Final Sunday 09′

28 12 2009

LZ and I stayed home on Christmas. I called my Mum but did not go out there to where she lives. I was not up to dealing with the traffic and LZ needed the rest. However the Spirit told me I should go today. I did so, and got my rusty dusty up and made it over to her Church for service. Of course that made her day.

It was a long service 2 hours well, really 2.5 hours, I was 30 min late and it ran over 30 min. It was entertaining. The children choir, the band, the adult singers, the younger preacher, singing and preaching, very dramatic. So different from the quiet service at the Buddhist temple. I liked them both, both have good messages, the Baptist message is delivered with more fire and flash…and a bit of guilt thrown in. In her church it is more the worship experience than just going to hear the message, sermon, lecture and commune with the Shanga or fellowship. I would love to play with the band, I could get into that, but that is not going to happen with a 1.5 hr drive each way and then a 2 hrs plus service. Besides not feeling like I really fit, but it is a nice place to visit, with a lot of caring people. I am thankful my Mum has them in her life.

From there we went by the nursing home to visit my Step Father. He is out of the hospital and getting physical therapy now along with dialysis 3 times a week at a Nursing Home. He looked much better physically. He was on his way to dialysis when we arrived, so could not stay long…I still have my concerns about him.

So since it was fairly early I took Mum to lunch. I ordered a house salad, and fries. She ordered a monster double Cheese burger. This is a woman almost 90 yrs old. She asked why I ate like that, still a vegetarian, did I get anything worthwhile or was it one of my “things”. My reply was, I am the only one of the children who is not diabetic and the only one who is a vegetarian. Even if it is not the whole reason, it is enough of one to stay the course. Most of the rest of the meal was her commenting on how the burger was too large, she did not expect that. I said, it is called a Monster Double Cheese Burger what did you expect a Kiddy meal? She ended up taking most of it home. We do turn into kids when we get older ne!

I was on the road after that, heading to Tanuki Dojo for some Kyudo practice. I have been waiting to try some of the things Sensei had went over with me last class. After digesting his words I think I had a better idea of what was suppose to be happening. I also gave some thought to what my coach from Germany, the Markster had said (^_^) I was pumped to try my Hikiwake. I still need to work on it A LOT but I think I am on the right path…

As it turned out, I was the only one there practicing that day. It was nice actually. Peaceful to have the place to myself and just shoot. I think I did about 30 shots before it got too dark and I had to close up Even before that though I did try a few shots in the semi-dark just to feel them , not see them. Like “zen” sailing practice with the eyes closed to feel the sailing.

I’m treating myself to a movie tomorrow. IMAX 3D- Avatar. Everyone is talking about it, including people from my Chan practice. They like the movie and the message. I thought it was Avatar – the last Airbender, But it is not, that is later next year I’m glad I checked out the previews otherwise I would have been really confused (^_^)

I’m expecting it to be quiet for the next few days, sooo, perhaps mata until next year. May we all have a better year, in health , love and money, Ganbattemasho ne!  Yosh!

Happy New Year…bring on the Tiger!

So this is Christmas…

26 12 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year…the yr of the Tiger approaches

The Lady Zen and I spent a quiet holiday at home. We only went out once which I will get to later…

He had a few nice Christmas cards and wishes from a few friends and family. LZ had worked the night before so she slept in some on Christmas day. Our Day was pretty low key. I took on the task of cooking for the day, so no worries for LZ who was still recovering from an illness. I started with breakfast. Panettone bread into French Toast. Real Maple syrup , Smart choice “butter” spread, some soy bacon, Low sugar orange juice. Healthy, filling, and Oishii!!

We just hung out after that for a while, took some pictures, talked about Nihon and visiting in April as a business trip. We have close to only two years now to make ready. We made a few calls, as no one called us, but LZ’s bud who we visited a couple of days earlier for a small Christmas gathering

We spoke with the parental units and also the family in Kobe via land line. Disappointed to hear our cards did not make it in time.  I, on purpose did not have the computer running. We did our Christmas day prayer at the temp memorial shrine for my brother where I put some white origami cranes. So it was his first Christmas with us in a way.

Next I started lunch. I prepared pupu’s. Water crackers with, Edamame and humus spread, Smoked Salmon with cream ( low fat) cheese and red onions, artichoke/Jalapeno/parmesan cheese spread with tomato slices and some champagne to wash it down. OISHII!

More hanging out, more pictures, more talk on this n that, no computer, no TV, just some holiday Jazz on the radio. A bit of a nap… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (^_^)

Dinner time, I had started some the night before, the candied Yams. Those I pre-made, Yams, maple syrup, healthy choice “Butter”.

That was just a reheat for those, the main dish was Wild Salmon, I baked it with Garlic, ginger, Lemon, “butter” pepper, onions, carrots, and few other veggies.

When almost done added a few more veggies and Tomatoes so they would be Hot but still raw and an another plate of raw veggies and Humus dip Oishii!

Served with some Riesling Wine . It had a cool sail boat on the label, so I felt it was perfect. It was!

We took a few night pictures, then went for a short drive to look at some of the area’s light decorations.

Low key, and filled with gratitude, Christmas is about, good will toward “men” and the birth of Christ. Even non-Christians should be able to relate and celebrate, the true spirit of Christmas It is not about shopping. We were blessed in being able to do a small about of gifts for a few but did not break the bank to do so.

We lived the thought Christmas is about what is in your heart not what in your wallet. That was the theme for Christmas 09′

Happy Holidays

The Zen Clan

Joy to the world…

25 12 2009

Happy And Joyous whatever you celebrate !!

Peace on Earth, good will to ALL…

Let’s carry it into everyday!!!

Happy Holidays from the Zen Clan to you…

Chirstmas Eve on the Island

It is not the size of your Christmas but the size of your gratitude that matters



Kyudo Season…Zanshin

22 12 2009

…The position after the arrow is released is called Zanshin. The shooting is not yet completed at the release ( Hanare), as there is still something remaining . Expressed as spirit, it is the remaining spiritual energy, and expressed as for, it is the remaining action.

Sunday the final day of the Kyudo Season. Seminars are over and it is my in a way my first real class of training with S. Sensei it was to be a full class day. We start at 11:00 am and run until 4 or 5. Half of the class is suppose to be at his house the second half at the shooting range. However since the range was close due to rain it was a all day Makawara Session. There were a couple of students visiting for the day from the  School in LA. So I was not alone as I expected.

I got to start off the shooting and got my corrections early. The big thing he pointed out right off was my shoulders were too tight, and raising up when I went from Daisan into Kai. S. Sensei came over and pushed down on my shoulder on the next shot I got to feel just how much I was raising up. I was surprised! That was my challenge for the day, dropping and keeping my shoulders relaxed and making a bigger draw. There were some small things of curse as well. but that was the main focus of my lesson. By the end of the day I had much improved and now I know what to Look/ Feel for.  Combining that with what M3 Sensei said made them both click.

I also asked about controlling my Ya at Kai, I was told to add just a bit of twist. Not enough to bend the ya, but just to control it, That way I could keep my left thumb in place. It took some doing but I got fairly good at controlling it.
We spoke also on breath, S. Sensei gave a demo on breathing, and combining that with the timing on Kyudo movements. We touch briefly on that at the Alliance Seminar, S. Sensei went into more detail. He also spoke of How Zen masters Breath and the use of Chi and Physical strength on holding Kali. How as Phyiscal strength fade , one spiritual Strength should rise. The point where they cross is the point of Hanare. We did a Breath drill on releasing air slowly from the Tan Tin ( Dan Tein) we control and sound. I did it the longest. Surpised S. Sensei says ahh, you must do Zen Practice! I said, yeah for a while, but did not go into my marital background. It was kind of funny to hear him say that. It was though most interesting and gave me pause to rethink my breath patterns adjustments  when doing Hikiwake, through Daisan to Kai.

We had a tea break and Sensei gave us a lecture on different tea as he is a Japanese/Chinese tea connoisseur. I was impressed with the depth of his knowledge,

One of the things on my agenda for the day was to inquire about getting into the NCKF/ANKF and attending the international Seminar in Japan next year. It has been a long strange trip to get this far. I took advantage of the Q&A time and a lull in his talk to ask what was involved with going to the seminar and testing in Tokyo. He freely gave me the full run down, then we went back to practice.

I put in more time focusing on my shoulder. Sensei said I had made good advancement in correcting that issue. I was also continuing my stretch, expansion when in Kai. I notice the side effect of my Yumi spin was better, on one shot it went completely around. I was shocked and pleased, now to find that right combo to have it happen all the time.

After another few hours of rounds of shooting, it was time to wrap up things as we had been at it for almost 6-7 hours. We put things away and had more tea. At that time I hit up Sensei on my joining the Northern Ca Renmei organization and going to Japan. Sure he says, we can do the paperwork after the Holidays. Sweet I thought, Yokatta! I was expecting it to be more complex than that, Yokatta. I got permission now I just need the money. I will depend on the Universe, the Tao that opened the path to bring forth the money. Time to get serious with the Kyuhon, April is not that far away…My job is to be ready, the Tao’s job is to provide the Way.

Kami-sama Tokyo ni ikitai desu onagashimasu!!!  (^_^)


Kyudo Season…Hanare

22 12 2009

…When the conditions of the full draw have been fulfilled, the release will be its results

Today was sunny, cool as is expected in Dec but still comfortable. I had a early morning Tai Chi/Kung Fu class to teach. I was  a bit more picky today about the students performance, or expression of the movement perhaps is a better term. I wonder how much of an influence the last weekend of Kyudo practice had to do with that, or just my general state of mind. Hard to believe it was a full week ago we had the Kyudo Alliance gathering. Yet I’m still feeling the presence of it. Perhaps it has to do with writing this blog and setting up the photos on it that keeps it so fresh in my mind.

The afternoon was a Kyudo practice session out at Mare Island Tanuki Dojo with the clan. It was suppose to be basicly a review on Tai Hai. I was all for that as I fell weak still on the presentation of it. There are still a couple of details I am not comfortable with. When we arrived, it turned into a impromptu meeting discussing edict and procedures. Also a big part of the discussion was Kyudo Politics. It is sad how much in fighting and back stabbing is going on among the various factions, not just one or two of them but most of them, not just the Federation but most of them. So sad, sickening makes me vomit blood ( a Chinese saying). Anyway as I said to someone later that evening, it very sad our ( humans) ego screw up so many good things, and that is the Human condition we need to always be on guard against, this is our lifelong demon.Then there are those who decide they are going to make a personal vendetta against certain a group and shame them about their action. By using another group against them. Is not that yet another form of political BS? “can’t we all just get along”…Rodney King

I got in a fair amount of practice on Sat. recalling things suggested to work on. The right arm and the draw where a big thing, still struggling to find the right way. I tried to keep in mind Marcus Sensei’s hand placement in the crock of my right arm as I drew, but still did not feel quite right. We as a group put in some time going through Tai Hai. It is much easier when you do not have to hold a position whilst someone gets instruction. That is brutal!

I did not give much thought to aiming as I was more concentrating on my form, and grip. Whenever one (me) adjusts one thing it changes my targeting. My next upcoming class on Sunday is with my Renmei Sensei. I will compare what he has to say about my form with what I have been doing. I really appreciate him donating time to help anyone who is wanting to learn Kyudo. If not for people like him I would not be able to train. I do not plan on being a Kyudo instructor,  yet I will need to pay it forward when the time comes however the karma manifests itself.


My final event for the day was off to my Shifu’s for a Christmas party almost a 1.5 hour drive from the Kyudo dojo. It is always nice to hang with my family there. I was poured a Brandy eggnog almost as soon as I got settled and did the handshakes, afterward I was told what was veggie foods. I was ready to eat having not eaten as yet.

There were a couple of SiHings I had not expected to see and a pretty full-house of people. There was lots of food and drink.

I had fun hanging with my Tai Chi Mantis classmates at the end of the big table laughing at kung fu stuff with the advance students. They are my first extended family. It was like a Kung Fu movie in a way with the big leaning back laughs. No politics, no sub plots, the BS was in fun, It was a good ending to the day.


Kyudo Season …Kai

21 12 2009

…in terms of form, the stage of the full draw (kai) is the point at which the drawing apart of the bow (Hikiwake) is completed

The final day was here, Sunday. We were back at the 28 meter venue of RSD, aka, Mare Island Tanuki Dojo. The weather was better still cool, but more of a normal Northern CA cool, we had the heater going, and tea on, but over all it was more comfortable. Ed Sensei lead the warm-ups for the day, remarking that he could not keep up with mine. He stated that doing some type of warm up or meditation before shooting was very important. It helped one center and release one self from the attachments of life outside the dojo. Here was a sacred space, sanctuary, those are my words but that is what he said with other words (^_^).

Today was working Renmei Tai Hai. From the first step entering,  through the last exit. We went step by step, inch by inch, first on just walking , and making turns. 90 degrees, 180 degrees. Entering over and over, also some drill to help with staying connected with other around you. Very Tai Chi, and much like group Tai Chi practice.  Where you need to be aware of your self but also connected with those in the group. Finally up to the shooting part. OMG that was painful. The reason being that if you were not the first in line you had to wait, on your knees while the person/people in front received corrections. Pain, pain, pain, and having on thick socks with Tabi’s did not make it easy for one’s toes to bend. What saved me from a total melt down was having worn knee pads. Awww yeah!

Anyway we went round and round with the Tai hai, entering , leaving, entering leaving. Down and up on the knees, Master Marcus explained how this was the physical training of Kyudo. Also how the Masters in Japan looked small and frail but under those robes they are solid. That came from doing the practice over and over, slowing down, slowly up, smooth, mindful. It was inner training as well as external training. Someone remarked how they thought Kyudo was perhaps the most “wimpy” Martial Art until he had to do these Tai Hai drills. Finally we got to the free shooting and the individual instructions. I tried to recall as much as possible from the days before and I finally was getting the keep the fingers together brain link working, also having the tip of the thumb up and the knuckle down help get the Ya something to rest and stay guided with.

After a Tea and cake break we had it it for the rest of the afternoon. Questions, shooting, questions, shooting. The Master felt at one point there were too many questions and not enough shooting. A case of too much analyzing and not enough doing. I thought that was funny, since I had said the same thing to this student on other occasions.

The final call came it was time for the final tournament. This time three targets, each smaller than the other, the grand target was a gold circle about 3 or 4 inch across. No one hit it, and only one person hit the next one up. Nope it was not me this time, I put too much mind into corrections, nor was it the Master. Oh well another day another time. It is not the target it is the practice… (^_^)

We went back to the Chinese restaurant for the Last Supper. In spite the bit of drama from finding out we were outrageously charged for a bottle of Shochu on the last visit, the dinner was good.

We had a lot of food, and once again put it all away with plently of talk and laughter. Our ‘fortune” cookie we thought were right on, even though they no longer put “fortunes’ in them they are wise saying.

Anyway we took our final group shot and parted ways, until the next go round…2010

So ended the Alliance Gathering but not the saga…

Hikanu-Yazuka ganbattemasho.

Kyudo Season…Hikiwake

19 12 2009

…is the movement of drawing apart equally to the left and right after the bow has been raised to the position above the head. This stage in the shooting is central to determining whether the quality of the shooting is good or bad.

Sat, Day 2 of three. Everyone is pretty jazzed up today as it is the opening day of the 60 meter dojo. Thankfully it is a warmer day, even though there is still rain expected. This is my first time viewing the new range. It is impressive in it’s size.

However the tingler for me was the heated restroom. Yup simple pleasures, do it. One walks into this restroom, and the warmth of the heater flushes over you like a wave on the beach. Nice. The rest of the building is cold, not like RSD but cold.

The advance lads have done an excellent job of getting things set up. Target, spacing etc. We brought along an propane heater today , but turns out it has the wrong fittings needed to run it. Oh, well. We made do. So we finally decided after much discussion to formal suit up and get busy. Several of the lads were straining at the reins to shoot 60 meters. Like kids on Christmas.

Master Marcus from team M3 was to be the first as honored guest and the strongest shooter to go the full 60 meters. A couple of the other guys, who could not wait to shoot had done a few warm-up shots at 40 meters.

However MM was to take away the 60 meter virginity.  Once we had Rai’d in and did our warmups for the day, with yours truly being ask to do the honors, we got down to business.

After Master Marcus’s gallant and stylish attempt at the full Monty, Ed Sensei had the rest of us, take two shots at the target. Everyone got a a solo shot and picture at the line of the valley.

I’ll call it a valley, because like standing on the ledge of a valley you got a time lag from the sound of the Yumi to the sound of the Ya hitting down by the target. It was impressive.  This was not an easy undertaking. First one had to find the distance, which for the rest of us with not as strong a Yumi as the master’s, who shot with a monster bow, we had to adjust the height for the travel. This meant the old ways of sighting, with the half moon, thing, went out the window. One had to take several shots and be consistent each time to judge the correct trajectory.

After all had done their two ya’s it was open shooting. I came close but no hit, even though I made the distance I hit high a couple of times. Others came close as well , but only one maybe two did a hit before I needed to leave. I do not recall who that was.  There was a incident, a injury during the target assault.There were a couple of other Ya’s damaged in the shooting, though none as dramatic as this …

It was not a day of lengthy instruction, we did receive some direction and things to remember on Hikiwake and Kai. There was no formal displays like on Friday.

It was much more of a freestyle shoot and test of distance skills. My time as well as team M3 , Ed Sensei’s, and one other was limited as we had plans to go to SF to pay respects to the Chukurin -han Sensei .

After the disappointment of some of us stopping early we took a few group shots before packing up.

Camera at 60 Meters, group at 40 meters

Sadly we head off to SF, as the rain broke from the morning down pour. I had the unpleasant surprise of finding my car window down and my seat wet from the morning deluge. Lucky for me I had my somewhat water proof jacket to sit on and turned on the seat heater. Still it was not that comfortable sitting in the traffic jam to get into the City.

Our visit to the Chikurin-Han school was short as we got there late due to traffic. We watched a few shots and the Sensei’s chatted.

From there we went to Japan town which was around the corner. There we spend the rest of the evening. A large part of it in a noodle shop taking Kyudo. Once the others arrived from the Enteki we went to E Sensei’s room and spent the rest of the evening, going over Kyudo Philosophy and theory.

It was a different day from Friday, the company was good and the food was good,  it was more of a scholarly day than a warrior day, at least for those of us who left the Enteki early. However still a good day. Sunday was deemed as a full day of being on the line.