Practice: form and formless

13 05 2013

I had thought once we set sail, this blog would end. However somethings just seem more fitting here than on the sailing site.  I do not know if it matters to my 4 or 5 readers. Never the less this will be my final post for a while as we are heading to the South Pacific and I will be internet-less for some 35 days.

 

 

We moved from the marina there in downtown Ensenada to another location just outside of town. Very nice upscale , location attached to a hotel. My practice session are less elaborate here, mostly just working on my Chen Tai Chi and fundamentals of  Kyudo and meditation. My new “Dojo” is right on the beach front , very nice. 

 

However there is no shade so once the sun hits , it is on! Seriously! It is nice in that I do not have the lookers like at the other place, for the most part I get to practice in private. 

 

I love being able to do zazen and hear the ocean kiss the rocks on the shore. Also having a platform with a shade cover is nice for my stillness time. I feel the time next to the ocean is good feeling that Chi. I will be able to be up close and personal shortly as we will be leaving with in the next few days. Our time here in Mexico is winding down.  It is a mix of joy and sadness.

 

We will be at sea for some 35 days , it will be interesting to see what I can arrange as far as practice. Stillness will be easy movement will be limited.  Still practice is practice , both for and formless. A cup of ocean water is still ocean water.

 

So that is it for the local news. Next post will be from the other side of the Equator . I will shoot an arrow in respect for King Neptune. It is traditional to make some type of offering to the King Water Spirit. Mine will be the arrow and the shot to honor his royalness…Yosh!





Kyudo break

25 01 2013
We have been in Long Beach for the last two weeks. It is sort of like coming home to me having lived in LA for a number of years, like 20 or something.
We have been given use of a slip for our stay by the kind efforts of the Seal Beach Yacht club.
It has been over six weeks plus since I got to do anything physical other than sail. Last weekend since I had transportation I wanted to go to Kyudo since I could visit with one of my favorite Kyudo instructors Jyozen Sensei. There wer classes both on Sat night and Sunday morning. We started out for class on Sat, however since we were running late and the traffic was going to make us later. It was decided to turn around and not go. I always think it is on the rude side to show up late for class. More so really late as we were to be.
Sunday was another day.
Sunday we got it together to make it to the early morning class in the park. This was a better class for me, since I had sent my knee pads off to Japan. We do not do the full TaiHai in the park. We do however do a meditation before shooting, as is done on the Sat class. I was asked to lead the meditation. This is my second time at this so was no big deal. I had heard some comments before starting about just starting, since Jyozen Sensei was not there. However since I was ready to do the meditation we had at it. I kept in mind that some wanted to get at shooting, since our time was limited and just did a short meditation.
We do standing shooting rounds with four arrows in the park sessions. This gives one a chance of a short warm up but still goes pretty fast as it is somewhat free shooting. I struggled with my shots. Feeling awkward from not shooting. However my main problem was not the lack of shooting, but having a Kake, that was too small. Surprising how wired that felt. I still was able to pull off some fair shots, but man o man I felt awkward .
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After I finished, Jyozen Sensei was there and came over saying , they told you to shoot bigger lat time right. I said yes, I thought so he said. I saw you struggling. Your base was good, but you kept going back and forth with you mind for base to hands, and did not really make your draw bigger. He then gave me some tips on understanding the push with the left to open the right and pull with the right to open the left principal. Also using the push of the left and the weight of the Yumi to raise and open my left arm in daisan.
It helped, even with the small yukake I was able to shot better. However the small glove really really was a struggle. I thought when I was trying it on before buying this used glove it fit better. I was so wrong. I dropped a couple of arrows and my fingers felt like they had no control. Still I adapted and made a couple of fair shots.
It was a good morning of shooting. I like shooting with this group.
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Next I need to get some TaiChi practice in. I have been getting stagnate on the boat. We will be in Mexico soon, and I can get a routine back, maybe I will be able to find a place to practice my Fu, and Kyudo.
I am still keeping up with my Chan sitting, I need no room for that. I also got to visit with my senior Chan brother and sit with the group. That was nice, even though I ended up being the , surprise to me, guest speaker for the evening .Oh well I take these things in stride it is the Chan way.  Yosh!     _/|\_




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.

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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.





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.

 

More Photos 3





Time…

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.