Endings and beginnings

4 07 2013

With the big upheaval to our plans. The ending of a life chapter and the start of another. It is fitting to start a new blog:

zensekaijapan.wordpress.com

_/|\_

 

the new blog is in operation, this onE will not be updated.

 

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La vida in Mexico , prt 2

22 04 2013

 
We are kickn’t today after a busy day of here-n-there running yesterday. LZ wanted to finish up her reports for the Japan Mag. So today, I get to rest mostly, no driving Miss Daisy. So for now, it is some blogging, Latin Jazz on the internet, some reading, then a little boat stuff, maybe slip some musical instrument connection in there somewhere, later this PM.
 
 
Mexico kind of grows on you. A few days ago we went to a Local Art show in a small local museum. Not really my kind of Art, but interesting, forgot camera. It was interesting to feel the vibes of Artsy people again. Reminds me of how much I miss doing ceramics and the sharing of other student’s Chi in class/studio. Also going to misc open studios around the Bay. Visual Arts energy is different from, musical Art Energy. Both are good, but for shore ( a lil sailing/water related visual verbal pun) different. Kind of like “Leo” fire Chi is different from “Aries” fire Chi, but they mix easily and often, being the same nature.
Anyway I digress. There are some interesting and gifted artist here in Mexico.
 
 
 Some of the food places here in Mexico have been outstanding. There is a misconception that Mexico is dirty as would be the locals. Mexico is a poor country, but the people are warm-hearted and themselves clean. In a restaurant everything is kept clean. When you finish eating they clean up the table right away. LZ is impressed with the food care, preparation and presentation. 
 
 
We stopped by a simple but local favorite restaurant the other day. It was recommended by a local as one of the top restaurants in the Ensenada area. 
The prices were great, the atmosphere was pleasant, great music on the sound system, clean. It was an out-of-the-way spot one would not except a place of this type to be there. Ensenada is full of out-of-the-way, hidden treasures of which it is one itself.
 
 
 
We also went on a wine tasting working adventure. LZ working on her Japan Magazine articles needed to cover some wineries.  I was unaware there we so many wineries in the area.  Some are very small, and some are of a fair size, which rival those of Northern Cal. We visited several where we had to make appointments to see and were the only people on the short tour. One such place we stopped at late after making a the appointment, due to some miscommunication. The Manager let us in anyway, gave us a private tasting and we chatted. I was driving so did not have much, but he kept pouring for LZ. She refused, lightly but had a few more sips.
 
 
 
Near this winery is a Pizza shop. It is up up up, a little dirt road(s). Lots of turns and bumps to get there. Way way off the beaten path, I would have not ever thought of a pizza place there. However the locals know of it, it is rated also the top Pizza place. 
 
 
 
 
We drove up I was shocked, not only that it was crowded, but at the location, and the number of people who kept coming after we arrived, group after group.
 
 
 Great view, great pizza. I am glad we got a medium, which was big. We had plenty there (1/2) eaten on the spot and I will have the leftovers soon!! 🙂
 
 
 
Over all, Ensenada is a comfortable place, if not for heading for Japan I could stay here. Make a few adjustments and setup a comfortable life. LZ and I have spoken if life changes to a different path once we are done with our family giri in Japan, Ensenada could be a place to consider returning to live. Yet, every place (mostly) is nice when you are visiting, and we will be older then…anyway something to keep on the back of the mind, considering Japan is having issues, with earthquakes, radiation, air pollution from China, bomb threats from Korea…jheez!
Having an exit plan /route is still wise.
 
As much as I am starting to like Ensenada more, there is still not much that I look forward to here for me. Although my morning practice is comforting on a spiritual level, it is still a duty. One I enjoy for myself, but still it takes discipline to get out there everyday, and not something I look forward to the same as something like going to see a movie. There is the up coming World Tai Chi day event. I am looking forward to that. This will be my first as part of a large group. In years past it has been just me out somewhere sharing the world chi. this time there is a big event here in Ensenada, I have been in touch with the Shifu who is hosting the event. The location is within walking distance. So I will be there. Kind of my last event for this area…kind of
 
 




Update

23 11 2012

Yeah, still here!

For now…it has been all about the move as of late. There has been a few diversions though. I have gotten a couple of kyudo session in since the last. A few visits with the Kungfu family and the Chan fam.

A few weeks ago a sailor from Japan (one of three) showed up. He had done Kyudo in high school some 49 years ago. He wanted to go to class with me. He remembered things well enough to help a newbie understand how to do basics. His form for shooting was great! Impressive for not touching a bow for 40 yrs.

IMG_0149

My Kyudo equipment is now packed and ready to ship. All except a set of equipment which will travel on the boat with us. I will seek out place to shoot from time to time. That way I will not be too far out of practice when we get to Japan.

Fairwell toast

My senior Kung Fu student has agreed to take over the Tai Chi and Kung Fu classes. This is good for her and the students. I did not want to feel I had abandoned this group.  I feel out of the years I have been teaching this last group from the Tai Chi group is the best and my favorite.
They took me out to dinner… Twice. That is not why they are my favorite, but their attitude. One of the students is even interested in Chan practice.

Speaking of which I am having lunch with three of my Chan sisters. The ones from the Berkeley class. It will be good to see them once more.

Another surprise out of this, is the group I worked with at the marina, threw me a lunch gathering/going away party. I was shocked.

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Lots of weather delays before cast off. It is good in a way, I needed the time to mentally prepare as well. This takes mental training to a another level.

I’m glad a have a spare Kyudo set with me, looks like we will be spending a little time in LA. I will get to shoot.





LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

24 10 2012

LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

It has been a while since I posted , way too busy! Things are still moving
forward…yosh.

I wrote this a while back but got too busy to publish…ok I forgot.

A younger Kung Fu classmate invited me to his wedding. It was one free weekend. I needed to go to LA anyway to switch Yumi from the monster to something I could ready draw more than once…a day!
Sounded like good timing so I took off for SoCal. I also figured I could visit a couple of people now instead of rushing when we are passing through on the ZenCat to Japan.

The trip down was thankfully boring and un-thankfully hot. I was surprised how hot it was in LA. They were having a heat wave. Even down in the beach town it was hot.

Spent the first night with a couple of buds then headed off to the wedding . It was hot, hotter than at the beach since it was inland. After the ceremony and lunch the reception was held at the Kung Fu school. Unexpectedly a nice wind picked up and cooled things down. I hung out there for a while then slipped out, I had other places to be…

Next stop was Pasadena Japanese Cultural Center, home of the Nan Kai Kyudo group. I had planned on joining the class for practice after I received the new Yumi from my friend. However since the traffic was horribly full of suckness I was late and choose to pass rather than disrupt the class flow…so I thought.

When I arrived I was also in time with Darth Kyudoka we did the Yumi exchange and chatted. Since I was already late , as was he I did not think about rushing in to class. At one point we headed into the dojo and was met by JyoZen Sensei , who invited us to shot. I declined and was in the learning by watching mode, so I sat upfront and just watched. JyoZen Sensei had split the groups into two. One did the traditional taihai shooting the other did the one makawara three person sharei. Interestingly stuff.

While I was watching, waiting and gazing, Jyo Zen Sensei gave me his note book to read through. Very interesting the amount of detail in his notes. I found out later he has written several un-published books on Kyudo.

I called it a night fairly early and went to my sleeping arrangements and watched a small amount of video before slipping into sleep land to ride dragons.

Sunday I was up early to go to the Rancho Park Kyudo practice. There was surprised to be asked to lead the morning meditation and a round of Tai Chi. Wow I felt like an important guest 🙂

Clean up meditation

After our morning drills we had at shooting. This was first shooting of this new Yumi. I like it! It is just a bit stronger than the Spring Princess which is 15 k. The new Yumi, Aki no Gekko Kamakiri, is 16.3k.

I can feel the difference when I shoot. The stronger weight reminds me to draw with my back and hara, but I do not feel like I am on the edge of doom when going into Hanare, like with the 18kYumi, or sticking my head into a bear trap like with the 22k yumi. I remarked to JyoZen Sensei I never thought I would have three Bows, one light, one heavy, and one just right. He explained about the usefulness of having the variety. It made sense when I listened.

I was also told, my tenouchi is much better, and I need to expand upwards more in Kai, but overall improving.


I did a couple of rounds of shooting and it was time to take off back on the road. I did my farewells and headed off for another group of visitations on the way back to the thankfully much cooler Bay Area.





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.