SANMAI-ITTAI…Kyudo Sunday @ RSD

25 05 2009

Sanmi-ittai means the unity of the three essentials…Body, Spirit, and Bow as one body

Today (Sunday) was very cloudy and chilly, at least here on the island. Out in Vallejo it was a perfect day for Kyudo, or pretty much anything, it was just a nice day. On the Island today it was cold, I spent the major part of the morning warming up next to the fire, Not just physically Spirit, Body, Mind. Reading , Meditating, some light Yoga.

sunday am

I headed out to Kyudo practice for the afternoon. It was a quiet day there with just three of us, a casual practice. My main intention, focus for me  for the day was to test my draw on the bow. While working on which pattern of Shaolin Chan/ Chi Kung drills to work on with the group at the Genjo-ji retreat. I discovered which of the Heart Chan Motion Chan drills really are the same motion as the Hikiwake ( the draw) in Kyudo. I was right with a small bit of adapting. Now  I understand the drawing motion with the Yumi ( bow) much better now and the muscles in use and focus on them.

draw

I had been asked ( because of my demo and last blog post) which Shaolin drills would work on helping those who do Kyudo enhance their practice. I went through a couple of set of drills , like Ba Duan Jing ( Eight Pieces Brocade) and some from Heart Chan, and found what I think will be a good combination for helping connect the Body , Mind, Spirit. Making the transmission a link from sitting meditation to Shooting and fill that missing gap I persive in Kyudo training. They are a combo of stretches and Chi Kung (Qi Gong), That will help center, ground, stretch and communicate beater with the body points that are used in Kyudo which we use in Tai Chi and Kung Fu. What I think is very cool and I am pleased that I found how all thee levels connect with Tai Chi /Kung Fu/Kyudo.

I was reading in the Kyudo manual ( Vol one – Shaho, principles of shooting ) about how there are considered three, items ( elements) of importance for doing good Kyudo, making a good shot.

1. The body

2. Spirit and mind

3. The Bow

In Chan we consider there are three parts to our makeup or three levels to our being ( so we train on three)

1. Physical ( Kung Fu)

2. Mental ( Meditation)

3. Spiritual ( Chakas)

It’s it interesting that in Christian thought there is also the trinity

1. Father ( God – the Universe – Heaven – Tao)

2. Son ( Us, the earth life, Mankind)

3. Holy Spirit ( Chi , Ki, , breath of God)

Makes you think does’nt

I digress.

I was surprised to hear that one of my Onii-san’s from RSD wants to study one of my Chinese arts with me to help his Kyudo. He was not quite sure how it would help and I tried to expalin (not every well at the time). As Kyudo has three princials which need to unite to have a “good” shot , we have the same in Kung Fu. In Kyudo it is Body, Spirit ( and mind), Bow. In Tai Chi -Fu it is Body, Spirit, Mind. I consider mind and spirit different aspects, but in Kyudo they do not. In Kyudo they consider the Bow as a seperate element, I do not. That was a small sticking point ( matter of confussion)  for Onii-san when I was explaining, Anyway it is a small matter.  I think the Kyudo three should be and are the same  Body, Mind, and Spirit. because, as in Kung Fu when we hold a weapon ( eg: Sword, Knife, Staff,  the YUMI)  it is no longer considered something seperate, it is now and extention of the body and used as such. Just as the flying Ya is and extension of the Shooter’s KI. So yes, whoever came up with the Spirit/Mind being the same and the Bow being seperate was in error, or the problem came in translation. In my opinion this is true and that of Shaolin Chan principals. Oh yes, so back to the subject. In order to have a "good" shot you need these three principals/elements in harmony, In order to have a "good" life you need to have the three Principals ( levels/elements) in harmony, in order to have "good" Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Karate, Tennis, Surfing, Dance, Sail, Golf, whatever  you need to have those three princials in Harmony. So my point is, training to raise merit on one level helps all things ( activities) that need that level ( which is all ready) as well. The better you are in touch with your Body and Ki ( Chi) from Tai Chi -Fu training ( which has a lot of that) the better and easier you will be able to tap into that for Kyudo, Sailing, Golf. Somewhat like the 5 element theory. Wood, supports Fire, Fire supports Earth , etc. Meditation supports the Mind and Spirit, Chi Kung and Motion Chan supports the body and Spirit, Kyudo ( Kung Fu) supports the Meditation and Spirit…In all things we are interdependant.

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Chan is one, not two…balance in training, Kyudo

20 05 2009

bodhidharma

I saw this phrase, Chan is one -Not two, posted by an elder Chan brother, it was concerning our connection to the Universe and each other. Fundamentally we are one, like leafs on a tree. This however has many implications on many levels. I have spoken in the past on my “by Sea” blog about the connection of Sailing with Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Zen, Kyudo. I have also blogged on the sameness of Tai Chi , Kyudo, Kung Fu, Chan ( Zen), that is a given with the other statement about Sailing. If two things are alike with something, they have to be alike with each other. LZ brought up the other night how “Ki” is such an important part of Japanese “Arts” Kyudo, Tea, Calligraphy, Kendo, Karate and even to a higher level in China, Acupuncture, Dim Mak, etc. This Chi ( Ki) is also a key element in forms of Yoga, some more than others.

All of these forms of “Art” study, practice involve activating Ki, moving Ki, developing Ki. In Tai Chi it is moving Chi through the body, to help the inner organs, or for defense. In forms of external Kung Fu it is to make the defense and attacks stronger and the body more resilient to attacks. In Yoga it is activating the organs to function better, and in the case of Kundalini to gave enlightenment. In Acupuncture it is Chi for healing, in Chan it is for health, spiritual awareness, compassion, mental enhancement, karmic resolution, enlightenment. In Kyudo it is for guiding the arrow, and discovering your true nature, very much like sitting Zen ( Without the arrow part).

All these are separate practices, on the outside, with the same core, the common denominator, Ki ( Chi)… Like people… Chan is one, not two…

balanceRecently my Kyudo Onii-san asked after I gave a small demo on Tai Chi/Kali/Mantis asked  if  some of my drills that could be done for Kyudo to enhance the experience/training. Of course I replied. This is one of the things that I thought was lacking in the Kyudo training from the beginning of my journey and said so in an earlier blog. Back when I set out to re- connect Spiritually with the lack of Spiritual training in Kung Fu practice which I found in Kyudo in doing Zazen. I also found the lack the connecting link from Spiritual to Physical to Mental. Meaning, when we do Kyudo  we do Zazen then we go from that direct to shooting. There is no Ki movement, activation, there is no physical warmup one just goes from one realm to another but still suppose to hold on to one, calm center( spirit) , while bring the other part ( the body) into play. Even though there isreally minimal physical movement when shooting. One stands firm, square, and the arms, chest, shoulders do most of the work. However there is the inner workings of the back, abdomen, legs, Ki. The inner workings are there, but for the most part unseen. In order to make small movements , to understand small movements , to control small movements one must be able to feel, do, sense small movements. Another Onii-san said something to the effect of it is easy to cover up the mistakes of shooting by power or using technique to hide the errors. Hmmm not quite right on my quote but, what I heard was, referenced back to Tai Chi training for me. In doing external Kung fu, it is easy to cover one’s mistakes in body position and technique with speed and power. When doing Tai Chi, because of the slowness of form all your errors, and lack of balance is exposed. To control big movements you need to control small movements.

Let’s look at the Yin/Yang symbol. It does not just jump from Yin to Yang. There are elements of both in each but when making the transition from one state to another and holding on to it’s core, it is a smooth transition.  When we do Chan meditation, we do some transition motion Chan drills to prepare the body for the the stillness of mediation. When we do , Kung Fu or Tai Chi there is Chi Kung/meditation ( stillness drils) to prepare the body for the movement of  motion Chan ( Kung Fu/Tai Chi). I recently saw an ad for Shambala Times, I believe it was, in next month article they speak with doing Yoga to prepare the body for Zazen…Chan is one, Not Two .

This is what I”m talking about, there should be some type of transcendental drills for Kyudo, to go from Sitting stillness , active core, to Active body, Still core. Something to link, unite the mind, body and spirit, something to get the Ki moving. In my opinion, it would help the Kyudo archer center better, connect sooner to his inner core, and extend that to the Yumi, Ya, Target…Chan is one, not two.

So is the purpose of Kyudo just to hit the target, they say NO!. Just like Sisuk says if you just want to get in shape go to a gym, do not take Kung Fu. Kung Fu is learning an Art, a tradition, a way of life.  If you just want to hit the target do western Archery. Is not the purpose of Kyudo, as it stands today,  to find our inner self, the self that is connected to everything, that inner dignity that is part of the wholeness of the Tao. Part of that wholeness is balance of training. The body is part of that medium for painting with the Art of Kyudo. It should not be overlooked, or thought of as separate. We shoot with the Mind, Body and Spirit, they blend to make the shot… Chan (it’s expression in Kyudo) is One, Not Two





Getting close…training season

20 05 2009
photo by Doran Hanoch

photo by Doran Hanoch

In another week I will be heading to Genjo-ji, my second staying adventure there. The schedule has been presented:

Schedule:

Wed. May 27 intermediate/advanced students only)

10 am arrival to help set up venue
6:00-6:40 dinner
7:30-9:00 zazen (Introductory talk )in Zendo Hall 9:30 lights out

Thurs May 28-Sat.May 30

4:45am wake-up
5:15-7:00 morning zazen and service in the Zendo Hall
7:00-7:30 >breakfast (all meals in the Sangha House)
7:30-8:00 kitchen cleanup for assigned crew
8:15-9:15 silent work practice
9:30-11:45 Kyudo
12:00-12:45 lunch
12:45-1:15 kitchen clean-up for assigned crew>
1:30-5:00 Kyudo
5:00 pm Beginner students arrive>6:00-6:40 dinner>6:45-7:15 kitchen cleanup for assigned crew
6:45-7:30 zazen instruction for beginner students
7:30: Introductory talk for Beginners–location to be announced
7:30-9:00 evening zazen
9:30 lights out

Sun. June 1

4:45am wake-up
5:15-7:00 morning zazen
7:30-8:00 kitchen cleanup
8:15-9:15 work practice (packing and cleaning of living area)
9:30-11:00 Kyudo
11:00-11:30 Tosha( Closing kyudo demonstration)
11:30-12;00 Closing remarks.
12:15-1:00 lunch
1:00 tear down of venue
2:30 departure

I am both looking forward to and Not looking forward to this. Really the 4:45 am and 2 hours Zazen part 😦

That part is for real no fun. Actually only the Kyudo part is fun the rest is work. This is not a vacation retreat for relaxing, this is training on several levels. Walking up and down the mountain side is no joke. It is a bit easier after the second day. The report is the weather will not be baking us this time, Yay! Maybe I can actually get some Tai Chi practice in before hitting the showers at night.

It is that time of year for training. Next month there is our Chan retreat however it is just for one day in Berkeley ( interested? drop me a line). I’ve been asked to teach Tai Chi at that one. With our meditation centers in Taiwan, since the Shifu is co-director of Shaolin in China, they have monks come to teach Kung Fu/Tai Chi. Here it is me, not a monk , but I’m the closest :-). There is another Chan retreat coming later, for 3 days but I will not make that one in LA. Then in Aug is our week long Mantis Seminar. Training season. Body, mind and spirit…I should say extra training, because everyday life is training, these are just, well training retreats…Yosh!





A day in the Kyudo life

18 05 2009

It was a pretty laid back day at RSD as far as practice. Our actual shooting time was lessen in the beginning, because upon being asked about my other arts, since I was fooling around with some cardboard tubing like swords or Kali sticks, a habit of mine. I evolved that into a small demo on Kung Fu , Kali, weapons, Tai Chi, sensitivity, sight and the commonality of basics of those things and Kyudo. A simple version of that for here would be a tree can only be as good as it’s roots.

Sunday Kyudo

When we got down to practice mine was all about my draw. The roundness or the lack of roundness. I was cutting it to short. I understand the action much better now, even after a few shots, after getting an explanation on what I was doing or rather what I was NOT doing . In the meantime I also worked on my sighting. I am getting a better feel for the moon overlay thing now. What I need to do now is to combine my “sense” of shooting and hitting with my technical sighting and hitting. Meaning when I shoot purely by feel I can hit the target, when I shoot purely technical I can get closer … now. I think part of that is to do , when I shoot technically I am thinking of all the correct places I am suppose to have stuff, my parts, alignments etc, when I shoot “feeling” not so much, I just shoot, my arm is not correct, my Ya is maybe too low, my elbow bend not right, not enough draw.etc However, sometimes when I shoot technically even when I miss it is a better shot. The feel , the sound, the hit. There are some Japanese words for all of that, those parts , plus the whole of a good shot. I do not recall what they are just now. I however understand what is meant by hitting the target is not the main point, for I can feel when it is a good shot, even missing the target. That is part of what makes Kyudo, different from just archery. It is the quality of the shot, like life, like friends, like a relationship. Nor is it the style of Kyudo one studies, it is The Quality of the shot, which includes the spirit of how the arrow hits even the backboard not the bulls-eye.

There is another aspect to my Kyudo studies which I enjoy, which is lacking in my Kung Fu studies and was one of the things that put me on the path of Kyudo practice is the Zen aspects. Practicing with other martial artists who also practice or are at lest in touch with Zen practice on some level if not formal study gives a different sense, level to general conversations about the arts and practice. It could however just be those in my space at this time.





This n That , That n This

16 05 2009

bodhidharmaIt is a quiet Sat here on the Island. I had my Tai Chi Fu class this morning. Myself and one student. No matter, she got a good private lesson. She has been with me for over 7 yrs and wil be leaving soon fot the East Coast. It is good for her to receive some one on one lessons, she has been dedcated student I will miss her. We went through standard warmup stufff, Chi Kung, Some yoga, Meditation, Tai Chi walk, Tai Chi, then worked on her sword form. It is nice to practice in the peace of the morning chi. It was a good start to the day.

We had some yin and yang moments yesterday, LZ got her transfer approved for a new store closer to home. Full time and a starting time, we were not expecting that…yay!. Our pickup truck passed smog test, …yay!!!!! no problem at all. I could have gone to a cheaper place for the test, but I was unsure if it would need work, I’m glad at least I found a little cheaper place than first picked so did save some cash there, yokatta! I got busted and fined by EDD for a couple of days work that I did not claim on my form when I first got reappoved…doh, yuk!  I did not do it on purpose, just plain overlooked it. Anyway I sent the overpayment back, and hope there will be no further reperscussions. That could be a painful error. The next big break we need os for me to get hired.

LZ made us a nice lunch on the Lanai today, our first sitting out there. It was a pleasant day for sitting there. She had put some effort into it, white table cloth, sake and wine drinks and a sandwich.  Nice, arigato gozaimashita!

I finally did the last big part of our move… of sorts, I brought the boat s/v Zen down from our old home area..yatta. It was a nice easy pleasant trip which I wrote about in the “by Sea” blog. It involved travel by Car, Train, bike, foot and boat, to complete everything, and it all went well, sugoi!

I am looking forward to our interracial loving day ( lovingday.org)  house warming next month, seems like that will be our first visitors since being here after 3 months. After that we will have a few other non-mixed friends over . The Loving day plan just happened to fall together with the idea , the date, the people. It should be fun. It is a little bonus to sort out just who are our friends…I’ll just leave that at that (^_^)

This month is half over, wow, soon I’ll be heading off to Zen and Kyudo practice in the mountain again. It should be better having done it before, so I can prepare phyically and mentally better. Anyway that is at some other time, now is now, and I need to be here now. On with the day, Yosh!!





Sunday Kyudo in V-town

11 05 2009

RSD monSunday’s session was different. I needed to make a quick pit stop by the marina that I will be sailing to on Weds to get a GPS reading. Then headed over to RSD. Upon entering, I hear a discussion about the name RSD ensuing. I found it humorous to listen to. The organizers of the Dojo were steadfast about the name staying as is, no matter what tactic was used to persuade. Next ensuded a discussion about what was Zen and not Zen in relation to practice and disrupting the set flow of things at the Genjo-ji retreat also with Kyudo, martial art and Zen being seperate. On that I had to get involved being of Shaolin Chan Linage, it was on. ^_^

When I first arrived 2/3 of the group were working stuff, the tarp was still covering the floor to protect it from the Tanuki. I had noticed on my last visit there were tracks there, these were still there this time, I had my camera to capture a few. The above mon is from the actual resident Tanuki print.

Print

For the most of the afternoon, it was just myself and one other shooting as the other two members where busy prepping the shade structors for the Kyudo intensive later this month. I will be attending. It will be a Wed – Sun affair as last year. Hopefully HOPEFULLY the weather will be more comfortable. However as I told the other Onii-san, that is all part of training to deal with it. Over coming the messerable feelings and still carry on and Ganbatte. Like one has to do everyday in just living.

Anyway back to shooting. I was given as usual a few helpful tips and corrections to my form. I could feel the difference in the shots. There was something said by the elder Oniisan that reminded me of an article on the working of Tai Chi that Rick had posted on his site Cook Ding’s Kichen. here is a snip:

He demonstrates this by having students raise their arms to shoulder height and push forward He noted that most people lift and push from the shoulder joint and arm muscle. and there is little strength involved. He demonstrated the way he pushes, using his back and abdominal muscles with the shoulder and arm completely relaxed- Similarly, When he moved his arm, across his head, his back and abdomen did the work.

So this really validated my thoughts on all of these practices are just extension of the same principals. Especially when one is dealing with internal to external expressions. Rooting, contracting, expanding, full body support, when punching , pulling, pushing, shooting. standing. All parts of the body are interdependent, like all of us are interdependent in life, in living. To make that perfect shot, to have that perfect life, relationship, punch, push, all part must be in harmony working together. In Kyudo, Tai Chi , Kung fu, gardening, sailing, whatever.

micheal

I’m not sure if I will have any other Kyudo posts before the Genjo-ji retreat. Maybe there will be time for one more practice before the Shugyo (修行). I will be more prepared for the worst than last year. It is for real not a vacation it is a Shugyo. Yosh!





Sat. @ Suigetsukan

9 05 2009

I was not expecting much of a turn out for Sat. class. My main student was out of town, my #2 was not going to make it and #3 it was doubtful. There was a couple of new people who responded maybe on Meetup up.com . Maybe… usually means no. I have had several people who join meetup.com and sign into the Tai Chi class “meet-up”, then, they do not say anything. The few that do, say I want to take Tai Chi but I do not have the time, or when I have some time I will take a class, or They say they are interested but never make any effort beyond the words,  as if those wishful words will magically let them learn. People if you want to do something, you can not wait until you have the time, you have to make the time. Like those that say oh, I want to so study Kung Fu but first I have to get in shape… huh?!? You get in shape by training…  sigh

Anyway it was a quiet morning there at the dojo. I had no expectations of anyone being there, my plan was to use the time for  me. Having a private space is nice. The morning world chi, the vibes, prefect for a morning training, even though I am not a early morning person. I do like the early mornings once I am up.

IMG_3688

I started with a little stretching and the sun salutation from yoga. That is a good stretch for the first thing, it wakes up all those major muscle groups. Next 15 min of Zazen.  Next up was Tai Chi. Starting with Chu Tai Chi Palm ( Tai Chi Mantis Tai Chi) to get the chi flowing, then to Yang 24. I will be teaching that one one Sat. only. I have been teaching the Tai Chi palm to my advanced students, so if there will be some new ones they can learn the Yang 24 which most places teach these days, so they can go anywhere and continue.  Next up on my practice was Chen 24. That is my favorite Tai Chi form, I like the feel of power erupting from within the softness. It is just plain cool.

Lastly was my Tai Chi Palm Jhin ( gim) It had been a while since I really went through that so it was good to have some space to do it privately with my good sword. I went through that several times. before finishing off with a short meditation and turning over the room just a little early to the Jujitsu class.

MEd-buddha

I got to speak with one of the Jujitsu students for a short bit before they started their training, he asked if I was from the Mantis System. I told him yes and that his Sensei also was from the same school at one time. I told him about he was called one armed boxer because of an injury but still kept practicing. He got a kick out of that. Then told me, when he was younger,he had also studied Praying Mantis with Sifu Eng years ago. Sifu has had many many mnay students through the years.  We spoke on that one Friday on the students he has seen come and go through the years. It is good to see that some, even though change paths still study, the way. For it is not what you study it is how, all styles are just waves on the same ocean, like us.