With the big upheaval to our plans. The ending of a life chapter and the start of another. It is fitting to start a new blog:
With the big upheaval to our plans. The ending of a life chapter and the start of another. It is fitting to start a new blog:
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!
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.
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.
Weather has been improving so that for me is always good, I hate the cold.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
LA … Kyudo -n- Fu
It has been a while since I posted , way too busy! Things are still moving
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
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.
It is all done, the last event here for me. Well of sorts I will be going to a boat show in Oct. However that is not about me. It is for Aoki Yachts corp out of Osaka. As far as Kyudo, and Kung Fu it is done.
The seminar did not turn out as I hoped but, life sometimes is like that. It was still a worthwhile trip to attend. I learned a lot! It was good to see past aquatances and make new ones. I picked up some good points at the seminar which will help me later. I finally figured out and am fairly comfortable with the raising one knee thing in Kiza. That was huge in my book. Also established a connection with my dojomates we feel like a school now I think. I am not sure but i think it is the same for my Sensei. This maybe his largest class of Shodans. Speaking of my Dojomates, I think we are the most diverse Dojo in the Renmei.
I believe the connections I made with the Sensei there at the seminar will be beneficial down the road.
I went to class yesterday and shot with my new bow. It was suppose to be my Sandan bow, and I guess it still is. It is my training bow to get there.
I really shot with it for the first time in class tonight. It shoots well but right now it feels like a lot of effort to shoot. My old Yumi is 15k, this one is 18, I can really feel the change. It will help/force me to draw and shoot with my bones to get comfortable with it. Even with that I have one more bow coming. I am exchanging a 22k bow for a lighter one. 22k is ridiculously too much!
It will be shipped to Japan when our things get fully packed. I will be taking my old 15k bow on the boat with me. I hope to get to shoot some in Hawaii at one of the dojos there and perhaps I’ll find some place on the passage to shoot. Also I hope on some of the stops in Japan on the way to Osaka there will be some local Dojo I can stop at to shoot. That would be something interesting to start blogging about on the new Zensekai-Nihon blog. Maybe even a good couple of articles for the Kyudo mags.
For now it is the same if I passed, or not, back to training. I did not start Kyudo for the rank but for the training. My first style had no ranks I just wanted to learn, adapt and enjoy. Use some of the training and experiences in life and my Kung Fu teaching and training. I think I have been successful in some of that. The ranking thing came about because I wanted to continue training in Japan and heard it was needed. In traditional Kung Fu we have no ranks, no belts. Now I want to achieve Yondan, it will open a different level of training. Once that happens, we’ll see. Godan…Renshi…why…still, I will keep my mind open. One grows with an open mind and heart.
The final day arrived. I was not feeling confident. There was a open practice on Thursday night that helped some but I did not feel i was there yet.
We did our morning line up and thankfully no Shiza. We were told everyone will take the written test at the same time before the shooting test.
We went to the rear section for the written test. Those testing for Sandan, Yondan and Godan were all in the same room. We had different questions of course.
Unlike my Nidan test with three questions today we only had one this time. Explain Goju-jumonji. Ok cool I am ready for that. I wrote it out and was ready to leave, however they wanted to check the answer sheets for everyone first. That turned out to be a good thing. As I was sitting there waiting I kept reviewing my list of the five crosses in my head. Something did not seem right. Finally it came to me I had put the last cross as the neck and Yumi should form a cross. It was my sensei who wad checking the English answers, I asked for mine back and was given it. I changed the word Yumi to Ya. After turning it back in and having it checked and ok’d I was given permission to leave. Wheeww that was close and over. Now the hard part.
The gym had been changed so there was one shajo. I had heard the makiwara room was open for those who wanted. However that changed shortly after I heard. There were no backing nets in the makiwara room since they put them out on the testing area. Therefore no Markiwara practice before the test. That could have been a help, but was not meant to be.
My group approach me to get a couple more practice line up/ entry’s in before our turn. We practice again over to the side, watching our timing and steps.
My stomach was not happy.
I made my self busy taking pictures of my dojomates, stretching and warming up. I found an out of the way spot on the upper floor and did some tai chi practice.
After lunch it was my turn to line up. My stomach really really turned sour. As I sat I did Chan breathing drills to help calm things. Then it was show time.
Our entrance was good we were smooth and organized. My first shot was a miss. Just off the target to the left but center level. The bad part, my thumb came off my fingers in Tenouchi, ugh! Ok I thought I have another chance.
Next shot I adjust a bit, but it was still a miss but the exact same spot as the first but on the right side of the target
Also even thought really thought about keeping the thumb down and I did, the middle finger came loose. I was toast! I know they were watching closely since I knew they were taking note on my Tenouchi. It was disappointing but not unexpected. I exited my Sensei said you were fighting the bow. Most of your pull came from your arms not your body. Don’t give up hope but it is only a slim chance they will pass you with the two misses and they were not grouped together, along with the shallow draw. I said I was not expecting to pass, it was ok.
I went and changed clothes and hung out the rest of the afternoon and watched the rest of the testing. I was pleased to see my friend pass the first part her Renshi shoot then her oral. Finally it was time for her second shots. Messages were relayed from LA to Davis and over to north Carolina where her husband was updated about the status of things.
Sadly she missed both last shots everyone was disappointed for her. It was a sad ending.
Around late afternoon the results were posted. It was noisy as people rejoiced on their passing. I did not even bother to go look. I knew I did not pass. I came across a line up mate and asked how he did. He said no one in our taichi passed. In fact out of all the Nidans only two out of about at least 15 or more people passed. Things get real serious at this level. I saw that at last year’s test with the large amount of no passes. With such a large amount of company I did not feel lonely not passing. I had been prepared for the outcome.
All of those testing from my dojo for Shodan passed. Good for them as I had heard not all do, some only get 1 kyu.
As I was leaving I saw Kubota Sensei. He gave me his slight smile, I bowed…we will meet again.
PS: Thanks to those who took my picture. I nice treat for this blog. _/|\_
After months of preparation and training it was finally time to head to the Kyudo Seminar. I was not feeling confident, I was hitting but it was inconsistent. The rumors were I needed to get at least one hit. I felt with enough focus and some luck I could pull off one clean hit.
The day did not start as planned. I was supposed to go to work as usual in the morning. I got up and went in only to find I was not on the schedule, but not told. My plan was to leave work and go to the Dojo for some practice before taking the hour drive to the seminar. Instead I was put in the position of a wasted trip and gas. The wasted gas money was a real irritant.
After returning home, I went back to bed. That part was nice. After a nice rest I packed up and went to the dojo. I did a few shots, it was not great but I did get a few hits in, along with my regular meditation and training drills.
The traffic to UC Davis was not too bad, it was quite hot though. Unlike on our island, the temps were in the 90′s. Overall the traffic moved well. I stopped for a small bite to eat on the way.
I made it to the campus with no problems. However finding where I needed to check it was a different story. I drove and walked around fir an hour trying to find were to register. There were NO signs to be found! Not even signs with a campus map! WTH Grrrrrrrrrr . finally I was told I could get a campus map on-line. I did so and was able to finally make my way to the correct area. Still a group of co-eds walked and pointed me to the right place. After checking in and heading to my room I see a sign with a pointed arrow for Kyudo!
I paid the extra 50 bucks in order to have my own room. It was worth it, I was able to settle in nicely, later. For the moment I had 15 min to make it to the dining hall and grab some dinner. It was there in the Hall I started greeting the folks I knew. The food looked pretty good, it was a good election even of veggie meal.
It was good to see some of the old faces from other times and places.
After dinner I went back to the dorm. There I settled in for a quiet evening and prep for the commencement of activities in the morning.
I got up early on Tuesday the first day of the seminar. I did my morning Zazen then went out to look for a spot to do Tai Chi. After I returned I head to breakfast then change for the opening ceremonies.
There was the normal line up and opening formalities. The dreaded Shiza sit and reciting came with it. It was not so bad this time, the Shiza practice on my own paid off. It was still painful but I was able to deal with it.
There was an opening Sharei by the head instructor Akiyama Sensei. She was good of course, but she did not hit her shots. I found this comforting. Since hitting was heavy on my mind, to see a master miss made me feel a sense of relief.
Next up we broke up into groups. Here was my dread in my face. I was Omai!!! Just wonderful! :-( On top of worrying about hitting I had to be concerned with my taihai and leading my taichi group. I was hoping to be #2 or 3 in line. I felt this was not a good omen. I was the first number in the Nidan group. This made my already weird stomach even more so. At least unlike Tokyo I had some experience being in that position now. Even though I did not like it as I would be right in front of the judges and have to keep track of the shooting sequence. Omai is out there for the shortest time, that can be good . So there is good and bad that goes with that position.
I went through my evaluation shots with no problems, other than not being able to hear clearly from my group who was shooting because another group behind us was also shooting. Also other than my nervous tummy, which kept me up and down the steps…a lot over the week, things went ok.
The first Sensei for my section was Kubota Sensei. I did not get any correction from him. I do not recall anyone getting some from him. He did spend some time on some topics and discussion. I liked his style of shooting and also his teaching. He was fun to listen to as he was enjoying himself. He told us to make Hanshi he had been studying 50 yrs. He said the younger students could make it, but us older ones…
That evening after the seminar and dinner there was a taikai. I had designed the winner certificates for this, yet I had no plans to attend. I had been asked earlier since I was not in the taikai would I take the Sensei out to dinner. It was an easy task, however I wasn’t looking forward to it…nervous. I would need to speak with the Sensei in my poor Japanese, and be concern about using the correct respectful words.
I did nor have much time after the seminar. I had to rush to change, find their hotel and pick them up. I did not want to lose face by being late, it was stressful but I made it. There was a bit of confusion about were they were going, it took a while to get it all sorted out.
I introduced myself in Japanese. I found out later they were quite surprised at this. I also told them my Japanese name which they thought was interesting. I thought it maybe a wise move for the future to make myself known.
I got them to the Restaurant and returned later to pick them up. They wanted to go by the Taikai to see so I took them there next. Finally they had enough and I returned them to their hotel and went back to my room for the night. It all went pretty smooth for the first day.
Tomorrow, Day 2 , the real lessons started and the evening held the banquet.