The Training Path – Shisuk

29 02 2008

spring flowersI went by to visit Shi-suk at the W.C. school last night. He told me to come by and get some practice in. I was suppose to get there near closing . So it was somewhat late when I left my place, about 8:30 It took will power for me to get going. I was ready to call it an evening and take a bath. However I made my self “Ganbatte” and go. We were I expected going to work on Chen Tai Chi, so I was not seeing a intense Mantis workout.

When I arrived he had me go through the whole set with one of his senior students. I had not seen her in awhile, He had improved 100% from the days when we practiced and went to tournaments and demo’s together. All those private session with Shisuk and a lot of practice paid off. She will be a good heir to Shi-suks, Tai Chi line one day. However she does needs to understand more about”fighting” part of it not just how to move, to be complete.

I went through the set with her, from time to time Shi-suk would check me out. I did not feel I was doing well and was expecting to hear about it. I had not been putting the time in with my Chen studies. More on Our Shigung’s Ta Chi Palm and Yang 24. I enjoy Chen alot. It does take some will power to practice it though with everything else going on. With my new training program I’ll doing it more often, not everyday but more often.

When the WC class let out Shi-suk came and went through the Chen with me up to Single Whip. He had alway said that the rest of the form is easy if you get up to here correct. We repeated a few time up to the same sot. Then he had me just go over the opening over and over. Correcting , my stance, balance, arms and points of awareness. He had me go into position then said , you cannot do push hands like this, you will lose and gave me the smallest of pushes and I right away lost my balance. He had me push him hard as a could from the stance. I could not move him. Different stance, not a budge. Then some from a shifting stance, like push hands. I tried to unbalance him trying to blend in with his movement to a weak spot, nothing…

He said, you & I do not need more forms, or movements at this stage. The important part now is working on the details. Practice this!

After our little session we, spoke on other matters. Shi-suk is my mentor. He give me advice and some guidance as if I was his blood nephew. We spoke of my need , in his eyes to purchase a Canon camera, not a Nikon that I am using to do some working and training with his Photography & Wedding studio. He says I should take advantage of the free training I can get from working with his shops’ Photographer. This he says, is a skill you have already, why not develop it more? I is something you can use in Japan. Even if you do not do weddings. He is right. I had some thought on doing some photography there. Boats, Pets, Inland sea, the trip there. Things that if done well, I could sell.

We also spoke of developing/updating his companies website more and what type of Computer should he purchase. He says, with the move to this new location he has lost 60% of his Tailor business. In a way we are in the same place, he says, restarting. Life is training, and starting over.

Morning…on the road
Pink, white, purple and green

Colors against a foggy sky

Flowers herald spring…

Earth is starting over

As do I


29 02 2008

zenbeach III was watching a movie the other week about this guy in Japan who meet a girl on a train and he asked his on-line community how to go about dating her. It was a cute and funny film. It made me think on how things are on-line and the relationships that do come about.

I have seen or heard of a couple of sites during my blog-life where the writer passed away. I think most of the time it was an accident or something.

I went by someone site I have known via the blog world for a while. I visited him first because of his photography of Japan. He had lived there for a while, loved it and had some great shots. Needless to say he was also into Photography and did some nice work. He also was involved in Marital Arts training, was from Philly, my hometown and studied Zen. So his site was on my visit somewhat regular list. He played the 7 things game as part of my invite.

M, also had a health problem, a rare cancer that was killing him slowly. He spoke on his blog of his life and challenges and successes. He has now gone back to the source of us all. It is thought provoking to read someones last days blog.

Rest In Peace bud. His blog here
Lotus Chan

1 Earth Cycle reflections

26 02 2008

LotusLooking back on things from my blog last year, I also see it has been over a year ago that I started with Heart Chan. So much has changed in the past year, yet in some ways I’m full circle to where I was a year ago. So I question myself on what needs to be changed, what was a good thing. What needs to go, with the new year it is good to clean out one’s house…and mind. Keeping what is needed & used.

I reflect on my Ch’an practice. I am still at it so that means a lot. I am now doing it twice a day for the last 5 months rather than just once daily. I enjoy the space I find when in Zuò Chán ( Zazen). I have found points of merger between the Yin of stillness and the Yang of Motion which can be passed to my Shaolin Students. I can explain the need for both in a balanced training and have included basic meditation as part of the standard warm ups along with Chi Gong. Awake the Body, awake the mind. This was my reason for seeking this out, to make that connection between them, and to understand the basics of how that worked, that was the knowledge I sought. That was the enlightenment I wanted. Although I have just peeped through the door of the training hall, and eaten the crumbs from the table of knowledge I am pleased at where I am. I am grateful to have found the table, & for the crumbs.

Gratitude… there are side-effects to the Ch’an practice. Because it is not just about sitting and going beyond the aches and pains of sitting and relating that to everyday life and going beyond to see joy. As Kung Fu is not just about punches and kicks. Ch’an is not just about sitting, it is also about compassion and gratitude, how you live your life. It is about examining other parts of your life and understanding, all other life touches all parts of your life, you are other life and it is you. We are interdependent. We are the world, the universe, all that was, is or will be. In treating other forms of life with compassion and gratitude, we treat ourselves to it. What we do to our Oceans, Lands, & Air, we do to ourselves and our children’s children. That is the reality of no-duality. This is our spiritual connection to all, our responsibility to ourselves, to care for other life.

Shaolin is Love, A Kung Fu brother once said that to me …Shaolin is about Love, hmmm. I thought about that for a long time. Until I understood more of the Ch’an Heart I did not understand. Our Motion Ch’an is another form of meditation, rather than the distraction of cramps in the leg or that itch, we have the complexity of movement, to connect with yet stay detached, remaining calm, centered, mindful. Connected but not attached. The same as washing dishes, walking down the street, driving a car, sailing a boat, defending your home, family, friends. Ch’an is not just about sitting and meditating. It is about living fully in each moment, compassionately in harmony with your environment. No mater if it is in perceived good or in a bad way, cycle, day. At the Heart of the Shaolin Practice lies, Ch’an ….

The Heart of Ch’an is Love.

A pretty good group of lessons for a year. Now that I can crawl it should even more interesting…

Back to Training…

22 02 2008


It was a rainy evening as I headed out to the WC , Shaolin Tai Chi Mantis Studio

It has been a long time since I’ve seen Sisuk. Not since before the holidays. I went by his school last night to catch up on things. He was happy to see me. We lightly chated for a bit while his class was still in session. It is always good to see him teach. It is a lesson for me when he points out small things to his students. Also seeing them drill gives me ideas. His students are much more hard core than mine, so I need to adapt some things. There are a couple of my students that would hold up under such training. The others…

Anyway it was good to hear his comments about, the why’s of what they do stuff, balance in their stances, two directional punches. Good stuff, good to hear re-enforcements on what I show , good to get new things.

After the class dismissed. Then we spoke on deeper issues. He was not pleased that I had to go seeking another job. He hadtemple gounds a couple of ideas out of my field…but that is maybe the way to go to get some stability. He also spoke of some of the things he is dealing with in his life. As I am not his student but a “nephew” he can speak with me of things he would not say to his students. It is interesting to me the role I take on when I am around him or Shifu. I am just another upcoming student. Even though I have some “rank”, to them it is nothing, I am still a “grasshopper” I always feel humble in their presence, like I am a teenager just getting my feet wet in life.
A s usual beside person stuff and work we spoke of Kung Fu, or Federation, & training. He is still considering and working on bring the Chen system he studies into this country full on. To him this is a big deal, a major comment of some type. Which I have not fully grasp yet. I know it has something to do with him being a deciple of this Chen clan.

He told me I needed to practice more ( as always), this is not the time to back off. Even though busy with life and getting older with the tendency to slow down. I needed to stay on it. More so with my re-location plans. So this leads to that, and I am told to show him, X,Y,Z, gulp. Not ready for a demo, was I , but I rallied and did a bit of a drill he had given me.  One cannot say no. I was told the corrections I needed and reminded this needed to be done daily at least 30 min.

If I followed everything he said about what I needed to do daily for 30 min. I would be up at 4:30 everyday practicing until 7:30 and rushing out the door to work. or get up at 3:30 so I could do Zazen and have breakfast after the a.m. training. If I want to be “a master”…I have no care to be one, to “master” it is another story.

temple gounds 2Life is more complex than in the old days living in a temple…

I will go see my Shifu next week, it is time for the monthly training. I have been unable to attend since Nov. I need to review my Gim Sword badly. I will put in some practice time this week, so not to lose too much face. Even through Shixong with working with on on this sword set. I still need to step up my game.  Summer Mantis Events are coming. Back to Training.

Kyudo, Life in a small space…

21 02 2008

su KyudoI have had several revelations over the last few days. one has to do with the Connection of Shaolin, Ch’an and Sailing. I have spoken of this a bit on my sailing blog before. The other is a small thing, but is clear and has to do with Kyudo and life. The “Zen” of it…

I recall thinking before about how unnatural the positions in doing Kyudo are as compaired to Kung Fu movements which are built around how the body naturally moves. There is nothing natural feeling about Kyudo form. Maybe that is because I have not been doing it long enough. Hmm However something that feels natural, is natural, it is that way from the beginning, not having to train in it for a long time before it “feels” natural so delete that, “not in it long enough thought”.

Once I said, the test of Kyudo is going through these positions and remaining relaxed is part of the main challenge with Kyudo. That is where the “Zen” starts to come in to play. Well a deeper view to that is, one must go through these “forms” “positions ” to shoot this arrow at a target, without being attached to the actions, the results, or arrow. Yet, focused on doing the whole things to our best ability. Which includes hitting the target. One’s spirit must be there focus, yet detached. The form of shooting is important, the flow of shooting is important, the hitting of the target IS important but not the main point. To do each shot perfect, without, losing the flow, the form, spirit. Not just once, but again and again and again and again…

This develops the warrior.

Each shot is different, yet the same.

“Kyudo demands that we let go of our goals and expectations and live fully in the moment. Through meticulous attention to detail, all aspects of the Kyudo form and movements provide a subtle mirror of the self as well as an opportunity for deep study. ”

This is the point.

Life: everyday we need to get up, go through our “form/ positions” perfectly, yet remain detached. Go to our job (or look for one), maintain perfect form, do our job, ( load the arrow and shoot) without, losing the flow, the form, spirit. Not just once, but again and again and again and again…

No matter hitting the target or NOT!

Holding that mindful state of “Zen”, without fighting to hold it. Holding it, Connected, without being attached to it.

Shoot for the target, without being attached to hitting it. Each shot, each day, each arrow, each office, each job, each relationship, each wave, is different, yet has some sameness to it, even if it is just our attitude towards doing it fully mindful. We need to do whatever it is we are doing, with our best effort. No matter the outcome. All of that, yet, go beyond any discomfort of the “form” . Pain from the arms, legs, back, heartbreak, loss of income, relationship breakup, any of the multitude of things that come up in life and in the mind when sitting meditation. We need to stay in touch with the Tao that is beyond, touch, words, forms. Yet function in a place that is just the opposite. Stay in touch with the real, yet function in an illusion.

Everyday is Practice, Everyday is Zen, Everything is Practice, Everything is Zen, Everything is Kyudo.

Life is Change…resistance is futile

21 02 2008

waveI am very thankful to have 4 more weeks of work before having to deal with EDD and life’s extreme cut backs again.

I am also very very thankful my family from Japan all got to visit us without, having the shadow of no job over our heads. I only slightly regret picking up the 300.00 dinner tab. That will work out in the big picture. From a Zen view, the money was only temporary and being fully in that moment it was the thing to do and it was pleasing.

In some ways this is easier than before looking forward from here last year. Perhaps because we just went through it, or it is just beginning. The big uncertainly in this is, will I get the Max amount for EDD? or how much? Since I made far less money in the last few cycles, than last year. It is good that I have some sailing teaching jobs upcoming in April. Also Sisuk has a lot of thing for me to do and I have not seen him since before the holidays. We’ve postponed a couple of meetings since, now both back from our travels. Too bad he can not afford me full time. I’m going to go with the ” Zen sense” that does not “feel” like it will be that long before, I’m too busy again. I will make a point to enjoy this time more than last. Perhaps my practicing is kicking in more now. I’m going to go ahead an still plan for the retreats this spring. The teaching monies will pay for it. God will put me there if I need to be. Somethings you just need to do for your spirit.

The hardest thing right now is coming to work everyday and still staying focused on doing something constructive, work related. I got my cleanup before relocation assignments today. Simple stuff, need to stretch it into 4 weeks. That will be a task.

I told Lady Z last night, she took it well. Disappointed of course, but calmer than I thought she would be about it. Maybe it is her “Zen” training kicking in. I feel better now that she knows what’s up also. She also felt it was pretty lame of the owner, how things were done, but I feel it could have been alot worse. Like a day or two notice, not a month. I do feel ok with that.
I still do not feel focused yet. Kind of like that half wake state after a long nap.

Part of me says, if you do the same thing ( look for just a job/income), high chance of the same results. Do something different, but what is the question. What do I want diminish in order to gain…what? My life is pretty simple and fine, other than being ready to move to Japan and needed to prepare, save, train, study, practice, save, Study, did I say save 🙂


There is the long range Nihon plans, but that will take time to reach that point of readiness and I need money to do that. I just want to find a decent job for 4-5 yrs. Four years at GOOD, Fun, satisfying, low commute, fair pay job would be great! It could happen…

Maybe Obama will be president…who would have thought 20 yrs ago, he could have gotten this far. Makes me think there is Hope for this country… it could happen…

I digress…

For now it is back to training for the next mission…back to basics, sleep, PRACTICE, re-center, sail (which is under practice), be open to the Tao let it run it’s course. The “Force” will put me where I need to be. In sailing terms it is called “Heaving To” in the storm, and as others storms on the sea, this too will pass…

Life is Change… Resistance is futile!

Year of the Rat

18 02 2008


The “Rat” is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac.

Legend has it that the Jade Emperor invited the animals for a party. The first 12 to arrive was the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and lastly, the Pig. All the animals were named after the 12-year cycle that governs Chinese life thereafter.

Various versions of the Rat’s story are particularly revealing about his character.

One version has it that, towards the end of the journey, the animals had to cross a celestial river, and the Rat asked the Ox to ferry him across. When they arrived on the other side, the Rat jumped down off the Ox’s head and that’s how gained first spot in the order of the Chinese zodiac.

Those born in the “Year of the Rat” are clever, ambitious, creative, hard-working, fastidious, charming and sociable, but can be a bit stingy when it comes to sharing their wealth or possessions.

Rats are compatible with Dragons, Monkeys and Oxen, but should avoid Horses at all costs.

In the “Year of the Rat”, we can expect 12 months of plentiful opportunities and prospects not to mention being relatively free of turbulence, (which is great to know especially if you’re planning on making some long-term investments, starting new projects, or keeping the home fires burning brightly).

It’s also a rather fine time to socialise and grab a sumptuous meal or two with friends and family!



The Chinese calendar, commonly known as the Farmers’ Calendar, or the Hsia Calendar, is a fascinatingly accurate system, which not only records the passage of time, but is also a tool for fortune-telling. The famous traditional fortune-telling system – The Four Pillars of Destiny – is exactly referring to reading a person’s destiny from his birth data as presented in the Hsia calendar format. The unique feature of such calendar is that all information about time – year, month, day and hour are presented in terms of the five basic elements – metal, water, wood, fire and earth, which are believed to be the basic components of everything in the Universe. The relationship between the five elements accurately helps one predict what is to come by way of one’s fortunes and thus, one can by using this knowledge, multiply the good luck or minimize the bad luck in one’s life.The Year of the Rat, 2008, in the Hsia calendar, is symbolized by two elements – with earth sitting on top of water. According to the cycle of birth and destruction, which governs the inter-relationship between the elements, earth is the conqueror of water. . Therefore, earth sitting on water is a symbol of control. But the water of the Rat year is very strong and the earth floating on top of water has no foundation and cannot control the ocean of water. As such, instead of conquering water, it is more like confrontation between earth and water elements. The Earth on top is Yang earth which symbolizes a mountain, and mountain gives sense of stability and firmness. But such floating earth in the ocean is weak in foundation and the stability appears to be fragile. This elemental relationship will bring a year which apparently is more stable but there are a lot of underlying tensions and confrontations.

The Chinese calendar year goes on 60-year cycle. This means that we have experienced the same year of yang earth on rat in 1948. This was a year when the confrontation between USSR and the west intensified with the Blockade of Berlin started and the formation of the Western Union by the Brussels Treaty to confront the threat of USSR; this is the predecessor to NATO. In May this year, the State of Israel was established and also the confrontation between Israel and Arabian countries began leading to the Arab-Israel war. .

The Chinese character for “Yang Earth” represents a big mountain. . It is associated with the quality of a firm and steady person. People born in a day of “Yang Earth” .is often calm and steady and faithful, practical and “down to earth”. . Some examples of famous earth people born on a “Yang Earth” day are Hillary Clinton, Danzel Washington, David Beckham, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Michael Jackson, Dick Cheney, Eric Clapton and Ben Affleck .

The Rat belongs to the strongest water element and it is the first of the 12 animal signs. So it also represents the beginning of a new 12 years cycle. As such, the Rat year can bring a new beginning of international relationships and social order; this could bring new regimes with new government in some countries. Indeed, there will be many major elections happening between 2007 and 2008 with change of leadership in many countries including U.S.A., United Kingdom, Russia, France, Taiwan…..The rat is also considered as a “Flower of Romance”. So years of the rat will stimulate more romance and sex scandals. The Rat is in clash relationship against the Horse. . This is a clash between water and fire elements and will often bring accidents related to both fire and water, air and the sea. The Rat is the most powerful ocean water and it will bring heavy flooding or even tsunami disaster. The most famous water disasters in history, such as the South Asia tsunami on 26/12/2004 and the sinking of the Titanic on 14/4/1912, both incidents happened on a date with prominent appearance of the Rat. Looking at past history, in 1228 a year of Earth Rat, there is big flood in Holland killing 100,000 people, and in 1588 another year of Earth Rat, the Spanish Armada encountered storm in Ireland and 5000 people died in this heavy storm. In 1888, year of Earth Rat, there is “Great Blizzard” in the east coast of the USA and 400 people died. The clash between fire and water will also bring accidents related to fire and the airline business is in the category of fire element. As such, it is observed that the year of the Rat seems to experience more air disasters. A typical year with many aviation disasters is the previous Rat year in 1996. During this year, there are over 20 major airplane crashes including the U.S. TWA Boeing 747 crashed in July, 1996 killing 230. Looking at the immediate last Earth Rat year in 1948, there were also quite a numbers of airplane crashes including the hijack of a Cathy Pacific airplane in June, 1948. ( could this be the Joy in the sadness? I hate flying)