LA – Kyudo, Kung Fu and Music – Part I

24 10 2010

After putting it off for several times I got my act together and hit the road for LA. The weather was a shock after roasting here in the Nor Cal for the last week it was weird being in chilly and rain. However it did not lessen the quality of the visit.


It had been almost a year since I went down to LaLaland to visit and see my late brother and clear out his apt with his passing a week later. This trip was about getting his Bass out of pawn. The interest was adding up and I did not want it to be lost or keep paying. I was lucky to get a tab on it when I thought it was already history. Since it turned up I felt he would be pleased if I saved it. I saw some pictures of his joy when he purchased it and some of when it was just hanging on display before he purchased it.

This Bass will be one of the three I take to Japan, the other is his 4 string and my Acoustic Bass. I am hopeful to restart my musical life there. Here it, among other creative things has seemed to reach a dead end. Just surviving is the challenge.

Retrieving the Bass was the first thing taken care of on my arrival to LA. Once that was done I was able to focus on visiting, Kyudo and some fun.

While in town I stayed at a hotel for a change instead of with friends. I found this hotel in the Japanese section of town where I used to live. It was not fancy but clean and cheap. In a way it was like being in Japan or at least in Hawaii.

The desk staff spoke Japanese. They were were surprised when I spoke to them in Japanese. One woman had such a look of shock, I had to tease her. Nanda doshite bikuri. The signs everywhere were in Japanese. There were a couple of big Japanese markets around so I picked up some Shochu on sale and some Sake to take back home.

Breakfast was included at the hotel. The weekend menu is not as full as the weekday. My breakfast for the two days was rice, seaweed, and pickled veggies. Some green tea and a croissant. It was light and free.
Free being the key word.

My first stop after business was to see one of my Kung Fu brethren who runs a large traditional school in town, Lomita Shaolin Temple Kung Fu School. I had a fairly short visit with him . We got to Chat only for a bit as he had a private student waiting and a class afterward to teach.  We spoke of a meal together later but I was on a mission and couldn’t commit to anything. It was a walk down memory lane in visiting his school. All the old pictures around, wall lined with trophies and dance lions, the school still has that 70’s feel, unlike the highly polished and sterile schools that line the area currently run by “masters” who gave been training for the average of 10 years…

My big disappointment was, next before going to the Kyudo dojo. I went by my favorite Chinese Veggie place for lunch, it was closed down and no more, bummer. Adapting and moving on, I had lunch at the hotel with something good I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

Kyudo time:
I head over to Long Beach to visit and practice with Team G3 and their class.

The park were the class is held is very nice. There is a seniors something archery contest going on at the time. The lady at the gate was not sure if other classes were being held so she let me in the parking area for free…Cool or what!

I watched and visited a while and got off one Makiwara shoot before Sakurai Sensei president of the Southern Cal Renmei showed up. We had only spoke very Briefly in Japan and other than on Facebook had not spoken live to each other.

We got to chat for a while on this and that, Kyudo and non-Kyudo items. Soon Joined by Marcus Sensei we had a nice visit. I forgot to take a group picture though before he left.

After that I put in some Makiwara time to work on my form. M3 watched me shoot and made a suggestion on how to stop my left hand from dropping.

Part of the solution was to have me shoot from a kneeling Ashibume. This way I could feel the difference from my stance being more stable, I’m guessing. The other part was on turning when releasing. Hard to explain. It is however like what Ling Sisuk told me about doing a forward stance or toe stance, call a cat stance in Karate. Kyudo is about Mind , body , spirit. This tip was very much about mind and spirit affecting the body.
Basically curving the mind, the thought upward on release. It was a small thing but made big difference. The next shot was clean no hand drop, the ya hit the Makiwara deep and level. Another little something to add to the line up to recall when shooting.
Another tip was to use power on my left hand to help with the spin on Hanare.

Kung Fu:

My next visit across town is with another couple of Kung Fu brethren.

One of them worked with the late David Carridine on the 2nd Kung Fu series. For several years he has been working on these things called Phi Chi sticks. They are a training aid, designed to help one work with spiral motion and energy. He has gone from working with them with bamboo to PVC to now Acrylic. They have the nicest look and feel.

He has given me samples over the years. Today was no different. His latest one still built on this curve he has calculated is just is portion of it. This is my favorite so far. I like the way it fits in my hand. It can be used to hurt or heal. Easy to carry and conceal. He said when he saw this finished it had my name on it. It seemed perfect how I move.

One of the cooler aspects of this is it can hurt or heal. It works as well for combat as it does for massage/acupressure. One can not get lost in just the negative vibe of combat with Kung Fu. Like Shaolin Temple even though it has a side of violence, Shaolin Temple is really about Love.



3 responses

28 10 2010

I usually experience the thing where my hands/arms drop at release, too. Oddly, the times when it happens least (if at all) are in those of greatest stress, like a shinsa. What I’ve come to think is that the problem in everyday practice is that my nobiai only extends as far as the bow and the string, as if separating those two is all there to it, when in fact what I need to be doing is expanding through the target and beyond, both left and right. As an analogy, imagine you’re trying to punch the target. Would your hand drop down, energy exhausted, the moment it reached the paper? I don’t think so! So my guess, in my own case, is that I need to make some sort of connection from tanden, through the arms, through the paper target (and imaginary one to the right) and off to infinity, so that the force carries all the way through.

28 10 2010

Excellent points, which I will touch on in Part II

28 10 2010

Looking forward to it!

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