Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis – Zanshin

27 08 2012

It is all done, the last event here for me. Well of sorts I will be going to a boat show in Oct. However that is not about me. It is for Aoki Yachts corp out of Osaka. As far as Kyudo, and Kung Fu it is done.

The seminar did not turn out as I hoped but, life sometimes is like that. It was still a worthwhile trip to attend. I learned a lot! It was good to see past aquatances and make new ones. I picked up some good points at the seminar which will help me later. I finally figured out and am fairly comfortable with the raising one knee thing in Kiza. That was huge in my book. Also established a connection with my dojomates we feel like a school now I think. I am not sure but i think it is the same for my Sensei. This maybe his largest class of Shodans. Speaking of my Dojomates, I think we are the most diverse Dojo in the Renmei.

I believe the connections I made with the Sensei there at the seminar will be beneficial down the road.

I went to class yesterday and shot with my new bow. It was suppose to be my Sandan bow, and I guess it still is. It is my training bow to get there.

I really shot with it for the first time in class tonight. It shoots well but right now it feels like a lot of effort to shoot. My old Yumi is 15k, this one is 18, I can really feel the change. It will help/force me to draw and shoot with my bones to get comfortable with it. Even with that I have one more bow coming. I am exchanging a 22k bow for a lighter one. 22k is ridiculously too much!

It will be shipped to Japan when our things get fully packed. I will be taking my old 15k bow on the boat with me. I hope to get to shoot some in Hawaii at one of the dojos there and perhaps I’ll find some place on the passage to shoot. Also I hope on some of the stops in Japan on the way to Osaka there will be some local Dojo I can stop at to shoot. That would be something interesting to start blogging about on the new Zensekai-Nihon blog. Maybe even a good couple of articles for the Kyudo mags.

For now it is the same if I passed, or not, back to training. I did not start Kyudo for the rank but for the training. My first style had no ranks I just wanted to learn, adapt and enjoy. Use some of the training and experiences in life and my Kung Fu teaching and training. I think I have been successful in some of that. The ranking thing came about because I wanted to continue training in Japan and heard it was needed. In traditional Kung Fu we have no ranks, no belts. Now I want to achieve Yondan, it will open a different level of training. Once that happens, we’ll see. Godan…Renshi…why…still, I will keep my mind open. One grows with an open mind and heart.

onward!





Kyudo Chornicles – UC Davis – Hanare

26 08 2012

The final day arrived. I was not feeling confident. There was a open practice on Thursday night that helped some but I did not feel i was there yet.

We did our morning line up and thankfully no Shiza. We were told everyone will take the written test at the same time before the shooting test.

We went to the rear section for the written test. Those testing for Sandan, Yondan and Godan were all in the same room. We had different questions of course.
Unlike my Nidan test with three questions today we only had one this time. Explain Goju-jumonji. Ok cool I am ready for that. I wrote it out and was ready to leave, however they wanted to check the answer sheets for everyone first. That turned out to be a good thing. As I was sitting there waiting I kept reviewing my list of the five crosses in my head. Something did not seem right. Finally it came to me I had put the last cross as the neck and Yumi should form a cross. It was my sensei who wad checking the English answers, I asked for mine back and was given it. I changed the word Yumi to Ya. After turning it back in and having it checked and ok’d I was given permission to leave. Wheeww that was close and over. Now the hard part.

The gym had been changed so there was one shajo. I had heard the makiwara room was open for those who wanted. However that changed shortly after I heard. There were no backing nets in the makiwara room since they put them out on the testing area. Therefore no Markiwara practice before the test. That could have been a help, but was not meant to be.

My group approach me to get a couple more practice line up/ entry’s in before our turn. We practice again over to the side, watching our timing and steps.

My stomach was not happy.

I made my self busy taking pictures of my dojomates, stretching and warming up. I found an out of the way spot on the upper floor and did some tai chi practice.

After lunch it was my turn to line up. My stomach really really turned sour. As I sat I did Chan breathing drills to help calm things. Then it was show time.

Our entrance was good we were smooth and organized. My first shot was a miss. Just off the target to the left but center level. The bad part, my thumb came off my fingers in Tenouchi, ugh! Ok I thought I have another chance.

Next shot I adjust a bit, but it was still a miss but the exact same spot as the first but on the right side of the target 😦

Also even thought really thought about keeping the thumb down and I did, the middle finger came loose. I was toast! I know they were watching closely since I knew they were taking note on my Tenouchi. It was disappointing but not unexpected. I exited my Sensei said you were fighting the bow. Most of your pull came from your arms not your body. Don’t give up hope but it is only a slim chance they will pass you with the two misses and they were not grouped together, along with the shallow draw. I said I was not expecting to pass, it was ok.

I went and changed clothes and hung out the rest of the afternoon and watched the rest of the testing. I was pleased to see my friend pass the first part her Renshi shoot then her oral. Finally it was time for her second shots. Messages were relayed from LA to Davis and over to north Carolina where her husband was updated about the status of things.

Sadly she missed both last shots everyone was disappointed for her. It was a sad ending.

Around late afternoon the results were posted. It was noisy as people rejoiced on their passing. I did not even bother to go look. I knew I did not pass. I came across a line up mate and asked how he did. He said no one in our taichi passed. In fact out of all the Nidans only two out of about at least 15 or more people passed. Things get real serious at this level. I saw that at last year’s test with the large amount of no passes. With such a large amount of company I did not feel lonely not passing. I had been prepared for the outcome.

All of those testing from my dojo for Shodan passed. Good for them as I had heard not all do, some only get 1 kyu.

As I was leaving I saw Kubota Sensei. He gave me his slight smile, I bowed…we will meet again.

 

PS: Thanks to those who took my picture. I nice treat for this blog.  _/|\_





Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis – 3

25 08 2012

Day 3

It was a pretty established pattern now that we of the Renseikan dojo pretty much had our meals together. It gave us a sense of family, unity I guess. It was one of the nicer aspects of this seminar. Otherwise I would have just sat alone mostly. Not anti-social I am just on the quiet n shy side and do not like to feel I am an intruder. That is just how I roll.

It was my group’s turn to train with the head judge, Akiyama Sensei. I had heard raves reviews about her from my Chikurin ha Sempai. Gentle, detailed, precise. She was all that and a bag of chips ( slag ). I did not get a lot of correction from her. I heard the translator tell her yesterday I was corrected on my Tenouchi. From her I got, make more extension/reach on my dosukouri and uchiokoshi, keep both arms level, raise Yumi higher. Simple stuff but when added to the other stuff made for quite a list to keep track of.

One thing she went over with everyone in our group was the proper way of wearing a Hakama. I also heard the same was given to the Yondan, Godans, and Renshi’s. More so the men than the women.

There was a open practice on Thursday night. My original plan was to drive to the Hidden Dojo to get some shooting practice in. However since they had opened the dojo for practice I chose to go that route instead. Perhaps not the best choice in hindsight. My group wanted to get some entry practice in. As I was Omai I was asked to practice with them so that we would be in harmony on test day. That seriously cut into my shoot time. Perhaps it was good since I needed to refine my timing for the entrance.
We practice on our lineup and entry for about 30 min.
I was able to get some makiwara time in before that, but really wanted 28 meter time.

 

After working with my group I was able to join the line up for 28 meter. With the amount of people there to shoot I was only able to get off two arrows. One went dead center the other right next to the target. I felt a little better. I was unable to get in any more shoot time in due to the lines and my group wanted one more round of entry practice. That done it was time to leave as the gym was closing.

I was feeling better overall but still very nervous about the whole thing…as was my stomach.

However I was out of time, I had done all that I could to prepare… tomorrow were finals.





Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis – 2

22 08 2012

Day 2

Breakfast was fun. I sat with my two Dojo brethren from the Ronin RSD. It was good to have them there. Two years ago when I was rejected by a couple of Senseis to join their Dojo we shot together and cause a large controversy by having a private seminar from an out of town Sensei.  Today, one of those Senseis sat with us, we laughed and joked a lot. We were quite loud in our humor. Not obnoxiously  but louder than everyone else there. It was good.

It was the first day if the real lessons. The first day for my group was just being evaluated. Below Nidan started their real lessons on Tues.

Today Nidan and Sandan worked Sakuma Sensei. As we were lining up the Sensei saw me and said thank you for taking us around last night ( in Japanese he does not speak English) and smiled. I was surprised. I bowed and said doitashimaste.

After a small talk he had us shoot. When my taichi came up and it was my turn he says , your name is Fuu in Japan right? Now I am really surprised. I just smile bowed my head and said Hai. Thinking, am I suppose to get into a conversation with him or shoot. I figured shoot and started on the sequence.

Kubota sensei had given us, as a group, a change yesterday in standing timing and the use of four fingers to cover the nock , no matter three finger glove or four fingers. Today I got my change. First, my daisan did not need to point at the target until I was in Kai. Next my Tenouchi was falling apart upon hanare. This was a big problem! This kept me busy the rest of the week. So now in addition to my weirded out tummy, having to hit the target, make sure I have spin on my Yumi, I need to correct my Tenouchi! Not an easy task.

So now this is my challenge for the seminar. All day I am forming, un-forming.

That evening was the banquet. Everyone always looks so different all cleaned and dressed. I sat at a good table. Several of the people I knew from another place and time.

Earlier that day there was a guy in the men’s room rinsing out plastic water bottles. I said, you are not supposed to refill those! He said ” it is for Shochu” . I said that is worst, the liquid will leach the plastic into the drink. I hope this is not for long term. He no.

One of those bottles was on the dinner table…

Once dinner and the festivities were over I headed out to the drug store. I had been given another task, find some thank you cards for the Sensei. Being the senior rank has responsibilities. I got three cards , ice tea, and Pepto Bismal and headed back to the dorm. There I checked my email and tried to study the Kyohon for a while. One of the interesting aspects of Kyudo is reading and understanding the philosophy. I find the book interesting. It was somewhat distracting with all the night noises, and laughing going on in the hall. It was indeed just like being back in college. Around midnight I gave it up and went to bed. Day 3 was tomorrow…Yosh!





Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis Seminar

20 08 2012

After months of preparation and training it was finally time to head to the Kyudo Seminar. I was not feeling confident, I was hitting but it was inconsistent. The rumors were I needed to get at least one hit. I felt with enough focus and some luck I could pull off one clean hit.

The day did not start as planned. I was supposed to go to work as usual in the morning. I got up and went in only to find I was not on the schedule, but not told. My plan was to leave work and go to the Dojo for some practice before taking the hour drive to the seminar. Instead I was put in the position of a wasted trip and gas. The wasted gas money was a real irritant. 😦
After returning home, I went back to bed. That part was nice. After a nice rest I packed up and went to the dojo. I did a few shots, it was not great but I did get a few hits in, along with my regular meditation and training drills.

The traffic to UC Davis was not too bad, it was quite hot though. Unlike on our island, the temps were in the 90’s. Overall the traffic moved well. I stopped for a small bite to eat on the way.

I made it to the campus with no problems. However finding where I needed to check it was a different story. I drove and walked around fir an hour trying to find were to register. There were NO signs to be found! Not even signs with a campus map! WTH Grrrrrrrrrr . finally I was told I could get a campus map on-line. I did so and was able to finally make my way to the correct area. Still a group of co-eds walked and pointed me to the right place. After checking in and heading to my room I see a sign with a pointed arrow for Kyudo!

I paid the extra 50 bucks in order to have my own room. It was worth it, I was able to settle in nicely, later. For the moment I had 15 min to make it to the dining hall and grab some dinner. It was there in the Hall I started greeting the folks I knew. The food looked pretty good, it was a good election even of veggie meal.

It was good to see some of the old faces from other times and places.

After dinner I went back to the dorm. There I settled in for a quiet evening and prep for the commencement of activities in the morning.

Day 1

I got up early on Tuesday the first day of the seminar. I did my morning Zazen then went out to look for a spot to do Tai Chi. After I returned I head to breakfast then change for the opening ceremonies.

Dojo Mates, going for Shodan. Ganbatte!

There was the normal line up and opening formalities. The dreaded Shiza sit and reciting came with it. It was not so bad this time, the Shiza practice on my own paid off. It was still painful but I was able to deal with it.

There was an opening Sharei by the head instructor Akiyama Sensei. She was good of course, but she did not hit her shots. I found this comforting. Since hitting was heavy on my mind, to see a master miss made me feel a sense of relief.

Next up we broke up into groups. Here was my dread in my face. I was Omai!!! Just wonderful!  😦     On top of worrying about hitting I had to be concerned with my taihai and leading my taichi group. I was hoping to be #2 or 3 in line. I felt this was not a good omen. I was the first number in the Nidan group. This made my already weird stomach even more so. At least unlike Tokyo I had some experience being in that position now. Even though I did not like it as I would be right in front of the judges and have to keep track of the shooting sequence. Omai is out there for the shortest time, that can be good . So there is good and bad that goes with that position.

I went through my evaluation shots with no problems, other than not being able to hear clearly from my group who was shooting because another group behind us was also shooting. Also other than my nervous tummy, which kept me up and down the steps…a lot over the week, things went ok.

The first Sensei for my section was Kubota Sensei. I did not get any correction from him. I do not recall anyone getting some from him. He did spend some time on some topics and discussion. I liked his style of shooting and also his teaching. He was fun to listen to as he was enjoying himself. He told us to make Hanshi he had been studying 50 yrs. He said the younger students could make it, but us older ones…

That evening after the seminar and dinner there was a taikai. I had designed the winner certificates for this, yet I had no plans to attend. I had been asked earlier since I was not in the taikai would I take the Sensei out to dinner. It was an easy task, however I wasn’t looking forward to it…nervous. I would need to speak with the Sensei in my poor Japanese, and be concern about using the correct respectful words.

I did nor have much time after the seminar. I had to rush to change, find their hotel and pick them up. I did not want to lose face by being late, it was stressful but I made it. There was a bit of confusion about were they were going, it took a while to get it all sorted out.
I introduced myself in Japanese. I found out later they were quite surprised at this. I also told them my Japanese name which they thought was interesting. I thought it maybe a wise move for the future to make myself known.

I got them to the Restaurant and returned later to pick them up. They wanted to go by the Taikai to see so I took them there next. Finally they had enough and I returned them to their hotel and went back to my room for the night. It all went pretty smooth for the first day.

Tomorrow, Day 2 , the real lessons started and the evening held the banquet.





Waning moon…

11 08 2012

I have been doing this blog now for some five years now. Time is slipping away. Hard to believe in 2-3 months we are leaving for Japan. Goodbye America, Mata ne!

It dawned on me this blog will be finished soon also. I have a few more posts to do. The final Kyudo seminar, the final two kung fu beyond combat posts, then that may wrap it up. At least for here. The Zenseaki2 by sea will continue. This blog will be reborn as “Zensekai Japan ”

I had a break through at Kyudo practice on Monday, at least I think so. If I can repeat what I learned when shooting on test day I’ll be ok. One is I need more Nobei, other wise even if I am on target the arrow has no power. 2, We did a exercise at the Chan retreat called one finger Zen. I found when doing this with the target my shots/hits are better . Also with expanding along the arrow, so told by Jyo Zen Sensei, made my shot stronger. I have four practice sessions to get this down. Finally changed my right Tenouchi just enough to relax the hand more and have the release smoother

Speaking of Kyudo, I have gotten my head around this ranking thing in Kyudo. Until one gets to Yondan basically you are a colored belt. Eg: yellow, green, purple. Sandan is really just a Brown belt in equal Karate ranking. The True Black belt , where you start getting respect as Kyudoka comes at Yondan. This is where training get serious. You get invited to banquets, get an extra day of training at seminars, and you can wear cool clothes.

I have been asked to design the Taikai Award certificate this year. The certificates are not coming from some standard award template. These are my original design. After my shaky start 3 years ago with the Renmei it gives me an certain internal ego boast to be asked to do this. The job turned into something more complex than I planned and took me a couple of days and running around to finish. Printing to paper differs some from the Web. Also the “artist” would not let me do a halfhearted quickie job. That would be like shooting with no Nobiai.

Most people dislike Mondays, I do not. It is one of my favorites right now. Tuesdays’ now that is a different creature. Mondays I go to work early ( the sucky part) then I go to Kyudo practice, then the rest of the day I am free to do whatever, until my night Tai Chi class.

Speaking of my class, my Monday Tai Chi class threw me a Potluck going away /end of class eat-in. That was thoughtful of them. The classes at the rec-center have turned out to be the best of my career overall. Well at least as far as Tai Chi goes. The Kung Fu Class did pretty well for a while at the Martinez school. Also those from the Weds night class took me out to sushi. Nice students… _/|\_  !

This series of classes has given me a good format, I think, to work from in Japan. No matter what movement art is being used. Anyway I already know that Taikyuku (Tai Chi) is somewhat popular in Japan it will be a matter of just finding my spot. I believe the three level Tai Chi forms will be a good platform. Yang 24, Taiji Palm, Chen 24 with the added power form Hsing Yi this will a good Internal training path. The External will be Shaolin/Mantis, and Kali. Both have the Chan and Qi Gong. I am feeling the Internal Path will be more popular in Japan, given that I do not teach a kids class and the older age population is drawn to the “lower” key of Tai Chi.

It is getting real. I believe I have things set as far a mover for our things to Japan. However I need to reduce our shipment to fall within the parameters of the company’s minimum shipment. Our financial life is near to re-set, actually, our life is near re-set…kind of like going into Zanshin.





Cha’n in the Redwoods

5 08 2012

Day one

This was the second part in my series of stateside final events to handle before launch. The Kung Fu part is finished the tournament and banquet were done. Now it was time for the Chan retreat and seeing my Chan family and goodbye’s. It is all getting more real now.

It was to be another early start to the day on Sat, but not as bad as a work day rising. I was up and on the road by 5:30 am. It was 1.5 hrs drive to the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mtns. Traffic was ok at that hour so it was an easy drive. I arrived shortly after 7:00am. Everyone was already doing their morning meditation, except my cousin who was approaching the meditation hall as I was approaching. What a surprise timing!

After our greeting I set about finding out what was going on. I was a bit thrown off by seeing the meditation sitting when I thought it was suppose to be Chi Gong time. As it turned out that was up next, I had read the schedule wrong.

Settling in:

I joined the Qi Gong session. It was lead by the visiting teacher, the person given the Buddha seal/imprint by our Shifu in Taiwan. He a Kung Fu person turned Spiritual guide and Chan Master. I wanted to have a talk with him. I would wait for my chance. For now I needed to settle in. After the Qi Gong was breakfast and the mass greetings, of “hao Jo bu jhin” (long time no see)

Before eating though I was able to sign in, get my badge, locate my sleeping room and greet a few others I knew.

Breakfast was ok. Some veggie stuff, plus fruit, cereal, bread. Afterward I put my stuff in the room then headed off to the first lecture on the weekend theme fulfillment.

On the way to the meditation hall, chapel I encounter Miao Ming, the visiting teacher , I walk up along side him and introduce myself. We chatted a small amount and said we would get together later to talk. That was easier said than done as he was always speaking with someone and answering their questions. I did not want to intrude and wanted just a couple private moments for my interview for my “Beyond combat series”.
The one time I saw him alone he was meditating, I did not disturb him.

The Program

The lectures started next. The first one was on fulfillment which is also the theme of the retreat. Then a break followed by a meditation period. It was a open meditation session. We could stay in the hall or go out on the grounds. I took the outside option and used the time to explore the grounds some before finding a spot to sit.

Then lunch time was upon us. About this time the clouds had burned away so I took a spot on the patio to eat my lunch in the sun.

Interaction:

Our next section was a short lecture, then a group exercise . I dislike this part, find someone you do not know and partner up with them. We were to sit with this person, talk with and or meditate with them for a few moments, then draw the impression you are feeling. We had to do this with three people. It was hard. It was not an art project so whatever it looked like was fine. It was about synchronizing with the person and showing/drawing your impression. I had a couple of interesting drawings one of which was very complex and correct, one other was simple yet also close to target. Afterward people were asked to share some of the drawing and their impression of the work. Many people thought their artwork was right-on correct to the point of being scary. Out of this I gained two new buds for the next days.

These are not mine.

Time for another break, then Chi drills, then dinner.

Fireside chat:

After the last session after dinner we had a bonfire side Q and A session after singing a couple of Cha’n songs. I stayed with the group for a while by the fire listening to the questions asked of Mao Ming until it got too cold, then I headed to my room.
I had a basic shared room with two others and got the top bed on a set of bunk-beds. My roommates were non/Chinese and new to Chan. I used my iPad for a while, emails, FB, and a Naruto video before turning in for the night, ending the day.

Day II

The next day for the most part was a repeat of Sat. For the morning free meditation I found a spot to do some Tai Chi before locating a spot among the trees to do some meditation.

The interaction drill for the day was several groups discussion on the Heart Sutra and giving our impression of what it said. To me it said, it is all the same day!

I still do not understand how I got picked to be the spokesperson…again, what is up with that?!

Closing

The last session of the day before dinner was the “sharing ” and introduction part. This is where people get up in front of everyone and say whatever about their experience with Chan. This can be and has been in the past very emotional, lots of waterworks. I thought I was going to miss this part since it was listed for Monday. However since I was leaving on Sunday I was asked to come up and intro/share

I did a little talk on my Chan studies with Kung Fu, sailing and the Environment. I was on my way back to my seat when my cousin brings up I am leaving…oh boy, thx cuz!

Ok I had to come back and speak… This is where things got emotional. I do not know why I have such an attachment to these people, when saying my group goodbye I was very close to losing it to tears and emotions, and had to take a short pause and bring up some Chi to hold it together. I was getting so choked up I could not finish my last sentence, I hate when that happens. I guess my spirit really feels a sense of this is my spiritual family connection. Even thinking back to the moment seriously chokes me up…weird. I do not hang out with any of them much, yet … The Force is strong with the Chan Family.

Interestingly it is not just me. My cousin is also involved with this group. She also feels connected to the group. Even as a practicing Catholic with limited funds she with help made it here to Ca from Ga to attend the retreat. Also everyone who meets her in the group loves her. It is nice having her involved with the group so I can get her feedback on the group and see it is not just me trip’pn.

I never got to do the interview I wanted with the visiting teacher. I did find an article in the Chan mag that had some of the information I wanted. I was told I can find it on the Chan web site. I can use that to make the blog post. I also got his eMail so I can contact him if need be.

I sat with the visiting teacher for a short while after dinner for a brief goodbye. He express his regrets at not being able to spend sometime with me and invited me to visit him in Singapore sometime. This made me think, hmmm now I have a contact in mainland China and to further that thought…as a Heart Chan member I have several thousand points of potential contacts in Taiwan…there are over a hundred thousand members in Taiwan… One practitioner came up to me and said she is such n suches mother. When I come Taiwan she would be happy to show us around… cool or what. You never know what the future brings.

It should be interesting visiting Taiwan. We will be visiting one of the main meditation centers in Taiwan when we stop there. A temple in the mountains of Taipei surrounded by a Tea Plantation.

So wrapped up this years retreat. It was good this was a good venue. I really love being in the Redwoods. They have so much Chi. We had another retreat in the past by the ocean. It was nice but the Chi here was stronger and the facilities better.

Meeting with like minds and strengthening, one’s practice from time with the Shanga is a good thing.

Where in the world is the Zen-kun?

I will be seeing some of the Chan group again before we leave. A few of my local peeps I’ll hook up with. When we get to LA I will need three days to visit and bid farewells. My Cha’n, Kyudo, and Kung Fu peeps, this before we make our final Stateside stop and visit in San Diego.

 

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