Tag Archives: Shihan Wayne Norlander


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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22 Apr

Three months of steady work in New Jersey have come to an end.  The Fly Fishing Dojo “Dry-Heat Crew” is now back home in Arizona, getting unpacked and settling in. As we do so, I would like to reflect a bit on the past few months in New Jersey.

It was a good time on many levels. I was able to again see family, including my dad, mom, daughters, Jess and Kim and especially my grandson Stratton. At 19 months, the little guy is turning into quite a handful and a bit of a daredevil. With his Mom, Jess, he even took his first ride in a cherry-picker!


I was able to spend time with my Sensei, Shihan Thomas DeFelice, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) and hone my physical, mental and spiritual skills.

With great pleasure, I attended weekly training sessions at the USA Goshin-Ryu Karate Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander, Ku-Dan (9th degree black belt) in Bogota, NJ.

Shihan Norlander graciously allowed me to use his Dojo to produce a unique video entitled “Fisherman As Warriors”. Here is a convenient link to the video which is archived on the “Video & Media” Page – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cMRW503DbY

I was especially honored to have attended the senior black belt promotion of Sensei Pablo Peneque, Roku-dan (6th degree black belt) and Sensei Scott Zamora, Yon-dan (4th degree black belt).

The promotion ceremony was a forum for a reunion of several of Shihan DeFelice’s Goshin-Do Karate-Do Yudansha (black belts).

After three and a half days on the road, we arrived back home in Arizona on April 18th.

Di, Chloe and I were able to be on the water for the first time on April 20th. A great morning was spent at Veterans Oasis Lake in Chandler; even Chloe got a chance to “savor” a few bluegill.

And thus, begins another segment of the Fly Fishing Dojo weblog. The “Dry Heat Crew”, including Sensei John, will continue to provide Arizona Fishing Reports, while our New Jersey correspondent, Sensei Bob, will continue to submit reports from the Garden State.

Much more to follow. I remain,

Sensei John

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4 Feb


I will be using the Dojo of Shihan Wayne Norlander as a studio for filming the “Sanchin Kata For Fly Fisherman Technical Series.”  I will post updates as each video is released on You-tube. In the meantime, here is a link to the introductory video filmed at Water Ranch Lake in Gilbert, AZ. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ncZJ0s0HNI

At Shihan Norlander's (black uniform) Dojo, Bogota, NJ

Arizona, Valley Of The Sun, January, 2011, unfortunately, due to a need for me to be on the East Coast, I only fished Arizona waters for a few precious days in January. I was on the road driving along I-40 the week of January 10th when Arizona Game & Fish conducted their “incentive stocking”. You can check out their website for photographs of some fantastic catches.

I arrived in New Jersey and was “warmly” welcomed by a continually renewing blanket of snow and ice.

At the NJ home of Shihan Thomas DeFelice, sparring with Mother Nature

I am sure at some point, I will be able to cast a few flies into the rivers and streams of my youth in before returning home to Arizona and look forward to that time. Eventually, the snow must melt, the streams will flow wildly and the trout will beckon. For now, I simply think about an anonymous haiku:

  • Snow melting,
  • With my stick, I guided
  • This mighty river.

Well enough daydreaming, on with the fly fishing journal for January, at least the first nine days.

PLEASE NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, all fish were safely released after being photographed.

LOWER SALT RIVER, Tonto National Forest

Given my unexpectedly early departure, I was unable to fish the Lower Salt. I hope all that were able to journey into Tonto National Forest to fish these waters had good fishing and memorable experiences. Below is the water flow chart for the Lower Salt River for the month of October from WWW.Watershedmonitor.Com.


To the early morning crew at Veterans Oasis, I hope your days are filled with beautiful, cool, crisp sunrises, and magnificent rainbows at the end of your line. I sit thinking about the several mornings, in the dark, predawn hours, that I stood on the shore casting my flies on what seemed like an etherial, ghostly battlefield. The sound of shotgun blasts filling the air from the distant fields. My eyes following traces of light that pierce and flicker through the pre-dawn dark sky. The flashing light traces eventually coming to rest on the surface of the lake. Military tracer rounds that accompany the shotgun blasts? Some type of meteor? No, rather a unique invention for the bait fisherman that brave the dark to fish upon the waters – lighted bobbers. Besides being a unique fishing tool, they make for a spectacular light show.


Knowing I would have to leave earlier than anticipated, I made one trip to this lake. My morning there, as always, was well spent.

Harvested one for a "farewell AZ" dinner

The memories of that morning should get me through the coming (snow-filled?) weeks.

Clearing snow off the official FFD truck.


Arizona Game and Fish had a news release pertaining to a first-ever season on Gila Trout. For your convenience, here is a copy of that release.

PHOENIX – The Arizona Game and Fish Commission on Feb. 4 is being asked to create the first-ever season on native Gila trout at Frye Mesa Reservoir on the Pinaleño Mountains in southern Arizona.

“Arizona has never had an open season on Gila trout. They were thought to have been extirpated from the state before we had regulated fishing seasons,” said Fisheries Chief Kirk Young.

The Gila trout proposal is possible because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Mora National Fish Hatchery in New Mexico has surplus Gila trout available. The department is asking the commission to establish an open season for Gila trout with a one-fish bag and possession limit for Frye Mesa Reservoir.

“We would like to stock those surplus Gila trout into Frye Mesa Reservoir, which is located below Mt. Graham in the Pinaleño Mountains, to provide a unique angling opportunity,” Young said.

That’s not the only unique angling aspect to the proposal. “If the commission approves the proposal, we would create another unique possibility for anglers – fishing for five species of trout on the same mountain – Gila trout, Apache trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and brook trout,” said Don Mitchell, Tucson regional fisheries program manager.

In fact, Mitchell said, Mt. Graham would become the only mountain on earth where anglers could fish for both Gila and Apache trout.

Gila trout were reintroduced to Frye Creek on the mountain above Frye Mesa in the fall of 2009. Frye Creek is closed to fishing while the population establishes.  From Frye Mesa, you can look down upon the town of Safford.

In closing, I will note that the cold has inspired me to add two new products to the FLY FISHING DOJO Logo Line, the “official” FFD logo Thermal Food Jar and the FUNtainer Thermal Bottle.

FFD Logo Thermal Food Jar

You can check them and all FFD Logo products out at: http://www.cafepress.com/FLYFISHING_DOJO

Until my next submission, I hope you continue to enjoy the articles I post on this weblog. Keep your flies in the water.

Sensei John

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