Friday Fu – aug

31 08 2008

I was tired and still a bit shore in the arms from doing some boat stuff a few day ago. We also had some rare visitors from out of town stop by that day. Yet I did not even consider not going to class with Shifu that night. The Tourny was last month but before that I had missed 3 months of going due to teaching some sailing classes. So I was going.

This was one of those night where I had not planned on doing anything but practice. Even though I can stay home an practice, it more motivating to practice at the school. I an also seeking help if there is something I forget.

I arrived shortly after class had started. There were a few students there already there including a couple of my Shixongs ( Sihings). One from San Francisco and from one Campbell, who does not always make it to the Friday night sessions. It is always nice to come to class and everyone says Hi Sihing with a bow, that always feels like welcome home. So much different form the Kyudo school were only a couple speak. On the other hand I have been part of the Kung Family for many moons and we have much training history.

After the greetings I settled into a corner in the parking lot to practice. First Tai Chi Palm, Shigong, Tai Chi form. That is always a good warmup and gets the chi flowing.

Next mantis staff. I went through that several times as I was getting a bit stuck in a couple of part. I recalled them but it was not as smooth as I wanted. I did not notice it at the time, but the next day my shoulder sockets were quite sore from that practice.

Next on my agenda was Tai Chi Jian. A bit backward in the line up because normally Tai Chi sword would be done before and external form like staff but that was the way I wanted to roll that night. So I drilled the sword several times. There was something that was not right in a couple of parts but I was not sure. My Shixong from SF was outsode now with another student , maybe his. HE was the one who showed me the Sword set and came over to give me correction. Nice! Afterwards he give me a few fine detail adjustments. That was perfect, just what I needed.

Next up I wanted to work on my hand set. My favorite Mantis form Lan jie. It had been while since I wen tthrough that so I was really rusty. Again Shixong came to my rescue. is was a bit different from what I learned, not in major point in a few minor more subtle moves and extra small technique. Rather than try to relearn the whole things, I just worked on about half. Next month I hit him up for the rest. Many of Shigong forms have two versions. With small differences. He taught for many year in Viet Nam when he was younger, then for many years in Hong Kong when he was older. Some of the flavors changed from one eras to the other. The refinement is different in some cases, maybe a few extra moves added, like in the case of Lan jie. Which I think make it much cooler.

After a few round so practice with that, I watched Shifu go over “small door” a two man drill with a couple of students. I asked about the kicks that were done when the Walnut creek school did it. He said that is the advanced form. But the kicks are nothing. I do not really see the point of having it as two forms and the kicks really change the flow of the drill, they are nothing special, just basic front kicks. I do not agree with the way it is setup, but I go along with it because that is the way they teach it in the seminar. It is nothing you need to be concerned with adding. Shixong from S.F. was there also and agreed. Shixong is my Elder brother in Mantis, but he is also my Uncle in Shaolin. He studied Northen Shaolin with Shifu under Wong Jac Man, Shigong ( the Bruce Lee fighter), so he is Eng Shifu’s classmate, but he also studied Mantis, but with another instructor who is the younger school mate of Eng Shifu.

Afterward I went in the office and chatted with my other Shixong from the Campbell school, Shifu’s son showed up a little while later. Shortly after that, we all gathered, in the workout area for a late meal and a talk about whatever. Sometimes we catch up on misc stuff, sometimes it is quiet. Tonight was a mix. Shifu usually gives me a shot of Cognac when I come down. It is one of the few hard liquors I’ll drink . Tonight he gave me a drink of some very smooth coqanc given to him from Raymond Wong Sisuk, of the LA school. He teaches Lost Track ( Myjong Law Horn) and TCPM . He was one of the founding partners of the Tai Mantis school in LA, with Shifu’s Kam Yuen,  & Paul Eng, back in the 60’s. He vanished somewhat for many years, then started teaching again.

It was a good evening. I left, content.

(videos from hong Kong)

Karmic Balance…

24 08 2008

Things have not been great, they could be much worse, but for real not great. I needed something positive to happen. To many negative events, on my birthday I messed up the transmission on the Boat, ugh!! I got some unpleasant remarks from some sailing students, flack from writing on my sailing blog about the school I work for, not to mention no replies to my resume’s, and other things which I will not go into.

Then the other day… there is a minor fender bender in the parking lot, our truck vs a neighbour’s car. great OMG! ok, I did not get upset, I figured, oh , well just another thing to deal with, life is like that, at least no one was hurt. Cars can be fixed. So off I go to work on the boat and tell LZ to just go relax, things happen.

I stop at a store on the way to the marina, to buy some grape juice. I needed a little pick-me up. There was a guy outside, he said, excuse me, I could use some help. So could I my man, I replied and went into the store. While there I thought, well, I can come in here to buy a drink, I’m blessed that I do not have to stand outside and beg. I’ll give him my change. I did so, he said thanks, begging is a drag. I smiled and said yeah.

I had been trying to correct the problem on the boat for a couple of days, with no luck. That day armed with some new information I set about trying again. Going slowing, with Zen patience I was able to correct the problem and get things reassembled. I was sooo glad. Yokata. I did not have to pull the motor to fix it, I did not have to buy or borrow a replacement motor to go to a sailing event I had planned on attending since last year, I did not have to spend money we could not afford to do the work, replacement, whatever. Yokata!!

I purchased a new (used ) bass guitar for my birthday present to myself. I had had my old one for some 15 ys plus. It was also hard to find strings for it because it was a special style of 5 string. I found a 6 String that I really liked at a really good price. Even though I was not with a band right now, I am writing a sound track and I’m sure at some point some music event will show up. Besides Japan is not that far off and I would like to take a good Axe ( Bass Guitar) with me. I had found on the internet a company that would buy my old BASS Guitar for half the price I was paying for my new one. So sweeeet I thought. This is a really good deal now, I got a good price buying the new one on Ebay. The company gave me a pre-paid shipping via UPS. I sent my old Bass to them. Several weeks had past I had heard nothing, the thought came, I been burned, ripped off by these folks, it could have been a scam… The same night as I fixed the boat, the payment check came…Yokata!!!

There is an older couple in our building that LZ had helped out from time to time, when they had a problem in their Apt. I see them and I speak to them in their native tongue Farsie ( Persian). Not a lot but a little. It shows respect and people feel more relaxed around one who can do that, more so a Black Man. I have taken their trash down to the dumpster when they have left it outside their door. These are the people, who car was damage. Who was at fault does not matter, but the woman went off ( got really upset) ( my Japanese readers my not understand some of the slang) when it happened.

Later that evening there is a knock on the door, it is the husband. He says, your wife has helped us many times, you always speak and are polite. Things happen, my son can fix the car, no problem, let us forget this, things happen. There is enough trouble in the world, you both have been good neighbours.

Yokata, Karmic balance…

…maybe this is good sign a job is coming!

Chisai koto…Oki koto

22 08 2008

It has been quiet around here. I have been posting more over on zensekai2 as I have had more involvement as of late with the sailing world. Working Part time teaching for a couple of sailing schools. Also struggling with getting my boat ready for a sailing event in Sept… but that is another story.

I have been doing some musical things. Besides picking up a new 6 string Bass for my Tanjoube, I have been working on doing a musical score for a audio play for a friend. It is interesting and different. Nice to have something musical to work on keeping in touch with that side of my spirit. With other condition of life so iffy…

One of the things we did a couple of weeks ago, which was written in the other blog was to go to a little town called port Richmond, while on the way to a Yacht club gathering. We walked around to kill some time, and came across a Asian Antique shop. A place we never would have thought there would be one. Sadly it had closed just 10 min. before we got there, so did not get to look inside. We did however look through the windows. LZ (lady Z) spotted a small silver incense holder and said sugoi kawaii ( very cute), Disuki ( I like it) .

We walked in next door and chatted with the shop owner of the this shop. A very nice Japanese-American Lady, another surprise. We looked around her shop before heading off to our club event. She also had some nice items and were very artistically arranged. In there were much larger items and I thought more expensive. If I was working, and we were not planning to move in the somewhat near future I would have given some thought to purchasing something.

LZ’s birthday was coming up the next week. She had said this one was free for me, since we are watching our spending, closely. However I wanted to get her something. The next week I drove back to the shop that was closed. This time there is a new sign in the window saying, open by appointment only from blah to blah dates. Doh!!! grrr. I spent 45 min driving over. BUMMER. I call the number on the door and get a answering machine. Grrrrrrr. drat! ok I take the email.

I get home and send off and email, asking about shipping the item, incense holder or picking it up. after a day or so I get a reply, someone would be glad to meet me, call this number to set a time.

Finally I got things set up and once again drove to the shop. I love antiques especially Asian ones, so I was delighted to get to walk around in the shop. As it turns out the owner was in Italy and the building owner who lived up stairs met me to open the shop.

I picked up the holder which turned out to be much more costly than we had guessed from looking through the window.(Besides the cost of gas twice over) However I purchased it anyway.

LZ’s birthday came and I gave her the gift, she was beyond delighted!! She also had no idea I got the holder and was not expecting it at all! She was smiles all evening and kept saying how much she loved it! Sumimasen! Sumimasen! Sugoi disuki!

So sometimes small things ( chisai koto) , can be huge! Yokata!

Zen in the city

8 08 2008

I received an email from my elder kyudo brother a few days ago. It was about the Asian Art Museum holding a lecture on Shaolin:

The Shaolin Fusion: Epitome of China’s Spiritual and Physical Culture?
With Andy Ferguson

This lecture will explore the fusion of China’s spiritual and physical culture in the Shaolin tradition. Bodhidharma is credited to be the father of both Chinese kong fu and Chan Buddhism. What are the historical facts behind Bodhidharma’s legend and why is Shaolin culture often described as the “epitome” of Chinese culture in China? What is the relationship between Shaolin Culture and Chinese art? What is the role of Shaolin Temple in Chinese society today? Also, has the essence of Shaolin culture been lost in the popularization of kong fu in the mass media and spurious modern adaptation?

he asked if I was interested. I said interested!!! I’m there!!!

Today I called for a reservation like the website said. I got the answering machine. I did this three times and left messages, three times. No return calls. I figured I’d go anyway maybe they have me at the door and are just to busy to call. I grab $10.00 in cash and head out. The entry fee was 12.00 for the museum and 5.00 for the lecture. hmmm at bit costly on my survival money rations, but I figured I would go and trust the force. Ok, I up grade my BART (train) fare ticket and end up with $4.75 in cash. I figured I could use my AMX to get in both at the door and the lecture.

I start to walk form the BART station once downtown in the City ( non-local that is San Fransico) I’m following the directions to get to the museum, but I;m walking and walking something feels not right, I turn around and back track. I follow the “Zen sense” I rarely go to the City but had an idea where to go. I cut a street , then another and BAM I’m there.

I go in the guard says, no pictures on the 1st floor, only the second and third, and you have to check your backpack, grrrr I think. I say my camera is in there this is my camera bag. You can take the camera he says , no bag. The bag check is free. sigh, ok

I go to buy my ticket and expect $12.00 , however it was only $5.00 since it was after 5:00 pm , NICE I think! The force is with me! I head over to the check in, no problem done. Next I go over to where the lecture is. I ask a woman behind a table. Where is this lecture going to be, pointing at the sign. She says, right here. I say cool. She then starts with a bunch of questions, How did you hear of this? What is your interest? I give her my run down, Kyudo friend, I study Zen, I teach Shaolin, blah blah. She says are you on the list. I say I’ve no idea, I called and called and called no answer no message!! She says hmm and checks . Nope! I go oh no, I came all this way. She then says well you can come back at 6:20 maybe there will be a seat not all the people show up. There are 45 seats and 50 some people on the list. I go ewww. She says maybe not all will come. I say should I pay now, can I pay with a credit card? Sorry she says, only cash. I go OHHH no, I used all my cash to get here on the BART. I dig in my pockets and count change that I got from the BART. I am 5 cents short. I say oh no!! She say, do not worry about that little bit if there is room . Another lady overhears and say if you only need 5 cents, here I’ll give you that. I say thank you and give a small bow. Now I have the money but not the seat. I say I’ll be back!…

I head into the museum to look at the exibits and take some pictures.

Nice items from Japan is the first place I end up at. Music instruments, paintings, ceramic, armuor, etc. Then some Buddhas. Next into the Chinese section, I’m snapping away then I notice my battery is way low. I think of Snap!! I did not charge up. I will need to be conservative with my shots.
I make the rounds on the second and third floor. Items from China, Japan, Korea, southeast Asian.

Time is up I head back to the lecture hall. I go up to the table I see someone else there a guy. Then I see the woman behind him standing and talking to some people. She sees me and says, Oh hi, your back, your in. Give him, this guy, your name and pay him then your in like flint. I say I loved that movie, thanks. The guys asks if I am on the list. I say no, another woman says just write him in. He says oh, ok I’ll do that. Then go to hand him the money he says you’ll have to wait to see if there is room. I think , huh the woman just said. But I did not. I just said ok, and stepped to the side. Thinking maybe I misunderstood the first woman. After a few moments the first woman come to me and says you can go in a grab a seat and holds the door open. I say I did not pay yet the guy would not take my money says I have to wait. She say just pay him then. she comes over to the guy and says, he is IN check him off and take his money! He is doing something but says ok, she say to me just put it there and opens the door again for me. I go in there is only about 5 people in there so far. I take a seat, second row, center, sweet. I could have had front row, but I thought it was too close to the screen. I’m thinking sweet! Just before the lecture starts in the next few minutes, the place fills up. there are no seats left. The Force was with me! It was a good lecture and interesting slides.

After the show, I run into the lady at the door she did the introduction to the speaker before the show and thanked everyone after the show. We were at the exit door at the same time. I gave her the Zen bow, and said thank you again. she returned it and said, hope to see you again.

It is nice when it all comes together. It has been awhile…

Mantis Season 08′ – Final Day

3 08 2008

Ahh Friday finally, good, not good. I’m feeling better this time more so than the others, even when I did weapons. It was nice getting some details .

It took us a good 1/2 of taking pictures before we started training. Once we did we went through the usual stuff. At one point Sibak just left us and went and talked with Sifu and Sisuk. We just drilled and drilled. Sisuk had one of his student lead, after she finished everyone just stood there. As a senior I had her lead the repeat over ans over then changed and drilled something else. After a while then Sibak came back. Now it got difficult. He had us go two by two and run through everything. He said if one makes a mistake, both have to start over. Ok, we had at it. I was only slightly concern about my mistake, but I was paired with my student who was still having problems. However we made it through. He cut us some slack after only one or two restarts. Next we did the two person partner drills, that was more difficult as it was by numbers. With a little couching we made it through. One group was there for a long time going over and over and over. Ours was not so bad. The final section we worked on some Chin Na. One technique Sibak demoed on me and just held it while talking, craimany I was in pain! WHeww I was glad when it released. He said , traps, graps, chin na things are a Mantis speciality, there was not enough time to show us too many.

After some power and endurance drills, we ended. It was a good seminar. Finally it was time to eat. we as alway had a lot I took home a small tray of food. There was PLENTY veggie stuff this time! Yummmmm

We presented the elders with Plaques as alway that I put together. Everyone was happy.It was nice that the San Jose school joined us this year and sad that others from Boston could not make it.

The turn out was smaller, but still enjoyable for all. It is like a big family reunion. Schools present were, San Jose, Walnut Creek, Campbell, Concord, Avon ( Boston)

Next year I will for go again not learning another weapon and just work on basics, applications and Chin Na. I have learned more forms than I will ever need, I want to concentrate on practical stuff now.

Mantis Season 08′ – Training day 4

1 08 2008

The weather was good today whilst I was out running errands. Traditional I do the appreciation certificate for the elder at the seminars. Today was no different I needed to find some frames. after that had been taken care of along with buying some nice paper to print it on, my out side errands were done for the day.

Around 4:00 pm I started my walk to the train station. Today my student was to pick me up at another station and we were trying another route to Campbell , Ca where Eng Shifu school is located. It was good choice, the traffic was much much better. So good in fact we arrived at the school 1 hour before the session was to start. I thought it was perfect. I picked a spot in the corner and sat in meditation for 15 min. Then did Tai Chi Palm , which is our Sigong’s developed Tai Chi and particular to our style. By the time I had finished that people were arriving so I went outside to practice Tai Chi Palm sword ( gim/jian). Ahh I was warmed up now and ready to practice the external stuff. A review of Kun Luk was in order. My memory for the order is better today not perfect, but much better. My student had asked me to go over the two person drill with her, so that was next on my plate. We went through it a bit, but as she did not remember well it was difficult. One of the younger students of Eng Shifu asked if he could review with us. I said yes. He remember one move I had missed. That was a big help. A bit after that point I practiced with him as my partner. That was really helpful, we could work on the whole drill and develop a rhythm. That help all the pieces click for me with my student it was not clicking because I had to help her. The kid I was working with, his brother came and he and my student went through it together. It was a good exchange. I helped them yesterday they helped me today.

The session officially started. Everyone bowed in and Sihing lead us through some warm ups, stretching, kicks, punches and stance drills before we spilt into two groups where Sibak, Sifu and Sisook took over our section. Sibak had us do some more punches and kick combinations, some of which were jumping, kick, combinations. Not the high flashy one like from Northern Shaolin but low Mantis kicks combinations. We had done some of those in the past workshops because we re a northern style, but not today, other than the kicks warmup kicks.

After a group review of Kun Luk we went back to Mantis. We really put time in on that today, demoing for Sibak in pairs and solo, until he felt we knew it. Myself and a couple of other students from Sisuk’s school already learned it before so we had a bit of advantage on the overall form. But Sibak was correcting us on detail, balance , footwork, angles, hand position. Nice! it was work but nice!

lastly on the the applications. First a review of the seven from yesterday. I did pretty well in remembering, There was only one which I had out of order. Which in reality did not matter, I recalled the technique. When using it there is no order. Then Sibak gave us the final three. Seems odd if thinking about off hand, for the length of the form there are only 10 application. However some of the parts in the form are pushes, and punches and basic strikes. The 10 application within the form give the heart of the Mantis.

1. Praying Mantis catching cicada & Single pressing palm

2. Grabbing-hand with face-striking palm

3. Under arm needle and leading the Goat

4. White Crane spreads its winds and elbow breaking strike

5. Left elbow pressing and hooking hand with waist chopping palm

6. Left split palm and Mantis hook waist strike

7. Outward block followed Mantis hook hand

8. Golden plate holding the moon and groin kick

9. A crane launch to the sky and double punch

10 Praying Mantis neck hooking claw and waist-chopping palm

It is nice for me to have some official name and techniques rather than just trying to figure them out. That also works, but this way one knows they work. One thing different about Seven Star and Tai Chi Mantis is Tai Mantis techniques sometimes have to be de-coded. They do not translate directly sometimes. Meaning from the form and the application there are a few hidden movements or modification that need to take place in order for the technique to work.

Phycially I am doing well. I ache a bit here and there, some of it maybe from age, being over 55, some of it just from the workout. My legs are less sore than I thought they would be from all the crouching and twist stances in the Mantis. My arms/shoulders ache a bit, and my back, but nothing enough to be of concern. Pain is always part of training and life. One learns to deal with it, these are minor discomforts. Sihing came in from working outside with the Horse Cutting group groaning a bit saying something about getting old. I laughed and said you do not even have any grey yet. He said oh, there are a few here and there. I replied not like mine. Another Sihing, who’s late father was 8th generation, laughed, and said you seem in good shape. Tell us your secret. I replied, being a vegetarian and kung fu.

Actually I did not give much thought to my condition. I did get a little stiff I noticed when I sat in zazen position during a long break. I figured that was normal, after a minute or so of stretching I was good to go again. I did not get too out of breath doing the drills and recovered fairly well. Sisuk surprised me by saying I was in good shape after he watch me do some drills at the end and said he was proud of me. One does not hear that often at my age. I hope to be in as good condition as Sisuk is when I am 65 like him and Sifu is at over 70 even with the way he smokes. I am unsure of Chiang Sibaks age , at least around Sifu;s age but is also in great shape, and limber, his kicks get up there. These are good people to have as a model for senior age, as I see the beginning of the path