A mixed bag Friday

29 05 2011

My plan for the day which was Friday, included a trip to the archery range to shoot with Sensei, then down to my Shifu’s school for Friday Fu night with the fam.

First stop was at the range for some Kyudo 28 meters. I had not worked with Sensei for several months due to my schedule and the travel distance (read as gas prices). I was feeling fairly comfortable with my shooting form so I was not nervous.  I told him I was still working on my Tenouchi as my biggest challenge. He gave me some correction on that, and also thought my built up wrapping was too built up.

We shot 20 arrows for the afternoon, his game was off, due to a cold, so I beat him with hits by one arrow.  Another pointer he gave me was in Daisan I was over too far to the left but corrected myself by the time I was in Kai. I should be pointing at the target in Daisan (second Aim) . The other thing was keep some bend in my arms as my arms go over my head before Daisan.

Otherwise he thought I had made improvements in my form from the last time he saw me. He said I’m not sure what you are doing, but keep it up because you are improving…yeya! Everything is Kyudo, everything is Chan, everything is Kung Fu, everything is training, the world is our Dojo.

I also find out that only he and I are attending the seminar this year in MN, everyone else backed out, timing or money reasons. It does not effect me, but there will be no class-spirit pump up. That will have to wait until next year when Northern CA hosts the seminar. At that time hopefully I will be going for my San-Dan and my final test in the states. There will be another from my Dojo also testing San-dan at that time. The others will be going for Shodan. It should be fun and importantly a lot cheaper with no airfair or hotel cost to deal with…just before we leave for the open ocean…Yeya!

I missed Kung Fu last month, I had too much going on. This time I was heading there no matter what, the Kyudo first plan was because I was going to be in the area so I could save on travel and ga$.

I arrived to find the group going through a set of books brought back from Hong Kong. These book were done by one of the 8th generation who has many many many Tai Chi Mantis films on You-tube. He put together a group of  books on the Tai Chi Mantis system. One, book three in particular dealt with the History, Philosophy and traditions of Tai Chi Praying Mantis. It has lots of old pictures of Sigung through the years, and shots of the old temple where he was a young monk, along with forms and info. There was also a picture of the Tai Mantis logo I designed for one of my old schools. This book is on my must have list. It is mostly in Chinese but there are parts in English. This for us Tai Chi Mantis players is a monumental work.

After reviewing some of the book, we got down to some practice. Fong Sisuk took questions on the differences between 7 star Mantis and Tai Chi Mantis and point out some of the differences. Some being, 7 star is built on straight line movements and principle, it is also more striking in nature. Tai Chi Mantis is more angles and circular. Tai Chi Mantis is also built around controlling the opponent. Rather than striking or knocking them back so they can possibly attack again, Tai Chi Mantis keeps them in close, so they can not escape. In a way it keeps more to the Buddhist principle compassion, Tai Chi Mantis can end the fight by controlling, trapping, grounding the attacker so the fight will not continue, where 7 Star would end the fight, by killing or maiming the attacker. An important statement made by Fong Sisuk was in training we train to control ourselves. You can not control other until you first can control yourself. This is an important principle in traditional Martial arts.  Eng Sifu teaches us both 7 star and Tai Chi praying mantis as well as Northern Shaolin for our roots. One can not just start out training Mantis without the groundwork, proper foundation.

Another subject talked about during our eating time was WuShu vs Traditional KungFu. Nothing is wrong with WuShu Fong Sisuk said however it is not the same as TKF. One of the main things is it lacks the culture and the spiritual principles of Traditional Kung Fu ( TKF). These were taken out of the training by the communist on purpose.

Another topic spoke on is how the current true masters are lamenting the fall of interest in traditional Martial arts. Also how many are claiming to be masters but are just posers. How hard it is to find students who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn and carry on the arts. Many many parts, principals, techniques and much culture is being lost with the new generations. Not just here in the states which is doing well compared to Hong Kong. Many of the Old Masters fear for the future of Chinese Traditional Martial Arts.

This n That , That n This…

27 05 2011

Bit by bit I am gearing up for the testing in Aug. My mother-n-law brought me a Gomu-yumi from Japan on her visit here. This will help me work on my draw and Tai Hai in the apt. Great!

I was able to get in a few shot of real practice at RSD the other day. I feel pretty on target for my basic level with my form. I am sure I still need still adjustments and fine tuning but overall I think I am doing well being on my own for the most part . This week I will go see Sensei at the Dojo and also at the shooting range on Friday afternoon before I go do Kung Fu training with Shifu. I be making some weekly commitment to practice at least once or twice a week here on even as busy as I am. I do not want to waste my test money. Like the 63.00 I had to pay for 4,000 yin since they will not take cash at the test site. (o_O)

I sold my motorcycle 😦 which will pay for my plane fare to MN . I was lucky to find a deal on a ticket with the gas prices as they are. I needed to sell the bike anyway, I can not take it to Japan.

I am hoping to buy a Harley once there from some leaving military person. The sale of my late brother’s guitar will also go to the testing trip as well as buying myself a Bass Shakuhachi. His spirit can rest with that knowing something musical was involved with the sale of his Guitar. His other two Basses I am taking to Japan to hook with or start a band. I am looking forward to playing again. I am taking several instruments on the ocean passage there, along with a computer maybe I’ll come up with some interesting songs on the voyage.

Speaking of playing I was pleasantly surprised to find out my mother in law is a jazz fan. She is not big on Japanese music but like jazz. One night I turned on our local Jazz station while she was here visiting and she really enjoyed it. Then last night we were out to dinner and there was s small Jazz trio playing in the hotel lobby she wanted to stop and listen.

LZ told her later she should find a boyfriend in Japan and go out to here some Jazz and have a glass of wine. She has just discovered she likes wine. She is having some adventures now even at her age. She spent most of her younger years caring for family. Now it is her time. Getting to travel America, and Viet Nam on her on. Sailing,

dining at yacht clubs, wine tasting, listening to live Jazz,learning some basic computer skills. We can not bring back our youth but should enjoy the time we have when we can, ne! I will have to tell her how to get a jazz station on her new computer when she picks one up in Japan. I showed her how to work an iPad she likes it. Her use is mostly for Skype

but I can tell her how to use iTunes for streaming Jazz.

On another note, Monday was my final Tai Chi class for this session with the city of Alameda.

One student brought in some fruit another brought in some wine n cheese for after class. That was thoughtful of them. The classes here have had the most thoughtful group orientated mind set since I been teaching ever. Maybe some will even come to the banquet this year and give the school some face. It will be interesting to see how my students in Japan compare.

Weds was the final Shaolin/Tai Chi mix class also for the Park and Rec dept.

One of the students who comes on both Mon and Wed this time brought in some snacks for afterward. This maybe the start of a new tradition for the school. I think it is a nice touch and helps bring the group together and raises class spirit.

World Tai Chi day / Kyudo

8 05 2011

After leaving the park in Alameda I headed to the park at the Berkeley marina for the start of the Great Vallejo Yacht race. I had heard it was going to be near the Berkeley Circle the opening or something. However my info was in error. I could see a bunch of Yachts milling about off in the distance near the Golden Gate. This looked like this was the starting point of the race.

However what I did come across and had forgotten about was the park Archer. I took it as a good omen for the morning as my next stop was the Kyudojo. So after a few photos I headed to Vallejo Tanuki Dojo get some Kyudo time in.

I was surprised to see two of my Senpai there as well. One was expected the other was not so it was like a mild reunion. There was the normal chit chat and I got down to business. I was going to work on the full taihai but opted for just some shooting.  As is my practice I did not concern myself at first with targeting but the form of my shots, the root as it were.

Rebuilding my shooting from Ashibumi up and through to Zansen. This is the way when practicing Tai Chi or Kung Fu so it made sense to do this here as well. Later when reading the Kyohon I find it says
” We have to do every movement keeping to the fundamentals”

As I went through making corrections to my posture,  draw the crosses and the like my targeting also improved. I am convinced that the cross training in Tai Chi and Chi Gong helps. There are a couple of Chi gong drills that I have found have the same breathing , use of expansion of the chest , use of the back muscles, Tanden as used in Kyudo shots. So even when I able unable to get to the Kyudo dojo I am still practicing my Kyudo. The world is the dojo. Everything is Chan practice, everything is Kung Fu practice, everything is Kyudo practice.

” The Mental and spiritual energy should be focused in the region of the abdomen just below the navel (TanDen)and the chest and shoulders should be relaxed”

I have that big write up I did on cross training I will need to check if I finished it and posted.

Anyway it was a good practice, my Tenouchi of course still needs work, that will come with time. Even not shooting as much as I would like I feel I am still making progress. With the increase of my Kyudo concentration over the next few months I will be ready for the test in Aug. I believe… Yosh!

World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day – part 1

3 05 2011

This past Sat was World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day. For those who do not know this is a day were everyone around the globe who practices Tai Chi is encouraged to practice at the same time. This to not only celebrate the study and health benefits of Tai Chi but to help add positive and healing Chi to the World Energy Flow. To do a group effort to promote world peace. This is done from ALL Styles of Tai Chi.

It would be a great thing if there could be a World Kyudo day . The Kyohon says the same about the inner raising or development of the person through the practice of Kyudo. ” Kyudo is the way of perfect virtue. In the shooting, one must search for the rightness in oneself.” However this would be a Huge undertaking for the Kyudo world as many would need to put aside their ego and prejudices and truly practice what the Kyohon says.  As large as Tai Chi is I never hear my Tai Chi is better than yours. Tai Chi is Tai Chi as long as it follows the Principles. Kyudo is Kyudo. So doubtful if that will ever happen. I’ll stop here before I get in hot water. However even with with my lowly ranking I will drop the message whenever I can. Maybe someone of importance will pick it up and run with it. The idea is important not who comes up with it. Kyudo for peace spread the message. An arrow shot to pierce the target of hate and intolerance.

I have about 15 Tai Chi students right now, had I planned it better I could had a group session with them on Sat. However as it was it was just me. Which was ok since it was a stop on the way to other events in a long day. The World event started at 10:00 am . I found a quiet spot in the park next to the next to the bay.

There I  started with a bit if Zazen before doing my Tai Chi set. It was a peaceful morning with a light wind.

I first did Sigung’s Tai Chi palm set before doing Yang 24. I thought about finishing the series with Chan however I had to be other places.

My next stop was over to the Peoples Republic of Berekley for the start if the Great Vallejo Yacht Race. After that I was headed to Vallejo for Kyudo practice at the Tanuki Dojo. The Aug testing is getting near time for me to get busy with some Kyudo practice. I thought that having my meditation and Tai Chi done first thing set the tone for the day. I generally do that at the dojo before doing my shooting anyway, now I was already charged up from the outside drawing and sharing of the world chi with millions of others. I imagined that and tried to feel it as I was doing my morning drills in the park. I did notice a large pickup of the wind just as I started my Tai Chi Set I took it as a gust of Chi from the millions of the world sharing and adding Chi to the World.