Haru Hime and other acts of kindness

27 04 2009

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In a world of everyone ( well many)  are out for themselves, it is more common to run across jerks, the rude, the self-centered, those with big ego and the corrupt. Our current state of the economy and housing market attests to that sad fact.  I am always amazed and pleased to find people out of the norm who do something just out of kindness. Even more so when it is directed at me…That is mind blowing as us ole Hippies used to say.

I felt the ( Sunday, yesterday) was going to be a good day. I said so on Twitter, I did not know just how good, so much that I would be moved almost to tears…yeah that serious. Not tears like Boo hoo, tears like Miss America , OMG I can not believe it I’m so happy…

It started out as pretty much as any day it was however cold. I discovered a few things early in the morning. 1. I had new neighbors, 2. They liked, Persian ( Iranian ) type music, 3. They liked it loud. Oh well I thought perhaps they are just enjoying the new day of move in and they will be more considerate later, or perhaps they just do not know how loud it is. I went on with my day, making a note to self, to be sure to get up early to do my morning meditation in the future, even on the weekends.
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Part of my morning was spent watching some egrets in the marsh hoping to get a good shot of them taking off. It was unusual to have 6 of them all in one spot. They remind me of Japanese cranes. So I waited, and watered my plants, and waited, admired my Japanese maple, and waited. I got a couple of shots but nothing off the hook great. Some times it goes like that. Just like the trip can be about the Journey, the moment can be about the wait. Or since this is a Kyudo post, the shot is about the form not hitting the target (so much at least). I once read a good book by a Zen priest photographer, who said much the same thing about Photography and waiting for the shot to show it’s self…I digress

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My big thing for the day was a trip over to Raccoon Crap Dojo to do some Kyudo practice with the guys. I do not hang with many guys and do sport type stuff and those I find I relate to are usually weird like me, Musicians or Martial Artist, artist the like.  The RSD group are a nice couple of guys, besides being my Onisans. I was out last month and keeping to my new plan of going at least once a month, it was now time. I missed last Friday do to some volunteer work I promised to the Lake Merritt boat show booth, so this time it was on for sure. My first time going out during the day, so that was something new as well.

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The guys had put in a new floor so I was looking forward to seeing that. When I saw it I was amazed at the difference it made. It gave the place a whole new feel, much more official, we could even where our Gi’s now. It was a nice job. I was told some else was to join us. Then the big surprise was dropped. My Onisans had gotten together and had me a Yumi made. I was beyond shocked, pleased and honored. I really was moved, I did feel my eyes get misty I was so surprised. I had been wanted my own Yumi for quite some time. Having one’s own Yumi is like having one’s on sword in Kung Fu. You are not serious training until you have your own weapon to connect with. Beside the fact this was not just another Yumi this was balanced and colored perfect. It was also made by someone who learned from the Bow Maker of the Emperor of Nihon and one made after years of doing his trade.  I was beyond touched.

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Now as cool as all this was, there were other surprises in store for the day as in the opportunity to attend this year Kyudo/Zen retreat at the Sonoma Mtn Zen center. That is where I went last year fro the 4 days retreat and baked on the mountain top in the record heat. I had not expected to attend this year. But the door was opened all I had to do was walk in…

But wait there still more. Oniisan says there is someone else coming today. This person turns out to be someone familiar with the style done in the All Nippon Kyudo Federation (ANKF). He was a student of the man I went Sunnyvale to study with one Sunday, but could not go back, because of the distance and lack of owning a Yumi. He also knew another instructor I thought was a jerk and I felt vindicated when he said he also, with out me voicing it first.

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Anyway,this guy spent the day with us and started showing us the “Imperial style” of shooting which is what they do in the All Nippon Kyudo Federation (ANKF). Our current style is based on the Warrior style. He offered to teach me the ANKF way. Which means at some point I could in fact test for some rank within the Federation and be accepted as knowing what I am doing in Nihon when I go back…Say it with me… Very Cool! … Desho!

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Ok, the shooting Sunday, was different in that we did the ceremonial style shooting as a group. both Kneeling and standing. The kneeing was painful and took some will power I really had to “Ganbaru” a few times. However the mental “sense” of it was more intense it really felt like coming out of meditation when the shots where done and we bowed out. As painful as it was I liked it. I’ll need to practice that more, more knee time. Ok, so I’ll need to really make the effort and get to the RSD twice a month and also study my book to get these terms down so I can test at some point…Yosh!

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Oh yeah, So what is Haru Hime…

My Oniisans have names for their Yumi’s, Darth Vader, Anakin, Big Bertha ( or something like that). I was thinking at first…Takezo, or Kansuke, but the Yumi said  “dude no” baka wa anata desu, …it liked Haru-Hime. “Spring Princess”

“Kyudo is meditation. The main point of kyudo practice is to polish your heart, deeply. When someone hits the target, you can sometimes see happiness. In kyudo, you cut this happiness. That’s merely the enjoyment of ego. Whether you hit the target or not, whether you have a beautiful form or not, is not the true measure of your practice. In kendo, karate, judo, all these forms of fighting training, victory comes from cutting someone else. Kyudo is completely different. You cut yourself, your own ego. In this way, we can begin to create a peaceful world. We can make a big international WA, a circle of peace the whole world over. That is victory!” — Kanjuro Shibata XX, Sensei





Friday Fu with Shifu…April 09

25 04 2009

It was a cold windy day. I had spent part of it working on the Chuk Kai Tai Chi Praying Mantis Federation website, adding last years tounry pix, part of it napping trying to get my bio rhythm back to normal after working the all nighter on Tues. I was not really into making the trip to Campbell,  but with a lot of will power I did. I did not want to miss training on Hsing Yi with Art Sihing.  However as thing go, that did not happen.

Friday Kung Fu is a gathering of Eng Shifu’s advance students and other seniors from the Tai Chi Praying Mantis System for training and sharing at Eng Shifu’s school. Afterward we have a meal and talk of misc topics.

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There was the pleasant surprise this Friday of Art Sihing’s Sifu visiting. William Fong Sisuk does not come out much and it is always good to see him. He was visiting Eng Shifu tonight having came down with Art Sihing ( Sihing and Shixong are terms for elder brother in Cantonese and Mandarin, sometimes I switch and mix, my bad).  Shifu is an older student of the late Grand Master, but he has a lot of respect for William Fong, who is considered the youngest of the 8th generation Masters from Sigung’s school. I first heard of him from a write up in an old Inside Kung Fu magazine edition. There was an article on him and Tai Chi Praying Mantis. Later when I moved to the northern Ca I tried to locate him to do an interview, but could not find him teaching anywhere. Later as I became more involved with the Federation I was able to meet him via Eng Shifu and Art Shixong. Since then I have had several meetings and talks with him.

When I arrived at Sifu’s I ended up sitting next to Fong Sisuk and we got to chat for a while. He asked what I was up to these days. I told him about visiting Aikido, and Wing Chun classes as well as teaching soon at the Jujitsu school. We spoke about Wing Chun, Jujitsu and Aikido the similar aspects of them and our Mantis. He had some back ground in Wing Chun so was very familiar with it. It said Jujitsu was very similar to our mantis because we have so many locks and controls with in the style as does Jujitsu. He felt Wing Chun is a good art but not one for people just beginning Kung Fu. He felt it was a specialty art of higher level than most beginners could understand. Like our Mantis, we have new comers start in the basics of Shaolin and Jing Mo training before doing Praying Mantis.

It was not a long talk but interesting. He also spoke about the history of Wing Chun and why there are no high kicks. Not because it is a southern art with a history of not using kicks but, because it was developed by a woman and it was not “col” for them to open their legs wide like that for high kicks. We also spoke on the tradition of Northern Legs and Southern Fists and the famous fighter who was taller than many southern Chinese and use hidden kicks. Which to the southern Chinese were not common, also he dressed in traditional long robes which also hid his leg movements. You did not know about the kick until after you had been hit.

After short while we and several of the others, my seniors went out the the training hall to work on the Wooden Dummy.

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Sigong has a wooden dummy set in our system. Fong Sisuk say it was developed with Sigong and Sigung’s brother who was a Wing Chun player. Neither style use the wooden dummy to develop power , it is not used to hit hard as in to train the forearms, but to learn how to flow from one technique to another. Our uses more locks, traps and controls, with a lot of footwork, hops and jumps. Our power comes from spiraling action not from body pushing direct line punches. Fong Sisuk said that our style like the insect is not about power overcoming might it is about skill. It is skill that enables the Mantis to kill larger prey.

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Wing Chun is similar from being developed by a female with less muscle mass than a man, it is about skill and technique not size and power. It was amazing to watching Fong Sisuk demo the form, he was all over the Dummy locks traps, hooks, kicks, hopping , angles, elbow and shoulder strikes. He said it had been 30 years since he worked on the Dummy but watching him one would never guess. He said it was all body memory.

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One of the cool techniques he demo’d from the Wooden Dummy practice , beside the seizing which he demo’d on me, ouch!! were the hidden punches. Which were delivered under a blocking or trapped arm, where one could not see the punch to defend. Not only was it a surprise, it was fast. I felt two fast punches  on my ribs when only expecting my arm to be locked… sugoi!

When Shifu said it was time to eat, we adjourned to his office (usually we eat in the training hall) as there were only a few of us tonight. Fong Sisuk told us stories of Sigung’s past and training methods in such things as iron body and how he ( Sigong ) came to study Mantis. Which was because a Bandit who was a Mantis Player almost killed him, such was his skill, even though Sigong had spent his youth as a Shaolin monk.  He as said there are many things of Sigung’s that are lost now because he did not get to teach them, such as horse back archery and his medicine skills. Sigung worked as a security guard on horseback after he left Shaolin. He did not do Kung Fu for fun and to have a lot of trophies to get students. His art was refined in real life and death encounters. His trophy was to come home alive.

I did not get the review lesson in Hsing Yi I planned on for the evening, but I did get more than I planned on. As usual it was a worth while trip to Shifu’s for Friday Fu





World Tai Chi/ Chi Gong day …09

25 04 2009

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World Tai Chi/ Chi Gong day

Today is WTCCG day as I do not have much of a following I did not bother gathering my  children for a group public practice today. Instead I did my own bit to cultivate chi,  add it to the world for peace ( another thought for WTCCG) and expose Tai Chi to the public .

As usual I did my morning Yoga and Meditation, today I went outside to the sanctuary and did Yang 24 and some Chi Gong and motion Chan, whilst overlooking the bay.  It was very peaceful, no-one came on the platform whilst I was there although there were lots of passer bys. deck-11

From there I decided to take a short walk down to the other platform. As I entered the gateway to the path I bowed to the Ojizo-san and started on the path. After about 20 steps I found $5.00 !!!!

I went to the next platform and did Chiu ( Tai Chi Mantis style) style Tai Chi palm, then returned home, where LZ had pancakes ready, Yokatta!  Good timing! Good Morning!

Next year I will be more established here on the island and I will have my group and talk to the other locals of the Federation about doing a public session.

Best wishes to the world and it’s people.





The Island life

20 04 2009

It really feels like we live in a different world here on the island from being where we where inland. The vibe, it is all about the vibe. Sat. was was a good day. LZ is in a good mood, due to a “Shigoto” matter which I will not go into. We both were up early on Sat. and did a mild warmup together. Some yoga, Motion Zen and sitting Zen. Then took off for a Sampo (a walk). It was a good day for a walk slightly cool, mildly overcast.  We walked for about 1 mile. it was good.

I took off afterward to a Marine swap-meet and to deliver a logo design I did for someone who is taking off on her Catamaran with family on a world cruise.

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My design will be out there sailing the world before me. Kind of cool…

From there it was a quick stop at the (not) All sail Boat show. I can across an interesting man who I ended up buying his book called “Sailing Grace” . When I was asked about my name to sign in the book, I said, just put Captn Zen. He replied in my 20 some years of sailing I have never heard that. It was some of that “Zen” philosophy that got me through the problems I had to deal with. So I took a picture with him.

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John Otterbacher and Captain Zen

Now that I am into reading the book and listened to some of his video I can say he gets it, maybe being that close to death does that. I came across another sailor who does and teaches Meditation. his brochures say. Crisis is the Catalyst, Meditation is the cure, Relationships are the test. The crisis, any crisis, was also mentioned in the The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, which a elder sister gave out parts of it during our Thursday Chan session. Troubling our human nature needs to have something, tragic to open our hearts  and eyes to there is more to living than struggling for a buck at any cost to our body, mind or spirit.

‘From hospital ward to the stormy Atlantic, this hard-edge story will resonate with anyone who has struggled with profound adversity – be it divorce, disease, depression, financial crisis, or the “heavy weather” that unexpectedly blows through every life.’

Anyway I recommend the book even if you are not into sailing. Just reading a true story about the valiant human spirit, from “my new friend” as the author signed in the book to me.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging at home, with LZ. We were off later in the afternoon to our first social gathering here on the island .  Another sailor who I had met via my blog , who is also planning a sail to Japan with her family invited us over for a housewarming party.  Not knowing many people here I was looking forward to the gathering. The house is just a few blocks from us, so it was just in our “hood’. There was a a fairly large turnout and rainbow of peoples of many ethnic backgrounds. There were lots of beautiful little rainbow babies running around.

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Pix by Mitzi

Pix by Mitzi

Pix by Mitzi

There was lots of food, drink and comradry. We played drums, and someone bellydance, it is always good to be a musician again.

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It was a good beat to end the day on.





And now for something completly different…Power spots

14 04 2009

The world is full of power spots or scared spots. You you are a reader of Carlos Castaneda you know what I am talking about. If you are a follower of other ways of thoughts than the main stream you know what I am talking about.

It occurred to me that we are living near one at our new place. I do not think the folks who set things up thought much about it other than it is a nice place, but maybe they thought that way because it is a power spot. Now I am speaking about more than there is a Jizou-san on the corner and gateway to the marsh walk path.

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In this case I am referring to a spot that is just down the street from there. It is just across the street from our Lanai. It is wood deck that is built out over a small part of the bird sanctuary. Hmmm and there it is in the name bird Sanctuary.

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Sanctuary for birds a scared spot, but not just for birds. I had not really given it much thought until a week or so ago I saw a sister come to the edge of the walkway, bow then enter and after a bit of stretching do some meditation. That is when it hit me this place is a sanctuary not just for the Tori’ ( birds) but for everyone who come here.  It is a place of healing, recharge, and peace. My cousin remarked that even though the deck is usually busy, it is rare people of several groups or individuals will come together at the same time. What happens most of the time is one or a group that is together will come, as they leave another will come, as they leave another will replace them.

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So there is this flow and exchange of people. I have gone out there also and just felt the chi. I have thought a couple of time s about it is a good place to do Tai Chi, but as a mostly private person the idea of doing it front front of several Apt buildings does not motivate me. When the time hits me I will, perhaps at dusk some day or dawn in the summer.  The Chi should be strong there.

Sometimes it is  still

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at times it is busy.deck-4

It flows Yin to Yang,

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like the water at it’s feet.





In pursuit of Wisdom…

11 04 2009

taoIn pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped…Tao Te Ching

I use to take this to mean things, attachments, objects, ideas, expectations, the like. I did not think of people so much as falling in to this, but people, ideals of them, how they should be, act, respond, the like are also attachments, ideas the like.

A pet peeve of mine is people, emails and my idea of rudeness, or thoughtlessness. Eg: A person I know calls me and says something like, I’m pretty frustrated, lonesome, whatever. I send an email later saying, if you like you can come to Chan practice with me. There will be several of your country mates there. I expect at least a polite No thanks. ( yeah, my fault for expecting) but I get no reply, at all…ok let it go.  This same person LZ wrote a couple of times, because she was concerned about how “they” were doing. No reply… OK, let it go. I hear from this same person later asking me about something. I reply and ask, oh did you get blah blah blah? again no reply…grrrr. A week or so later yup another email, asking something , but no mention of my question.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering…Tai Te Ching

Another … LZ and I met a couple and went with them for a boat ride so I could take some pictures for an acquaintance. The female of the couple spoke to LZ about getting together with us, cooking, exchanging recipes, blahblah. She wants to do meditation, let her know where, she says to me.  I emailed her a few times and she was all still yup yup let’s meet still, when you are finished moving. LZ writes to her three times via email and once via facebook, no reply. Now it could be… a far out thought… that it is the boyfriend who does not want to be involved with us, because he has a problem with my skin tone. I will not go into why I think this, but LZ thought it was kind of weird as well what went down, not bad , just Okashi ( weird). Yeah I know , hard to believe in this day and age, but it does still happen.

If you close your mind in judgements
and traffic with desires,
your heart will be troubled.
If you keep your mind from judging
and aren’t led by the senses,
your heart will find peace…Tao Te Ching

I think both of these people fall under letting go of attachments, objects, ideas, non-beneficial, the like and should be crossed off my list of people to connect with. However is it letting go of my expectations concerning behavior, manners, the like? Is that a compassionate  choice, it is compassionate for me and for LZ who also thinks that behavior is uncool  ? On one hand it could be viewed as so. By just letting them go live their life as they see fit, without my judgment of  it or interaction. Do their own things as it were, life will be their teacher.

The Master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She/he lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle…Tao Te Ching

On the other hand, I am still holding to my expectations of how someone should behave, which is not good, or at least realistic.  So I am not really dropping anything, other than the frustration of dealing with them and others like them, by kicking them to the curb, dropping them like a hot potato. Not because they are “bad” people, but why deal with that extra frustration in a world of crazyness. Things in life are a trade off. One door closes another opens. You cannot taste the fullness of one tea if your cup is still full of another. There is that old American saying: You can not have your cake and eat it too. I have I thought made progress in expecting things of people. Over the years and more so as I get older I think I expect little. I do not expect most folks to follow through with what they say, The old say what you mean , mean what you say thing does not apply to many.  That sort of thing. I will give the benefit of doubt once or twice.

I do know I still need more work on it though. I am still mostly a believer in the goodness of man…but still…

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However finding that balance in wisdom and gullible is tricky at times.

The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky…Tao Te  Ching

Anyway, behavior like that bugs me, it is disappointing on a couple of levels. Something I need to work on …my side of it anyway. As for them I can only let it/them go…

So that brings me back to the interpretation of this:

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped…Tao Te Ching

What is yours? Wars are fought over interpretations…

End of rant ..yosh!





Sukoshizutsu…すこしずつ…

9 04 2009

Today is like yesterday, cold and rainy.  Here on the 3rd floor, up where the wind blows full , slamming my bamboo and red maple around, it is a nice day. Even days like this with all the grayness have beauty.  While typing this I notice how the deep blood red of my young Japanese maple stands out against the gray backdrop of my vision of the world . Making a pleasant contrast to my line of sight.

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Little by little things are falling into place here with the new life on the island. I am grateful for the small and large blessings that bloom daily.  So since someone asked ( shock)  about what is happening with the Security Job and the Kyudo I figured it must be time for a post.

Concerning the Security job, I have my second night of work up coming this Friday. As of the moment it is basically on-call I have not worked since the last post. The company is new to the area and just getting accounts setup and training people they are looking for to be key players on the growth path.  EDD gave me a new claim ( Yay whooohoo) so I’m not concerned with putting in a lot of hours right now. In fact I do not want to now.  A few days here and there is good, it gives me some training time and I do not have to drive for 45 min to get there or be up all night working.  Getting the training and time on the job in is important so I can have it on my resume for a better position where I do not have to stay up all night, that is my goal. They are expecting to have some accounts closer to my home soon and that will be nice.

To answer JM about Kyudo, noting right now. I am working on developing a website for my group, but no practice recently. I do have my monthly training session out at Racoon Poop Dojo coming up in 2 weeks. That is all I can handle for right now. On occasion I maybe able to swing a couple of sessions in but not much more. The group has a week long retreat coming up in May. This is the one at the Sonoma Mtn Zen center that was so brutal last year with the heat. I would love to go , but no way I can justify the $300.00 cash out put this year. Unless I get really blessed with “Pennies from Heaven“.

A couple of other things that have fallen in to place besides the huge life saving thing of the new EDD claim, is I am able to start teaching at least a Sat morning, Tai Chi /Kung Fu class at a former classmate’s Dojo Suigetsukan Dojo. He has some free space then which I can rent dirt cheap. Nice. Even having one day inside will be helpful, also the exposure maybe bring a few new students. The classes in the park seems to be a great amusement for the toilet mouth lil hood rats ( Japanese readers this means neighborhood children with no manners) who hang out there. On the other hand it is practice for me tuning them and other distractions out. So there is that perspective of seeing thing.

I found a great marina near us for s/v Zen to move into. I am looking forward to that. Interesting bit of a story, to me on how it all came together. Which is (will be) posted on the other blog not here or will I repeat. Anyway that will be the last piece of our life to move to the island. That will not happen until late May. That will be the first big sail of the year. It is almost like returning home for the old girl since I purchased her in Berkeley. So there are a couple of things to look forward to next month.

My taxes are done, that was painful. I paid someone to do them this year OUCH. So it was painful not only paying them but having to pay the gov. as well. However I knew that this year I would owe Uncle Sam some money. He has paid me all last year I did not deduct taxes so, it was expected. It will be the last year I have someone else do the return though, that was kind of a waste but I did learn a couple of things…perspective again.

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Our lanai garden is all setup. I am pleased with it. Several bamboo, a Red Japanese maple, some veggies & herbs are growing, maybe a couple of flowers, plus a couple of other misc plants.

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I can sit on my cushion at the glass door and get a sense of what the old Chan masters felt sitting on their porches/steps/home looking at the gardens.

cushionOf course they wee not three stories up in an Apt, but you get the idea…(^_^)

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So little by little, (sukoshizutsu) things are falling into place.