Bone yard Kyudo

31 01 2010

Sat. am I was up sleepy eyed and tired, yet I headed out to Kungfu class. I had to ganbatte as I am the Shifu. I would have preferred to stay in bed. Once there after some stretching, breathing, etc, I was good. We had a small class as usual but meaningful.

Next I went home did some this n that and heading then to Kyudo practice. The Tanuki clan, -1 were going to shoot at the 60 meter Dojo, called the BoneYard. There are several reasons for this name, at least for us. One is there are dead mice skeletons here and there since it use to be a grain storage warehouse or something like that, so the little guys are still around. Another reason at least to us is it destroys Ya’s.

It was a beautiful weather day. The bone yard is right next to the water, the inlet leading to Vallejo marina and Mare island. I took in visually the sight and recalled sailing up this very channel a couple of times. Peaceful thoughts to go into Kyudo practice.

The setup was easy and somewhat simple, there were some adjustments to be made but we over came and got on with the shooting. This was only our second time here and doing this, so it took some adjustments. Distance , angle, draw, sighting, 60 meters is a whole new game.

After a few test shoots I was able to start hitting the target, as did my Sempai.

After a while I started feeling the effects of a late night Kung Fu session and a early class. I went outside to sit in the sun and enjoy the water view. I got somewhat of a second wind and went back for more.

We had about 1 hour left, I did a couple more shots, some hit, some did not. I found something I notice the other day at RSD, after a few shots, there is a certain peace that settles in around me. A quiet, not the quiet of no noise but the quiet of doing Zazen. Things slow down, like going into another dimension, of this reality. I took my time shooting and in holding Kai, I have found the zone for holding Kai and continuing to expand without feeling stressed from holding the Yumi in place. I took my last two shots. Bam, Bam… both hits. Two Shoots , Two hits. Yatta!

I quit while I was ahead (^_^)

Kyudo afternoon, Kung Fu nite

30 01 2010

It was a long day, it did not start off raining there was some sun, for a bit.

I was up later than my regular time. For some reason I was pooped and did not want to get up before the sun. I had Chan practice on Thursday night. It was a quiet practice just me and my two Chan sisters. We got a little caught up on our current life, and what Shifu was doing. It was kind of nice just the three of us. We had a 35 min. sitting then a chat. Anyway I digress.

On Friday I did some organizing of some of my brothers stuff to get ready for our trip to Sacramento on Sunday for the Memorial Service. Afterwards I headed out to V-town for some Kyudo practice. I was doing a solo practice today as my Sempai was there on Weds and Thurs. He needed so  solo time so I changed my plans fro today which gave me some. It worked out. Sat we will have group practice at the 60 meter Dojo.

Today I was at RSD, I did not have to clean up the great lakes that were there last time. There was only a little creek this time, which I made short work of making disappear. Then I had at it. I practiced my Tai Hai 5 times. I had 5 arrow per shooting set, and was going for a 25 arrow day. So at the start of each set I did Tai Hai, then just did regular shooting. It worked out well. I did some taping so I could check myself later and also have a couple of teachers check me as well. Overall I think i did pretty well only a few small mistakes, forgetting to left the knee at first, and not keeping the Yumi tip at eye level when turning at couple of time. Other wise it went pretty well. Even when I smacked myself with the string when shooting I did not lose form. Kung Fu training helps, because it really hurt. But i did not show it, from the tape play back. Not only that I still made the shot. That was only two time I made the shots back to back and one of those was when I got hit. That was my best series in fact. I made three out of five shots that set. I know for sure two of them where back to back, it could have however been more. Now I just need to keep that up.

If I can do three out of five all the time I’d be pleased. Even two out of two consistently.  I think my Hikiwaki looks better, it feels better, larger and I can hold Kai much better now. It was a 25 arrow day. If I can maintain that once a week plus a regular class with Sensei, I think I’ll be ok for testing. More time would be better, but the there is the travel cost to deal with on a shrinking budget. Anyway it was a good day at the Dojo, at least the ending shots were even after I got tired. So that is really an improvement.  My Tenuchi was better through out.

Friday Fu

After heading home for a little break. I watched the tape of my Tai Hai , not too bad I had a bowl of cereal and heading out to Kung Fu. It was raining now, and the traffic was bad. It in fact sucked. So I did not get to Shifu’s until much later than I planned. As it turned out, Shifu was not there. My classmates and Art Sihing were there along with Fong Sisuk, but Shifu was not.

When I arrived they we deep into a discussion of Knife defense application. Fong Sisuk was explaining the difference between doing some beginners drills and advantage real life usage. As usual stressing that it is one strong foundation is training that makes the difference in usage. Also stressing the Principals. The technique changes from situation to situation but the principals are the same.

He did a few demo’s on disarms and for some reason I ended up being the attacker…pain pain pain, my hands are cut up from his fingernails digging into my pressure points. He would say, oh sorry I do not mean to hurt you. You ok? I say yeah, but I have to play guitar on Sunday. From then on I tried to stay away from being the demo guy and keep someone else next to him (^_^).

We spoke on many subjects that night. How it is more important to KNOW a form, the in’s and out’s than to know a lot of forms (sets/Kata). Sets are important, but they can only take one to a certain level you need to have a training partner to feel how things are going to really work. We also spoke about styles history, Shaolin, northern vs Southern styles.  Training methods, training that one get out of a technique beside the application. About the form/ set from our system that is from a famous bandit. Which Mantis system is more closely related to Tai Chi Mantis, in theory and application. Which is more closer in linage. How the use of the wooden dummy training in Wing Chun is different from Dummy training in Tai Chi Mantis. What is the difference between Seven Star and Tai Chi Mantis in appilcation. Which of the two is closer to Shaolin. Also how the 9th generation (mine) is not making any advancements in the art. With us it like a change of guard or going from a war vet serving President to a peace time President. The mind set, the culture the times are different. My generation is the last to learn from the old school masters.

It was an interesting late night session. They were still at it when I had to leave. They were moving over to the Wooden dummy as I was getting ready to head home. It was 11:30pm and I had a early morning Kung Fu class to teach.


29 01 2010

Time to wake up to the truth…

Just because it’s bottled, does not mean it’s better.

This was your Public service announcement, from the Zen Network


Return to Roots

29 01 2010

My last trip to LA was to clean out my Brother’s apt. He was still alive, it was weird. His main concern when I told him I was going to do it was to get his instruments. I did along with other misc stuff. A short time later a matter of two weeks if that he passed away. I have his Bass, I tinkered with it a bit. Not that long ago I purchased a new Bass for myself, which I wrote about just before doing some studio work on a audio book sound track. So I was not really that interested in his Bass. Anyway, It is a 6 string, this one of my brothers is a 4. I am finding though it is very nice. I plan on taking it to Japan as part of my musical gear.

A couple of weeks, well almost a couple of months really I went to church with Mum and came up with the idea of doing a song with Lil brother’s Bass for his memorial service. I figure my sister will spring something on me to do like a speech which I dislike. This way I’ll beat her to it and be in control. I’ll do a little tune on his Bass.

It is this Sunday, I have been practicing this week. My chops are really bad, I was ready to change the plan and back out of this more than a couple times. I found out this Bass is really nice after listening to it through an Amp rather than just feeling the action un-plugged. But that is not the point. I applied some Zen philosophy to my playing and uncomplicated what I was trying to do. Tune into the music not how I was playing and keep it simple and just play. I’m feeling better and the song is coming along to the point I feel like I can pull it off. Part of the thing is I’m doing a solo, it has been years since I’ve done that and even then with a guitar and a harmonica, not just a Bass and Harmonica. I found was trying to play to much to fill in the missing pieces.  Focusing on what I have, not what I’m missing made the difference.

I’m still a bit nervous because I know I will made some mistakes, and there is no band to cover it up. Also it will be the first time playing in front of my family and Mum’s church folks. It will make her happy, it will make me nervous. I think I owe it to my brother to ganbatte. It will be good practice also for centering and being calm under the pressure I will face in Japan. In a way it will be like doing Kyudo, focus on doing the simple form correct ( notes), not rushing, complete each part, being mindful, the arrow will find the target.  Just another form a training. Sometimes it is not that you make a mistake, like dropping an arrow,  it is how you handle yourself or the situation after you make the mistake. Yosh!

a Sunday before 83 days…

26 01 2010

Tick tock on the Kyudo clock…

On Sunday I went to the temple. It was the day of New Year service at Alameda Buddhist Temple. There was a rare sighting of a Blasian couple there, one of us. They were young, maybe mid 20’s and had a very cute baby with them, they sat with the girl’s father. What was really unusual was one couple, brought their dog. I’ve seen this hound before there. He is very well behaved. I just think it is very different to bring your dog to church. I wonder if the Baptist churches would allow that. I would have brought Hanako to service with me when she was alive.

Service was short but not as short as usual, it did run over some which is rare. There was lunch served afterward because of the New Year event. I had planned on staying however once they said there was Prime Rib being servered I changed my plans. I had Kyudo practice anyway afterwords. Oh, one other thing that makes this “church” different is they had “wisdom juice” ( liquor) as Rev Sensei calls it served at the luncheon. That is really different. One woman said that another meeting, we do not have cast in stone rules, we have guides to live by. We strive to achieve these higher things, but we still enjoy things of life with moderation.

After I paid my respects where due, I sliped out to go to Kyudo practice.

Today in class we had a visitor form China doing Kyudo with us. He was not Chinese, but an American who lived and worked in China. He is studying Kyudo there with a Japanese Sensei. While in Ca he was making the rounds of visiting Renmei schools. I kind of got the impression that he was also teaching or helping teaching China, but I:m not sure since his skills were  not all that, maybe my impression came because he was a talker.

Since I arrived late I did not get much shooting time in. The morning practice at the house was all shooting at the Makiwara. I got there with about 30 min left. So I did a watch and learn practice rather than do the stringing and all. Once we went to the afternoon practice area we got dressed, and put up the targets. There we spent the afternoon doing Tai Hai. I kind of like doing Tai Hai, maybe because I have to, I get into it. It is tiring though. And now a couple of days later , my leg hurts. I guess I need to do it more around the house. I thought I was doing it enough to be helpful, but I guess not enough or my leg would not be sore. So I have some 83 days to get my leg strength better. Also my timing, I got the timing if I am in the first three of the group, but I am still unclear on the 4th or 5th person, that is the tricky part, when to knock. I now when the person in front the person in front of me does Hanare I stand, the rest is unclear.… 83 days and counting.

Some plans get all wet…

22 01 2010

It has been raining here for the last three days. This is unusual, but maybe not, I lose track of things like this sometimes. After all it is winter so maybe it is normal we get a couple of weeks of rain, then it’s mostly done.

Anyway… I planned on Kyudo practice today, having passed on a couple of days and with EDD running out I really need to be selective about my travel and even more so when I have to pay a bridge toll. I headed out to the Dojo in the afternoon. I figured on a nice quiet afternoon of practice, with the rain as a background noise. My shock came when I went to the Dojo and found there was a mini sized reproduction of the great lakes on the dojo floor!! Yikes!!! With an added kick of Tanuki tracks for cuteness.

I settled in to cleanup the best I could with what I had. There was a wet/dry vac, but no power. I did it the ole school way, push the water and mop. It was slow, but, not a big deal. So much for my plan of Tai Hai practice. No kneeing on the wet floor. So I just worked on my shooting. I still got the sound of rain as a backdrop to the afternoon shot, but with added part of water inside as well. Ce’st La Vie. After 25 shots,  call it a day and back outside into more rain. It is a good thing I like the rain, but driving in it not so much.

Form, aim and breath, form, focus and breath, form and focus. I worked on alignment, that helped, There was no pain, there was little shaking most of the time it felt correct. Far from perfect but on the track. I had a couple of shots that felt right, both were good hits, one was dead center. I started focusing on the center more, making it zoom into to me, at least grow larger, it was kind of weird when it happened. Burning that image of the center into my brain, then Bam! Hit! Yeah Baby! I’m at about a 31% hit rate. Not all that good but, better than before. If  can get that up to a 50% by the the tourney. I will feel ok. So with some 88 days to go most of these post will be Kyudo related , as the Kyudo clock goes tic tock. After that it will be business as usual.

It looks like things are working out for the trip, there is some family assistance on making this happen. There are some family affairs that need to be handled so that is perfect. It also looks like I will be able to see my first Renmei Kyudo Sensei. He is still teaching on the same schedule as when I was there two years or so ago. I think he will be surprised I am still with it. He will be my first major Kyudo reality check in Japan. I am feeling nervous about that, but if he says I’m ok, I will feel more confidant going to test with his corrections/adjustments. So it is good I can see him before the Event.

I’m walking around the apt these days doing the walk and kneeling practice. Doing the Tai Hai for the most part, to me is just doing another form, another Kata. I think my shooting is ok for the beginners exam, I do need some practice with the Tai Hai timing. I will not really have that many more classes between now and then, because I will need ot make myself available for work with the sailing school, with no EDD which means weekends. Which is the only time I can take lesson, so I have to really practice with what I have in limited time, and even more limited funds.

Anyway the trip is being made possible by outside forces, so I’m sure things will work out all the way around. It is time for my fortune to improve. The condo short sale has finally closed, Yay! I’ve got those two interviews under my belt. I’m waiting now to see WHEN is the second round. I’ve also gotten a couple of freelance web projects, things are starting slow but feels like they will pickup, even though there has been a slow down with Sisuk’s projects. I just need to be patient, and have faith in the Force.

Next week I need to tune into the the musician Chi. I said I would do a song for my bother’s memorial service using his Bass. So I will need to practice and tap into that energy and no Kyudo class next week. I should however get one day a week  at least out at RSD to practice. Crunch time over the next 88 days to make this all work. Yosh!



19 01 2010

Hope comes in many forms, A phone call, an arrow that hits the target, an email, the loss of pain, a break in the storm…

I went to practice with the Tanuki clan yesterday. My shoulder was better but not perfect, more Tiger Balm and spirit and I had at it. Bit by bit it was getting better. There was a point where I forgot about it all together. There was hope, I was not seriously injured. By the time practice was over I was aware of the loss of pain. I’m not sure still what caused it, but it stopped almost as suddenly as it started. What came out of it was better shooting . Going beyond the pain, something we say in Kung Fu, continuing to train. Going beyond the pain to make a break through. Hold the stance a little longer.

When I was doing the 108 ya shoot, I had some pain issues come up in my hand and wrist. What came out of that was an understanding of the correct way to hold the string and release. It was a major break through. Painful at the time, but it cause me to rethink my approach…Hard lessons stick.

So my shooting for yesterday I tried using a lighter Yumi and found I could shoot easier, but it was also easier to fall into a bad habit…non-alignment. I found I could shoot better when I did my alignment correctly and feel no pain, less strain. The lighter Yumi helped me to find that spot.  So when I took that lesson over to my Yumi , which was stronger and really became aware of my proper alignment there was less strain and again I shot better. It was a small things, but it made a big difference. I’m thinking the shoulder pain was again due to incorrect shooting. Once I found the better position, no pain, no strain, well less anyway. I began to think again, there is hope . I can do this, I will not have to find another Yumi for the Tokyo gathering. Once again there was a painful lesson, which cause me to rethink, my approach..Painful lessons stick. Out of the pain, going beyond the pain, comes Hope.

I watched the wind blow today, rather I watched the results of the wind blowing hard, because you can not see the wind. Knocking plants around, whipping the bamboo, slapping it around back in forth. The rain came and went, then came back again to dance with wind currents and rejoin the wave crashing on the shore. As I write this, the wind has stopped , the clouds part and the sun blindly shines into my eyes while I sit on the sofa, with the beat of music in my ears. The sun still is not fully out, there are still some clouds, but there is a break, there is hope of the clearing of the storm. If not today, or tonight, or even tomorrow, the sun is still up there waiting it’s turn for a break through.

Is not everything in life like this, huge storms, then clearing. From large things, large storms, to small things, small storms. In a way, each end is a miracles or each beginning is a miracle. I got a email today asking for a phone number so I could be interviewed for a web-design job. The second interview in one month after months of nothing… but pain, disappointments, winds, and clouds. With the New Year, again there is hope.

Hope is not the bird in the hand , but it is better than despair in the darkness. Better to walk with the light of a candle than to crawl in the dark, with no hope…Yosh.

Be not defeated by the Pain…20 Arrows,Yosh

17 01 2010

After doing a two day  web-design marathon. I found I have a pain in my left shoulder, more like a soreness really. Not a Banged up pain but a stiffness, limited motion pain,whatever. I think I spent way too much time in one or two position with my arm in a bad way too long position. I do not usually is at the table when doing stuff, I sit on the floor or on the sofa. My arms are more relaxed there. This time if thought I would sit better for a long period at the table. Wrong move!

When I was doing Kung Fu full time, when we got hurt, we would still keep practicing, just deal with it work around it, back, arms, legs, whatever. You just deal with it and keep moving. That kind of philosophy also applies to life in general, Stuff happens, deal with it keep moving.

Today I was determined to get some kyudo practice in. (Only about 90 days left) So after teaching my morning class, I headed off to Tanuki for the afternoon, after a major drama at home that is. I broke a glass with the Yumi  when I layed it against the wall. It hit a glass when it fell, the glass hit the stone counter top… pieces went everywhere. LZ would not let me clean it up, she said I was not careful enough cleaning!!  Gomen ne! 😦

Just a block from the Dojo , Sempai called, I was going to be alone there. Ok…

I got ready to shoot, certain movements in preparing were not pleasant at all, as in painful. This was going to be a challenge. Being Shaolin , I had at it! It was not too bad, not good , but not too bad. After a while of getting warmed up the pain was less. In a way this kind of training is good, if you do not over do it. I planned on doing that, not overdoing it But going beyond the pain… for a bit.

After 10 shots, groups of 5, a short break, and some heavy concentrated effort I managed to do ok on the 3 group. That was my best for the day. That put me at 15 shots. I figured on 20 then call it a day. The first one of 5 was poor, I could feel myself losing it, I concentrated and relaxed more on the finals and did better.

best of the day

I packed it up after 20, to save myself for Sunday practice with the clan. My discovery for the day was. Alignment I was thinking, my aim was off on the shoots, even though I was in pain I should be doing better. I was not that far off from my regular shots. I could feel myself shake on several. I was thinking, maybe I should see about borrowing a lighter bow for the testing. I see those girls and others in Japan in Kai they look so relaxed…I could be like that with a lighter bow, take my time be steady, Bam, hit baby!! Then I tried moving my shoulders more, adjusting so my upper body and arms ( frame) did the support not my arms in Kai. It made a difference! That with some upper body training, maybe some weights or the right exercises could make a big difference…or a lighter Yumi to use for the test. Like using a smaller motorcycle to take your driving test instead of your Harley.

Undercover geek

16 01 2010

After spending most of the day in front of a computer screen for the second day doing one thing or another, I have decided I am a undercover geek. Someone once said to me if you have more than 1 computer your a geek. I have 4 laptops. One is really old, …really really old, still has windows 97 on it. Yeah, it’s that old. One Mac will not boot, one I inherited from my bother, the other Mac I purchased, the last Laptop is a PC from a former job, I was given it. Not too bad since I did not buy all of them…half. Anyway that qualifies me for a geek card.

I spent most all of yesterday working on a couple of websites. Mostly one Not just the site, but graphic background, logo, trying things, etc. I get into it. When I’m doing something Arty, I’m there. So, hmmm maybe this is not a full geekness, since it was arty, art geek??? Anyway, it is good, I enjoyed it and felt it was a “dharma thing” . Which is very good since I have not gotten a thanks for it. I was not doing it for the money so it is not about that. There is a sense of “art” completion that goes with seeing a creation done and appreciated … appreciated is kind of key, but done will work some time with the right mental adjustment.


The other project is for my Kyudo Sensei. I felt since he was doing a Dharma /Karma thing teaching me Kyudo, I would do the same for him designing a website.

It is also a learning thing or me as well trying some new ideas on design and technique . Sometimes they work, sometimes… not so much. This site I also put a blog with it. I do not know if Sensei will use it, or just me writing even more stuff this time just on Kyudo. However he, Sensei is a smart guy and knows alot, it would be good if he did put some of it down into a blog. There are few Kyudo Blogs around. It would be nice to have someone who knows something to write a blog on Kyudo from a higher view. I’m just a newbie and writing my new guy experiences. Someone who knows a lot more than me, like someone who I will not name, or someone of rank who has been in it for years it would be great to hear something from them.

Anyway, tomorrow I go back undercover with my geekness. I teach my Kung Fu / Tai Chi class in the morning then shoot Kyudo in the afternoon. Then home for dinner and some book study, Japanese, Kyudohon. The test in April is not just about shooting it is also about term, language, form. I have at this writing some 94 days to get my act completely together. I’m pretty sure I’ll get some Kyu, but Sho-dan is my goal. As for the tourny, it is all about the experience, the journey. I’m still not sure where the money is coming from , but I’m planning as it it will happen and expect the Universe to make it happen, that’s it’s job.

I got dumped by Google doing the ad click thing. They said I was a risk, what does that mean? I did not even get my $20.00 buck form it grrrrr.  Maybe the things I am selling of my brother’s will help finance the trip. If nothing else I will dip into my reirement funds. I think this trip will be important enough for that, since it is not just all about Kyudo. I’ll drop by one or two talent agencies and see a couple of working musicians, maybe I can setup some connections for future work. I will also have another meet with an acquaintance who owns several sailing schools in Japan. Maybe I can get a job with his group . He is also a Zen Master so we connect on a couple of levels. I would also like to hear one of his lectures on Zen, maybe Zen and sailing, we had a talk on that before on my last visit, over tea. Another thing about this trip, beside looking for an area to live,  is it will be my first time traveling alone for a great distance in Japan. It will test my skills on many levels as LZ will stay home with Okasan. I’ll just be out there…in Nihon…alone. To bad I dislike Tokyo.

Sunday back to Kyudo practice. The Tanukui clan will have a “sit down” over tea with our resident problem child on his wanting to change the name and start teaching some classes at the dojo. Which will most likely mean another Web project for me. Which is ok, it helps build my portfolio for working.

A bit of good news, and perhaps a good sign for the New Year, I have signed the final papers on the short sale of the Condo…whoohoo! There is still the tax stuff to deal with , but at least the getting the payment notices and calls is done, whoo hoo!  Now the next big good news I need is a JOB! that would be off the hook good! More so if it is a job a want not just a job, but I would be very grateful for that even since my unemployment is is just about done. Time for the Miracle worker to step up.

Dharma Karate

14 01 2010

Dharma Karate, when I first saw that sign I thought, huh, what is this? This was over at the Alameda Buddhist Temple, I was checking things out. I thought hmmm maybe some kind of new Spiritual internal Karate. That would be different since it is so much about power to me, on the beginning levels. I met the Reve Sensei and started visiting the service and went by the Karate class. It was a small class the Minister was the Sensei I was surprised at that. Anyway the class was small when I firs tstarted visiting there was only one kid, then that grew to two later. I had heard here and there about people who ahd studied with him when they were younger.

I was invited to come work out when I could. I came most Tuesdays, since I was not working, it was something to do and it helped the Sensei and gave me a little practice. I was not and still am not into doing Karate anymore, but I figured well it is helping someone, and it gives me some practice. After a while a couple of other kids came and one parent. They have been there for a while. I call it a while because it has been over  a couple of months, records for people sticking with this type of training.

Anyway I do not really get any training out of this, I help teach so it is in a way my karmic pay back for the instructions I have recived in the past and still do from my teachers. Perhaps that is how my karma is working, should work.

This week I was asked to teach the full class since Rev. Sensei was going to be in Japan. I said ok, I dug up some punching mints to donate to the class as well.  I had them do a pretty good work out, I saw a couple of them sweating and breathing hard. I make them work. I am harder on them than the Sensei is most times. So it was good.They seem to like that I give them more complex things to do.

I had thought that Dharma was the teachings of Buddha, or the truth from the Buddha, or something like that. Wikipendia says:

The term About this sound dharma (help·info) (Sanskrit: dhárma, Pāḷi dhamma) is an Indian spiritual and religious term that means one’s righteous duty, or any virtuous path.

So within that context, me helping to teach or Sensei teaching for no charge to these people, like my Kyudo Sensei does for me, is a form of Dharma… Dharma Karate. I get it now.