Tag Archives: USA Goshin Ryu 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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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

ENDNOTES:

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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