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.

 





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!





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
 
 




The Tao of Solo Training

22 03 2013

Solo training – Mexico

 
We have been here for awhile now. I am getting into my groove I guess one could say. One of the things on my list to do when retired was work on my Arts and development them. So far I have gotten my discipline started with morning practice. It sounds easy enough one would think having been at this so long. However not working, not teaching, puts a different light on getting up and getting out daily. It is a different type of discipline needed, to set the habit. I belive that doing my morning meditation consistantly has helped with being able to getup and get out. Having done so many years of Kung Fu helps my discipline of doing my meditation everyday. They support each other, as they are part of the same thing.
 
I have been doing the first Zazen once I get up and I am pretty much awake. Sometimes I get right to it, other times I log on to FB to fed my on-line habit, then meditate. Generally it is 20 min, I am finding that goes by surpringly soon these days. I can recall when 10 min was a struggle. I have sat for as long as an hour in retreats without too much trouble…”too much” being the key word. It is work, but doable. I should add another 5 min to the morning but, that is really only part A , so I feel it is ok at 20 min for now.  I have been doing a second Zazen after motion Chan, (kung fu taichi), outside next to the bay here.
 
 
 This one I have no idea how long, it maybe 10-20 min. I do not keep a timer for that. This second one is not to get my quota in, it is just for the pleasure of sitting. I find the energy is different and more filling outside next to the water, hearing the birds, feeling the air, the chi of the world, than even sitting on the boat, which is contained. Maybe it is all on my mind just because the motivation is different for this session. 
 
I have changed from my orginal practice spot. A developed area were if I do not get there early tends to get a lot of foot traffic.
 
 
 
Now to a quiet place over in a corner of a kids playground. It is out of the main flow of foot traffic and eyes. As long as I get there fairly early I am in a quiet spot, alone. Under a shade tree, with hard sandy ground under foot.  It does not have the ambiance of the other spot but it is secluded, yet I can see everything the same including the bay, with the addition of the park. The vice is good that is important! Again early is the key for a undisturbed motion Chan practice.
 
 
 
So far the rouine has been Ba Lum Gum ( 8 silken movements) Chi Gung, Chen 36 ( relearning not having practiced enough), Yang 24 or Tai Chi palm ( Tai Chi Mantis Tai Chi), varying with the day. Finshing up until this week with Hsing Yi. I have started ths week adding a bowless 2 kyudo shots to the end of the session. Standing form, really trying to be mindful of the internal aspects of the draw, the form , the breath. The next expansion of the training session will be adding a jhin (sword) form and a Mantis set. I need to reconstruct my memory banks on my favorite advance set, Lan Jie. I am so glad I got to tape my Shixong doing some things. Although Lanjie is done so fast it is hard to follow. Anyway it gives me good reference for now and later once in Japan.
 
 
Usally the rest of my day is spent on the boat doing misc chores to make ready for the next leg or computer stuff, research, or reading one of the many books I need to consume. Equipment manuals, Japanese, Kyudohon, on occation I even get a chance to play some of my instruments, 
 
and remember I am still a musician. All parts of solo training my arts. Sometimes I get so wrapped in the other stuff I have to force myself to be still and play. That is part of my nature to be focus , intense on what I am doing. Lost in the moment could be another way of looking at it.
 

I just finished reading a book by Victor Wooten, call the “Music Lesson, Spiritual search for Growth through music” an amazing book. I have new respect for him, besides his musical talent. It was like Carlos Castenada on music instead of Peyote. 

I think the biggest training and hardest is my mind and spirit. Which all of the other things encompass, hmmm that should be encompasses all the other things. Staying in the moment, trusting the Tao and not getting lost in the thoughts of, this is nice, but we have so little money. That is really the hardest part of all of this solo training. The spirtual training pracitce of trusting the Tao. My Chan sister was so correct in saying this is more than a sailing journey, it is a Spiritual Journey as well. Part of that spiritual solo training is trust in the Tao to provide. 




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.





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.





Wet Monday…surprise!

6 06 2012

It is an unusual day. It is June here in Northern Ca and it is raining !

Not a down pour but steady and wet. It is a good day for Kyudo, inside, fairly warm, mostly dry. Listening to the rain beat on the roof and come in through the broken windows. The broken ones for the most part are covered with plastic but… You get the idea.

I am off this afternoon from the second day job. I can get in a good Monday morning practice.

Here at the Dojo now. Courtesy of my iTouch I can blog anywhere. I just lite the ceremonial incense. it is raining more now but not enough to really be heard here inside with the blower from next door going. Still it has that rainy day vibe about the place as I begin my session with some Tai Chi then Zazen before shooting.

Nothing special in mind today just a general practice, with no expectations.

The first and second sets of six shots turned out at 50%. Not great, but it is a fighting chance. Overall my shooting feels tighter, I feel confident I can pull of 60% or more by test time. I am looking to improve my form and presence enough that even if I miss I will look good enough to pass…It is not all about hitting, the training, the practice is also about form, beauty and looking cool… it is shin-zen-bi …Yosh!

“According to the Nippon Kyudo Federation the supreme goal of kyudo is the state of shin-zen-bi, roughly “truth-goodness-beauty”, “

So with this in mind when I train it is much about the spirit, the KI of training and form as it is about the technical, eg: hitting side. I feel much better about my shooting when I can do a full training session with Tai Chi, Zazen and shooting. It is more of a Holistic, spiritual practice than just shooting a bow and arrow…at least to me.

The seminar and test should be more fun this year. The first year I knew no one. Second year I knew a few people but still I was alone basically from my school. This year there are two of my old companions from Chikorin ha dojo attending. They have converted to the Federation. One of which is my sempai and in my Dojo. Plus with all the peeps I have connected with via FB from Kyudo, it should be an interesting session.