Practice: form and formless

13 05 2013

I had thought once we set sail, this blog would end. However somethings just seem more fitting here than on the sailing site.  I do not know if it matters to my 4 or 5 readers. Never the less this will be my final post for a while as we are heading to the South Pacific and I will be internet-less for some 35 days.

 

 

We moved from the marina there in downtown Ensenada to another location just outside of town. Very nice upscale , location attached to a hotel. My practice session are less elaborate here, mostly just working on my Chen Tai Chi and fundamentals of  Kyudo and meditation. My new “Dojo” is right on the beach front , very nice. 

 

However there is no shade so once the sun hits , it is on! Seriously! It is nice in that I do not have the lookers like at the other place, for the most part I get to practice in private. 

 

I love being able to do zazen and hear the ocean kiss the rocks on the shore. Also having a platform with a shade cover is nice for my stillness time. I feel the time next to the ocean is good feeling that Chi. I will be able to be up close and personal shortly as we will be leaving with in the next few days. Our time here in Mexico is winding down.  It is a mix of joy and sadness.

 

We will be at sea for some 35 days , it will be interesting to see what I can arrange as far as practice. Stillness will be easy movement will be limited.  Still practice is practice , both for and formless. A cup of ocean water is still ocean water.

 

So that is it for the local news. Next post will be from the other side of the Equator . I will shoot an arrow in respect for King Neptune. It is traditional to make some type of offering to the King Water Spirit. Mine will be the arrow and the shot to honor his royalness…Yosh!





La vida in Mexico , prt 2

22 04 2013

 
We are kickn’t today after a busy day of here-n-there running yesterday. LZ wanted to finish up her reports for the Japan Mag. So today, I get to rest mostly, no driving Miss Daisy. So for now, it is some blogging, Latin Jazz on the internet, some reading, then a little boat stuff, maybe slip some musical instrument connection in there somewhere, later this PM.
 
 
Mexico kind of grows on you. A few days ago we went to a Local Art show in a small local museum. Not really my kind of Art, but interesting, forgot camera. It was interesting to feel the vibes of Artsy people again. Reminds me of how much I miss doing ceramics and the sharing of other student’s Chi in class/studio. Also going to misc open studios around the Bay. Visual Arts energy is different from, musical Art Energy. Both are good, but for shore ( a lil sailing/water related visual verbal pun) different. Kind of like “Leo” fire Chi is different from “Aries” fire Chi, but they mix easily and often, being the same nature.
Anyway I digress. There are some interesting and gifted artist here in Mexico.
 
 
 Some of the food places here in Mexico have been outstanding. There is a misconception that Mexico is dirty as would be the locals. Mexico is a poor country, but the people are warm-hearted and themselves clean. In a restaurant everything is kept clean. When you finish eating they clean up the table right away. LZ is impressed with the food care, preparation and presentation. 
 
 
We stopped by a simple but local favorite restaurant the other day. It was recommended by a local as one of the top restaurants in the Ensenada area. 
The prices were great, the atmosphere was pleasant, great music on the sound system, clean. It was an out-of-the-way spot one would not except a place of this type to be there. Ensenada is full of out-of-the-way, hidden treasures of which it is one itself.
 
 
 
We also went on a wine tasting working adventure. LZ working on her Japan Magazine articles needed to cover some wineries.  I was unaware there we so many wineries in the area.  Some are very small, and some are of a fair size, which rival those of Northern Cal. We visited several where we had to make appointments to see and were the only people on the short tour. One such place we stopped at late after making a the appointment, due to some miscommunication. The Manager let us in anyway, gave us a private tasting and we chatted. I was driving so did not have much, but he kept pouring for LZ. She refused, lightly but had a few more sips.
 
 
 
Near this winery is a Pizza shop. It is up up up, a little dirt road(s). Lots of turns and bumps to get there. Way way off the beaten path, I would have not ever thought of a pizza place there. However the locals know of it, it is rated also the top Pizza place. 
 
 
 
 
We drove up I was shocked, not only that it was crowded, but at the location, and the number of people who kept coming after we arrived, group after group.
 
 
 Great view, great pizza. I am glad we got a medium, which was big. We had plenty there (1/2) eaten on the spot and I will have the leftovers soon!! :-)
 
 
 
Over all, Ensenada is a comfortable place, if not for heading for Japan I could stay here. Make a few adjustments and setup a comfortable life. LZ and I have spoken if life changes to a different path once we are done with our family giri in Japan, Ensenada could be a place to consider returning to live. Yet, every place (mostly) is nice when you are visiting, and we will be older then…anyway something to keep on the back of the mind, considering Japan is having issues, with earthquakes, radiation, air pollution from China, bomb threats from Korea…jheez!
Having an exit plan /route is still wise.
 
As much as I am starting to like Ensenada more, there is still not much that I look forward to here for me. Although my morning practice is comforting on a spiritual level, it is still a duty. One I enjoy for myself, but still it takes discipline to get out there everyday, and not something I look forward to the same as something like going to see a movie. There is the up coming World Tai Chi day event. I am looking forward to that. This will be my first as part of a large group. In years past it has been just me out somewhere sharing the world chi. this time there is a big event here in Ensenada, I have been in touch with the Shifu who is hosting the event. The location is within walking distance. So I will be there. Kind of my last event for this area…kind of
 
 




The Tao of Solo Training

22 03 2013

Solo training – Mexico

 
We have been here for awhile now. I am getting into my groove I guess one could say. One of the things on my list to do when retired was work on my Arts and development them. So far I have gotten my discipline started with morning practice. It sounds easy enough one would think having been at this so long. However not working, not teaching, puts a different light on getting up and getting out daily. It is a different type of discipline needed, to set the habit. I belive that doing my morning meditation consistantly has helped with being able to getup and get out. Having done so many years of Kung Fu helps my discipline of doing my meditation everyday. They support each other, as they are part of the same thing.
 
I have been doing the first Zazen once I get up and I am pretty much awake. Sometimes I get right to it, other times I log on to FB to fed my on-line habit, then meditate. Generally it is 20 min, I am finding that goes by surpringly soon these days. I can recall when 10 min was a struggle. I have sat for as long as an hour in retreats without too much trouble…”too much” being the key word. It is work, but doable. I should add another 5 min to the morning but, that is really only part A , so I feel it is ok at 20 min for now.  I have been doing a second Zazen after motion Chan, (kung fu taichi), outside next to the bay here.
 
 
 This one I have no idea how long, it maybe 10-20 min. I do not keep a timer for that. This second one is not to get my quota in, it is just for the pleasure of sitting. I find the energy is different and more filling outside next to the water, hearing the birds, feeling the air, the chi of the world, than even sitting on the boat, which is contained. Maybe it is all on my mind just because the motivation is different for this session. 
 
I have changed from my orginal practice spot. A developed area were if I do not get there early tends to get a lot of foot traffic.
 
 
 
Now to a quiet place over in a corner of a kids playground. It is out of the main flow of foot traffic and eyes. As long as I get there fairly early I am in a quiet spot, alone. Under a shade tree, with hard sandy ground under foot.  It does not have the ambiance of the other spot but it is secluded, yet I can see everything the same including the bay, with the addition of the park. The vice is good that is important! Again early is the key for a undisturbed motion Chan practice.
 
 
 
So far the rouine has been Ba Lum Gum ( 8 silken movements) Chi Gung, Chen 36 ( relearning not having practiced enough), Yang 24 or Tai Chi palm ( Tai Chi Mantis Tai Chi), varying with the day. Finshing up until this week with Hsing Yi. I have started ths week adding a bowless 2 kyudo shots to the end of the session. Standing form, really trying to be mindful of the internal aspects of the draw, the form , the breath. The next expansion of the training session will be adding a jhin (sword) form and a Mantis set. I need to reconstruct my memory banks on my favorite advance set, Lan Jie. I am so glad I got to tape my Shixong doing some things. Although Lanjie is done so fast it is hard to follow. Anyway it gives me good reference for now and later once in Japan.
 
 
Usally the rest of my day is spent on the boat doing misc chores to make ready for the next leg or computer stuff, research, or reading one of the many books I need to consume. Equipment manuals, Japanese, Kyudohon, on occation I even get a chance to play some of my instruments, 
 
and remember I am still a musician. All parts of solo training my arts. Sometimes I get so wrapped in the other stuff I have to force myself to be still and play. That is part of my nature to be focus , intense on what I am doing. Lost in the moment could be another way of looking at it.
 

I just finished reading a book by Victor Wooten, call the “Music Lesson, Spiritual search for Growth through music” an amazing book. I have new respect for him, besides his musical talent. It was like Carlos Castenada on music instead of Peyote. 

I think the biggest training and hardest is my mind and spirit. Which all of the other things encompass, hmmm that should be encompasses all the other things. Staying in the moment, trusting the Tao and not getting lost in the thoughts of, this is nice, but we have so little money. That is really the hardest part of all of this solo training. The spirtual training pracitce of trusting the Tao. My Chan sister was so correct in saying this is more than a sailing journey, it is a Spiritual Journey as well. Part of that spiritual solo training is trust in the Tao to provide. 




La Vida en Mexico

3 03 2013

It has been a while since my last post so a little update I think is good. For those who are not following the sea blog and do not know, now you know, currently we are in Ensenada Mexico. Almost 1 month now, less a day or so. It took some adjustment, but things are fairly good, other than the water which is bad. There is a work around that, which cost, but it is not too bad. The price for drinking water is reasonable.

Photo Mar 03, 10 23 34 AM

Weather has been improving so that for me is always good, I hate the cold.

Photo Feb 25, 5 51 50 AM

We have done a couple of small tourist things, visiting a natural cheese farm. They had cows which are only used to milk for cheese. Happy cows! Then they showed us the process and lastly gave everyone some samples with a glass of wine and bread. OMG good! We took some home. The cheese not the cows.

Photo Feb 25, 3 50 27 AM

Photo Feb 25, 5 08 58 AM
Another place we went is called the blow hole. ( bofadora) a place were the rock forms a place were the ocean shoot up in a spray. It was ok, but not worth the camera I broke trying to take a picture and tripping over a rock. Sigh. Something else to replace with no spare money.

Photo Feb 25, 11 29 47 AM

I have been out-n-about and found more martial arts school than I thought this small place would have. Several Karate schools of course, there is also a Kung Fu school , which I have visited a couple of times. However have yet to speak to the Shifu. He has not been there, and whoever is teaching is busy with the class so will not stop to speak with me, understandable. They teach several arts, Wu Shu, Hung Gar, Tai Chi, and some Chi Gong. They train fairly well from what I see.

Photo Feb 18, 2 22 12 AM

With getting settled now, I have started my own practice again, early mornings, but I need to make even earlier as not to have the misc onlookers. I like the solitude and not feeling like the entertainment . I have found a place by the marina on the water front. There are usually a lot of people out and about, starting early since it is a nice location. So I need to get before they start.

Photo Feb 13, 11 40 15 PM

Photo Feb 17, 10 03 13 PM

Morning solo practice , after morning Zazen. There is Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Hsing Yi. then a bit more Zazen. I wish there was someplace to do Kyudo, but alas I will have to make do with just some misc parts. even a small part is better than none, even if sometime it is just mental. The mind is the controlling factor anyway…ne!





Kyudo break

25 01 2013
We have been in Long Beach for the last two weeks. It is sort of like coming home to me having lived in LA for a number of years, like 20 or something.
We have been given use of a slip for our stay by the kind efforts of the Seal Beach Yacht club.
It has been over six weeks plus since I got to do anything physical other than sail. Last weekend since I had transportation I wanted to go to Kyudo since I could visit with one of my favorite Kyudo instructors Jyozen Sensei. There wer classes both on Sat night and Sunday morning. We started out for class on Sat, however since we were running late and the traffic was going to make us later. It was decided to turn around and not go. I always think it is on the rude side to show up late for class. More so really late as we were to be.
Sunday was another day.
Sunday we got it together to make it to the early morning class in the park. This was a better class for me, since I had sent my knee pads off to Japan. We do not do the full TaiHai in the park. We do however do a meditation before shooting, as is done on the Sat class. I was asked to lead the meditation. This is my second time at this so was no big deal. I had heard some comments before starting about just starting, since Jyozen Sensei was not there. However since I was ready to do the meditation we had at it. I kept in mind that some wanted to get at shooting, since our time was limited and just did a short meditation.
We do standing shooting rounds with four arrows in the park sessions. This gives one a chance of a short warm up but still goes pretty fast as it is somewhat free shooting. I struggled with my shots. Feeling awkward from not shooting. However my main problem was not the lack of shooting, but having a Kake, that was too small. Surprising how wired that felt. I still was able to pull off some fair shots, but man o man I felt awkward .
image
After I finished, Jyozen Sensei was there and came over saying , they told you to shoot bigger lat time right. I said yes, I thought so he said. I saw you struggling. Your base was good, but you kept going back and forth with you mind for base to hands, and did not really make your draw bigger. He then gave me some tips on understanding the push with the left to open the right and pull with the right to open the left principal. Also using the push of the left and the weight of the Yumi to raise and open my left arm in daisan.
It helped, even with the small yukake I was able to shot better. However the small glove really really was a struggle. I thought when I was trying it on before buying this used glove it fit better. I was so wrong. I dropped a couple of arrows and my fingers felt like they had no control. Still I adapted and made a couple of fair shots.
It was a good morning of shooting. I like shooting with this group.
image
Next I need to get some TaiChi practice in. I have been getting stagnate on the boat. We will be in Mexico soon, and I can get a routine back, maybe I will be able to find a place to practice my Fu, and Kyudo.
I am still keeping up with my Chan sitting, I need no room for that. I also got to visit with my senior Chan brother and sit with the group. That was nice, even though I ended up being the , surprise to me, guest speaker for the evening .Oh well I take these things in stride it is the Chan way.  Yosh!     _/|\_




Update

23 11 2012

Yeah, still here!

For now…it has been all about the move as of late. There has been a few diversions though. I have gotten a couple of kyudo session in since the last. A few visits with the Kungfu family and the Chan fam.

A few weeks ago a sailor from Japan (one of three) showed up. He had done Kyudo in high school some 49 years ago. He wanted to go to class with me. He remembered things well enough to help a newbie understand how to do basics. His form for shooting was great! Impressive for not touching a bow for 40 yrs.

IMG_0149

My Kyudo equipment is now packed and ready to ship. All except a set of equipment which will travel on the boat with us. I will seek out place to shoot from time to time. That way I will not be too far out of practice when we get to Japan.

Fairwell toast

My senior Kung Fu student has agreed to take over the Tai Chi and Kung Fu classes. This is good for her and the students. I did not want to feel I had abandoned this group.  I feel out of the years I have been teaching this last group from the Tai Chi group is the best and my favorite.
They took me out to dinner… Twice. That is not why they are my favorite, but their attitude. One of the students is even interested in Chan practice.

Speaking of which I am having lunch with three of my Chan sisters. The ones from the Berkeley class. It will be good to see them once more.

Another surprise out of this, is the group I worked with at the marina, threw me a lunch gathering/going away party. I was shocked.

20121122-185059.jpg

Lots of weather delays before cast off. It is good in a way, I needed the time to mentally prepare as well. This takes mental training to a another level.

I’m glad a have a spare Kyudo set with me, looks like we will be spending a little time in LA. I will get to shoot.





LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

24 10 2012

LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

It has been a while since I posted , way too busy! Things are still moving
forward…yosh.

I wrote this a while back but got too busy to publish…ok I forgot.

A younger Kung Fu classmate invited me to his wedding. It was one free weekend. I needed to go to LA anyway to switch Yumi from the monster to something I could ready draw more than once…a day!
Sounded like good timing so I took off for SoCal. I also figured I could visit a couple of people now instead of rushing when we are passing through on the ZenCat to Japan.

The trip down was thankfully boring and un-thankfully hot. I was surprised how hot it was in LA. They were having a heat wave. Even down in the beach town it was hot.

Spent the first night with a couple of buds then headed off to the wedding . It was hot, hotter than at the beach since it was inland. After the ceremony and lunch the reception was held at the Kung Fu school. Unexpectedly a nice wind picked up and cooled things down. I hung out there for a while then slipped out, I had other places to be…

Next stop was Pasadena Japanese Cultural Center, home of the Nan Kai Kyudo group. I had planned on joining the class for practice after I received the new Yumi from my friend. However since the traffic was horribly full of suckness I was late and choose to pass rather than disrupt the class flow…so I thought.

When I arrived I was also in time with Darth Kyudoka we did the Yumi exchange and chatted. Since I was already late , as was he I did not think about rushing in to class. At one point we headed into the dojo and was met by JyoZen Sensei , who invited us to shot. I declined and was in the learning by watching mode, so I sat upfront and just watched. JyoZen Sensei had split the groups into two. One did the traditional taihai shooting the other did the one makawara three person sharei. Interestingly stuff.

While I was watching, waiting and gazing, Jyo Zen Sensei gave me his note book to read through. Very interesting the amount of detail in his notes. I found out later he has written several un-published books on Kyudo.

I called it a night fairly early and went to my sleeping arrangements and watched a small amount of video before slipping into sleep land to ride dragons.

Sunday I was up early to go to the Rancho Park Kyudo practice. There was surprised to be asked to lead the morning meditation and a round of Tai Chi. Wow I felt like an important guest :-)

Clean up meditation

After our morning drills we had at shooting. This was first shooting of this new Yumi. I like it! It is just a bit stronger than the Spring Princess which is 15 k. The new Yumi, Aki no Gekko Kamakiri, is 16.3k.

I can feel the difference when I shoot. The stronger weight reminds me to draw with my back and hara, but I do not feel like I am on the edge of doom when going into Hanare, like with the 18kYumi, or sticking my head into a bear trap like with the 22k yumi. I remarked to JyoZen Sensei I never thought I would have three Bows, one light, one heavy, and one just right. He explained about the usefulness of having the variety. It made sense when I listened.

I was also told, my tenouchi is much better, and I need to expand upwards more in Kai, but overall improving.


I did a couple of rounds of shooting and it was time to take off back on the road. I did my farewells and headed off for another group of visitations on the way back to the thankfully much cooler Bay Area.








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