Friday Fu @ Shifu’s…Oct 09

31 10 2009

I arrived just a bit behind the approx start time, due to a late start and some phone issues. Again Fong Sisuk was there, I guess he is making it a regular monthly stop now. Nice. When I arrived they were already working on the Wooden dummy training partner. Fong Sisuk was showing the difference between doing the application on the training dummy and doing it with a live person. Most of it had to do with “closing”, as in closing the arms or hands. How the skills are directly transferred with a small adjustment for because working with a movable person.


Even though I brought along my weapons bag, I just watched and absorbed what was being said instead of practicing my weapons forms.

After a while he went into knife defense. He stressed how the knowing the application is only a small part of doing the technique when dealing with a knife. It is the accumulation of training that makes the techniques work, Strength, timing, etc. things that come from working with multiple weapons, partners, etc. KNOWing one’s style’s basics and being able to perform them well. It is NOT just about knowing a few knife defense applications. After that, we went through several defense technique stressing not only hands positions, but footwork and body placement. Knife work is a high art not to be taken lightly, you get one chance to make it work…


After a few rounds and explanations of training, we broke for food and chit chat. In the past when Sisuk visited, he would take off about this time, these days he has been staying and hanging with us. Sharing some stories about Sigung and his own training history with him. even though Eng Shifu is his elder, Fong Sisuk was with Sigung longer and spent more training time with him. Fong Sisuk is regarded as the youngest Shifu of the 8th generation the Northern Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis style. So it is always interesting to hear his memories of the grandmaster.


Usually we go home after eating, tonight Fong Sisuk starting talking about various weapons, that Shifu had there at the school. He mostly gave a demo and some history on the spear halbard and tell of how dangerous a weapon it was. Not a interesting form to learn  or see, because it is all in the application.


With some other chatting on misc topics, Sigung’s intense training session in his later years. His stressing knowing the qualities of Mantis in combat being likened to the I-ching and it’s changing dynamics, being able to flow and adapt with those changes.  Soon we ended the evening as it was getting late. There is a certain ego coolness, and responsiblity in being a Shifu, but it there is a fun factor that comes in when just being a student and hanging out with classmates. Perhaps more pronounced to me with having few friends, and none to just hang with regularly.

I was pleased after it all that I only have a 45 min drive now instead of and hour plus, even late at night. Sweet! No more sessions until after the holidays. This was the last Friday Fu until 2010.

and now for something completely different…Halloween

28 10 2009

I have never been a big fan of Halloween. Teaching kids to go out an beg for candy. Too much sugar, bad for health and teeth, etc. The sicko with putting “stuff” in “treats’ to hurt or kill. The Vibe of evil, death etc. Yeah I need to lighten up. It is though just my opinion maybe something left over from a bad childhood memory…even LZ says Halloween is weird.

Anyway… as I drive around the island, I notice that some people here are really into Halloween. I have never seen such effort put into the houses for it. Today while on the Motorcycle. I took some picture for my 4 or 5 maybe I’m up to 6 readers now…


This was built over several weeks


You can see the rest of the pictures HERE:


The Finger Pointing To The Moon

19 10 2009

One of the things we learn in Chan is not to place so much value on labels, names, not to get lost in them. eg: God, Allah, Jehovah, Buddha. Names are just a way of putting something in a box, in a sense of limiting something. The Tao Te Ching says, that “The Tao that can be named is not the True Tao”. As an Artist I tend to think more with one side of the brain, you know the left and right brain thing. I tend to see things at times more in a broader sense  and not analyze things so much. I purchased a small Omeyage (gift) for the Tanuki Dojo a small ornamental set of Swords and brought it in on Sunday. One of the Sempai, seemed as though he could not mentally accept it as simply a decoration, a trinket. It had to be “something” it needed a purpose. I heard ,” it seems to be a letter opener to me”, I heard this several times.  Is this a joke or serious I was asked? My response was, it is like Monday’s. Like Monday’s he says. Yes, Monday’s are not good or bad, they just are, it is how we interpret them that make it good or bad. Monday’s just are. These swords, like Monday’s are whatever you want them to be…


In Kyudo terms perhaps my Sempai, was missing part of his Kyudo lesson and focusing too much on the “mato” (target) and not the spirit of the shot. In Zen terms, getting lost on the finger pointing to the moon, and missing all the heavenly glory

It makes me wonder why labels are so important to people. He his White, Black, Christian, Jew, Buddhist. The storm is bad, it blew down this house , that tree, ruin the floor.  It also brought much needed water for crops, drinking, it gives life and takes it away…The storm just is, we interpret it into something . Perhaps it is just our human need to organize things, life, the universe…perhaps what we perceive as a sense of control of things. We can not control it, but it we label it , in our minds it gives us some sense of control by limiting it with the label.


Names, labels have their place, their need, but sometimes we get too lost on the Finger Pointing to the Moon.

The storm continues…

19 10 2009

The storm had past several days ago, but there was still talk of it, some good, some not so good. In Temple Sunday, Rev Sensei spoke of the storm and how it cleared the air, it was good for life. He also remarked on how our spiritual life can be like a shower for our lives, washing away the negative energy like the storm washed away the smog and bad air. A spiritual life is needed to refresh our spirit, like the earth needs a cleaning storm to refresh the earth.


I went to Kyudo practice Sunday afternoon. Results of the storm were also present, this time in not so positive way. We practice in an old warehouse, some of the windows are broken, which is how the Tanuki enter. There was a plan to cover these broken and open windows with plastic, alas it was too late. During the Typhoon, the rain came in…big time and damaged the floor. It did not ruin it, but it is no longer pristine as before for having a pool of water sit on it for a day or so. We have a work plan this weekend to cover the windows. A bit like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, but it will save the rest of the floor from further damage.

Sunday practice at Tanuki was different, somewhat of a challenge. We share the space with a company, we are in the loft. There were workers there this Sunday, doing their thing. Sadly their thing included playing NPR radio..loudly! The only peace that was there had to come from inner peace and mindfulness. It was a test of focus and mindfulness to shoot. It was not a bad practice , just different. In a way good training as one of my former Sifu’s said, one can not alway go sit and face a wall to find calmness and focus. In the real world one needs to be able to tune into that at any time, under any conditions…

Bamboo in the Storm

18 10 2009

It was a magnificent storm a few days ago, I found out later it was a Typhoon born in Nihon. Fitting for a post on the merit of Bamboo.

the storm

Bamboo has a lot of traits that we can admire. It is versatile, hard when needed, adapts to many environments, parts are eatable and is flexible. It is used to make homes, floors, furniture, shields, hats, ladders, musical instruments.  It can teach us some things on dealing with life and survival. It is perhaps my favorite plant at least one of Five.

zen in bamboo

Having just returned recently from a trip to what many call paradise, thanks to a long term plan of LZ, and indeed it was special. Once back and facing the present reality, EDD, underemployed, bills, rent, car repair, the list goes on…I felt a connection to the storm, perhaps not the storm so much as the Bamboo. As I watched the touch of the wind whip the bamboo on our lani , from side to side, back and forth, like a cat shaking it prey I could not help but recall the saying…” In the storm be the bamboo”. Life at times is indeed like living in a typhoon. One’s only hope of surviving is to “be the bamboo” rooted and flexible. I was reflecting on the turbulence of my life right now at least on the financial front. I tried to absorb the lesson from watching my plants and imagine them speaking to me. Yet I could not help but wonder if the bamboo gets tired of being slashed around. A stupid thought because it has no conscienceless. It is not a sentient life form, it is just a life form…it just is…perhaps. Maybe in some type of plant thought it is thinking. Thank the great Plant that I am a bamboo and can be flexible in this storm , and I’m not that big oak laying on it’s side, I’m grateful for that. However it sure is tiring to be slapped around like this. I’ll be glad when it is over. This being banged around sucks. I wish I could go inside with the moving plants that funny looking brown one that water me or my homie that is just by the hard clear thingy checking me out.

I can relate to that thought…


One the bright side, even the Typhoon does not last forever and one day the sun shines again. So one message of the Bamboo is be flexible, and bend in the wind, when the storm passes, straighten up and keep reaching for the sky. However, as for me, for now, I’m emotionally tired.

Hmmm I should write a funky blues song, called Like a Bamboo in the Storm