Kyudo Sunday – Aug final

31 08 2009

kyudome copy 2Kyudo practice on Sunday was short for me. I had an errand to do for LZ so I left early. It was however a good day, different for me but beneficial. The whole RSD team was there that day. We did some experiments with video taping to observe draws. It went well. I passed on the taping for myself. I had enough already I needed to work on correcting. Even though part of  that is my draw, I had my own practice outline in mind. Holding the Yumi and the Ya correctly while just standing, finger placement on the Yumi, the grip for the Ya when shooting. Remembering the Renmei sequence for shooting.

I really really need to be able to just do some quiet solo practice. I found a spot at the Apt where I am pretty sure I can setup a portable Makiwara Dojo and get some shooting time in at will. I just need to get to the place I can make a small investment in that. Another plan is to be able to setup something at the local temple nearby. I think once a good relationship is setup with the Monk there I can pull that off, since he is a Martial Artist as well.

I did on Sunday, even with not much time, find what I think will be the best ( at least for now), breath draw combination. That was something I have been thinking on since my trip to LA and the planned to make the change over in Styles. Like many things in the Arts it came when I was not thinking about it, it just happened and I went Oh Snap, that feels like it. One of those Zen moments. Even with the short time at practice it was worthwhile to get that and the cool picture posted above.  It took some time to setup that I could have been shooting, but the visual artist needs practice too.  🙂

It was not the one I wanted, but I know now it can be done.

I reached out again to the SJ Dojo via email, thanking the Sensei for allowing my visit. I sent it out , with LZ help, totally in Japanese. That was for two reasons, one was to by-pass if possible the first person contact, and to better get the main Sensei’s attention. Also I wanted to establish my own impressions of the Sensei and her style and not rely on someone else’s. Even more so when you get conflicting statements from people. I received a reply the same day. It was nice and fairly warm. I did not directly ask to become a student but did get some positive feedback on walking that “Do”, in about 6 mos when an opening maybe available.  Yosh !

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Shotokan on Buddha’s grounds

27 08 2009

temple photo 4 webI had been planning on visiting the Karate class held at the Alameda Buddhsit Temple. I went by once before and the class was canceled. I went to the Obon day service where I had a good encounter with the Rev Sensei. This past Tues I dragged myself out of the apt  and I went by again. This time there was a class.

I peeked into the temp. dojo and was a bit surprised to see the Rev Sensei there  going through some Karate drill with a person in a Gi and with a Black Belt. I took him to be the instructor. I bowed in and was greeted by the Rev Sensei. He asked if I wanted to work out with them. I said no I’m just here to watch. I sat, I watched, I was told they were waiting to see if some of the other people, (3) were going to show up. They did not. So they went through kata and some one step Kumite. As they talked I was told what was going on and found out the Black Belt was just visiting. It was the Rev Sensei who was running the actual Karate class. The Black Belt that was there was his student a long time back.

They went through drills and Kata. The Rev Sensei had not practiced many of the forms but still recalled most of them and the moves. He said it was some 40 yrs since he did some of them.  He moves and kicks were not as sharp and snappy as the other younger guy, but still it was impressive at 69 yrs old and out of practice to see him do the Kata and defense drills.

As it turns out they were doing Shotokan, a style I also had learned and was  Shodan ranked. Rev Sensei told me I could/should come back and practice with him, nothing serious he said, just basic training.  I’m not really into doing karate since I left some 20yrs or more ago. The moves looked simple and stiff compared to my Shaolin.  However, this could be a good way for me to make headway into getting a Kyudo class there at the temple. I wonder if that is bad Karma to have other motives. I could also perhaps add another level of training to what is being taught via my Chinese studies. Maybe a hybrid Shotokan more like Shorin-ryu with some Chan Zazen mixed in….maybe.

I like the Rev Sensei, he seems like a nice person and I had planned on going to a service there one a month or so. Even though not my faith, the Shanga sharing is good for the spirit. With this newly added dimension, this could indeed be the Force providing a way and a place for me in this community. The temple would be a perfect place for a Kyudo dojo with space inside and out. There is also a Kendo class held at this location run by another person. Maybe, even a Tai Chi class could be added even though not Japanese. This could be very beneficial for all. It is interesting seeing how things unfold with this Kyudo involvement, directly and indirectly. We’ll see how this “Do” unfolds…Yosh!





Return to Tanuki

27 08 2009

IMG_0516It has been a while, seems like a long while since I was out at RSD or Tanuki Dojo in Japanese it can be called politely. Three of the Four regular members were there. The Fourth, the eldest shooter will be back next week. He should have some interesting tales to speak of from the SC Renmei seminar. It felt good to be shooting again after a break of a few weeks. Also having my own equipment really changes the attitude of shooting. I am still in gratitude to my Oniisans for arranging that. It was a real driving force for getting serious about my practice.

I took a couple of Chikurin style shots to start with before going into Renmei practice. Right off the corruption of doing two styles showed up. I was told I was holding the Daisan too high for Chikurin-ha style. I was doing a Hybrid of the Renmei and Chikurin-ha style. I need to make a mental note of that for the future. Good to have it pointed out, so I can make the adjustment. Like the stances for Yang and Chou are different in Tai Chi, one has to program themselves for the adjustment.

I asked one of the Oniisans that knew of the people down at the SJ school, what was the deal with the school. Since I was treated much different in person than from the Email. He was surprised to hear that. I will not go into all that was said. A lot has to do I believe with personal style of people skills, personality and let it go at that.

I am leaning toward seeing about officially joining the LA school. Yet that has some complexities. The SJ school is closer and the Sensei is good, however the Sensei’s no Gosujin’s attitude still leaves me a bit uneasy. Even if not on the surface the underlying attitude of the school would still be expressed by his attitude as a senior member.  Even though Kyudo is not considered a Spiritual Training aid to them, I find it is to me. That is one of the main draws with doing it. Otherwise it is just another Martial Art about fighting (or killing) or sport, this time with dignity. It was said by an ancient Zen master  Suzuki Shosan, that anything can be spiritual training. There was once a large Zen sect that played Sakuhachi as Spiritual training. I do not look at Kyudo the same as doing Chan, but it is a vehicle. It is part of a holistic approach to living. As is Kung Fu to many a Shaolin monk. Suzuki Shosan a Samurai turn Zen monk once said ” farming itself is a Buddhist  activity”. Who is to say one can not become enlightened by pulling on a bow string. Well other than the person who wrote me the email.  Newton was enlighten by a apple falling on his head. What is enlightenment anyway? Deepak Chopra says, enlightenment is a change in perspective. I wonder what the Dalai Lama would say.

IMG_0526Anyway, back to Tanuki space. One Oniisan who went to the seminar in SC gave us some Kyudo T-short as Omeyage. That was thoughtful. ne! There were several discussions about the different ways of bow drawing and sharing of things learned from the SC seminars. There are rumors I’ll say of some type of convergence of styles in teaching or paths as it were in the making. Not in an official out of Nihon sort of way , but on a USA real life shooting sort of way. New alliances, a expanded Kyu-do. I had a conformation of that last night whilst chatting with a fellow Kyudoka. Funny how things get more complex when peoples ego and personal agenda’s get in voloved. People are a trip.

So now faced with a choice of paths, at least a perceived choice I have to do some meditation and prayer to conclude which way to pursue. At first I thought about the convenience of a local school, but then my personal goals had to be clearly viewed with my own principals also balanced with the real life facts of fiancees. Along with factoring in the reality that my Kyudo practice accomplishments have nothing or very little to do with my long term plans for life in Nihon. I do not intend to teach and there is a, I am finding out a ( perceive or real) code about not teaching Kyudo for profit. So that it does not become a Black belt mill like some Karate schools. Anyway my Kyudo practice is all about me. My growth, my development, my balance. The side effects of that are about, for others, my students, wife, children, grands, parents, employers, friends, family. At least that is what I thought up until a conversation I had last night. It seems it could have a larger impact.





Disturbance in the Force…Tagged

26 08 2009

We interrupt this blog’s regular blogramming for a not so important announcement…I was tagged!!

There I was minding my own business, well I guess not really otherwise I would not have been on the blog site…Hmmm

Anyway there it was the dreaded, I been tagged post from Cook Ding’s Kitchen. It went on innocently enough about someone tagged him about writing the following, until I saw my name!!!!! :
The meme works as follows. You post five things about yourself. Four are untrue. One is true. All are so outlandish, implausible or ridiculous that no one would be inclined to believe that any of them are true. And despite the pleas from your readers, you never divulge which is true and which are fabrications. You then tag five other people (four seriously and one person you are pretty sure would never participate).

Here are my five:

1. I started my own KKK organization in high school.
2. I can leap a tall building in a single bound.
3. I use to fly but forgot how catch the wind to lift off.
4. I once while doing archery shot and split my first arrow in the target, blindfolded.
5. I fought Bruce Lee and won.

The five lucky victims who are hereby tagged are a mixed bag: JM, Mexichica, EVk4, Weilong Wang and Ernest

Gomanasai just spreading the Karma…peace

and now back to our regular blogramming





Kyudo in S. J.

23 08 2009

Sooooo Ok. A bout a month ago, or so, I wrote to request to visit the Kyudo school in SJ. I got a VERY judgmental response from one of the people. A Sensei or husband of the Sensei or both. It really bugged me, as rudeness always does. I figured if that is how the school is no way would I attend. However rather than being a baka like that person I wanted to check things out first hand before I dropped the full judgement hammer and idiot label. Today I went…

When I arrived at the Dojo, they were standing around talking. I figured it was about the seminar in South Carolina. So I bowed at the door and just stood to the side and waited. They talked for about 10 -15 min, then the Sensei came over and told me what was up. They indeed were discussing the seminar and they had not started shooting yet. I could have a seat.

I sat, I waited, I watched, they started shooting. It was explained to me they were doing a run through of two types of timing one of which was testing timing. It seems familiar, I sat , I watched. A couple of people asked if I had any questions including the Sensei. Everyone was nice that I came in contact with. The person I had the email correspondence with was not there…

The Sensei came over and talked with me a bit, about my background, and stuff like that, and a bit about the classes. It did not seem any different from the other class I have been to, except I did not see the meditation part. I was not sure if I missed it or they didn’t have it, being a “Martial Art” type of practice according to the email person. I have my own Chan practice so do not need to have it here, even though that would also be a plus. I feel it gives the physical practice balance and prepares one mentally to be in the moment. I would rather be in a school that does both, but as my choices are limited, it is about the shooting, I can sit anywhere…well sort of

SJ dojo

I sat , I watched, I watched everyone shoot, including the Sensei, I also watched the interaction between her and the students and the students and each other. I was pleased to hear her speaking Japanese to several of the students , I thought cool, If I was going here I could also practice Nihon Go.

Anyway the class was well ordered and structured. They had one Makiwara setup, and several distance targets. I was told that other than the college where we were, the Sensei taught privately or semi-private in her Garage Makiwara Dojo.

Over all I felt it was a good visit and I felt comfortable. The Sensei was polite and paid attention to detail, not overly friendly on the serious side, but not overbearing. I had respect for her and could see taking classes from her. If I would be accepted as a student is another matter. I heard from elsewhere she only takes one student a year. Anyway I left with a better impression of the school than I had from the person writing the email. It could be a good school to attend…other than him. However , that attitude of his as said could have been a filter. It is not uncommon.

Anyway let’s see what is next…





Obon

22 08 2009

BambooLast week was Obon, in Japan. In short it is a day , a period of remembrance for one’s ancestors. My Family in Japan went to the temple to pray for Otou-san.  I found there was a shin Buddhist Temple here in Alameda, which is the same sect as Otou-san. We have not gone to the temple for Obon, we usually just do it at home. With the presence of the Temple here I figured I would go. As it turned out it was the exact day of Obon, I went which was the day after here in Japan that the Family went or is it before here… Anyway it was an interesting karmic play to find out it was the day  of Obon.

I had gone by this temple on a couple of occasions for different reason. This time was different, before I had not gone to the service. This time I did. I was greeted by the Minster and Assistant and chatted with and made to feel very welcome. It was a very small group there  that day. I was shocked when opening the service he spoke of me, by name as being blah blah blah, and what a karmic event that it was to bring me there, etc etc. I was not only shocked, but somewhat embarrassed by the praise and welcome.

Having been to several Zen services I was somewhat prepared for the service. Different from Zen, no intense meditation only a few moments of quiet, even that had music going. Then there was a small bit of chanting and a group song. In honor of the the day it was the Obon song. The temple folks may chant well, but their singing needs work…seriously.

The next part of the service was really a surprise it was a sermon, just like in Christian Church’s. Almost. Not talk of the bible and the Holy Trinity but the layout and idea was the same Re-linking/Staying Linked with the Force and Loving one another Dealing with people from the Heart.  I was surprised. Then a small chanting  and it was done. Nice! I like simple short services. It was a comforting experience, feeling familiar from Church days.

I was leaving when the Minister invited to stay for oCha and snacks. I did, I was invited to sit with him and a few others and just chat whilst having tea. Everyone was nice enough, they usually are when you go visit a church. I did feel more comfortable than other churches I’ve visited. The Minister was kind of funny. He was much much friendlier this time. Before polite, but now friendly. It was a worthwhile visit on several levels. I’ll go back from time to time for a couple of reasons, none of which is converting ( it is interesting some of the commonalities with Christianity). It maybe a good place to setup a Kyudo Dojo. Maybe more of that new-birth thing…





Go ju ku Kai…Konbanwa Tanjoubi

14 08 2009

The sail was not uneventful, in case you who have not followed the story so far over to the By Sea site. In short, I thought it was going to be a very relaxed easy sail and in a way it was, but just a dramatic ending, terrifying. (Not really but it gives it some flava). Unexpected. anyway. Moving on.

IMG_0277

This is kind of weird or something, maybe just a coincidence. It is said though there are no coincidence. Remember my loyal readers, all 4 or 5 of you, when I spoke of the Chinese couple this morning. The elder saying things like, your eyes, I do not know the style, you are stronger than me, ( something Sisuk says a lot, the humble Chinese thing. ), doing self defense. then walking away…

Coming back home this evening I park my car away a little further away than usual. I happen to look over and I see two Chinese Lion Dance suits. I look closer I see there are weapons, Plaques, trophies, all around, all neat and organized. Did I say weapons, Chinese staffs, spears etc, etc. There is enough stuff there to fill a school. I look for clues on what this is about. I see Hung Gar. A strong southern style  but not one I had an interest about. So that was a bit of a let down. I also see that this stuff belongs , to not just a master, but a grandmaster. Wow. Now I’m thinking. Hmmm I wonder if there is a connection between this and that Ogi-san from this morning. That would be weird…The weird thing about weird things is… they happen. It would be like a movie if this was the old guy from the park passing by. a great master, being simple, childlike in his connection to the Force. When the student is ready the teacher will come. new birth…wow, I’m just kidding , I used to watch a lot of Chinese Kung Fu movie’s. In fact it’s on for tonight. baby
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LZ made an Oishii-ban go han!! Light, but filling and Tomatoes from the garden.

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Arigato gozaimasu. and the dessert, my idea. Sugoi omai.

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The day is winding down and I got everything done. I hear the Mouseketeers song playing in my head, That means it is time to wrap it up boys and girls. I’m off to watch my Kung Fu movie and reconnect with my chid-like side. My last joy of the day. Otanjoubi Omedeto gozaimasu, zen-san, Rai ne wa ganbatte ne!

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Oyasumi Tanjoubi:

The movie Fearless was a great choice. It was based on a true story. The group , school, Association they are talking about is where both of my systems Grandsmasters came from, Jing Wu.

Both  Chuk Kai Sigong ( Tai Chi Mantis) and Wong Jac Man Sigong ( Northern Shaolin ) were instructors with the Jing Wu. The show spoke of the strong martial ethics governing the operation of the Assoc.  Codes of conduct that are still in effect today. What gave it a finishing final coolness for me was in Jet Li’s last fight his weapon was the Three Section Staff. Seriously Cool!