Berkeley Chan Retreat 09

29 06 2009

My Heart Chan ( Shaolin Chan) Berkeley group had our second 1 day retreat on Sunday.  There were some 25 people in attendance. Our senior brother from LA came up. He is 1 of 3 the senior students directed by our Shifu in Taiwan to represent the group here in the states.


He was my first contact with the Heart Chan Group. He opened the retreat with a talk on being like a baby again. Not Phyically of course but in our attitude towards life and others, and opening our hearts and minds. Connecting to the world, the universe via our hearts. Not to sectionlize our life like pieces of a pie but to be more like a tree where all sections, parts flow from us like branch’s. Also he spoke on how our practice , our lives are composed of three elements, Body, Mind Spirit. Does this sound familiar or what!?!  remember Sanmai-Ittai…

After that we had a 45 min meditation period. That was my first, it was not too bad. It would have been even easier if I had not been having knee pain for the last few days. However I persevered…Yosh!


After lunch was my turn, I had been asked to do a section on Motion Chan and Tai Chi. In our Meditation centers n Taiwan there are monks from Shaolin temple who teach Tai Chi and Kung Fu. Being as our Shifu is Asst. Director of Shaolin it is part of the exchange that has been worked out.  I had been thinking how to approach this for the last month, in the time given. I had 45 min now, instead of 15 min. I gave a short lecture on the nature of Chan, Motion and sitting. same coin different faces. or in another form, the Yin and Yang of meditation. We in order to be in balance in life we need to do both in order to keep the harmony of Body, Mind, Spirit, and Yin meditation and a Yang meditation. I also touched on in another form ( point of view) the earth is our body,  man is the mind, chi is the spirit. we need to treat our earth as it is our body, we are the mind of the Universe, chi is our spirit. I do not think I as as clear as I wanted to be, because I was winging it with the lecture. However everyone sad they got it…Yokatta!

Next I went to the practical part and introduced Tai Chi walk. explained the benefits, the state of mindfulness and mechanics of it. Some got it right off, others struggled with it. I had them do it in a line around the room and back to their starting point. I thought it went well.

Next up was some Tai Chi movements. The opening of Yang 24 and through to grasping birds tail. I did a demo, then had the group follow three or four times with me leading. For the most part they got it. I was surprised in that short amount of time. Afterward many said they were very please with the instruction and some who never thought of doing Tai Chi were now open to the possibility of learning it. All said they felt calmer and more relaxed afterward. Yatta, mission accomplished.

After our next break and mediation session I got to speak with JM shxiong about a few varid topics. He gave me some tips on things I could expect as I practiced Chan more. Also some warnings about doing Feng Shui or astrology readings as a job without knowing the proper way to release the negative chi, or karma I would be taking on. We spoke of Merit. TaMo ( Bodhidharma) told the Emperor his acts of buiding temples as such gave him no merit. Yet I heard talk of gaining merit to becoming a Buddha or Bodhisattva.  He explained that helping raise a soul from suffering , taking on their Karma, helping them with their karma, was a way to gain merit. Doing something from the heart purely to help another soul with their suffering. Not from building temples and the like. In the Bible it is said about a rich-man not entering in the kingdom of heaven…

There was a lot more things shared and expressed, that I will not put or try to put here. Other than one question that was put to him by another about religion and our Chan practice.


The answer given, was we use Buddhist terms to explain concepts, these could also be explained in Christian or Taoist terms. Our practice does not carry the dogma, rules, restriction, worship, formalities that a religion does. Ours is just a practice to enhance of living. One can have any faith and practice Chan, there is no conflict or competition.

Fri Fu w/Shifu…June 09

27 06 2009

Merry Christmas from the Tai Mantis Kung Fu Asooc.

Tonight was my first class in 2 mos I thought. However a classmate said it was three, I think that was since I saw him.  I have been almost all about Kyudo lately, it was good to get back to my roots. Kyudo is great but it is still just one slice of the pie.  It has though helped me with my understanding of Chan and Motion Chan. Even though the book Zen in the Art of Archery is not the moon, it is a finger pointing to the moon. Interesting enough I have been ask to lecture on the connection of Chan and Martial Art in an upcoming Chan retreat and give a brief class on Tai Chi with the Chan principals. However for now I digress…

Anyway I was surprised to see Fong, Sisuk there again. I am also always surprised how he makes a point of greeting me, like I’m somebody. It is nice. One day I need to sit and talk Feng Shui with him. I wonder if he is also a Chan student.

Tonight he was working with those there again on the wooden man set. I got to see the full version tonight. That is so powerful and such a great training ad. So many traps, locks, even throws, take downs, kicks. It s pretty amazing to see the full array of technique covered in the set. Most differently something I need to finish and take with me to Japan for my own training. I will not need much space for it and it really works the applications.

The Tai Chi Mantis system contains many ways of fighting and ending a fight, beside the obvious punching and kicking. Fong Sisuks, speciality is grappling and seizure. He demo’s a few pressure points and applications and explained in a fight his main objective it to take the opponent to the ground and pin him. Only do as much damage as needed to control and end the fight. It is he says more of a challenge to use grappling and seizure over punches and kicks and he enjoys the challenge of raising his skill level in order to make it work.

He also spent a great deal of time explaining and pressing the point of understanding the philosophy behind a technique, that is the real key not only to our system but any system. When you have that, you do not need forms, and not to get stuck on forms because. In the moment you do not have time to think, nor will things happen as setup in form practice. The moment is alive and changing, you need to change with it. By understanding the philosophy behind the technique you can adapt to whatever input.Ths is very much what Bruce Lee book on Jeet Kun Do is about, the philosophy behind technique and combat.

After we ate Shixiong helped me with some stance corrections and fill in some blanks I had forgotten since the last time. He also gave me a couple more moves, so I am making progress. I am glad I have Sigong’s Manual on this to reference when I am on my own. It will be helpful. Nihon will be a new training ground on many levels…and I still have much to prepare…Yosh!

Ni-ban’s last shot…

24 06 2009

Monday I took Ni-ban over to the Berkeley Kyudo school. It was his final attendance before heading back to home. He had been able to download lot of information in the short time he had. He had developed a good respect for the amount of effort one needs to put into this deceptive looking art. “L” gave him a bunch of pointers during class which helped his form. She asked me on the side, smiling if she could keep him for another month. She said it is nice to have a student that catches on quickly. Yes that is a treat, I agreed. She then followed with ” although sometimes it is the students who struggle that stick it out” . I had to agree with that. The ones that “get it” too fast sometimes get bored and think they know it all. We both agreed. We’ll see how Ni-ban turns out further on up the road. He has wanted to do bow and arrow fro a while so maybe he will stick with this.

last shot

As for my own practice. I feel my draw getting better. Having one’s own Yumi makes a difference in one’s comfort level, It is like a old lover you now all the moves that work. I was told by L, that I was dropping my Yumi hand when I released. She told me about the balloon principal of expanding continually with the shot. Also the story of Shibata Sensei’s grandfather’s way of stopping his hand from dropping, by placing a sharp bamboo under his hand to break the habit. Etaii!!!! oww. I tried thinking differently on my shot and expanding more. Using more of the two direction stuff Sisuk always speaks of when doing Tai Chi or Mantis. With that I was able to make a major break through and achieve nearly a full Tenouchi. That was awsome! I was shocked and pleased. Yatta!! I did it two times in a row, Yatta! I still need work so I can do it every time, but still… Yatta!

My Kyudo time will be limited for the next month or so, it is Mantis Season.  Our Tai Chi Mantis Seminar will be starting soon. Even though I’m not that sure if I will make it this year I need to be some what ready. I do want to make a trip to LA next month and while there visit the Renmai school.

Tracks of the Tanuki

22 06 2009

I started the day on the later side of when I usually get up. I figured since it was Dad’s day I would be  a bit lazy in bed and chill. So I got up at 8:00. After my morning stuff, Zazen, walk, Tai Chi, i did some computer things before heading out to V-town with Ni-ban for Kyudo practice. I was told by Onii-san I should bring my camera there were fresh Tanuki tracks.

It was beyond cool to see them. Our private Dojo is up some stairs on a loft. Generally the Tanuki just climb in from the roof. I had made a sign for with the name Onii-san gave the Dojo, because of the amount of Tanuki droppings they had to carry out to make the place usable.


Onii-san had placed it at the bottom of the stairs. Starting from the sign on the step were a set Tanuki foot prints leading right up the stairs to the Dojo. Like it had read the sign went up to check it out. It was way cool.



I had given Ni-ban ( #2 son) my western archery set which he brought along to the Dojo. However it was not needed. The Onii-san were kind enough to out fit him with what he needed.  A light weight Yumi, some Ya and a Kake. Nice he was set.


So along with some extra instruction he got to do some long distance shooting. He did well it took him a bit to get settled in but for shooting so some he did well. This was his first distance shooting, he had just had his first ever shot the day before.

first shot

and his first lesson several days before that. So he was moving on the fast track.


He was showed how to handle two Ya at a shooting and also followed us doing an A&B group shot. He scored almost full bulls eye.


It was a pleasant way to spend a Father’s day afternoon. One of those Dad moments one will remember.


Upon returning home, LZ was preparing dinner. She called it simple and a bit like the Loving Day meal but with a few extras. She once again rocked the food!. Ni-ban most times visits later in the summer so this was the first Father’s day visit in a while. We paid homage to my Dad and Dad-in-law in using my Father’s dinner glasses from the 50’s. When I was a a child there was a whole set of these glasses, now there are only five left. I have 3 tall water ones, my brother has two short martini glasses. From LZ’s side we used the sushi bowl her Dad used to make sushi in.

Her and I had Lychi Sake and Ni-ban had a Lychii shakee and had a toast,


from there it was chow down.


It was a good day, here in the Bay, beside great weather. We finshed off the evening watching Zato Ichi…Ni-ban still has some growing to do in his taste for movies…oh well small steps…

The missing Buddha…pt II

21 06 2009

Sadly I believe the Ojizou-san is gone for good. How sad. I noticed there are a few stick of incense there and a couple of  misc items, pine cones, candy, some coins. I decided to add something. The Buddhist will know what it is about, but not the haters. I placed three stones balanced on top of each other. The  Zen Buddhist Symbol of Balance.


A day later I noticed there were another two stones places on top.  someone got it…

Tripping with the youngest…

21 06 2009

With #2 son visiting I have been extra busy, good stuff though to expose him to other thoughts, ways, paths. He is getting mature now and can start to appreciate and expanded view on things. He is still argumentative, but that is his nature and it is not in a bad way, always light hearted.

Since he has been here this week, we saw Star Trek. OMG what a cool movie!! We saw it in a renovated 1930’s movie house. It was said  over 10 million bucks was spent in renovation. Wow! The movie was outstanding. #2 thought it was good, but Transformers was better. WHat!!!!??? Kid Please! That was the discussion for the next couple of days. 🙂

I also got him started with Kyudo. He seems to like it. He mostly says it is more complex than he imagined. So many small details. He seems to like it.


It is pleasing to find something we can share as Father and Son. I think it adds a different level to the relationship. Most common for the father son bond is Baseball or Football. I do not care for either. He did Martial Arts, Kung Fu and Karate for a while, but did not want to stick with it.  Maybe this will keep his interest. Along with Kyudo goes the meditation, I got him started with that as well and exposure to Zen thought. Even if things do not stick now, maybe at some point he will draw it out of the back of his mind.

Another item that he, LZ and I did was sailing. I had taught him a little of the formalities of sailing his last visit. He still remembered them  and did well while we were out. I let him handle the helm more this time.

Zen n son

Next time I’ll let him handle some command stuff on tacking. LZ thinks that he will pursue sailing more as he gets older. I do not want to push him in any direction , just give him the exposure to things beyond, the everyday Jock stuff as well as touching and exposure to cultural things from all his ethinic backgrounds, Japanese,  Nubien, & American. Yet be a true person of the world and not enslaved by a label.

Zen Kyudo Bowling

19 06 2009


Now, some readers of this may think. OMG he has lost his mind. OD’d on meditating or wheatgrass, or the combo of both. Poor guy,,,

But wait…yes I am weird , but…

It has been a long time, years since I went bowling. I took #2 son bowling today. I was struck by the similarities. Of course I see similarities in everything these days. It maybe the side effect from all that Zen training… non-duality.

Anyway, As I made my approach to the bowling lane, it hit me. Ashibumi – Dozukuri, centering my stance. preparing my mind, calming the breath. The form,  spine straight, tuck, the hips, head up, chin down. the approach…

the draw – Hikiwake,

Kai – Full draw …

the release – Hanare

of the ball/Arrow. The big difference is you want to hit the target and that is important and the point, unlike Kyudo. However the form, the draw, the release, the mind, the balance counter balance,

Yugaeri – Zanshin – Contiuation

holding contemplating the hit are the same.

Bowling is very Kyudo’ish. It is just you the ball and the pins. Very much within the Sanmae-ittai relm.  Unity of the three elements, Body/Mind/Bow, this case Body/Mind Ball. deep or what?!?! I should write a book. The Zen of Bowling Do., no no , I got it, The Do, of Zen Bowling. I know someone is going to rip this off. Go for it, just give me a small piece of the action, for good Karma . Seriously … no really seriously.

I just did a Goggle of Zen bowling and got this and some others :