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!





World Tai Chi Day: Ensenada, Mexico

27 04 2013
2013  World Tai Chi Day
April 27 is World Tai Chi Day. Around the world on this day , people come together to spread healing and positive Chi into the world as a group. In years past I have not attended any gatherings, but have done my own chi addition in the park or someplace. This year there was another event held in Ensenada, Mexico. I had been in touch with the Ensenada Qi Gong Tai Chi group about visiting their practice class. However with no transportation to their sea side location it was difficult. As host for this event in the past they held it again this year. I was invited. As it turns out it the location was only a few blocks away from our marina. Also lucky because on Monday we are leaving from there/here. 
 
 
LZ and I got up and out on Sat morning to attend the Tai Chi event. I introduced myself to the Master and we spoke briefly in my limited Spanish. A short time later his wife who spoke some English also came, introduced herself and welcomed us. She explained the program in more detail. There was to be a Kung Fu demo from a school in Tijuana, then a group Qi Gong session, then followed by Tai Chi from their school. 
 
 
We hung out for a while, until the demos started. Lion dancing, and the master from another school I had visited preformed a short multi-animal set. A short while into the demo the Master from the host school came with an English-speaking student to invite me to join them for the Qi Gong Session on stage. I agreed. When the time came I joined them. They are a Taoist school so their Chi Gong was different from those I had learned. Not hard to follow, just different. I stood in the back row so I could see, follow and not be seen 🙂
 
Afterward there were some Tai Chi Sword demos and fan form from the local WuShu, Kung Fu, Yang Tai Chi school. Again the same I had visited in town. Not very welcoming, but civil. I did not try to speak with the Shifu, I bowed to him when we finished the Qi gong, but he seemed distance. I know he remembered me, not like they get people who look like me visiting and leave their card. No matter. Maybe he was distant because he spoke no English, not because he is seeming aloft. 
 
Anyway a short while later I am approached by the Qi Gong Master again and asked to join the Tai Chi demo from his school if I wanted, and he would be very honored.  Said ok, however I did not know their form so l would follow again from the back. He was honored he said. A short while later it was time I went on to the stage with the group this time I was surprised to be introduced as a visiting master. I was asked if I wanted to say something. I did a small thank you and how great it was to be part of this important event. I did a part in Spanish and then in English. The person with me repeated in better Spanish! I bowed and went an joined the line.
 
 
 
 Again it was Taoist Tai Chi, so I watched and followed along on the Tai Chi 28 form. It was interesting. 
 
 
After it as over the Master who was wearing a removable leg cast when I first met him started to badly limp off the stage. I came to his aid and helped him off. He looked in pain. I do not usually do the healing practice I learned the basics of from my Shifu Kam Yuen, I do not feel like I am good at it, but thought I would try. I did just a few minutes of treatment on the master and he was very grateful. He said it helped. I hope so even a bit. 
 
 
 
I noticed instead of sitting in the chair that was brought to him he stood and spoke with others. So perhaps it did ease the pain some. He gave me a big hug afterwards for my act of compassion. He is a nice man, he unlike the other Shifu has very humble vibes. I notice people had a lot of respect for him.
 
 
Once finished I was approached by a student (?) of his and asked , was I using the Yuen method. I was quite surprised! She wanted to learn and to have a treatment. As said I am not a good user so I was hesitate to offer service, and we were only in town still for a short while. I told her I could help her with an on-line connection, and to send me an email. Perhaps al short treatment session could be arranged. She thanked me and LZ and I said our goodbyes to the master and we took our leave. 
 
 
It was a good morning and a nice way to end the event for me to not only be part of the event, but to actually be of help, maybe 🙂
Shaolin spreading the love.
 
_/|\_




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. 




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 .
image
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.
image
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.

IMG_0149

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

Fairwell toast

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

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

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

20121122-185059.jpg

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

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





LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

24 10 2012

LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Clean up meditation

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

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

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


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





Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis 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.





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.

 

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