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

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.


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 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.


20 07 2012

Back in the day, there was a hit song by the Chambers Brothers by this name. I wonder how many who read this blog remember that…it has nothing to do with this post, at least directly…I just recall that song when ever I hear just TIME…

“time waits for no one”…the Rolling Stones

The action marked a milestone in my life timeline. It gave me a moment of weirdness in my inner space…seriously. It however passed quickly as I filled for Social Security benefits. Wow, how many years had I thought of this, and seemed sooo far off. Now, those thoughts seem like yesterday…but this is now. Although not as dream filled, starry eyed, naive,  other than a few minor aches I feel the same as I did way back when this moment was a distance dream. Even then, it was never about moving to Japan and starting a new life at this stage.

In this life you never know what the tide will bring…

We have basically about 3-4 months to pull everything together to leave. If this is truly suppose to be my path the Universe will pull it together because I do not see how by my power it will happen. I do see if everything worked out, we could barely slide by… However how many things ever workout just as one plans…one has to adapt… to succeed… to survive. Move like water.

Things are little by little falling into place even with the set backs things still are coming together. I will need to cut down on attachments ( ie: things that will need to be shipped) to make the shipping more reasonable. I have already emotionally dealt with that reality. Now I need to deal with it physically.

Getting the Kyudo seminar behind me successfully will be a big relief and free up time to prep for the passage. This is a constant thought riding in the back of my mind, getting past this Kyudo seminar, and it is purely just a personal challenge/goal.

Things are very different now from when I had all this planned five years ago. When I had a good paying job, owner of property ( well the bank and I did), nice car, retirement money… Ahh so different now. Life is like that change, want it, like it or not it is in your face. One has to adapt… to succeed… to survive.

There are three things, three events I need/want to do before we leave. My last stateside personal events. The 21st annual memorial banquet and tournament for my Kung Fu Federation. At the tournament this year I have four students competing this is a record for my school. Nice that it is for my last stateside school.

The next thing is a Chan retreat. It has been several years since I have attended a retreat even many months since I’ve attended a local meeting. This retreat is to be special due to the speaker, Juemiao Miaoming (Mark Troxell). I have personal reason for wanting to connect with him. He comes from a martial art background in his pursuit of Chan. Unlike many people I have met, most coming from a meditation, relaxing, background he is like me. The Shifu has made him a disciple so it will be interesting to speak with him. Too bad there is not enough time to interview him for my Kung Fu beyond combat series. However maybe there will be , maybe this what I am supposed to do. Either way it should be interesting to talk with him about Cha’n and the marital arts. Also to say goodbye to my friends and family there with both organizations which are separate but related.

Lastly the Kyudo seminar the grand finale. I am in most nervous about this. I will just do my best. My confidence goes up and down like ocean surges.

I have put in the request for the week off from work to attend this seminar. I am off from all jobs for that week and it will be a live-in seminar. However a completely different vibe from the Sonoma Zen Center Kyudo Seminar I attended my first year of Kyudo. I will be off work and away from home for this event. It is only 90 min from home but still it is a several nights stay away. On a side note. I really want to attend the Zen Kyudo Retreat (s) in Hawaii. I will plan on that, next year maybe too soon, but at least 2014.

A bit of a disappointment there are several people in my KYUDO dojo who are testing for Sho-Dan. However there is one young woman, a Nidan, who has tested with me from the first, when we started in Japan. She will not be testing this time she will be in Japan. Another Nidan from my dojo is pregnant, so there goes her testing …poof! I will stand alone this year for SanDan…Yoooosh!!

I hope I get a good spot this time, not Omae or last! Omae is nice because you do not kiza as long but … You are right there on front street for the judges.

I just found out the other day even if I am living in Japan I have to go through the Renmei group here on the states to test in Japan. What is the deal with that?!!? I will check into this more or at least I will have Sensei check into this. I wonder since I’ll be joining a local school if this still true. I thought once I left the states I would be done with the Stateside Renmei. On another note I have been asked to design prize vouchers for the seminar tourney. First official recognition I exist…

On a note close to that, when I was trying to join a school a couple of years ago, there was one dojo where I was told basically I was not welcome there because I was interested in Zen. This “Zen” Kyudo thing, I was told is not the real way of Kyudo. This school was the real Marital way. Now I see all over this person’s website references to Zen Kyudo as a real art.

My birthday is the weekend before the seminar. I have a sail planned, perhaps I’ll treat myself to go see “Brave” as well, for some fantasy inspiration. Jyo Zen Sensei is having Kyudo gathering that weekend. I would love to go, but…it would be too much.

After the Kyudo seminar it is full steam ahead to set sail for Nihon, with only two month to pack and go. Kind of scary when really thinking about it. So I use thought control… Or denial.

There is a bit of a side track for a job for Yoh Sensei and the ZenBoat. I will be flying to the East Coast for a week to the boat show, helping with marketing the Zen24. Then back to put hopefully the final wraps on leaving a couple of weeks following.

At this time i’m kind of like leaving Daisan going to Kai right now.

2011 – The last shot

4 01 2012

New Years Eve 2011, it was great I had off for the weekend. I did plan it that way and turned down some work with the sailing school that came up. I needed to have a break, so I took it.

New Years eve was the RSD’s 3rd annual 108 Ya New Year’s shoot.
I was up on the early side for a day off. However since we wanted to be ready to shoot at 10:00 it was needed for me to rise early if I wanted to follow the training I had in mind.

I was up at 7:30 not 7:00 as I planned. I got my Zazen in first, then found a spot just behind the Aikido dojo on the property, and did some Tai Chi and Qi gong. It was a little in the cool side however I was dressed for it.

My breakfast for the day which I had afterward wad lite since I had planned on a simple fast. I had four or so nuts and a green drink. Other than some green Tea that was to be my meal for the day until sundown.

I arrived at the Dojo a little late but it was cool since my Senpai were not ready yet as well. After setting up the heater,

chatting , dressing we made ready to shoot. We did not do the meditation and chanting this year, so I’m glad I got my morning drills in early before leaving home.

We selected on going 8 shots to a set. I borrowed a set of four from a Senpai and we had at it.

It had been a couple of months since I shot so I had a few concerns. My left hand would it hold up or get cramps like last year. My right shoulder had been painful for the last couple of weeks , would it hold up? Would all those unused muscles for a couple of months, be pissed off and revolt the next day.  I had the extra challenge of using mismatched Ya . So every two shoots I had to adapt the shoot to a different flying arrow. Four ya were bamboo and another four were aluminum. The bamboo were all one set and matched, they were borrowed. The aluminum were from two different sets since my set of four was not to be had due to a shipping malfunction from the past summer seminar, due to my lack of mindfulness and forgetting to bring home the ones I shot with for my test. I was too excited about passing.

I was not overly concerned about my hits but more mindful about my form and going the distance. I was very mindful of making sure all parts of the form were proper so as not to hurt myself it was to be a long day. My right hand had a bit if a problem. It felt a bit tingly when holding the ya. This was coming from my shoulder pain. I persevered and after a while the discomfort went away.

Most of my clusters looked good. Once I settled into shooting and adjusting to each pair of arrows I started working on my aim. With the San Dan test coming I need to start working more on hitting. I was averaging about one center shot per set, not bad but I need better for the test.

I was able to self correct some of the things I was slacking on. I still need work and practice but overall I did ok. Nothing to blog about, but ok.

We started about 11 and finish about 4:30 ish which include a couple of tea breaks. It was s good session for our final  108 as a group. Next year I should be on the way to Japan and one of the other two sempais will be relocated to the East Coast, so in a sense this was our last shot.

Akimashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!

Japan to China

14 09 2011

Okkkk, I am behind on posting, if anyone cares, sorry, I have a life…

What a difference a day makes. On Friday evening I was the fresh new lowly Kyudo Nidan, on Sat I was in the role of the Kung Fu “master”. Friday was the end of the Kyudo seminar, Sat was the start of the Kung Fu sessions our 20 th yr. anniversary.

Once again the Chuk Kai memorial Kung Fu tournament and banquet was being held in the Bay Area. We have the largest concentration of schools in the country. There are schools in Walnut Creek, Alameda, San Jose , Campbell and San Francisco.

Overall with the shrinking of the economy the turn out becomes smaller. Yet we still have a turn out from the Bay Area schools , plus LA, Boston and Washington state school. Not huge attendance but enough to keep us going and feel the love.

As with the last few years I was once again called upon to do the event coordination.   This usually keeps me busy setting up what event runs next and which need to be combined due to lack of enrollment.

This year we were down to two rings instead of three.  One ring is for internal forms (kata) the other is for external forms and weapons. After all these years we have gotten things running smoothly and with less people we are able to wrap things up by late afternoon. This gives everyone a chance to get a bit of a rest before the evening banquet which is held in Oakland’s Chinatown.

In the years past we have had the tournament for only Tai Chi Praying Mantis schools. After the board of directors meeting on the Sunday following the banquet it was decided to open the tournament to outside schools. Tai Chi schools will be invited next year and follow that the following year with other external schools.

Next year will be my final year attending as a resident. It is my hope to return in 2014/15 with a couple of students from Japan. We’ll see, if nothing else it will be just me.

The banquet this year still managed to have a good turnout, however in the past couple of years there were two vegetarian tables, this  year only one and only three of us at it. A small benefit of that was we had as much food as we wanted, and even took a bunch home. It was also the best food section for us veggiesheads.

Even so it would be nice to have the economy improve enough to have more people next year. Still even with the collapse of the economy it is good we are still able to maintain this tradition in honor of the late grandmaster, Chi Chuk Kai for 20 years. That in itself is an accomplishment, with none of the disharmony that has gone down with other Organizations.

On another note but similar I have decided to do some minor study in the art of Aikido. My Kyudo Sensei teaches Aikido also and the class is just before the Kyudo class so it seems like the perfect setup since I will need to be there for Kyudo. A couple of the ladies from the Kyudo class take both. My interest in studying is not about belts or ranking as I will do no testing. I found from watching Aikido classes that a lot of the techniques are the same we use in Tai Chi Mantis with only a slight variation . So I am thinking the practice of Aikido will give me a chance to practice with a partner. My Kung Fu students have not reached the level of training that we can practice together on that aspect of martial study. So I am looking to enhance the principles of “ChinNa” and get some two person practice in.

The next big thing I want to finish here is the beyond combat series. I have the final interview in , I just need to edit it down. The last interview is with Jyozen Sensei a Zen monk and instructor for the LA Kyudo Kai who does Tai Chi Chuan.

Kyudo Chronicles: MN Seminar 2011- Zanshin

16 08 2011

I was delighted and relieved to be over the testing. Did I say relieved !! Seriously relieved, so much I forgot to pack my arrows to take home. A huge weight was off my shoulders. However soon to replaced with the increased weight of a new challenge…Sandan.

This is the getting Kyudo serious level. I heard it was Yondan, but now they are tightening up now even at Sandan. So Sandan is like a brown belt and Yondan is real black belt. From the preview of this week’s exams I can see reaching Sandan is to be bigger ( an more valued ) challenge. I some say, (I heard through the tsuru), this past test was more like real Japan testing, no giveaways ! So like Zanshin is really the beginning of the next shot, this was the beginning of the next test level training. I really want to nail down things for the test next year. It will be a real challenge, Shugyo Renshu for the year. With less than 360 days to prepare, training starts now…but on what ? Smoothness over all, more spirit, more power, less power, wider stance, narrower stance, Nobei? See where I’m going with this.

No idea who took this!

Here is an unofficial summary of the testing results from Friday:

1 – Nikyu
25 – Ikyu
29 Shodan
12 Nidan  (out of 15)
3 Sandans (out of 13)
2 Yondans (out of 18)
2 Godans ( out of 10)

From looking at these scores at Nidan – Sandan is where the crack down starts. Three out of thirteen passed , wow!

These test are good in that they let one see how their skill stands up to the traditional set standard, international…hmmm, Japanese standard I guess is the best description.

However the bad part of what I see is that, even though if you fail you will push yourself more next time. However there is no feedback system setup to let you know where you are weak in skills. Ok, in Kung Fu there is this saying, thought,  teaching that if you do something 1000 times, kick, punch etc, you will understand the practice item and do it correctly…suppose you do this “practice item” 1,000 times incorrectly because no-one told  you it was wrong. In this training, Kyudo, one can shoot 1000 arrows but do it wrong 1000 times, how do you really learn? From your Sensei, ? He/She said you were ok, before you came to the testing grounds. If pass fine, but if you do not…?

I suppose one could follow the philosophy that if you practice everything , the area you are the weakest will also improve. The shotgun approach. Is it efficient … Hmmmm , I wonder…?

I just had an idea, for feedback. Since there is already a record of who is what number, the Judges make notes beside the number, the local Sensei gets the note after the seminar and discusses it with the student. ii, ne !?

I think the part about only the judges from Japan can do the rank test is good. That way there is no local favorites involved in the process. I was told the way to pass these test is to remember the correction(s) you received when being watched at the seminar and do the correction at testing time. I think that is only part of it. That would be too simple, Kyudo is more complex than that. Also watching the higher levels it seems more complex than that. Perhaps this is true at the mudan, shodan, Nidan  level. With the high ratio of failures starting with Sandan I would think there is another factor involved. I wonder does Nihon have these same number ratios. I know someone said that the higher you look in the kyudo ranks, there are less people testing.

A thing that is similar to Kung Fu with Kyudo is the ranking business. In a way it is a big deal to go up the ranks, but the lack of having belts  or some visible symbol makes it not . We have no belts in Kung Fu because the point of the training is not the belts, it is the skill and knowledge. There are no belts in Renmei Kyudo, there is the ranking thing. I see the ranking as a verification of one’s skills and knowledge by an formal established recognized panel/organization. Like the American Sailing Assoc. saying yes you have the skills and knowledge to sail a boat safely. This in turns opens up access to a deeper knowledge base. In Kung Fu after proving one’s self by years of training and dedication to a school or Shifu (Sensei), you can become a closed door student or disciple…maybe. This gives one access to a deeper knowledge base for increasing skills and knowledge.  In Kyudo there is a formula to reach this knowledge pool, in Kung Fu there is none.  The down side of the ranking system is that many see the reaching of the rank or a rank is the goal and stop training when they reach the rank of their desire. So the lack of rank makes the training more of the goal, than the rank.

Anyway these are just some misc random thoughts that have come to mind. All this just to say, I think it would be good to have some way for those who did not pass to find out where they were lacking. That would be helpful in their training path, rather than just left hanging and bummed.

I had said in an earlier post Northfield was south of the boonies in the middle of no-where. I was right it is, however it is the nicest middle of no-where I have encountered in a while. In many cases I am quite fond  the middle of no-where, it can be peaceful.  The MN Renmei did an outstanding job putting all this together.  In many ways I learned more at this seminar than in Tokyo. I loved the lectures. It gives the learning of Kyudo more depth, than just being able to shoot. It goes well since the Kyohon is already a part of the study matter. Speaking of which the study of the Kyohon this time around was more insightful. That insightfulness awareness should increase as my eyes, mind and body grow in this expression of the Tao.

The biggest fault in the working of the seminar, (just to add some balance to the post for growth), I saw was the group photo at the end. The person taking the picture was not an aware photographer . Too many short people were standing in the middle of the group when the full group photo was taken. There is no way they were in the picture. No balance, but that was just me seeing/bothered by that perhaps having done these type of shot$  However chisai koto ( not a big deal ). It is a small thing compared to the large excellent product.  With the excellent job done by the organizers there was not much else one could have wanted from this event…well other than to pass.

Nor Cal Renmei, Photographer unknown

This was a great experience attending this event. Not just from the point of Kyudo study but also from the people encountered. Someone once posted on FB something like. ” it is the people and friendships we make during the study of Kyudo and at these functions that make the gatherings special ”

I notice there is a big increase of FB friendship hook ups after these seminars. It was interesting for me to meet a few if the people live I had only “seen” on Facebook. It will be interesting to see some of them again in Northern Ca and Japan in the future.

With my brain so on Kyudo these last weeks I noticed the other day there is a space just across from my boat, on marina property that I can ( QUIETLY) use for a 28 meter shooting range .

I can not leave it ip 24/7 but with the right equipment it could be setup and broken down easy. I know this year I need to work on my Tenouchi and my hitting. Last year I had more time to put the range I was more on point with my hits. My form is better this year but my hit rate is down. Next year I’m pretty sure I will need to hit one. Unless… my form looks really sharp…I’m guessing.

My plan is if I can pass Sandan next year. I will take the next two years for practice before testing for Yondan in Japan!
after that… we’ll see. The training will continue, the testing… We’ll see.

Anyway that is getting a head of things. Right now there is Nidan practice. 2o12 is the year of Shugyo Renshu. I need to make myself and the boat ocean ready, tighten up my Kung Fu and Tai Chi, and be Sandan test ready. It will be a busy year of training. It is good that training in one helps the training in another…There is no duality…



Kyudo Chronicles: MN Seminar 2011- Kai

12 08 2011

The early morning routine had no change from the day before. Well, other than the stirring thought, a quivering thought of; it all comes down to tomorrow! After breakfast I head to the gym. I have my routine set now . Today though I am more assertive with my warm ups. I do more Zazen and today I do some silk reeling drills. These are a series of drills done for Tai Chi to raise chi levels in the body and loosen joints for Tai Chi practice.

They can be used alone of course. There are I have found several Qi-Gong drills that are perfect for Kyudo training. Maybe when I become a Renshi I will have them as part of my class (hahahahahahah 🙂 )…or at least an article for the Kyudo Alliance Mag.

As I am walking over to my Yumi afterwards I cross paths with the Queen, Satake Sensei . I bow, she smiles and starts repeating my silk reeling drills. I ask if she knows Tai Chi and do a small portion. She returns the smile and copies the movement of sorts and says no. We both smile, bow, and go our separate ways. I think wow . I just had a personal moment with the queen, cool!

It is time for the morning opening ceremony. After we finish I see that today we are working with the master, Iijima Sensei. I am a bit nervous . We do our thing and my trouble spot is my Tenouchi. The problem was the lower part of my hand was not staying in contact with the Yumi. 😦

While others were getting their judgment on shooting I spent some time speaking with Ed Sensei asking about Tenouchi and what I thought was my correction.

During some of the break times, over the last couple of days I noticed that a few people I know were having neck and shoulder pains from the stress/tension of the event. I would help a couple of them with some accupressure. Today one of the ladies I know from the LA school comes over and asks if I would help her friend with her arm pain. I did a combination of accupressure and my Sifu’s healing Qi Gong. The woman said it helped a lot. I was a hero 🙂

Iijima Sensei called my group back to the shajo. He was not pleased. He had made two list of people. One had problems with Tenouchi, the other with the right hand, Torikake. He said some people may be on both lists. If not on either list they were really good or beyond help in the time set for this seminar. (0.0)

I thought I was on both list, but was really only on the Tenouchi list. I did not check my number, duh!  Sensei gave us a hard lecture on Tenouchi and what was expected if us after having been showed by Kubota Sensei the day before. In short he gave us hell, or maybe I just felt that way. I spent the rest of the day questioning my Sensei and another about what I thought was the correction to my problem which I thought was I was not deep enough with my thumb grip. Both sensei’s agreed my correction should help.

The other group on the list by Iijima Sensei was on the Torikake. While checking over people shooting he also checked their Kake ( wow, who knew!) to see how it was being used, how the grip was, if we were using the powder correctly to get not only grip but a good release. I was not in this list, yokatta! That was something I was doing right…at least enough …for now.

The rest of the afternoon after the beat-down lecture was spent on practicing timing for the test on Friday, that was good getting more use to maintaining a flow.

Thursday we ended the regular time. After dinner I did nothing special after checking with the Kyudo Supply vender for a few things. Many went back to the gym after dinner to practice. I did not. I spent the time using the quiet for me. I read, I played my flute, I studied, I watched “bleach”, a Japanese anime I like . I had planned on turning in early but that did not quite happen. After the evening shower I read some more since I took a nap right after class so I wasn’t that sleepy.

I was still concerned about my Tenouchi when I went to bed finally, still holding what I thought to be the correct position. This was my main concern for test day…