Working the Plantation

29 06 2010

A couple of us call it the plantation because it is working outside all day exposed, sun, wind, rain, cold, no shade, no sitting, only the water we bring, even on a break one is suppose to be still “on-watch”.

I’m making the best of it and staying on the positive side as it is income in hard times. I start @ 6:00am, Since I have nothing to do but watch and walk, I do Chi -gung from 6-8am , then I have a break during which time I read. Then from 9-10 I walk around at a fair pace to work my cardo. Another hours break more reading, I can sit in the car. I’ve found if I sit there with my sun glasses on and a book in my lap of can nap a bit in short sections, look-up and around check the area, then nap again. on and off. I look at it as good sailing watch training for the ocean passage. Next 11:00-12:00 Stance training, then another hours break reading and lunch, still on duty though. After that, 1:00 -2:00 more walking, from 2-4 pm I listen to my Japanese podcast to help improve my Japanese.

Finally 4 – 6 killing time, walking , standing meditation. Now I have my iPod I can also do some emails, and such, so it is not so bad. I’ve grown used to the 12 hours days. I will be pleased though when it cuts back to just 8 hours. Not too bad a job/life except for the Sun and cold, there are worse way to make a living, survive in hard times. However I am sure it will be most unpleasant when it turns winter. What is ironic, My Dad always pushed me about getting educated, so I could have a good job. He was a Security officer when he retired. I stayed with school and got a degree so I would not had to do that, yet, here I am. Some kind of Karma, facing , embracing what you fear to over come it comes to mind.

What I really have a hard time understanding about this job is when all the cars are gone, or before they come in, why does someone ( there are two of us on site ) HAVE to be walking around patrolling an empty parking lot. One can see the whole lot from any position, sitting or standing. Must be some big picture thing I’m missing. Oh well , mine is not to reason why… I’m getting paid 🙂

Book Review: Kyudo, the art of Zen Archery

27 06 2010

Kyudo the art of Zen Archery, by Hans Joachin Stein

I have read three of the major books in English dealing with Kyudo Philosophy and technique other than the Kyuhon which are

Zen Bow, Zen Arrow

One Arrow, One Life

Illuminated Spirit

all of these are excellent, all gave me a shape of sense of Kyudo philosophy. The mind, the spirit some are out looks of teachers, some more than others touched on technique. Although technique is really more of a hands on thing with a student and teachers guidance, one can still get a view point on technique from reading.

Coming form a  Martial Art background, more so Chinese roots than Japanese and Chan rather than “Zen” I have my own impression of Kyudo the Art and Philosophy, shaped from this foundation and my reasons for study.

These three books supported those ideas not much in actual wording but in spirit and the flow of the mind. I have spoken on many occasions about the riff of some who say Kyudo is not Zen, Kyudo is about Zen, Kyudo is Kyujitsu, Zen has no baring on Kyudo, it is about technique, it about hitting, it is not about hitting, etc ,etc blah blah.

This book says in more scholarly language it is both. Both are equal in one’s development as a Kyudoka, not only are both equal both are NEEDED to be balanced. They are spokes in the same wheel, two sides of the coin, Sun and Moon, Yin and Yang. This book speaks in my langauge of Yin and Yang, Chi, Zen, Kung Fu, Taoism, using quotes not only from Lao Tzu but, Chuang Tzu. The author goes into breath, technique and equipment as well as history of not only Kyudo and Japan but it’s roots in China, Buddism, Taoism. He speaks on the non-duality nature of all aspects of Kyudo; body, mind, spirit and bow. This is an old book and I’m sure some have read it and discounted it, no matter, I liked it and thought it was great from my background knowledge base as a student of Shaolin.

I highly recommend this book to those who wish to understand the balance of all things in one’s Kyudo training, those who wish to use it as meditation, those who see it as purely a martial art, and those who only wish to shoot. It speaks on the Non-dualistic nature of all ways, paths of the Tao.


Part I- Historical Foundations

Part II – Spiritual Foundations

Part III – The Practice of Kyudo

Part IV – The Kyudo Archers Equipment.

From Amazon

The World is a Dojo

20 06 2010

Sisuk (Kung Fu Uncle) has been on me for a while to get up early and do my tai chi drills and breathing, world chi is the morning is best. I do fairly well I think getting up at 6:00 or 6:30 and doing some breathing, but mostly Zazen. These days starting work at 6:00am has been an adjustment. I am up at 4:20am , Yuk!!! I am at work by 6:00 basically walking my beat, working my post. I try to make the most of my time while at work which has included listening to my Japanese pod 101 mp3 files. It as been helpful and increased my vocab. LZ gets excited whenever I throw out a new word. It occurred to me that I can also take advantage of the time for some physical drills also beside just walking. I had added doing my Chi Gong drills in the parking lot off to the side. Also doing some silk reeling and Ba Lum Gum drills as well. Just the other day while doing some Tai Chi drill to expand my chest and back which I had fund helpful for doing Kyudo, I took on the thought that I can even do some Kyudo drills. Ashibumi, really finding the most balanced spot, sinking Tanden, Dozoukuri, etc. Sensei Jyozen of Nanka Kyudo Kai in LA has his group after doing Zazen do sort of an air drill of the Shaho-Hassetsu. So I gave that a try as well. Since I can not put in the time at the dojo, the phrase “everywhere is the dojo” or the World is your Dojo takes on a different or at least an expanded meaning. I have told my Kung Fu students, how as a young students my classmates and I we did not do training only when we went to class. Training became part of our life style, that is how you progress. Now with the expansion of my arts into Kyudo this also applies here while doing my patrols. Using the work time as paid practice/training need to carry that not only into the physical side with Chi gung, Tai Chi, Kyudo, Japanese language, but also in mindfulness of just walking, being empty. Not think about sore feet, sun, heat, cold, passage of time, but all of this is just another day in training varied aspects of Chan, and not a boring job watching cars and a parking lot. It is more Shaolin/Taiji/Kyudo/Chan training and how cool is it that I am getting paid to do it! The World is a Dojo.

Finally a practice…

20 06 2010

Sat. past was a good day at the marina job. It was very hot, but fairly quiet. I got to listen  to the internet radio and work on a article I’m trying to get published in Black Belt magazine, a local Martial Art magazine.

After work I did a bit of work on the boat, grabbed a bite to eat then headed out to RSD for some needed Kyudo practice. As I was running late once i arrived. I only dusted the hardwood floor and did not sweep. I also did not do my meditation or Tai Chi before warm-ups to really get me centered.  I just shot. It took me a while of shooting before I felt like I was coming to center. I had thought of my job, and what to do about that, as well as going through relax this, correct that, raise this hand , drop that shoulder. None of all that was really good for hitting the target, but that is not what I was there for anyway.  I just needed to shoot, and work on my form and clear my mind of non-Kyudo things.

It was really my first solo practice since retuning to the states. I felt out of whack. although someone who saw me shoot my not have noticed, but I noticed, I was  not fully there. I did after a short while get off a couple of shots that felt good, but it was not consistent.

I really need a place closer to practice. I’m thinking perhaps if I officially join the local Buddhist Temple where I was helping with the Karate classes, they will let me practice there in the yard.  Then also if my earlier shift at the security job stays I can go from work a couple of days out to RSD to practice since the job is about half way there.

Renseikan Kyudojo…opening

12 06 2010

Thursday night the traffic sucked…major sucked. It took me almost 2 hours to make it to the dojo. On a good day I can make it, pushing things in 1 hour in the ole ultimate driving machine. Thursday, well as I said traffic sucked. Anyway, I got there things had not quite started yet. I got changed and we started. Tonight was the first official 1st class. Only one of the guys from the last few weeks was there to start class. He was the one I worked with last time, a nice guy, very interested. The loud guy did not show up, so that took care of that issue. The rest were all new and all females, one was a child, one had studied in Japan and was a Ni-dan. She said she had not practiced in years so she was very unsure about things. I thought she did well.

The Dojo for the most part is finished with the setup, The Backstop curtain is on a track so it is easy to setup for class. Sensei said he ordered some makiwara’s from Japan and some Kaki’s since the class ones he had got stolen! All the woodwork is done, the place even though small looks nice. Sensei did a good job on the carpentry.

So we had a small class, but everyone tried hard. Sensei gave a somewhat short talk on the History of Kyudo, includingt’s “Zen” influence and showed the Basics of training. There were two of his older students there to help with the new people, but I ended up being the one to explain what the Shaho-Hassetsu were as he demo’d. The seniors were too shy, it had been a while since they practiced. I did not feel qualified but I guess that is part of training and someone had to step up.

The group went through the basic standing form there was lots of help from the seniors, almost 1 senior per student including Sensei. Sometimes I just stood back and watched as I am really the junior and helped only as needed. In some cases that was just speaking Japanese as all the women spoke Japanese.

At the end of the class Sensei had me to do the  sitting Tai Hai. It felt kind of weird with half the people there studying longer than me to be the one doing the demo. 1. San-dan, 1. Ni-dan, 1. Mu-dan but longer time, anyway it was ok, it did give me a chance to practice and shoot. I have not had much of that as of late.

Over all it was a good class even though small. The test will be who comes back next week and the week after, and after that…

I had thought that this would be my last Thursday class. The drive down is long , and I thought my Tai Chi /Chan class was starting next week. However the Chan Sister in charge is off to Taiwan on Tuesday for several weeks. So I will still have Thursday free. However the question is now, will I be able to handle the trip down once a week, physically, mentally and financially . Seems like the new security job is collapsing do to a change of hours. If I want to stay working it may mean, 12 hour shifts, from 6pm to 6am ! I already said I did not want to work nights 😦 , and 12 hours five days a week, all night is two much, standing outside in all kind of weather.

I thought things were improving…sigh, I guess I’m still in the sailing doldrums . Time to re-center.

ZenKyudo @ Genjo-ji, 2010

7 06 2010

For the last several years there has been a Kyudo/Zen retreat at Genjo-ji Sonoma Mountain Zen Center. I went to the last two, my regular readers may recall. The first year was brutal temps in the 100’s, Last years was on the cool side, with rain and fog, but it was still nice, most pleasant in fact.

This year I did not go, with starting the new jobs, having just returned from Japan ($$), changing styles, I felt it best not to attend. However my roots are with this group and after several years of study, relationships have formed, beyond the political posturing of the Kyudo powers. Here with those whose minds are reaching for the Tao of non-duality, Kyudo is Kyudo. So I did go by to visit.

It was my plan to take LZ and my visiting cousin up to the Zen Center, they could meet the Kyudoka, tour the grounds and have lunch. I would take some pictures to post on the various websites I am managing for my Chikurin-ha family. It is ok, to have two families, that is the way of the world, One has their birth family , one has their spouse’s family. One has their father’s side family, one has their mother’s side family. Family is family, Kyudo is Kyudo. Anyway my intent was to go to the mountain and get back in time to go to my Kyudo class with Sensei.

We left about 8:00 am heading to the mountain. The ladies slept all the way there mostly. Since they had been up until 2 or 3 in the morning talking, they were out of it!!!! Even though we had to basically stop about 300 yards from the entrance as LZ was getting car sick, we got to the center in good time. That sickness passed once we arrived. Our first stop was in the dining hall, I dropped off some lemons I had picked, we use the facilities, had some water.

The staff there was very nice and welcoming when I explained who we where. From there I took the ladies on a tour of the garden. They were very impressed with that. The flowers, the food, the herbs.

Our next stop was the meditation hall. The converted and redesigned barn. It is a warm feeling place, all the meditation chi, all the wood. The huge statue of Kwan Yin. It is always a up lift to go in there. It would have been nice to be able to do a sitting, but as they start at 5:30 am , that was not possible.

Upon leaving we came across my Senpai from RSD, intros were made. LZ had spoken with him several times on the phone when he called, so she was pleased to finally connect the face.

From there is was a walk down the into the valley to the Kyudo area practice. The first person we saw was the young Priest  we came across at the airport on the way to Japan. He was also on the way to Japan for some Zen study. It was good to see him, he was there practicing with the Kyudo group as he had started about the same time I first came up. We chatted a bit about our trips to Japan, before he went back to practice.

Next intros were made all around to the rest of the group to my girls. LZ was surprised a couple spoke Japanese. Afterward she remarked, this is the first time I’ve met your Kyudo people, they all are nice. She was impressed with the warmth of the welcome they received.

We watched just a little and I grabbed a few quick shots before I took them to another part of the grounds were the memorial Shrines are setup for a couple of founders, one being Suzuki-sama. We needed to take a walk through the woods to get there.

It was a pleasant walk down , but it did take some time. LZ was running out of steam. They both enjoyed the sights, but not so much the bugs. After a short visit and a break we headed back to the main area. As they were walking in slow-mo I went ahead and was meet by a Senpai, the closing ceremony was about to begin, he came to fetch me.

I made it back just in time to do some video and take some pictures of the closing as well as get a few group shots. Good timing! Yokatta! That was part of the main reason for the trip.

Once that was done we all head up the mountainside to the dining room for Lunch.

It was a simple lunch of Zucchini soup and  a salad with homemade bread. The final lunch is usually simple. It was however still excellent. LZ and my cousin raved about the soup. Especially LZ, who said she does not like  Zucchini but loved this meal. It tasted so fresh and wholesome.

After lunch we stopped at the little store they have on site to pick up a few souvenirs I wanted to send to Japan and my cousin wanted to take back to Atlanta. They have meditation pillows, incenses, T-shorts, books, pictures, cards, statues,  the like.

That wrapped up the visit, so after a bit of Chit chat we headed back down the mountain.  We arrived a little later than planned, LZ called to work saying she would be a little late, 20 mintues. I was too late to make it to Kyudo practice. Never the less it was a good day trip.

More pictures can be seen here:

Genjo-ji 2010

and here

The Blackbird and the Hawk

6 06 2010

When I was driving home the other day I saw these two birds on the top of a lamp pole next to the highway. One, a large black bird was flying back and forth, it was frantic. This black bird was larger than the bird it was hassling. It kept trying to get the other bird to respond, buzzing it. The other other bird , a small hawk, totally ignored it and just kept watching the cars go by.

One would think the black bird was trying to protect something or gain that spot where the other bird was sitting. Yet all it could do was bluff and make a big fuss…

It reminds me of a Kyudo group who is upset by a smaller one, so they fly and fuss. I wonder what they fear. There is no duality…


I did hear in Japan that the states is not the only country with these internal Kyudo riffs. I think it was Germany who is also having some internal conflicts. Someone from France said they heard of the States problems, maybe we are more famous even with less people.

Can’t we all just get along…?

The Ya and Yumi do not care their function is pure, to shoot, to hit.

We add the complications.

Kyudo is Kyudo

The Tao is the Tao.