Friday Fu w/Shifu…Jan 2011…Live blades n Blood

30 01 2011

The end of the month, time for the advance students monthly closed door session with Eng Shifu at the Campbell school. It was an exceptionally interesting class for me tonight. William Fong Sisuk was there. He is always interesting to listen to his talks and see his demos. Tonight he was starting off on speaking about a Sabre that was brought to class by his senior student who he is teaching the set to along with another.

This is a heavy blade it was used he said to fight the samurai and Japanese soldiers during the invasion of China. It is heavy steel and used in close quarters, which is the weak point of the samurai blade/warrior. Because of it’s design and weight it is also a two handed blade. It is not used to directly stop a samurai blade but it can if needed. Like a Katana it is made to cut through, flesh and bone.

This was weapon taught to the common people and battlefield soldiers as the Japanese were killing men, women and children. He said there are many many sets with this weapon. None of them are standard. The only standard was the design of this sword. A few are very complex sets and training ways came about, but most were simple and practical. The emperor told all the local Kung Fu masters to develop a way of fighting with this sword and teach the locals of the town to fight back against the Japanese. The set he was teaching was one of the more complex but effective sets. While watching the set one could see how this was an effective battlefield weapon.

During on part of a demo Sisuk, was showing how to move in a do a block. He just barely touched the wrist of his student and  ended up cutting him. The sword was just that sharp.

Another thing covered tonight was how different styles in Kung Fu developed because of regional Chinese cultures. The study of Kung Fu is not just about studying fighting it is about Culture, medicine, knowing the human body and history. He also explained that it is not so much that Shaolin developed all these martial arts styles, but they had the means to collect and spread them in some type of format. Back in the day only the monk got to travel from town to town, province to province, in pursuit of their Spiritual training and goals. They were the one who learned the different styles and tradition of the many areas. All of this was filtered through their Buddhist or Taoist principles.

I went through Hsing Yi I was relearning with Art Sihing, which lead to a discussion of the animals and 5 elements in styles. I learned about how the five elements are interpreted, how they are expressed. Sisuk used two different style’s “water” strikes to demo. Then he explained the nature of the technique and principles. Then he went of to explain something about understanding and applying the principles and needing the physical training as well as the mind and spirit. Without both parts one was not a whole martial artist. It was very much like words from the Kyohon.

Another level of things we spoke about, as I got to talk with him alone for a while while my classmate were off practicing was the nature of Chinese and Japanese in study and philosophy and how that showed up in the marital Arts.

Before we broke for food time. I asked Fong Sisuk, with his exposure to others styles and a background of Hung Gar, why did he choose focus on Mantis. His answer was; Mantis to me covers all the aspects combat. It also embodies the higher art form of control. Not just hurt or kill the control techniques imbody to Buddhist nature of compassion via control and seizure. Also not just the control on an opponent, also needed, perhaps even more so was the control of oneself.

It was one of the more interesting session of our monthly Friday night practices for me as it was Kung Fu Beyond just combat.





International Bi-Annual Iron Kyudoka 100 Ya Challenge – Winter 2011

23 01 2011

This was the 2nd 100 shot event, the first I was unable to attend do to work.  There were suppose to be people joining in a united global Kyudo spirit from: NorCal, SoCal, NC, SC, Ga, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Thailand, France, Argentina, Florida. I asked for pictures on Facebook, but so far only Ecuador & Thailand posted. Georgia sent some via eMail to me. I also heard from South Carolina and Argentina, Others ?? Quiet.

It was a cool day here in Northern CA, cool but not unpleasant. We had spoke of starting at 7:00am , however the reality was just after 8:00am not bad, we still finished about 12:00. At least did the first shift at Tanuki Dojo, a private multi-discipline Kyudo Dojo, where Kyudo is Kyudo. The spirit of Kyudo is more important than the Style one uses. To borrow a phrase from Chan, Kyudo is One.

It was a good practice, shooting that much, that long, makes for serious training, one really gets to see, feel your good and weak points. My hand was better this time I knew what to do and not to do. My biggest problem was focus. I received a call from My wife saying my job called and wanted to know why I was not at work. Turns out I was put on the schedule, with out being consulted even after I told them I could not work. So I got written up ( bad mark in my file). It took me a while to settle my mind to shooting after that, grrrrrrrr. Fatigue was common but I was able to work through that much easier than the mental demons. I heard several times from the others the mental demons are the big factor in a event of this sort. Same as with sitting Zazen for a long period, it is at times uncomfortable controlling the body, but controlling the mind is the big challenge.

I took the opportunity of the Iron Kyudo Event to share some information on the Eco-Flag movement with the participants. I figure any opportunity is good to remember our connection to the planet. 1 Arrow, 1 life, 1 Planet. We all need to do our part, even small things help. Recycle, Reduce, Rethink.

Just like the 108 shoot of New Year the Iron 100 was a worthwhile training. So being Bi-annual there should be another in 6 months. It will be near to testing time so it will be helpful.

Shoot well!





Kung Fu beyond combat: the series – Shaolin Chan

20 01 2011

It was cold, empty and very fogging on the road at 5:00 am. This Sunday being my only day off this week, I needed a change , a balancing, something positive, maybe even some time to kick back or sleep in. Yet I still was out there heading to Monterey, Ca. This would be positive, but did not fill the sleep in part of the need, some times it is worth it to miss a little sleep. Did I  mention it was foggy, really fogging. I have been in worse but …anyway There I was with two hours drive a head of me.

I had not really planned on doing this post, this way, but after giving it some thought and a comment from a reader. It seemed to be needed and should go here before the spiritual warriors. The Chan retreat timing offered a perfect opportunity to speak on Chan and Shaolin for this series.  Perhaps some clarification of Shaolin and it’s brand of Buddhism called Chan or Zen in Japan. Also on my family style of Shaolin Chan, perhaps even explain why I say Kyudo is Zen, same as Kung fu is Chan, not just a hand to hand combat system as one Kyudo Dan put it. This is in my mind and my clan at least.

“Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th/6th century and is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Zen (Chinese: Chán, Sanskrit: Dhyāna) to China.

Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend, but most accounts agree that he was from Tamil Nadu, the southern region of India, born as a prince in Pallava dynasty. After becoming a Buddhist monk Bodhidharma left his kingdom and traveled through Southeast Asia into Southern China, and then went north. The accounts differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420–479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502–557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386–534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.”…wikipedia

Bodhidharma or Damo in Chinese, came to China to teach a form of Mahayana Buddhism. The rest of the story can be looked up in any Buddhist text, or anywhere, so no need for me to re-write. The other part of the story goes, he was so disappointed, with the physical condition of the monks that he gave them a set of exercises to do so they could handle their mediation, ( sitting – zazen). Sometimes these drills are called the Lohan exercises. These the legends says formed into at some point the 18 Lohan fighting forms, and grew from there.

The location area of the Shaolin temple was remote high in the mountains and dangerous. One could be attacked and beaten or eaten by Tigers. Self -defense was needed, to do the right thing, have the right calmness and “Mushin” to reject the violence of the  attack. Do the correct thing to save lives, the correct moves, weapon, response, state of mind. This would fall under the eightfold path, it contains eight aspects: Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Meditation.

The specific martial aspects of Shaolin are subordinate to Buddhist ideals. The “art” of our martial arts and the immediacy of combat provide the medium through which we strive to exist fully in the present, live in that moment – without planning for the future or reflecting upon the past. In this way, Kung fu provides an ideal meditation and an excellent means for practicing Right Mindfulness.

The “Mushin” one needed when sitting in meditation was the same that one needed to survive the conflict. Meditation under chaos is of stronger quality than one do in the forest quiet. The same instinct to react when and how would need to be clear as the instinct to solve a Koan. The same calmness of mind and detachment as well as strength of spirit was needed to overcome the violence of the world, as to over come trails of sitting mediation. The training of one will supported the quality of the other.  It is a basic philosophy of Chan all is one, everything is connected, there is no duality.
At the retreat gathering I keep getting one main theme, all is Chan. Chan is one.

The retreat in Monterey had a fairly large turn out. The fog lifted later in the day and it was quite nice out. We had members come from the S.F. Bay Area, Monterey and LA to join together for a day of sharing, sitting and growth.

The retreat was suppose to be a silent gathering. For the most part it was, other than the introductions. However with the camaraderie present made up of several faiths, Christian, Buddhist, Morman it did not last until the end 🙂

Chan itself does not belong to any particular religion.  But the spirituality it cultivates can be applied to any religious dogma… Chan is One.

There were many people during their introduction to the retreat group, who spoke of the healing they had received from their practice of Chan. Some where large, some were small. Both large and small to the receiver where a blessing. Our Senpai introduced us to 5 new health drills, which were developed or add via the Acupuncture Doctors which are in the group. These drills are in keeping with principles written in the Yellow Emperor Medicine Book. This is very ancient Chinese book on healing and “wellness”. These were added to the several motion Chan drills already in our system. It is said these Motion Chan drills ( forms of Kung Fu /Qi Gong to my eyes and background) are what were passed down from Damo to the Monks of Shaolin. Some of these drills were ones I was already using in my Kung Fu class for many years past as part of my efforts to bring balance to the Martial training. Part of the original Shaolin Philosophy was one should be able to heal as well as hurt. One helped the person found injured or one who in order to defend one’s self had to injure another person or an injured fellow monk. Whatever the case, one needed to show compassion and do healing when needed to friend or foe.

This health and healing aspect of Chan is from the Taoist Philosophy of health and long life, via things such as movement drills and Chi Gong Drill. In the Taoist Mind, all things are connected in the Universe. All is based on the Yin, Yang principles of balances and the five elements.  This is another part that sets our Shaolin Chan apart from the other Buddhist sects. The Health, Healing, Meditation, support is part of the whole, that is the Shaolin Legacy.

My Linage of Shaolin Chan as taught by Miao Tian Shifu, current vice abbot of the Shaolin temple traces back through history via Lin Ji Buddhism, which is called Rinshi in Japan. I am more familiar with the Soto branch of Japanese Zen. However I do know a few things of  the Rinshi sect, they meditate, as does the Soto linage, yet ours is the only one to make use of the Body Chakra’s in meditation. Similar to the Indian Chakra used in Yoga to help gain a spiritual connection, awakening to the oneness of the Universe. Our Shaolin Chan does this as well, using the Taoist influence.

This activation of the Chakra’s is used to Heal, connect to the Universal via Chi/Ki, Calm our mind, raise our Spirit, Power our movements, Raise our consciousnesses. This use of Chi/Ki is another difference of the “Zen” of Shaolin from that of Japan, India, and Tibet. Shaolin’s Ch’an Buddhism is unlike any other Buddhist sect.  There are striking similarities between Shaolin and various Tibetan, Korean, and Japanese sects; and tremendous dissimilarities between Shaolin and most Chinese schools.

As we know, this Chi is highly pursued in the arts of Shaolin and WuDang Martial Studies. Yet, in the study of Chan this Chi/Ki is considered of more importance in the pursuit of connection to the “Tao”, the Universal Life force, the Oneness of Chan. The pursuit of good “Kung Fu” in Shaolin is not just Fighting, Kicking, Punching. Even there in Kung fu the compassionate principles of Avoid rather than check. Check rather than hurt. Hurt rather than maim. Maim rather than kill reside. Because all life is precious nor can any be replaced, this comes into Shaolin’s use of martial Kung Fu. Shaolin is about balance and compassion, of oneness of Mind, Body and Spirit. The oneness of everything…Chan is one

Kung Fu is not just about fighting, and Chan is not just about sitting. The term Kung Fu in Chinese means, skill obtained via training. Anything done well is Kung Fu, A master Carpenter has good Kung Fu, A skilled musician has good Kung Fu, a healer, a Bodhisattva ( may need to protect their temple, family, friends from the violence of others), Skilled IT person, Artist, Kyudoka, and Meditator, all can have good and do Kung Fu. All training is Kung Fu training, All things are connected, Chan is one. Chan is Kung Fu, Chan is Life, Chan is Swimming, Chan is Kyudo, Chan is Meditation, Chan is healing, Chan is the Universe. This is Kung Fu beyond combat.

coming in Feb, the spiritual warriors, part I

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Kung Fu beyond Combat – The Series: intro

15 01 2011

Let me begin this by saying KUNG FU does not only mean a style(s) of fighting or a hard, external style of fighting. Tai Chi Chuan is Kung Fu as well. A good carpenter, potter, dancer, healer has good Kung Fu. A good Archer has good Kung Fu, a good sailor has good sailing Kung Fu. Kung Fu in the true sense means a skill attained through work, time and patience. Limiting Kung Fu to just fighting is like limiting Zen to just a religion, God to only Christians, Jews, or Muslims, Catholics, Healing to just medical pills and surgery. They are all bigger than that!

I have a conference in Las Vegas, it is by the American Sailing Association. I am an instructor via this group. I really do not care for LV and really the only reason I am going is to listen to a Zen Master discuss Zen and teaching sailing. This is close to home and he is a friend. I can learn something not only from the perspective of teaching sailing but teaching my Shaolin Kung Fu. In the world of Zen “everything is connected”.

While in LV I decided I would pay a visit to a Kung Fu classmate who runs a school there in Sin City. The Lohan School of Shaolin and teaches Northern Shaolin, Tai Chi , Praying Mantis, and southern Five Animals Kung Fu. My classmate is also a Chan Buddhist Priest. This got me to thinking about his tie-in to teaching Chan and Kung Fu, we have not spoke of this before. With him being in Las Vegas I have only seen him twice in the years we left the school, which was back in the early eighties. On his website spiritual Kung Fu is listed as part of the training. I thought it would be interesting to speak with him on this.

As my own interest in Zen came about in order to be a better Kung Fu teacher and being in Vegas due to teaching and Zen, even in another format I saw a tie in. As I said in Zen we say all things are connected. This was very much so.

From that the idea grew. I have another Kung Fu classmate who is also a Zen priest from the Korean lineage, which I found out just recently. He teaches Wing Chun Kung Fu. He is also an acupuncturist and has studied Aikido, besides Shaolin Tai Chi Mantis.

Added to this thought another Zen Priest came to mind. He does not teach Kung Fu but he studies Tai Chi Chuan from the same Shaolin lineage as myself and the others. Though he does not teach Kung Fu he does teach Kyudo and is one of my favorite coaches. He is from the Japanese lineage of Soto Zen.

The four of share a commonality not only with our martial training but also our Chan philosophy even though from different branches of the same tree. I thought it would be interesting to see how each relates Zen to their teaching/training in “Kung Fu”.

Over the months of Feb, March and April I will be connecting with these men for a short interview and post the thoughts and opinions on this blog under this topic of Kung Fu beyond Combat.

Questions:

What is your martial background?

How do you see the future path of Kung Fu, as far as direction and quality having been taught by old school instructors? Less or more quality?

What is your Zen/Chan background?

What lead you to Chan?

How do you relate your Zen/Chan practice to your Study of Kung Fu?

Do you bring Chan to your students in a formal form?

In what way?

Do you feel your Chan study has helped you be a better instructor?

In what way?

Are there any Chan practices, drills that you do with your Martial Students?

Do you consider Kung Fu Zen?

Any advise you would give to people seeking a martial arts and or a spiritual path?

Stay tuned coming in Feb part I

* If there is a question you would like presented to these Sifu’s please leave it in the comment section.

_/|\_





Happy Birthday Shifu…

9 01 2011

Judging from the amount of spam I get, I figure most of the folks that drop by 80% are spammers. Sad, but that is life in Blog world. The peeps that leave a comment for the most part tends to be Kyudoka , maybe 5-10%. So that would mean about 5 % are just lost or have no life and are just surfing. The other 3 or 4 people will find this interesting. I know there are at least 2 or 3 people that interested in Kung Fu stuff.

This is post is for them.

Eng Shifu had his 70’th birthday celebration on Sat. It was a surprise gathering at a Chinese Seafood restaurant in San Jose. He was quite surprised. It was a big turn out of about 30 or more students, former students, family and friends.

Shifu has been teaching for many years, and has students who have studied with him for over 30 years. Some of his students are quite well known in the Martial Art world even though he himself keeps a low profile.

It has been a while since I have seen him so happy. His partner and I spoke a bit after-wards and she said he was bubbling with pleasure talking with people around the table.

Of course some of the talk at our table was Kung Fu and different forms. Eng Shifu is also a Master of Fu Jow Pai, before he studied Northern Shaolin and Tai Chi Praying Mantis, so he has a long martial art history. He started training Tai Chi Praying Mantis while in Viet Nam as a Ranger teaching martial arts to the military and would sneak off base to study with Grandmaster Chi Chu Kai. I only studied Shaolin and Mantis with him. I did want to learn Ba Qua but there was too much Mantis to learn. Also I got to thinking, if Ba Qua was all that why did he specilize in Praying Mantis. Even giving up Fu Jow Pai, Hung Gar for the most part to specialize in Mantis. He does as do many look at Praying Mantis as a High level art, like studying for a PhD. Some of the perference has to do with “fit” but still someone who is already a master in a couple of Arts who turns to another to do specia/advance training says a lot for that Art. Even with remembering it is the man who makes the art, the art does not make the man. Same as with Kyudo it is not the style it is the archer. It is an honor to work with not only Eng Shifu, but Wong Sisuk, Fong Sisuk, and others of the 8th generation of Shaolin Tai Chi Praying Mantis System. These are masters of  the old school, there are many these days who hang their “master” sign out after only 10 years or so of “training”. Saddly I never got to meet Sigung Chuk Kai, who everyene speaks highly of not only as a martial Artist but as a person, but I have had the blessing of working with some of his senior 8th generation students. Also training with some of the their skilled students and being part of the 9th generation. Times are changing, as is the 10th generation, much is being lost.

If I am able and all is well, I plan to return to the states from Japan for his 80th celebration. That should be delightful and interesting. Happy Birthday Shifu, may you have many more, thank you for your efforts!

_/|\_





Yokoso 2011, It’s on …the first Ya

8 01 2011

2011 is on it’s way now. We have done the Sake ceremony, incense, and had the Osechi.

To complete things well sort of, because the Chinese New Year is still coming, so the Japanese part of the House is taken care of anyway.

I went to the first Kyudo class of the year this week, yesterday in fact. We had a good turn out at Renseikan Kyudo Dojo. Sensei did a ceremonial shoot for the beginning. I want to say Sharei , but I think that is not correct. Those who know, from the picture can tell.

Before the class got started with the lessons, I questioned Sensei on my Tenouchi from the 108 shoot. As it turns out I was both correct and wrong. I was gripping too hard with my fingers, my placement was correct but the focus was off, also putting my wrist angle wrong. So I need to make a few adjustment to make it correct. Later I was able to get a full spin with no pain and no slippage. The challenge is to do it all the time.

There is a new international event upcoming. It started last year and is not official. It is called the Bi-annual 100 shoot. So far the States here and countries involved are: NorCal, SoCal, NC, SC, GA, Florida, Mexico, Ecuador, Italy, Thailand, Argentina, and France. If you are on Facebook check out the Biannual 100 Arrow Shoot -2011 (aka: The Ironman) page. We need someone (s) from Japan to join in the fun (hint hint hint). The idea is to shoot 100 arrow, any time of the day on the Sat Jan 22nd. Any Kyudoka reading this join in. If you are not on Facebook, leave a comment here that you are joining and where you are from, then hopefully send me a picture so I can post of the group page.

Anyway, were I was going with this before I got sidetracked is, that this shoot will give me another chance to test my Tenuchi grip. Firm, but not to tight, not too loose. Base thumb pressure, small amount of grip with the little finger, relaxed but “alive”. Kind of like the sticking grip when doing Praying Mantis or Tai Chi.

The rest of the class, Sensei spent on Test timing and tournament timing. I did some filming for him and helped a new student with her Hikiwaki. when I was not in the shooting line. The only correction I got from my shooting was that something seemed off. It was good, but I seemed to be holding back or thinking too much. I’m of the mind I was thinking too much. Putting a lot of attention on the small things and it had an effect on the big picture. I was not just letting it happen, not in a state of Mushin. Especially about my Tenouchi, but that is what practice is for to work on those things, small and large.

When practicing “fu” some days it is about the details, other days strength, others days it is about the flow. Everything is practice, it is all interdependent, it is all good! Gambarimasho!





Kyudo 108 Ya – Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu…2011

1 01 2011

The Zen Clan wishes Everyone a Happier, Joyous, prosperous  New Year!

A Buddhist belief is that human beings are plagued by 108 earthly desires or passions, Buddhist temples in Japan ring 108 bells for the New Year.

108 is a sacred number in many religions and you can enjoy a lot of meanings and coincidences regarding the number 108.
According to Buddhist beliefs, 108 is the number of passions and desires entrapping us in the cycle of suffering and reincarnation. So, the 108 bell chimes symbolize the purification from the 108 delusions and sufferings accumulated in the past year.

Keeping with that thought, and that some Japanese use Kyudo shots as a way to purify, our Dojo RSD did our own version of Joya no Kane ( 除夜の鐘 ) for the second year. The RSD 108 Arrow ceremony on New Years Eve.

The plan was to start @ 10:00 am and finish by 4:00. We started at 11:00 and finished at 4:05 pm. Excellent timing!

After our short Zazen and a spot of tea we had at the task at hand…

My first few shots were not focused, such was my state of mind. I was not thinking about much other than getting through 108 arrows. Also as I shot my left hand got really tired and cramped! I thought it was from not shooting so much as of late. Last year when we did this I was shooting a lot getting ready for Japan. This year I’m working so therefore,I’m not shooting as much.  I figured my hand muscles were out of shape, I would just deal with it…Yosh! Over the course of the morning I wondered how I was going to make it through 108 shots with my hand hurting as it was. However I hung in there, that is the Shaolin way.

Pain is the body’s way saying something is wrong, like the sound of flapping sails in the wind is saying something needs attention.  The Western way would be to take a pill. The Eastern way is to find the cause and treat that.  I continued to shoot I tired different positions of the Tenouchi. I found there was a certain way if I held the Yumi supported by the heel base of my hand which put the support into my arm I was able to push the Yumi with no pain, mostly. I relaxed my hand more and supported the Yumi with my palm, rather than grip with my fingers. However I was not able to get any spin. I decided less pain was better than spin. So I gave up the thought of spinning/turning the Yumi and just used the grip that gave me the most support and the least/no pain. This way felt firm, stable and more powerful.

Afterward my Sempai says, yes it is more stable holding against the heel of your palm. I thought more about that later and recalled Sensei saying about my alignment so the arm is supporting the Yumi balanced against the Tiger’s mouth. Pushing down and forward with the base of my thumb. So I think I understand now that part of it. However I still need to work in the grip of the little fingers so that it does not stop the Yumi from turning. I should start doing my Bass playing exercises to help my hand strength. A side benefit of this is my hand will be in shape to play my Bass more. As I play on re-starting my music career in Japan, I also need to getting some practice time in. Hmmm, with that thought… if I practice my Bass more it would help my Kyudo Tenouchi, by strengthening my hand (Te).  So, Bass playing will help my Kyudo, Tai Chi will help my Kyudo, Zen/Chan will help my Kyudo, Chi Gong will help my Kyudo.  There is a blog post in this line of thought!

I had not planned on learning anything from the day’s shot just to go through the ceremony. However like life when you live with your eyes open you learn something everyday. Doing a sho0t of 108 Arrows is not just a Physical challenge but a mental challenge. Staying focused, staying in the moment, staying in form. Keeping the “Spirit” in involved is also a big part of it. Otherwise one’s shots are empty. They maybe be technically good, but “boring”. To be balance and shoot with Shin Zen Bi is good Kyudo. The Kyohon says “Kyudo is the way of perfect virtue” . This I believe should be with every shot.  If the Spirit is lacking one can not should with virtue. When doing Zazen, the state of mind should be with you all the time, not just when sitting. When doing Kyudo the state of mind in Shin Zen Bi, should be in every shot, as in every step in life. Training is not just in the Dojo.  Doing that, holding all that together, focused for a couple of hours is not that big a deal, but doing if for 6 -8 hours is a different level of training.

Another thing I notice toward the end of my shooting, after I found the comfortable hand position I was able to expand outward more, open my center. Creating more space , as Jyozen-san said on my last visit to the South-land.  A consequence of that was my left hand no longer dropped, when the arrow was released in Hanare, my chest opened and my arms went back as my chest expanded and my left arm ceased to drop.

I recalled last year because of dealing with pain in doing something wrong I had a break-though on something I needed to correct. Again this was a repeat of forced training break through. With the grip and center expansion. These break-through are nice, the trick is to maintain those corrections. Remain mindful of them whenever you shoot. It would also be nice to have them without suffering, however life is suffering right. In Chan we suffer the sitting motionless to have a break-through in our perspective of life and death. In Tai Chi/Kung Fu we suffer through “stance” ( Ashibumi ) standing to have a break-through in inner and outer strength. The nice part of this with Kyudo is, as with Tai Chi the form is slow, you get a chance to be mindful of everything in the moment and make a timely correction. If you skip or miss the chance it will show up later in another part of the form (shot), a section goes off. Even if it is just in the flight of the Arrow in the case of Kyudo, or one’s lack of Chi or Strength/Power in the case of Tai Chi Chaun.

As I shot and my pain rose and focus dropped so did my score of hits. I went from 4 out of 8,  to 0 out of 8. As I progressed and adapted my hand position and was able to be mindful of my targeting, balance, draw, expanding, and less on how many arrows I had to shoot, my score rose again to 50%. I noticed that through-out this my stand was comfortable, so all that Ashibumi practice at work has paid off.

We only took a couple of short breaks doing our shoot. Last year there was just my Senpai and myself, this year, there was and added new comer. She joined us about half way through. We had a break part together, Green tea, nuts, fruit, cookies.

It was a good practice day. I learned without planning to learn. A good theme for the New Year.

After the last shot, we had the traditional cup o sake and kompai!

Onward to 2011…Yosh!!!

Happy New Year…Akemashite Omedeto Gozaimasu… Ganbarimashou!!