Golden Tiger Berkely

29 05 2007

Ah, a holiday Monday Monday.

Happy Dance

Lady Z had to work, so I was left to my own stuff. I got up fairly early for a day off after some Zanzen and breakfast, I did some computer work, gardening and dealt with virgin mobile on my phone problem. That was not fun, they promised to resolve it. I have been waiting for 2 months to get my old service number changed over to them, because for the amount of time I use my cell phone I might as well get a lower cost provider. Anywho…

After spending some time down on the boat, cleaning up the revenge of the birds, but not sailing, but messing around on the boat and some Yin time in the hammock to balance out some of the Yang time I’ve been on for the last two weeks. I set off to do my errands. Finding a Spark plug for my motorcycle, with no luck on a holiday. Returning something to West Marine, even after 30 days they refunded my money , nice. Spending Way too long at Fry’s in line to buy a printer/fax. Driving to Oakland to pickup my roster for my next sailing class this weekend. Finally I’m done. I head over to my favorite Veggie restaurant, the Golden Lotus in Oakland for dinner and to read a book whilst waiting for Kyudo class to start. I have 1-hour plus to kill.

Golden lotus

It had been a month since I’ve been able to attend. There was a intensive four days training at the Sonoma Mtn Zen Center, two weeks ago. I could not attend. No time , or money. maybe next year. Anyway I did the circus thing that weekend.

I get to the Shambala Center I am the first to arrived for thetiger Golden Tiger Kyudo class. I hang out in the car and wait to see if there is indeed a class today. I wait only 25 min. and a couple of folks show up. As I am in front of the building, I pop out of the car and get to the front door in time to help with the equipment and in we go to setup.

I get a bit of help in the dressing room with how things are tied since I’m still new at how it all fits together. Then we go do the group meditation. In a way part of my favorite things these days. We use cushions here like the Soto style, unlike the Chinese way so it is a bit more comfortable. Nice because my hip is a bit sore these days, from something I did, so having the cushion helps.bow setup

Tonight there is no group shooting, just single, everyone on their own. The class is small so everyone can shoot without waiting for a target. I watched for a moment to make sure I remembered the steps, then I joined in.

I felt like I did ok, I tried to remember my correction from last time. After I while Lucy the senior came over and gave me some corrections. On my draw and finger placement. Part of it was opening up my chest when I drew the bow, similar to expanding when doing Tai Chi, when I remembered that movement, it helped. It also helped when I took my time more and really centered my breath between movements. Since this was all about me and the shot I felt no need to rush there was no one waiting in line.

So after a few shots of 6 or more I sat for a few moments and watched. I remembered what the Sensei in Japan said ” ykyudoou learn by practice, then watching , then practice. So I sat and watched.Lucy was shooting and her advanced student. I watched how they drew the bow and saw the difference. I questioned Lucy about it after she finished and got a few pointers. I was able to get one more shot in before end of class and closing meditation. The draw may have been better . but it did not feel prefect, nor was the sound of the arrow as it hit. Though it went in as other times. The sound was off as was the feeling of the shot. Next time I’ll do better.

Happy Dance

Heart Zen (Chan) update:

Before I left for Kyudo I received an email from elder sister lotusfrom the Zen class. She apologized that so much of the class on Sat. was in Chinese and Lady Z could not understand. She said it would be changed for the next session and sent along some practice tips for Lady Zen.

When I returned home that evening, Lady Z said someone had called from the Zen meeting, they wanted to know if she had any question or problems understanding what/how to practice and again said the other sessions would be more in English to be helpful to her and any others. Also said please do not hesitate to call or email if she had any question. So much different from when we went to the SF Zen center and had to leave as message with the visiting Phubab and never even got a reply email or other wise, from anyone!

Zen @ the Chan session

27 05 2007

It has been several months since I have been able to attend my Zen (Chan) meeting. Part ofBamboo sky it due to my schedule partly due to theirs. The American Zen Assoc does not have regular building or place to met, We meet where we are able. It seems like will be be regular now at the Taiwanese Cultural Center in Fremont. It is about 1 hour drive, but worth it are Lady Zen’s words after she went through the meeting. It was her first time attending today.

Let’s back up some,.. bebbrbrbbebrbbrbrbbrrrr beep.

I went to Sisook for work this morning around 12:15 the Lady Z comes by and we take off for the session. I figured in plenty of time. However, as things go sometime. We got lost. Even through I thought I was following the map, and did stop and ask directions , we were still lost as far as finding the place. When I stopped trying to locate it by logic and just followed my “zensense’ we came right up on it, just as the map said. I had gotten off the freeway too soon. Doh!

We arrived at the meeting, it had already well started, but we were found sitting and joined in. Lady Z had a few things explained to her about what was going on as most of the talk was in Chinese. Between Sister and myself we explained things and Lady Z understood for the most part.

After the beginners session there was a break an elder brother from LA who was visiting introduced himself to us. I had spoken with him via the net and Emails, He was the one who first turned me on to HeartZen. This was our first live encounter. He introduced us to a few of his friends some of which spoke Japanese and lived at one time in Tokyo, so the Lady Z was surprised. We were able to have a pleasant and informative chat. Lady Z had some questions which she was wondering about and got those taken care of. She was very pleased to speak with him and find out some better details on what was going on with the practice and some of the results she can expect from it.

We found out they will be meeting 2 times a month, every other Sat, so that works out perfect for me and her. I Will have my sailing class to teach next week, and there is no Zen class ( the Force at work).

Lady Z was very pleased with the experience. She like that the people were willing to explain things to you not just say just sit and do not think. She like that there was no big deal about what clothing you wore or colors. She liked that even though Shixiong (elder brother) and the other seniors were there, they acted like and were treated like everyone else. It was a good session. I feel as good if not better than when I first in countered this group. As I said and felt then, I feel at home and comfortable with the people there. It is spiritual on a real level to me.

Schools out

27 05 2007

School is done until the summer session. I do not know if there is a summer ceramic class. Although I will not have time even if there is. I will hold off until the fall session to take another class. I find it comforting to be able to go in a just do some work.

Sitting at the wheel and throwing. I find I do enjoy the kick wheel better than the electric. Feels like I ma more in touch with the piece. I still enjoy hand building and will work on a couple of items over the next coule of weeks. I cut some clay into slabs and wrapped them up to work on at home since I will not need a wheel for them. Lady Z like the style I came up with part smooth , part ruff. She wants me to make a set of plate or a serving bowel with that style. So That will be my summer clay project. As long as I keep the clay damp I’m good for a long run.

I went by the school to pickup the last of my semester firings. I am pretty pleased with most of the pieces this year. We will get some use of of the work. These are my favorites other than the bowls

I really like this shape it is my favorite of the jars I made.

This Sake set has already put put to use it works, perfect 🙂

There are four plates to this set.

It did not turn out just like I planned but it is still cool.
Somewhat like things in life,

they do not alway turn out as you want. But can still be cool and useful if you step outside your expectations and embrace what it is , as it is…

Your free Zen lesson for the day 🙂

Friday Fu

26 05 2007

It has been a couple of months since I got to go train with Shrfu. TMI had to teach sailing

for my new job with the city of Oakland last month. The one before that was my Mum’s 80th birthday, with family in from out of town I had to go to that event.

So today after work and a bite to eat I headed right to the studio from work. The one good thing about working in Dublin is it cuts about a 1/2 hr drive off my trip to the Tai Mantis school in Campbell. With it being a holiday weekend the traffic was light. it was a nice easy trip down. I got there early, only Shrfu and another classmate were there. Shrfu had already started cooking as is the custom for our monthly session we eat afterwards.

After greetings I changed and started my warmups. The weather was perfect not hot, not cold. After some light stretching I started with Tai Chi Palm form, developed by Si-Gong for our system. It is good internal form, really brings up the Chi. So it is a good way to get things going. Generally when I teach class I do some Chi gong first then the form. Since it was just me, I used the form as my Chi Gong.

Next up I went through Yang 24 Tai Chi. My plan was to go through the main 3 of my taichi sets, then work on my Jian (gim) with Shixong, when he showed up. Which he did when I was part way through my Yang style set. I continued, after greeting him, with my routine . Next on my list was Chen style. I had not done Chen in quite a while. I need to get with someone from the Walnut Creek school to review, without letting Sisook know I forgot so much. I went through what I could remember. it was a fair amount, but I am really rusty with parts of it. I like this Chen 24 set, I really need to practice alot more than I do. With things calming down life wise I will put that in to the schedule.

Sihing ( shrxiong) had already started with his practice of sword with Franics so I got out mine, so he could review me and continue with my lesson. He is teaching me Tai Chi Gim from the Tai Chi Mantis System. This is another one of Sigongs forms.3

Since I will be carrying these to Japan as part of my teaching platform for the system I have been putting in more timewith this and Tai Chi palm, than my other forms. From what intel I have gathered the Tai Chi program will do better in Japan, so that is where I have been putting more of my training focus these days. However I really need to bring my Chen style up to speed, with my Mantis Tai Chi. Sisook expects me to develop a Chen following as well & It is something I wish to teach my advance Tai Chi students.

Tai Chi Palm, Yang 24, Chen. in that order. There will be some push hands drills, Chi Gong, breathing, stances, self defense break down drills. I want them to have a balanced Tai Chi experience. Understand the health and the combat aspects.

Shortly later another couple of students showed up. Shrfu had us line up and do a short Chinese ceremony for the late SiGong. Which was basically burn incense in front of his picture and bow three times holding the incense as a sign of respect for his memory.


Afterwards we went back to practicing. This time we moved inside and worked on dagger disarms. I had missed the last couple of sessions where they had organized 4 disarms and named techniques into a drill order. So I had to catch up. It was pretty simple to catch up. Already the principles I was familiar with, just a matter of organizing them and some work on the foot work and turning direction. I put them on tape also for future references and will have my students start drilling these once a week or every couple of weeks. That way it will become smoother and give them another level of drills to work on.

So after a rounds of drills, Shrfu says the food is ready. So we all pull out chairs and chow down.Shrfu had made a lot of steamed corn, more so for me, because I do not eat all the chicken he had prepared. So I had several pieces of very sweet corn on the cob and some sushi someone had brought in.

corn n swords

It was a good evening of a long day for me. It is good to be just a student again and just get my practice in. Also be able to hangout with classmates and Shifu. I regret that my students here never had or will have that part of their marital art training. It was near that at my old studio at one time. However none of them, except for a couple never were in it deep enough or long enough to really care. The intentions were there for a while but… They got their tale wet before crossing the river is an old Chinese saying. Out of all the time I have been teaching I have only one student with enough dedication that she will become a instructor. Good students are hard to find… or it could just be me.

Francis and the dummy

It is too bad really the sense of family, of being part of something bigger than oneself, really adds a different experience to ones learning, and Kung Fu exposure. As well as raising your knowledge skill level. There are things that one learns only after being part of the system, part of the family that one never gets just showing up for scheduled class. The closest thing would be a fraternity in the experience.

Anyway we had our casual chatting about Kung Fu, people we knew, and misc topics, as the evening ticked into the cool darkness of late nigh, and we all slip off into the shadows to make our way home.

of Art, Artist and the Tao

23 05 2007

Some people say, wow you do a lot of things! Hmmmm True, but in a way… to me… it is somewhat all the same thing, just different expressions of it.

Is that the Artist mind or the Zen/Taoist…

When I was younger, the word artist brought to mind someone who did abstract type works, seeing the canvas where colors are splashed on it or wildly brushed, or grand works, like Michael Angelo, Pecaso, Dali, the like. Since college my understanding of what is an artist has expanded and refined. It took me a long time before I called myself an Artist because I did not for somewhat of those same older reasons see myself. It really took someone saying that I was an Artist, before I saw it in myself.

I read somewhere on some “Zen” thought page, that no one is special, no one is different. We are all the same, come from the same, go back to the same. WHAT!! How boring would that be…? What planet is this person from.
I would only partly agree. We are all special in some way. In that there are artist and there non-artist makes us different, there are those who can be doctors and those who cannot. Not anymore valuable per say, not better, but for real different and each person adds both our own specialness & sameness to the world.

I was reading the Art page of The Usuper’ s blog, someone I am aquatinted with via the net. It gave me wonder on the reasons of different artist expressions and our connection to the The Tao to create,
he stated:

“My purpose is to encourage people to think about what they are viewing. In creating art I reveal the depths of my thoughts and emotions. Often it is the journey I take in my mind to reach a thought that inspires me. Anger, frustration, and resentment towards systematic, afro-social alienation by the black majority is what has driven me to develop a culturally independent style of art . Anatomically exaggerated, super humanoid figures, cosmic landscapes or abstract anomalies are the types of subject matter I express in a multitude of media.”

I am impressed with artists who do shapes, figures and painting of abstracts and the like, that have some deep social or emotional meaning. When I use to write songs, I did it not only as a way of expression, but also with a purpose to get people to think about some issue on my mind. Of course some music I do just feels good, perhaps it is just the tonal qualityzen blu of the notes and the beat. It’s only purpose of being created is, I like it and want to do something cool. As when I do Photography, Ceramics I am not trying to get anyone to think, I am just creating something, pleasing, even if just to me.
Perhaps that would be considered more of a “zen” approach to Art. It’s purpose is just being…On the lines of once you put words to express the beauty of a day or a scene you have lost the essence of it, by trying to express it in a limited medium that words have. It should just speak for itself. If there is a meaning, it will be for you form your own connection with the scene, piece, tune, work, the Tao

A good traveler has no fixed plans
and is not intent upon arriving.
A good artist lets his intuition
lead him wherever it wants.
A good scientist has freed himself of concepts
and keeps his mind open to what is…Tao Te Ching

However…In the case of ceramics I do have more of a purpose. I like things functional as well as visually pleasing. The usefulness is in the emptiness.
We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

bowl 1

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

bowl 2

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

bowl 3
We work with being,
but non-being is what we use….Tao Te Ching

Of course there are writers and poets who use words to the fullest to express a world of colors, emotions, ideas. Some of the great Zen masters are themselves Poets. There are times when words to fit the creative need…

Riding the balance
between wind and water
I feel the breath of God
…by zen

One could therefore say, that artist are those who do not limit themselves or their expressions to what is or is not suppose to be their medium. An artist can use any medium to express that connection with the Tao/ The Force/Great Spirit. It is all about our connection and expression.

The Tao is called the Great Mother:
empty yet inexhaustible,
it gives birth to infinite worlds.

It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want….Tao Te Ching

Wither it is physical in the form of Kung Fu and the use of anything as a weapon, or Dance. or Musical, being able to use anything that can produce a sound as an instrument , or in the realm of sculpture, or anything 3-d, 2-D or 1-D for that matter. An Artist has no limits on the ways of expressing a connection with the Tao. Perhaps on a basic level artists are the first Zen /Taoist masters we see the interconnection of everything. All ways of expression are still connected like branches of a tree or rivers of water.

The Tao gives birth to One.
One gives birth to Two.
Two gives birth to Three.
Three gives birth to all things…Tao Te Ching

Fuu seal

A weekend at the Circus

21 05 2007

programThe Marx Brothers had a movie called a Day at the circus, I liked those old flicks…

When I was a young musician playing in LA and on the Hollywood strip I worked with a number of clowns. They were tiring. Some of the venues were a mess in fact a circus. This weekend was my first time playing with a real circus it ran pretty well. So why do they call something dis-organized a cirus Hmmm.

I got there a little later than asked but still sat around for 1.5hr before the show started.building The location was at a old theatre/gym over in the Haight/Asbery district in S.F.

There were two shows on Sat andone on Sun. It was an interesting show, talllots of trapeze acts and hanging rope acts. One girl inside of a rolling wheel was pretty cool. All those type of act were impressive on their strength and body control. As a students of the MA prehaps I looked at things a little different than some of the others in as much as knowing what type of training and effort the artists had to put into their pieces. Oh the contortionists were pretty impressive.

The band played one song at the end of the show , the closer. Lady Zen thought it allbass interesting it was some thing very different for her.

In between the shows, we took off for Japantown. There we had lunch, did some grocery shopping and I took her to the Bart for hte trip hoe while I went back for the second show.

The evening show was mostly the same with a couple of variations. The band 3stacksince we had no rehersal, sounded much better for the second show. The bummer… after the closing song, we’re warmed up and the show is over 😦

Just when we were getting into a groove. C’est La Vie.


enterIt was a bloody circus getting to the show today. The Bay to Breakers race was being held. Fo r those not from Cal do a Google on Bay to Breakers. Basicly it is a S.F. specticule hinden as a race. People run in costumes, naked or half naked, etc. Anyway streets were block, traffic was bad, people were everywhere. However I made it to the show with 15 min to spare before doors opened. Today I brought the good camera so I was able to get the shots that are shown. Again same show as the other days, with just one act different, I guess therope-1.gif whole thing could be called a acrobat circus, most of the acts were some kind of acrobat but for the contortionist.

swing 1Today show went well, pretty fast, again the band got the groove at the end. Everyone liked the live music. So all went well for the shows, I got a envelope at the end, saying it was a little band-aid for bridge tolls. It turned out to be more than just tolls , it was all most my pay for the Sat I missed at work, sweet. The good Karma came back.

hanging 1

hanging II






I came across The Concord Express band members today on my way to the show. They wanted to know when I was going to do the songs I gave them, that I would sing… also said they were going to switch to Jazz and not just blues. Hmmm I thought. Well it was one of several things I thought which I will not post, , heheheh, but…I said, I’m free next Sunday for rehersal…this should be interesting…


Ahhhh Friday

18 05 2007

It seems to me I remember something about a gift that you have to sacrifice forminitree means more than something that is easy. Say Bill Gates gives $100.00 to a homeless guy it is not big deal, nice thought, a big deal to the homeless person, but nothing really for Bill. Hmm does that make it any less important to the receiver. I think not. But if I give 100.00 to the same homeless, it is a big deal to both of us. So maybe the real value is in the double gift, the one of giving through suffering and receiving to ease suffering. I recall something from the church about giving until it hurts…

I was asked by the clowns to be in a show this weekend, somewhat like a charity (what does somewhat mean), I’m only doing one number with the band. However it involves giving up a whole day and part of the evening Sat & Sun and missing a day of work. When I agreed I did not think it was going to be this complex (or costly) that was sprung on me afterwards….och! heheheh

A man only has his word of value in life, once given… it is to be lived up to, too many say things these days they do not follow up on, drives me nuts!! So I’m in. Open mind, open heart. In Yoga they call it Karma Yoga, In Zen Buddhism there is another word, meaning the same. Whatever no matter what it is called, names are meaningless in the big picture and just give a point of reference.

It will be something different to do and give good Chi to the cause. Lady Z will go with me on Sat. We’ll eat in the city and take some pictures, I’ll get to Jam, so its all good, a win win. I’ll use the time in between to study for my Navigation test retake ( See zensekai2 1 of 5 )

So how is the new job…
ok, the commute still sucks, but I’ve accepted that it is, what it is. The wind blows and sometimes it blows dust that gets in your eye. You watch your step and keep moving…

The owners are nice. It is a job and I’m thankful to have one. I need to raise my Flash web skills that is where the market is these days. However… I have mySpace at the work place setup comfortable, and a front door key so I do not have to wait outside now for someone to show up and (yeah baby) the new MacPro is in, I’m learning some new things, and there is a paid holiday is coming soon. Nice!