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.


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?!


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


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.

Cabo, Mexico…a mini vacation

27 04 2012

As I start this post my attitude is 360 degrees different from day one when we arrived. Then I was in a foul mood!

When we got to the entry point the one custom’s line was long an slow, ok not a big deal that is to be expected.

LZ went to check on the car but forgot the conformation number. After much hassle she finally found who she had rented from. We finally made it through customs and headed to find our car. That is when the real downer started. We got the sales pitch at least four times for something or another. Check out a new hotel, timeshare…  At first I was patience then, I figured out what was happening and grew less patience with each confrontation. I thought once we finally made it to the rental dealer it was over. Wrong ! There we were told about yet another deal that could get us the car insurance for 20.00 instead of paying the 200.00 plus money for full coverage  because the coverage we had was only a reimbursement coverage. Sigh ok I was tired by now and agreed to the 90 min presentation which included breakfast. It did not seem to bad. I thought I was done. Wrong ! When we got to the hotel and checked in I was told by some other person many of these people are not what they seem. If we cancelled she could coverage the insurance cost with 200.00 cash …
Now I’m really in a foul mood. I was told by the guy at the car rental that if I cancel because of the story the woman at the hotel would give me I would have to pay full price .

I decided to ride it out…

The room is nice, but LZ complained to the desk that it was not what she was told. They moved us to another floor with a better view. I just wanted to settle in, but the room was more airy.

The presentation was ok it was a very nice time share plan and if conditions were different for us I would have went for it.

The presentation went for longer than the 90 minutes but that was not a big deal because we had breakfast and LZ was enjoying dreaming. What ground on my nerves was the guy would not take no for an answer after over and hour of saying no I had finally calmly say. To the effect of my other job is teaching KungFu and you are really really trying my control and patience. That ended the talk.

My mood improved once that was over! That Evening we went out to dinner at some local place LZ want to try …she wanted to try the lobster. Here lobster is pretty common not expensive at all.

Dinner was good and we got to see some of what night life was like in downtown Cabo. For a small place it was pretty lively. Over all I was not impressed and saw no need to stop here again on the way to Japan .

Other than some things LZ wanted to see on the following day I planned on staying on the hotel grounds.

Day two

We slept In the next day and headed out late morning. There was a Tequila shop I wanted to stop in. We went there and LZ was delighted with the specialty store. We purchased some things for us and omeyage for Japan then went for a walk around a bit. I had seen a leather bag shop I wanted to visit. There I got a waist bag and a shoulder bag for my iPad for at a good price. I was feeling much better by this time. We picked up lunch local and had a good meal … Cheap.

Afterward we stopped at a couple of places LZ wanted to see before heading back to the hotel for the evening and relaxing with the jacuzzi. I am starting to get chilled now.

Day three

We had breakfast on the grounds an all you can eat special on a roof top diner.

As I write this we just finished lunch at happy hour. We had a light lunch and are kicking it on a couple of hammocks next to the beach.

Afterward I had a shower, checked emails , Facebook, read some, then a nap.

Other than a few folks stopping to ask if we want some jewelry or something here on the grounds in the hammock  it is peaceful, I have the vacation feeling program running on high now.

All in all other than the sales badgering it was a good inexpensive trip. All the natives we encountered were nice, aside from the husslers.
Would I go back hmmm questionable. Docking there is expensive, nothing to really see, so that would take some consideration. It would be nice to meet-up with Mari-chan but she will be a ways away in San Carlos. So we’ll see because nothing else has a draw for me there. Mexican food is Mexican food, Encinada or Cabo and I like a lot of greenery, being a tropical rainforest kind of guy. I hear that San Jose del Cabo is more laid back, cheaper marina fees, not too far from San Lucas.

That maybe a better stop over before making the big jump.

The New Year begins…

18 01 2012

The NewYear is on!

I get a sense of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. In another post ( never posted) I said it was the Universe’s job to provide me a source of money for our trip. Then out of no where, I was offered more hours at the job with Blue Pelican Marine. Enough that I could quit the much disliked security job. Really the same amount of hours as there,  but a little more money and no commute. I had at first planned on quiting…C-ya! However after some thought I have chosen to keep the security job for another four months or more. That will give me a couple of grand or more toward our trip. That would be worth the dislike of getting up at 3:45 in the COLD during the week and going to the JOB.

I have to say since I have been allowed access to the guard shack and I bring in my little space heater it is not so bad after I get to work. It is still cold and boring though but it is more comfortable. It also helpful to my attitude now that I can classify this job as extra help to leave the country and not just survival doing a dead end job. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

I have set the time here at four to six months, that will give me about 3,000 + toward the kitty. That is if I can pull this off. It maybe too much ! I’ll need to start getting to bed earlier that is for sure since I can not take a four hour nap once I get home from the early a.m. security job. I’ll have to ganbatte cause $3,000 -$4,000 would help a lot.

The LA Story – Kyudo

14 07 2011

It was hot on the road! One of the times having an A/C was a good part of life. When temps are in the three digits it is great part of modern  life!

I was on my way to LA for training and trading. It has been a while since I trained with Jyozen-Sensei. With the up coming test ahead I was looking forward to the sessions with him on over the weekend, he is one of my favorite people to train with. Having some of the same Shaolin/Tai Chi background as well as Zen gives me a different level of connection with him. Kind of a San-Mai-Ittai thingy with Kyudo thrown in.  It would be also a chance to do the blog interview with him as well. This will be for the last interview of Kung Fu Beyond Combat. I do know if any one else found the interviews interesting, but I did. So …

On Sat I was suppose to attend Jyozen-Sensei’s formal class in Pasadena with Nanka Kyudo Kai. Friday night was a private meeting at his home. Saturday would be my chance to shoot with a large group and test myself under live large conditions. At Scott Sensei’s classes we are a small group of three at a time shooting. A large group of strangers would give me a better view of shooting under stress and how I am following protocol.

There were small visits and items also within the trip but the training was a major part of this journey and picking up the Ya from Darth-Kyudoka, the hated Dark Lord. This was right on time (so I thought) as I will be without my Yumi for two week, since it is being taken to MN via van with a bunch of others for the upcoming Seminar.

I had a difficult beginning of this trip  getting the rental car and getting on the road. LZ was concerned about it spoiling my weekend but once on the road the rest of the trip was fine. Well other than the driving bakas that are out there on the road.

The only let down was breakfast at the motel on Sat morning. I had stayed in this motel before. It was a reasonable price, clean , Japanese motel in, a Japanese section of town.

There is free breakfast. On the weekend it is not that great for me since I do not eat most of what they serve. I get rice and pickles, green tea and orange juice.

The BUMMER came in with the orange juice. It was so watered down it had no flavor of being juice at all. I can understand some cut backs but this was over the top. I will be putting it in a review. However I will still recommend the place.

Friday’s session was good with Jyozen-Sensei. We had the interview first then shot some. (I will post the interview separately later).
Before shooting we had a short meditation in his little Zendo which is in his backyard. Next to that, just near that is a cemented area which is the Makiwara Dojo.

I did a couple of shots for him to critic. His first words were now “that” is Kyudo. He said I improved greatly since the last time. I was pleased I was on the right path. His main critic was I did not use the same amount of mindfulness in my upper body as I did in my stance (Ashibumi). From my years of martial arts my rooting was good by I did not continue that “mindfulness” up into my trunk and arms on a consistent basis.

After spending a couple of hours with Jyozen-Sensei I headed to my motel room. I was there early enough that I could give a couple of my old Kung Fu mates a call and setup visits for Sat. After that it was a evening of watching an odd Kung Fu movie for the evening.

World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day – part 1

3 05 2011

This past Sat was World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day. For those who do not know this is a day were everyone around the globe who practices Tai Chi is encouraged to practice at the same time. This to not only celebrate the study and health benefits of Tai Chi but to help add positive and healing Chi to the World Energy Flow. To do a group effort to promote world peace. This is done from ALL Styles of Tai Chi.

It would be a great thing if there could be a World Kyudo day . The Kyohon says the same about the inner raising or development of the person through the practice of Kyudo. ” Kyudo is the way of perfect virtue. In the shooting, one must search for the rightness in oneself.” However this would be a Huge undertaking for the Kyudo world as many would need to put aside their ego and prejudices and truly practice what the Kyohon says.  As large as Tai Chi is I never hear my Tai Chi is better than yours. Tai Chi is Tai Chi as long as it follows the Principles. Kyudo is Kyudo. So doubtful if that will ever happen. I’ll stop here before I get in hot water. However even with with my lowly ranking I will drop the message whenever I can. Maybe someone of importance will pick it up and run with it. The idea is important not who comes up with it. Kyudo for peace spread the message. An arrow shot to pierce the target of hate and intolerance.

I have about 15 Tai Chi students right now, had I planned it better I could had a group session with them on Sat. However as it was it was just me. Which was ok since it was a stop on the way to other events in a long day. The World event started at 10:00 am . I found a quiet spot in the park next to the next to the bay.

There I  started with a bit if Zazen before doing my Tai Chi set. It was a peaceful morning with a light wind.

I first did Sigung’s Tai Chi palm set before doing Yang 24. I thought about finishing the series with Chan however I had to be other places.

My next stop was over to the Peoples Republic of Berekley for the start if the Great Vallejo Yacht Race. After that I was headed to Vallejo for Kyudo practice at the Tanuki Dojo. The Aug testing is getting near time for me to get busy with some Kyudo practice. I thought that having my meditation and Tai Chi done first thing set the tone for the day. I generally do that at the dojo before doing my shooting anyway, now I was already charged up from the outside drawing and sharing of the world chi with millions of others. I imagined that and tried to feel it as I was doing my morning drills in the park. I did notice a large pickup of the wind just as I started my Tai Chi Set I took it as a gust of Chi from the millions of the world sharing and adding Chi to the World.


This n That…

22 04 2011

I have not written here much I’ve been busy with other spaces. The boating world has been keeping me fairly busy. Lots of blogging over there. When I’m busy on land the water blog is light.  Now it is the waterworks time. Even more so with moving on to the boat in the fall. It seems a ways off now but really only about 120 about. Right after getting back from Kyudo testing it will be time to pack and leave the apt. I am looking forward to it and not at the same time.

There has been land life of course. The new session for my martial art classes started with the City if Alameda. The Kung Fu class is on the small side this semester. However thankfully the Tai Chi class is fairly packed with new and returning students . If half of the new one stuck it out that would be good. Most people here lack the comment to stay with something and they always want to learn more when they have not even gotten what they were taught the first time. The ones that really bug me are the ones who try to pickup more movements from other students or when I’m teaching another students. Like having more moves it going to make them better, yet they can not do correct what I showed them, still they deciede they are ready for more. Sigh

I had to resubmit my Kyudo seminar application for this summer. The one that was given out was out of date. Not that it had a date or anything that was major different , in fact less things or arranged minor differently . Oh well Japanese formality. It was a hassle but not really a big deal. Since I sent my payment deposit in before hopefully I’m good to go and that will not get misplaced or something.

With the seminar only a few months away now I will need to get down to business with my practice. Part of the problem with that is the world gas problem and my lack of finances . Gas is over 4.00 a gal!! In order to attend class with Sensei I have I have to drive an hour, plus pay for class. I can not go to the free class on Sunday because I have to work.  In order to go to a place where I can practice I have to drive 30 min plus cross a toll bridge which also went up in cost!  Sigh. Life has these obstacles ne.  Minor for me when they are compared to those who live in northern Japan.

What a life tragedy that is. As much as I am depressed and frustrated by my work status I am reminded by all this how blessed I am. The saying except by the grace of God it could be me, is very meaningful. I have much compared to those who have lost everything, including hope.

I am writing this post from work on my iTouch to be posted later from my computer. I look forward to going home tonight after doing some work on my boat and having pizza and wine while watching a Zatoichi DVD and dream about watching the cherry blossoms  in Nihon again… What a number blessings to count with a sense of hope. We must remember to pray and help those who have lost things, family and hope.  _/|\_