yourself to be enraptured by the natural surroundings within which your fly-fishing takes place. Such enraptured state envelopes all your senses. You will see the total natural environment and simultaneously see the minute details that make nature such a marvelous place to experience. You will marvel at plethora of wild creatures, as Great Blue Herron below, that make your fishing water home.    

Veterans Oasis Park, Chandler, Arizona. A Great Blue Herron greets the dawn.

Water Ranch Lake, Gilbert, Arizona. A Great Blue Herron lurks in the shallows.

Or, if you are lucky to fish in such an area, you may be privileged to have a visit from nature’s inhabitants curious to see the strange two-legged creature casting into the water.

Lower Salt River, Arizona. A small herd of wild horses visits.

While it is easy to appreciate such beauty and diversity on a large scale, do not fail to notice the smaller citizens of nature.. How many of you would not only notice but appreciate the dragonfly resting on the reeds you are casting towards? To be sure, nature largely ignores the foibles of man; but now and then nature may pause to watch a graceful fly-fisherman within its midst.

Veterans Oasis Park. I am watching the dragonfly or is he watching me.

Not only do you see the natural beauty, but are open to feeling the warm sun, or cooling breeze, or light refreshing rain on your skin. You appreciate a symphony of natural sounds that you are deprived of upon your return to “civilization”. You can readily appreciate the sounds of the river as it makes its way on its primordial journey, or hear the breeze in the trees. Sometimes nature treats you to a melodious treat. While fishing at Red mountain Lake on morning in Mesa, Arizona, I heard the most indescribable sound coming from the reeds across the lake. I soon saw the sound was coming from a family of American Coot; a beautiful waterfowl to behold and hear.

Red Mountain Lake, Mesa, Arizona. An adult American Coot thinks not of a fly-fisherman on shore, but cares for its young.

The smells of nature penetrate your olfactory senses to awaken a primordial appreciation of the outdoor environment. You can even taste nature when you lick the salt air from your lips, when you wet your tippet when tying a knot, or perhaps when you eat a sandwich for lunch after catching and releasing a few fish.

So the next time you are on your favorite waters, casting a fly to your treasured quarry. Pursue the object of your search with a passion. Don’t let the passion limit your total experience. See nature totally and from different perspectives.

Veterans Oasis Park Lake as viewed from a bird-watcher’s blind.

Fly-fish with a true heart and spirit but, pause a moment, think like a Karate master and remember to “Focus on the leaf, but see the tree.“

Sensei John

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13 Aug

7 Pound Monster Bass Caught In New Jersey

I just received a startling e-mail from a Goshin-Do Karate mentor and comrade, Sensei Bob. Not only is Sensei Bob a dedicated Yon-Dan (4th Degree Black Belt), he is also a talented fly-fisherman residing and fishing in New Jersey. Sensei Bob has discovered a dark secret hidden, or even intentionally ignored in Northern urban, industrial New Jersey.

Sensei Bob recently caught and released a beautiful 7 pound largemouth bass. You may ask from what infamous bass producing waters did he catch his monster. Was it the mighty fish producing rivers, the Delaware, Susquehanna, Musconetcong, or Raritan Rivers? No, Sensei caught his bass from a lake. Ok, then, was it the big fish nursery known as Round Valley Reservoir? Or, perhaps Lake Hopatcong, or Greenwood Lake, or a smaller lake, like Shepherd’s Lake? No indeed.
The lake Sensei Bob caught his monster bass in is located in the heart of Northern New Jersey, specifically in Hudson County. This monster largemouth bass makes his home in and prowls the waters of the lake in Hudson County Park! And, this monster bass is not alone! Sensei Bob tapped into his deepest martial skills, and used his courage, imagination, improvisation and concentration to fish in this urban concrete jungle. Sensei’s efforts have finally proven to all those North Jersey-ites that while they work, play and otherwise live the drama of life blissfully unaware of their existence, monster bass lurk and prowl in the midst of their neighborhood.
Please note that, like me, Sensei Bob, more often than not, fishes solo. As such it is difficult to find some one to assist in taking pictures. However; much like the History Channel’s TV show “Monster Quest”, Fly-Fishing Dojo will dispatch a team of journalists, photographers, crypto-zoologists and others to accompany Sensei Bob on a daring return trip to shed light on this otherwise mythical urban legend known as the “Bass and the City“.
Stay tuned, More to follow . . .

Sensei John

A Small Brook, Connecticut – 1971

28 Jul

1971 was an interesting year for me. It would be the year, that at age 10, I would start two activities that would remain with me until this very day. The first was fly-fishing. The second was Karate-Do.

The fateful day that marked the beginning of my fly-fishing journey started less than promising. My family and I were scheduled to drive three and a half hours from our home in Cliffside Park, New Jersey to visit some distant relative, a cousin of my Mother’s, at their farm in Connecticut. Like I said, not a promising day. Naturally, at the age of ten, I was irritated at the prospect of wasting a summer day traveling to see relatives that I would never see again.

I endured the entire road trip in silence. After an eternity passed, we finally pulled into the dirt driveway that led to the relatives farm. I met my distant relatives and underwent the obligatory tour of the farm. After the farm tour, my mother desired to catch-up with her relatives. My father asked my brother and I if we wanted to go fishing at a nearby brook. My brother and I had been fishing with my father many times before. We jumped at the chance of once again fishing; even though it meant we would not hear the harrowing tale of my mother’s second cousin (once removed) and the goiter on her neck.

In a few minutes we were at the brook. My brother and I hooked up our poles and began to dig for worms to use as bait. We found enough to keep us fishing for a while, baited our hooks and began to fish. As I fished, I noticed my father had waded into the brook and was doing something I never saw him do before. He was not casting a worm like my brother and I were doing. I could not see a worm on the end of his hook. In fact, I could barely see anything at all attacked to his line. He would not cast with one swing of his arm. Rather, he would swing his rod back and forth a few times and let his line settle on the water so that it drifted a bit and repeat the process. I was mesmerized. I thought, “What the Hell was my old man doing?” Then it happened. I saw him lift his rod up. The rod bent against the strain of something attached to the end of the line. My father did not reel in the fish. Instead he “played” the fish with his left hand using the slack line that fell from his reel. Just then a fish, a beautifully rainbow colored sleek fish had jumped from the water. Upon seeing that fish, momentarily suspended and shining in the sunlight, the words “Holy crap!” escaped my mouth.

After a few more minutes passed, my father gathered the fish into his net and showed my brother and I his prize. It was the first time I saw a rainbow trout and it was glorious. I asked my father what he was doing and he said “Fly-fishing”. Since I was “old enough” he asked me if I wanted to try. I took hold of the fly rod. It seemed as tall as a tree. I swung it furiously back and forth like my father did. While my father’s casting was graceful, my first attempt was spasmodic at best. With practice, I was able to cast a long distance of about eight feet. But, it was enough. I hooked my own prize, my trophy. I had captured my quarry. It was a magnificent five inch bluegill. A wondrous moment. That little fish had answered the twitching, jerking, spasmodic call of my casting a delicate fly. It had invaded my mind. I myself was hooked on fly-fishing.

Needless to say, the ride home was more joyous than the ride to the farm. In two weeks, my father took me to the local Two Guys (a now defunct department store) and for the extravagant price of $ 9.99 I secured my own South Bend Junior Fly Rod and Reel Combo (line, leader and three of the “Guaranteed” World’s Best fishing flies included). Two months later, after a weekend of fly fishing, my father took me to the door of Sensei Thomas DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Do Dojo in Palisades Park, New Jersey. The year 1971 was to be a remarkable year in my life.

This Blogsite will continue to explore the symbiotic relationship between martial arts physical techniques, protocols and states of mind and the enjoyment of fly-fishing and the natural environment.

Young (one day Sensei) John’s Equipment Inventory:

Rod, Reel, Line: Unknown – borrowed from my father

Flies used: something with a hook and fur in a fly pattern called “Just cast the damn thing already”

Sensei John

Please feel free to view my other blog dedicated to exploring martial arts ideology and concepts as they can be applied to daily life. You may visit the blog at WWW.SenseiJohn.Wordpress.Com.

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