14 days…

31 03 2010

This time two weeks from now I will be in Japan again or at least flying towards it. Wow, it has been a couple of years since my last visit. I’m looking forward to it. Seeing the family will be nice. I hope the weather will be good! Last time it was cold. This is the latest in the year I have gone, I will have missed the Sakura, they will be gone, bummer. Hopefully all the chill as well, I will miss.

In addition to handling family business, and Kyudo I have a couple of Jam session tentatively arranged. One in Tokyo with a working Musician, one in Kobe and one club sit-in in Osaka. Sweet! Now if I could get a sail in while there, that would be perfect. Well , that and having some money to spend, I have the time this trip , but not the money. 😦

As for Kyudo, I’m feeling comfortable with the Tai Hai. I still have a couple of chances to correct a few of the spots that are not up to what I want, but not bad enough to cause a problem. I will have three days of seminar to practice Tai Hai before the test as well as being viewed by the Hanshi in Osaka before I even go to Tokyo, so I think I will be ok.

I am not feeling as comfortable with the Tournament timing, that is going to need some work, and I would like to be able to shoot better. However that is not a high priorty like passing the test is. The Tourney is just icing on the Kyudo cake. Also since I do not expect to get past the first round, it does not matter, it is just for fun.

I’m a little bummed today and perhaps a little sick. I feel out of sorts so not much of a post. Some good new$ would help.


Cross training…@ Day 19

26 03 2010

I have done this “zen” cross training, My style of Zen Tai Chi Kyu Do. 🙂 It works pretty good for a Kyudo workout/training.  Some Stretching, Chi Gong,  Meditation, Tai Chi, Kyudo. This is really just how I do my Kung Fu class as well.  Just change the Kyudo part for Kung Fu. I decided that the Tai Chi Palm, from our Tai Chi Mantis system was the best Tai Chi set for doing Kyudo lead in. This being do to the large arm movements, for the chest & shoulders  and the low cross leg stances, that work the knees. Also the quick rise in overall Chi is a plus.The draw back on this is it eats into my shooting time when planning a short stay.

It was a quiet day out at RSD, I like it. The weather was good, comfortable. It looked like rain all day in the morning, but the day turned nice.

So having the place quiet and all to myself , excellent.

I think I have a better feel of Daisan now. I listened to a DVD of the AKF seminar last year, one of the Masters was speaking of Daisan. I applied that lecture to today’s practice. Also shooting from the Bones. It was a good day at RSD.

Sat. I will go out there again, this time an practice tournament timing with the “general”. I’ll get there early since I have no scheduled Kung Fu class on Sat. First some quiet time practice, then a hour or so with “general” before heading off to Sail for the afternoon on a Friend’s Catameran.

Sunday it will back to more checking over from Sensei and corrections.

The build up comes slowly.
The climax goes fast.


Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Friends – Quality not quantity

23 03 2010

My 3rd Tai Chi session for the Alameda P&R dept started last week. This is my largest class, there are some 16  maybe 17 people signed up.

It is my largest class ever in my teaching career, other than when teaching for my Sifu. Some of them are returning students, so I guess I must be doing it right. I’m still working on the flow of the class with that many students. It is good I have my most senior student of some 15 yrs helping. It is good for her, it is good for me. I was told a long time ago, teaching helps you learn, it is very true. There is a saying in Kyudo about one teaches, two learn.  Anyway, it is good to have her help. I am getting a flow set for the class now, However I expect to lose about 25 to 50% by the 4th week. Tai Chi is way harder than most people think. Even though there is no competition, it is all about self improvement. People get frustrated with themselves. I think to have patience with ourselves, it is one of the most challenging tasks in life. We tend to have more patience with another than ourselves. One of the returning students an older woman but not that old, was in tears tonight. I thought something was wrong, she was out last session due to illness, but as it turns out she was just frustrated she was having problems, “getting it”. I explained to her how hard it is, there is no pressure,  it is not a race. It is better to know 3 moves well than to know 20 moves so-so. She felt better and did a lot better after that.

Tai Chi, Kung Fu, life, friends it is not about quantity it is about quality.

Got my Mojo working…

18 03 2010

I have gotten a routine that works for me when I am able to do solo practice. Meditation, Tai Chi , Kyudo. That format feels comfortable. The Meditation takes me inward, distanced from the drive, the traffic, the misc mental stuff that is going on and starts the chi flow. The Tai Chi , gets the body in harmony with the chi and movement. Working the joints and muscles. Then Kyudo. Starting with Tai Hai, 4 sets, which gives me 8 shots. Next Standing for another 4 sets. Then a short break maybe 5 min, then finishing off with 2 sets of Tai Hai again.This puts me at a total of 20 shots. When doing the Tai Hai I put more mind into the Tai Hai and less concern on hitting. Standing is more on hitting and the shooting form. I think that gives me a good balance. Tai Hai is the more important right now…at my level. The kneeling turn and the active knee is still the hardest part.

After Practice today I gathered up some fresh firewood. The place we have the dojo does woodwork and dump all the waste, which makes great firewood. Hard , burns hot n slow and is FREE!  One container is a good 4 – 5 hours of a nice fire. Did I mention it was FREE. Hmmm I just had an idea about selling some of this, but spring is here now…doh!

I’m hoping LZ and I can have a nice fire tomorrow , a Chu Hai drink , a game of Mahjong with our neighbors or  a game of GO for us to celebrate my getting out of jury duty…Even if not, oh well, the other stuff still sounds fun.

My new Shaolin Class for the Park and Rec Dept on the island started tonight. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were more than I expected signed up. I thought there was only going to be one for the Kung fu and two Tai Chi students signed up as filler, but I was wrong, there were new 8 students there to learn Shaolin/Mantis.Very Cool! I hope at least half of them stick with it. This is the most studetnts I have had in a long time.

Long and winding …day

17 03 2010

In the beginning …

I started off early going to Hayward which is about 30 min drive, to report for Jury selection. YUK!!  Unpleasant duty., more unpleasant since, there is a superior court right down the block from me. Why did I have to go to Hayward. Jheez! I was picked to be checked out for a two week civil trial, YUK!! OK, so there is a pre-question form to fill out. I tried to answer as undesirable as I could figure. I have to go back on Thursday to see if I succeeded in getting by-passed. I can only hope. If the trial was for a couple of days it would not be so bad, but two weeks YUK!! plus the drive! YUK!

I was out of there by 12:30 yay!! After a bit of reading I crashed big time, I was drained.

Next on the play for the day was Dharma Karate at the temple. I was a couple of minutes behind, as I was coming up Rev Sensei asked me to start the class, he was not dressed yet. After we got things setup in the room, I ran the group through some warm-up stuff, thinking Sensei was going to take over. He took one new student and asked me to deal with the rest. I’m thinking he likes working with a small group or wants me to feel needed. I ran my lot through some drills, Different from what they are use to. I made them do kicks, slowly, working their balance and form. In some ways I am harder on them than Sensei, in other ways he is I noticed. I guess we make a good team.

Next up I go home for a quick bite with LZ as we wait for our neighbors to go to Taiko class. LZ’s new bud takes Taiko and invited us to come watch. It was pretty cool. I got to take some pictures under different conditions.

Three of the five people there came over and spoke to me about pictures. The main guy came over to tell me how to take pictures and what timing to take them. He was, I’m thinking trying to be helpful, but in a way it was kind of weird for him to assume I did not know what I was doing or even ask. No matter I took his advise in a positive way.

Only saying, yes it is difficult to get pictures of Taiko, it helps being a musician , who does Kung Fu and takes photos, to get the timing…and smiled.

LZ gave the drums it a little shot and liked it. It would be a good stress release and exercise  for her. Too bad the beginners class already started. I know she would like to join the class with her Bud but she is already in her third session.

Anyway the day ended better than it started. Tomorrow I will get some Kyudo practice in…26 days…if I was counting.

Renseikan Kyudojo – 1st Sunday, San Gatsu

15 03 2010

I have been in this weird state of Funkiness for several days not getting things done like I should or could. Anyway, I’m back from the Blood test, it went easy, the woman was good and fast. Yay! I walked home from the clinic and ate. I feel better.

Sat I was suppose to go to RSD and practice. I did not, I was feeling something strange, I figured I would not push it since I did not have to. That is usually the best if one does not have to when having those feelings. There could have been an accident waiting for me or something. Or I did not feel like being around the chi that was going to be there on Sat. and not a solo practice. Whatever, I stayed home, and did some mini practice on Tai Hai in the living room.

Sunday was my class with Renseikan Kyudojo. I decided to go in late so that I could attend temple service in the a.m. Partly because I wanted to get a picture with Rev Sensei and I in his robes for the article I am writing for Japan. However that did not work out. Sensei said ok, but when I whipped out the camera after the service he said, not just now. I could have waited around for him to get un-busy and just had tea and cake with the temple members, but, I had a class to go to. So no picture, oh well. Not meant to be. The sermon was good.

So off I went to Kyudo practice. We went to the park range on Sunday. The weather was good, the ground was still muddy from the rain this past week. It was nice to be outside, however I was still unsettled and could not find my groove. I made a couple of center hits, but most were off. Sensei said I was not drawing as well as he has seen me. Yeah, I could feel it. Standing in the mud, uneven ground, trying not to slide, wearing sunglasses, all may have had some bearing on things. I recalled the saying about each shot reflecting how one’s spirit is or their state of mind. Mine were off. Not that I was shooting wild but I was not shooting well… I was not one with the force/Yumi. Some days are like that.

Spent a couple of hours there then went off to the Makiwara Dojo. Today Sensei had us do something new . I do not recall what the name of it is. He said doing this would cover all the movements in Kihontai, except chair sitting I believe. Anyway, Standing turns, walking turns, Rei and Yu bows from kneeling, Hirakiashi both right and left. Also we worked on Tournament timing shooting, so that I could have some exposure before Tokyo. I only did this once before in LA. It was difficult, do the action, but keeping up and picking up the Ya. That was tricky. I felt like I needed to be Speed Racer, but anyway I needed the practice.

I have gotten a few comments on my Tai Hai these days. it has been helpful. A couple have said I am ready for Japan. Yay! It is helpful to have feedback from different sources. However it can be confusing when different people tell you different things on the same movement . Eg: do not stop the gaze at the Ya tip, do stop the gaze, Do not touch the Yumi tip until your knees touch, DO touch the Yumi tip before the knees. Anyway the over all consensus is I am improving and should be ok, with testing. I have a few more weeks to smooth out some spots before I go under the knife. On the other hand, Sensei said my Dai-San has improved, but he never said it needed work, others did. Anyway time creeps on. The days are down to the twenties now. creep creep and then speed up, and bam it will be over!  Sugoi,  Then training for next year..Sho-dan, Ni-dan ???

Today I am doing the living room Tai Hai again and also preparing a couple of  spare bow strings to carry. I found out I need to have them fully ready before. Good thing I asked. I also found out yesterday I will have one classmate from my dojo there also testing in Tokyo. That will be kind of nice, we can support each other. Go Team Renseikan 🙂

On another note. A new section Tai Chi class starts tonight with P&R dept, also I will be having a Shaolin class there on Weds as well as Monday Tai Chi. The good part is we will be out of the cold , wind, and rain during the less than perfect nights. On the other hand, I will have to report the little bit of extra money I did receive ( but no more) from teaching in the open park because students do not pay me, they sign up via the P&R dept. then I get paid. Oh well ne! everything is a trade off.


Funky Monday

15 03 2010

I’m in a funk today. Not the kind like P-Funk, Funkadelic, Graham Central Station, Bootsie,  the kind that is depressed. I’m not sure why, maybe my Jury Duty call tomorrow, maybe my blood test, today, I hate needles and I have to fast, maybe because after several months of teaching for the Park and Rec Dept I’m finally getting paid sometime soon, but I have to report that little bit of money and EDD will subtract it from check. You can never make ends meet or even see the ends on EDD. Sigh. Maybe it is because still no job prospects…

However I have gratitude we are still hanging in there, roof over our heads, food to eat, a warm bed at night, companionship.

I went to temple yesterday Rev Sensei sermon was on gratitude. He told the story of how this man went on a trip to Japan with a group of people. He always made up his futon very tidy and folded it up. Someone asked him what was his daily practice that got him into this. He said he had none. He did tell the story of how his mother told him when is was very young, about being grateful. Every night his blanket keep him warm and cozy, this gave him a restful night. She said that when he awoke in the morning he should be grateful to the blanket for keeping him warm and cozy all night, Say Arigato to the blanket. He kept that with him all his life and everyday says Arigato. Part of that arigato is folding up his sleeping bed very neat. Rev Sensei say we should have that sense of Arigato with everything , because we are all interconnected. Gratitude is not about religion, or sects, it is about the heart

Even in my depressed funkness, I need to be grateful. I do not live in Chile, or Haiti or some other homeless state of being.

Arigato Kami Sama!

I notice a big drop in reader hits since no posts about Kyudo this past week. Sugoi I guess most of the readers are all about Kyudo. There is the saying that Kyudo is life. However Life is not all Kyudo. Well I guess it could be depends on how you look at things. If you see Kyudp as only shooting, or as an expression of life …you get the idea…

And now for something completly different…Friends

10 03 2010

I’m breaking from blogging about Kyudo and MA stuff this week…

LZ and I have few friends, even fewer come to visit, non of them live close by. I would guess half are mixed couples using both hands to count. When we lived at our condo we were there for some five years and never really had hang out friends there. We knew one couple and a couple of other folks, but none that we hung out with.

A couple of months ago I was doing one of my rare trips through the lobby of our apt and using the elevator not the stairs, I heard two women speaking in non-English. As is my habit I try to figure out what it is. At first I thought oh Korean, but the it clicked, Japanese. Wow shock. I did not know there were Japanese in our building. I excused myself and asked to be sure Nihon jin desuka? Hai was the reply. We spoke a bit, then I said so long. I told LZ, there are Japanese in the building. WHAT she said, I told her the story, she started getting dressed to go meet them. I told her what apt and left to go out. I ran into one of the ladies again on the lift. I said my wife is coming down to meet you. OK she said, apt # blah blah.

The next week her and LZ went for a 3 hour walk, talking talking talking. They have weekly visits now over the last month or so. They are buds. LZ invited her and her husband who is from Canada over for dinner last night to celebrate her, the bud’s birthday. LZ made a sushi bowl and put birthday candles on it.

They were like school girls chatting. The hubby is nice, more quiet than me, which is different.  The wife says he is shy, yeah I can see that. Seems like a nice enough guy.

Dinner went well, LZ did her outstanding kitchen thing with some wine and champagne it was a pleasant evening. LZ made Green tea mousse for dessert.

Next week, we are going to watch the bud do her Taiko drum lesson. It is rare to find friends in the same building. LZ says it is a sign we should not move to a cheaper place this year. Seems like with the new extension on the EDD benefits and no rent increase ( yokatta) even though our lease is up, we can still hang in there. The Great Spirit is with us.

Chan/Taiji/Kyudo…Sanmai-ittai revisted.

6 03 2010

Star date 03-05-2010 Planet Earth…

I decided to revisit my practice from the other day. However this time from a different mind set…

When I teach Tai Chi class, we do stretching, then Chi Gong, then 5 -10 min of sitting meditation, then Tai Chi walk, then the form. I do not look at it as separate things, which they are, just one thing that lays the foundation for the next level. The same with the Shaolin/Mantis class. Stretching, Chi Gong, Zhan Zhung ( because we are outside), Tai Chi, then Basic drills, etc… again not separate things, just foundation for the next phase of training, the next level.

I decided to run my today’s practice also as such. Not as an experiment of pieces, but as a whole unit like the other classes. I had RSD to myself today, not even the employees came around. No rain, but there was still a certain peacefulness. I started with some Stretches and motion Chan to warm up for sitting. Then I did sitting Chan ( Zazen) for 10-15 min. Today without a lot of thought about what I am feeling and taking that into Tai Chi. I  just did Tai Chi, with some extra thought to my breathing. Slow and deep breathes. I have not been feeling like I’m doing death enough breaths with Kyudo and that was also mentioned to me by the Sensei in LA when watching my video.

Lastly I went into Renmei Tai Hai. Again with out a lot of thought on what I was gong to do, other than breathe deeper, stand taller, body alignment. I think the whole thing went pretty well. I felt comfortable throughout. I did found lot that I shoot better with Aluminum Ya than Bamboo. I also figured out why afterward. The Aluminum one are lighter, they bend with less pressure. I can see them bend so I lighten my hand, my grip. Therefore the release is smoother and they fly straighter. The bamboo is thicker, I can tell when I am holding it way too tight but not a little too tight. I’m learning little by little. Practice makes a Sho-Dan ( new mantra)…yosh.

I think there is improvement, still needs some polish…what do you think?

ok, a few day break from blogdom, at least here, maybe I will go sailing tomorrow, whoot. At least spend some time down on the boat. Change the oil, study Japanese. I’ll do that a lot next week  instead of blogging, I’ll practice and study maybe sail.

Mata ne!

Shen Shing Li

5 03 2010

The working of the TAO…

Wow, sometimes things just pop out at me that are like weird. Not weird crazy,  just weird, hmmmmm. Since it seems like I have a post a day this week I’m dropping this one in , just so not to break the flow 🙂

So I have been posting the last couple of posts about Sanmai-ittai. Linking Physical, Mental and Spiritual, In Kyudo, Kung Fu, Chan and the Universe. How all that makes wholeness, completion. So last night was Chan practice. We, my Chan Sisters and I after meditation are talking about the new session that will be starting. Tonight session is small it is just us. We are making plans on what to do, the best way to promote the class, the format of the new class and what will be covered. Getting new students to join and what will be of interest to them. Not only to join but to stay. How can we make it something, whole they can see, and understand. Doing just the sitting and meditation does not work, they do not get it. They would be interested in the discussion, but having the discussions without doing, understanding the sitting meditation will not do it, it is not balanced…

Sister #1 says, I can do the lecture part I can handle that, Blah blah. Sister #1 has been doing Chan practice for a long time she is wise with the context of the Shifu’s teachings. She says to Sister #2 you are so good at doing the research can you handle the formatting, advertising, write-ups, etc? Sister #2 is working on her PhD, or she has her PhD and is working on her something else. Anyway , she says sure, yes, no problem. I can blah blah blah. Then there is more talk and sister #1 says, we will be marketing this as Shaolin Chan, since that is our roots, where Bodhidharma taught, as such can you “brother Zen” do the Tai Chi, motion Chan part?  I say yes of course. While I am listening to this unfold, it hits me, Sanmai-ittai! I tell them about it when I am asked what do I think about the plan. Sister #2 says, wow, yes I see it, and points to each one of us in our roles, the same way I was thinking of it. We laugh at the Chan moment. I ask what is Chinese for Sanmai-ittai, Shen Shing Li.