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.

Friday Fu, w/Kyudo thoughts – June

29 06 2011

I was on the way to Friday class with Sifu and Fong Sisuk It came to me whilst preparing mentally for the class it is the similar mind set as when doing Kyudo. That lead me to think, really it was more like preparing for Tai Chi Chuan (notice I am using the full name) and how doing Kyudo is not just like doing Tai Chi Chuan but rather doing Tai Chi Sword. Because with Tai Chi Sword not only must have that oneness on connection with your stances ( Ashibumi) , hips, spine, limbs, breath, eyes, (Dozukuri) connecting the flow of those with the sword.  It’s position, grip, tip, (Yugamae), a further extension of that blending of oneness, in your movements but use the sword (Yumi). Achieving the San mai itai. The real difference is in those moments of stillness that one has doing Kyudo (yet as in sitting meditation there is still movement within stillness).  At least when you are doing it as a group, the Kiza, the waiting time. Realizing of course that doing the Kyudo “set”, Kata it starts when you enter the Dojo floor, not just when you are shooting. I have heard it said by Jyozen-san that the shot, (the kata) starts when you pick up the Yumi/Ya. The Tai Hai is the Kyudo Kata…Hmmm, maybe I’m thinking to much about the seminar (-_-)

These are my thoughts whilst driving to Campbell for my monthly class session. The mind set of doing Kyudo is the same as Tai Chi Sword, different movements to the Kata but the same mind, the same connection to the weapon being held. The same extending of spirit and Chi. Got it!  Just more that Zen/Chan stuff.
The release if the arrow is the Tai Chi Fajing ( power strike) of Kyudo.

Once there at the school I joined in the conversation about dealing with a much larger opponent. Sisuk empazided the importance of making the person fight your fight. Part of the higher levels of training is “sizing” up your opponent. Understanding his weak point and his strong points and using those weak points against him/ her. We, he said are Mantis a little small insect. We have to use our mind to fight, to control our adversary. Part of that control not only comes from physical control but mental control as well. Praying Mantis is a complex art , Tai Chi Mantis is even a higher complexity.
Another point covered was the use of the elbow and forearms . The Mantis is a multi jointed insect do not restrict your thoughts, actions to just use of hands.

The rest of the time was spent on some technical aspects of some movement and some comparisons with Aikido on controlling. Sisuk again stressed that the higher level of our art was about control and the compassion of control to end a conflict over pounding someone to death or submission. Training is about controlling ourselves first, then the other person. There is a saying from the Tao Ching  something like.  Mastering others takes wisdom, Mastering ourselves takes Strength.

At one point while we were eating or almost there Sifu said “to be good with Kung Fu, you have to learn it, then forget it”. I have heard this “meaning” before but the first time in this context, this setting, so it clicked into several things all at once, Music, Kyudo, Ceramics, Sailing…

All is Chan, Chan is all.


EcoFlag: Zen, Martial Arts, Enviroment & the GSA

26 02 2010

I have stated in many other posts about Zen’s philosophy about interdependence of all things and life. In case you have been undersea or on the moon all this time briefly it goes. There is no duality, we are all dependent on everything else in this world somewhere down the line we need everything to survive. All life is connected, even non-life rocks, etc. There is the Chinese 5 elements of nature dependents. The more we destroy other species the closer we come to destroying ourselves. This includes the earth itself, it is alive, and we who are suppose to be the caretakers burn, pollute, gas it continually. Yet we depend on it to recover and sustain us with little or no care to it’ s needs.

Climate change is heavy upon us, yet some make light of it, or deny it all together, even in the face of facts. The waters we depend on for food, drinking, fun…life are daily used as dumping grounds for our waste. This same waste ends up in our food, and bodies and those of our family and friends.

For those who follow the path of Buddhism and vow help to ease suffering of beings, part of that elimination of suffering is doing your part to ease the suffering from pollution. Reuse, recycle, reduce. Those of the Christians, Muslims, Jewish path we are our brother’s keeper, God made everything. Showing respect and gratitude is not dumping waste into the waters, side of the road, etc… reduce, recycle, reuse. No matter what your faith or lack of it, the cold facts are the earth our only home, we are connected to it’s health. The earth health is our health, it’s sickness is our sickness. SAve the world, Save ourselves. There is no duality, this is the mind of Zen.

Those who have followed this blog know that since it’s birth I have slowly been working on sailing from San Francisco  to Osaka. During the course of this Sail I will be flying the EcoFlag with hopes that the journey will bring some attention to our need for thoughts and action on oneness with the world. We ARE the world.Reuse, Reduce and recycle. As much as possible of the refit of s/v Zen will be reused, recylced items. As a 1967 built boat s/v Zen herself qualifies as Reused, and Recycled.

As team Captain for my local GSA/ Ecoflag chapter I have been in touch with our USA leadership to help promote this effort. There is currently a book out called Champions for Change , this is about other athletes who did their share of bring the public awareness to our planet’s need for care. The Global Sports Alliance is there for all peoples all athletes to help spread the word of Reduce, Recycle, Reuse. Sailors, Martial Artists, Kyudoka, Tennis players, all.  The Global Sports Alliance USA (GSA USA) is a coalition of athletes and sports fans working together for environmental awareness and action.

For those who sail, even flying the EcoFlag for others to see your support is something to help. When someone asks what is that?

Whip out a brochure for them to read, tell them you support Reduce, Reuse, Recycling. Then do not just show it, do it. Carry your trash away, use recylced products, do not dump stuff into the water, reduce your use of small plastic bottles, use biodegradable soaps and products. Help the world , help yourself.

Martial Artist, put the flag on your bag, sew it on your sleeve, fly it at your events. Show your support, educate. We martial artist are about protection of the weak, doing the right thing, The earth needs our protection now more than ever. This is a fight worth the effort.

Visit our website for more information on how to get involved:

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Here are some ways you can help today:

*    Become a GSA USA Corporate Sponsor for as little as $20 per month – your company
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*     Become a GSA USA volunteer.

A Mantis in Aikido-ville

16 03 2009

In my taking a break this weekend past from doing anything major I went to visit an old classmate’s Dojo, Suigetsukan. They teach several traditional Martial arts there including Aikido. I spoke of the Dojo before when I wen tot visit a Wing Chun class. This time it was Aikido. As it turns out my classmate was not there he was taking a day off so I missed seeing him. However his assistant was in charge, she did a good job of managing things.


I sat and just watched. I was expecting to see everyone in Hakamas, but they had just regular Gi’s on. There was a fairly good size white belt showing, two browns and three Black Belts. One pair of students, a brown and Black belt, spent almost the whole time throwing each other. I got tired just watching.


Another set of Black belts just worked on locks.


The white belts of course worked on basics. I notice one pair did what seemed like a sensitivity and step drill. Some what like a single hand push hand drill…somewhat with footwork.

The main thing I took in was the locks very Mantis like, without the throws.


The throws in many cases looked like they were done by the attacker more than the attackee. In other words there seemed to be a lot of cooperation involved in being tossed around. Some of the locks being the same as Mantis end in a take down but not a throw. That could be just how it is applied. However some the attacker had no choice but to be tossed or have something broke. Maybe that is the key…flip or have a broken whatever.

One could say there are times in life like that as well. Flip, go with it, or have something broken.

Aikido…lessons in the Tao.

In the storm…

Be the Bamboo and bend


the Oak and break.

Mantis under Wing Chun shadow

26 01 2009

I started out to visit an old school-mate’s school last week. That did not turnout as planned, then what does. The smoothness of life like sailing is dependent on one’s ability at adapting. This past Sat. it worked out. I was able to make it by the school/dojo/kwoon. (http://suigetsukan.org/) to view the Wing Chun class.


The class was small, but a good size. They were working on some drills when I arrived. My friend welcomed me as said. “please feel free to join us if you like” I laughed and said “ thanks, but I do not want you guys to hurt me”. He “G” said “nah it is all about Love”. I was impressed, this is the same thing my elder brother says, the one who just came back from Canada. I laughed again and told him that is the same thing that R says. As G is a Zen instructor as well, it should have not been surprising for him to have that mind set. Zen is about love. Many think it is all about enlightenment and ascension. It is really about love and compassion to all beings, all of the Universe’s/God/ the Great Spirit/Allah’s varied expressions.

We chatted for a while and he went back to teaching. I watched and listened. I had always had an interest in Wing Chun but was never able to take any serious instruction. I watched them go through various drills and compared it to Mantis and Tai Chi in my head. The angles, power development, feel, some of the footwork, because it does not have a lot since most of their work comes from center line work, compared to Mantis, where ours works from the angle. Their move-in/closing the gap step is the same. The wooden man drills, we also have in Tai Chi Mantis, which our grandmaster developed from Wing Chun, so it was especially interesting to watch and listen.


Watching the Chi Sao drill was also interesting, very similar to some drills Shifu has us do and also in a way push hands from Tai Chi. I was also surprise with hearing the Wing Chun fighting Philosophy of no blocks. Somewhat like ours Mantis but with some difference. We have also not real blocks, we have deflections and are also willing to take a hit in order to give a better hit(s) and stay in close to neutralize the opponents’ power and attacks. Both systems are two handed strikes. Meaning defense and offense are done at the same time.

After the class I got to speak with a couple of his students a bit, one of which also studied Escrima from the line of my Kali/Escrima teacher. Just when I was close to leaving G said he would check to see if our other classmate who was the Master of the dojo their was upstairs. This Dojo is also a live-in quarters for several the head instructor included. Just as he was about to check, our other classmate M comes down.

It was good to see him, we all sat and talked for a while about old classmates and life. It was a good mini reunion. My next visit there in a few weeks will be to watch M teach the Aikido class. Another art I had always had a strong interest in. G had studied with Steven Seagal, who G says is an intense person to training with.  Anyway M teaches and I will go back to watch his class. Who knows maybe once life settles down I will take a few basics from him. One can never have too much education.