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. 

La Vida en Mexico

3 03 2013

It has been a while since my last post so a little update I think is good. For those who are not following the sea blog and do not know, now you know, currently we are in Ensenada Mexico. Almost 1 month now, less a day or so. It took some adjustment, but things are fairly good, other than the water which is bad. There is a work around that, which cost, but it is not too bad. The price for drinking water is reasonable.

Photo Mar 03, 10 23 34 AM

Weather has been improving so that for me is always good, I hate the cold.

Photo Feb 25, 5 51 50 AM

We have done a couple of small tourist things, visiting a natural cheese farm. They had cows which are only used to milk for cheese. Happy cows! Then they showed us the process and lastly gave everyone some samples with a glass of wine and bread. OMG good! We took some home. The cheese not the cows.

Photo Feb 25, 3 50 27 AM

Photo Feb 25, 5 08 58 AM
Another place we went is called the blow hole. ( bofadora) a place were the rock forms a place were the ocean shoot up in a spray. It was ok, but not worth the camera I broke trying to take a picture and tripping over a rock. Sigh. Something else to replace with no spare money.

Photo Feb 25, 11 29 47 AM

I have been out-n-about and found more martial arts school than I thought this small place would have. Several Karate schools of course, there is also a Kung Fu school , which I have visited a couple of times. However have yet to speak to the Shifu. He has not been there, and whoever is teaching is busy with the class so will not stop to speak with me, understandable. They teach several arts, Wu Shu, Hung Gar, Tai Chi, and some Chi Gong. They train fairly well from what I see.

Photo Feb 18, 2 22 12 AM

With getting settled now, I have started my own practice again, early mornings, but I need to make even earlier as not to have the misc onlookers. I like the solitude and not feeling like the entertainment . I have found a place by the marina on the water front. There are usually a lot of people out and about, starting early since it is a nice location. So I need to get before they start.

Photo Feb 13, 11 40 15 PM

Photo Feb 17, 10 03 13 PM

Morning solo practice , after morning Zazen. There is Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Hsing Yi. then a bit more Zazen. I wish there was someplace to do Kyudo, but alas I will have to make do with just some misc parts. even a small part is better than none, even if sometime it is just mental. The mind is the controlling factor anyway…ne!

Friday Fu w/Shifu…Jan 2011…Live blades n Blood

30 01 2011

The end of the month, time for the advance students monthly closed door session with Eng Shifu at the Campbell school. It was an exceptionally interesting class for me tonight. William Fong Sisuk was there. He is always interesting to listen to his talks and see his demos. Tonight he was starting off on speaking about a Sabre that was brought to class by his senior student who he is teaching the set to along with another.

This is a heavy blade it was used he said to fight the samurai and Japanese soldiers during the invasion of China. It is heavy steel and used in close quarters, which is the weak point of the samurai blade/warrior. Because of it’s design and weight it is also a two handed blade. It is not used to directly stop a samurai blade but it can if needed. Like a Katana it is made to cut through, flesh and bone.

This was weapon taught to the common people and battlefield soldiers as the Japanese were killing men, women and children. He said there are many many sets with this weapon. None of them are standard. The only standard was the design of this sword. A few are very complex sets and training ways came about, but most were simple and practical. The emperor told all the local Kung Fu masters to develop a way of fighting with this sword and teach the locals of the town to fight back against the Japanese. The set he was teaching was one of the more complex but effective sets. While watching the set one could see how this was an effective battlefield weapon.

During on part of a demo Sisuk, was showing how to move in a do a block. He just barely touched the wrist of his student and  ended up cutting him. The sword was just that sharp.

Another thing covered tonight was how different styles in Kung Fu developed because of regional Chinese cultures. The study of Kung Fu is not just about studying fighting it is about Culture, medicine, knowing the human body and history. He also explained that it is not so much that Shaolin developed all these martial arts styles, but they had the means to collect and spread them in some type of format. Back in the day only the monk got to travel from town to town, province to province, in pursuit of their Spiritual training and goals. They were the one who learned the different styles and tradition of the many areas. All of this was filtered through their Buddhist or Taoist principles.

I went through Hsing Yi I was relearning with Art Sihing, which lead to a discussion of the animals and 5 elements in styles. I learned about how the five elements are interpreted, how they are expressed. Sisuk used two different style’s “water” strikes to demo. Then he explained the nature of the technique and principles. Then he went of to explain something about understanding and applying the principles and needing the physical training as well as the mind and spirit. Without both parts one was not a whole martial artist. It was very much like words from the Kyohon.

Another level of things we spoke about, as I got to talk with him alone for a while while my classmate were off practicing was the nature of Chinese and Japanese in study and philosophy and how that showed up in the marital Arts.

Before we broke for food time. I asked Fong Sisuk, with his exposure to others styles and a background of Hung Gar, why did he choose focus on Mantis. His answer was; Mantis to me covers all the aspects combat. It also embodies the higher art form of control. Not just hurt or kill the control techniques imbody to Buddhist nature of compassion via control and seizure. Also not just the control on an opponent, also needed, perhaps even more so was the control of oneself.

It was one of the more interesting session of our monthly Friday night practices for me as it was Kung Fu Beyond just combat.


3 12 2010

The weather has warmed by about 5 degrees, it has helped my attitude. I hate being cold, and freezing. LZ says it is training. Good Kyudo Training, good Zen training. Yeah yeah, I hate it. I do not function well in the cold, I’m a tropic baby…Cold Sucks

Anyway, my mind set is better this week, I’m back to the training, and using the morning at work as my training time. I found a spot that is sort of out of the way. I can sort of see the lot ( I just have to go out from time to time to walk the lot) and I am sort of protected from the “hawk” ( wind chill) , as well as protected from casual view. I do not like feeling like on on display while doing my drills. So the Lot Dojo is born…

The five a.m. starting work time has thrown off my Zazen morning sitting. I feel 4:00 is too early to do meditation, also too easy to fall back to sleep. Now my routine is to walk the lot, then do a bit of Motion Chan and stretching, with some basic breathing. Then do Zhan zhuang ( standing meditation) followed by some walking meditation. I recall some masters saying doing meditation while engaged in the world is superior than doing meditation on the quiet of a mountain top. It is the focus/power/source behind maintaining a calm mind while doing Shaolin Kung Fu, engaged in combat, sailing in a storm, doing Kyudo.

Once these parts are done, I do some Tai Chi ( yang 24), I can still do it in the secluded area I have selected, as it is just wide and long enough, enough for me to move freely. Even with my layers of clothing I can still move enough. Perhaps it adds to the training. I have visions of elder Chinese in the mountains of northern China  practicing in my head. This is how I feel, with my layers. One pair of thermo pants under the street pants. 1 Silk Long John top, 1 cotton termo top, 1 long sleeve t-shirt,  1, short sleeve T-shirt, 1 heavy cotton sweater, then my dress uniform shirt, followed by a Uniform jacket with liner. Gloves, heavy boots, two caps and scarf around the neck. The last few days with the slightly warmer temps I have been perfect outdoors.  These are temps in the low forties. When it get down in to the 30’s I’m still cold…and suffering!

Anyway back to training, after Tai Chi, another meditation  walk around the lot. I can be seen by incoming staff, I can be seen by the watching camera of the office big brother. Following that, Hsing Yi and Mantis back in my lil Dojo, followed by another walk.

The next section is Kyudo, starting with Ashibumi, I can do this out in the middle of the lot. I can be seen and no one knows what I am doing other than just standing. I can work on my foundation, and my vertical heaven and earth reach. From time to time, I extend both arms and expand from the center like doing Kai, but from a Zanshin position ( people think I’m just stretching) . Next I go back to the Lot Dojo and get a few practice imaginary shoots in from Ashibumi through Zanshin using a heavy elastic band .

This helps keep my mind off of the job, other than watching all that happens with no mind, I can be detached yet alert to my environment. It has helped me not think about how little money I am making or the only 2o hours a week, or the rejection from the applications, or the failing health of the economy and if I will have SS money when I finally can be ready to set sail or any of the other numerous downers.  I can be unattached to these thoughts and just in the present…at least at work.

and sing to myself ” Look on Bright Side of Life

The final hour of my shift is spent walking listening to my iPod play Japanese language lessons. Little by little I am improving on many levels. Artistically well, I guess it, that part of me will just go dormant, hibernate until the “winter” is passed.

This weekend I will get a chance to recharge more, I’m not working anywhere, this one is for me. Kyudo class, then to Chan practice with some elders Sat. day time. Sat evening is a lighted boat parade. I can take some night photos. Capt Mary will come down to my Boat to check it out on Sunday and give me some feedback on getting up it setup to travel across the Pacific. You “By Land Blog” readers do not know about her, she is my sailing mentor. She shows up on my “By Sea blog”. Other than that I’ll spend some time working on the Zenamaran ( boat) and doing some Zazen on the ZenCat (boat)

This upcoming Weds will be the last class Shaolin class of the year for the city. It has been suggested by the students we have a pot luck. This will be the first for my school even with all the years of teaching. This is the first group that have had the spirit of we are a class, this is our group. This is why they are my favorite students. They have the spirit even though we do not a regular school as such. It really is not the place that makes the school it is the students.

The Pot Luck Jam at Shifu’s is coming in a couple of weeks. That should be interesting.

For the end of the year ceremony,  My Sempai and I will do another 108 arrow shoot at our private Dojo, RSD. It will be a good way to end the year.

So there will be a few more post before the end of the year. Staying with me eyes on the Bright Side of life.

Life can be like a musical… at least in your head

Mantis Season…Meetings and Officializum

3 08 2009

Today Sunday is the Board meeting for the USA CK TCPM Federation. Sat. wrapped up our 9th year Memorial Tournament. With next year the 10th Anny , that was one of the topics I figured plus, who knows, well other than the new board officers. Of which SiSuk is now President, other than Sifu is now 1 of the 2 Vice Presidents. It is a rotating office I figured out because he was President a few years ago.

Backing up… It was a warm and Sunny day in Walnut Creek and cool and cloudy on the island. Pretty close to complete Yin and Yang. It had been a while since I had been out to W.C. and it seemed and looked a bit strange after so long. It was kind of trippy looking at the mountain, Mt Diablo again so close.

I arranged at out the Sisuk’s school in time to help him find a missing elder. I was told later he had excellent Hsing Yi skills. Anyway he was a little lost, I was asked about his location from there. This was as a conformation to what was already said. A short while later the missing Sisuk drives up.

We spend the next few , missing around. The seniors chatted about this and that, they found some Jians and other weapons to compare and discuss. I practice on the Wooden Man to remember the set. Finally we got organized and lined up in fornt of the Late Master’s Picture. We did the traditional bow after a full 5 min of silence. This was a first time this long. While waiting for the rest of the small ceramony, I notice L. Sisuk is always practicing some small Tai Chi movements or Internal drill. We do not have that much time he often says, none to waste, we have to practice.

The meeting starts, snacks are brought out and it is down ot business. Most of it unintersting or too private for this blog, One of the topics was how the seminar was going to be run, I was glad it was resolved to spend more time on application and drills. There was some heated discussions in Chinese about a few things, but all was worked out. It is a complex endeavour to resolve things. The 9th Generation on one end the eight on the other. Sometime is brought up, the 8th generation say what we think about the subject. Then the 9th speak in Chinese, veto alot, changed it and we are told the result. Sometimes it takes a few shuffles and a lot of quiet time from the 8ths to get things work out.


and so it went and goes…

As it turns out I guess I will be attending the Seminar this year. There is enough for my student to join in and learn new and review old,  and along with me drilling falls, rolls, tumbles etc.  I’ll also be doing three sectional staff. I had first thought, I know a 3-sec form from the Northern Shaolin system, even though I do not remember it, I could put it back together. I do recall the moves and can do the handling. Then I watched H Sihing do a few moves and some different Mantis handing of the 3S Staff and I re-thought my thought. I believe 3S Stafff is a weapons that can be owned in japan without special permits. When I bring my swords in I need a special permit, a friend who runs a Kung Fu school said he would help with that. Sorry I digress…
Ah hh, anyway the meeting went well, things got resolved, everyone left seemingly happy. Of course after the meeting was over, what did everyone do… Talk and do Kung Fu.

Friday Fu with Shifu…April 09

25 04 2009

It was a cold windy day. I had spent part of it working on the Chuk Kai Tai Chi Praying Mantis Federation website, adding last years tounry pix, part of it napping trying to get my bio rhythm back to normal after working the all nighter on Tues. I was not really into making the trip to Campbell,  but with a lot of will power I did. I did not want to miss training on Hsing Yi with Art Sihing.  However as thing go, that did not happen.

Friday Kung Fu is a gathering of Eng Shifu’s advance students and other seniors from the Tai Chi Praying Mantis System for training and sharing at Eng Shifu’s school. Afterward we have a meal and talk of misc topics.


There was the pleasant surprise this Friday of Art Sihing’s Sifu visiting. William Fong Sisuk does not come out much and it is always good to see him. He was visiting Eng Shifu tonight having came down with Art Sihing ( Sihing and Shixong are terms for elder brother in Cantonese and Mandarin, sometimes I switch and mix, my bad).  Shifu is an older student of the late Grand Master, but he has a lot of respect for William Fong, who is considered the youngest of the 8th generation Masters from Sigung’s school. I first heard of him from a write up in an old Inside Kung Fu magazine edition. There was an article on him and Tai Chi Praying Mantis. Later when I moved to the northern Ca I tried to locate him to do an interview, but could not find him teaching anywhere. Later as I became more involved with the Federation I was able to meet him via Eng Shifu and Art Shixong. Since then I have had several meetings and talks with him.

When I arrived at Sifu’s I ended up sitting next to Fong Sisuk and we got to chat for a while. He asked what I was up to these days. I told him about visiting Aikido, and Wing Chun classes as well as teaching soon at the Jujitsu school. We spoke about Wing Chun, Jujitsu and Aikido the similar aspects of them and our Mantis. He had some back ground in Wing Chun so was very familiar with it. It said Jujitsu was very similar to our mantis because we have so many locks and controls with in the style as does Jujitsu. He felt Wing Chun is a good art but not one for people just beginning Kung Fu. He felt it was a specialty art of higher level than most beginners could understand. Like our Mantis, we have new comers start in the basics of Shaolin and Jing Mo training before doing Praying Mantis.

It was not a long talk but interesting. He also spoke about the history of Wing Chun and why there are no high kicks. Not because it is a southern art with a history of not using kicks but, because it was developed by a woman and it was not “col” for them to open their legs wide like that for high kicks. We also spoke on the tradition of Northern Legs and Southern Fists and the famous fighter who was taller than many southern Chinese and use hidden kicks. Which to the southern Chinese were not common, also he dressed in traditional long robes which also hid his leg movements. You did not know about the kick until after you had been hit.

After short while we and several of the others, my seniors went out the the training hall to work on the Wooden Dummy.


Sigong has a wooden dummy set in our system. Fong Sisuk say it was developed with Sigong and Sigung’s brother who was a Wing Chun player. Neither style use the wooden dummy to develop power , it is not used to hit hard as in to train the forearms, but to learn how to flow from one technique to another. Our uses more locks, traps and controls, with a lot of footwork, hops and jumps. Our power comes from spiraling action not from body pushing direct line punches. Fong Sisuk said that our style like the insect is not about power overcoming might it is about skill. It is skill that enables the Mantis to kill larger prey.


Wing Chun is similar from being developed by a female with less muscle mass than a man, it is about skill and technique not size and power. It was amazing to watching Fong Sisuk demo the form, he was all over the Dummy locks traps, hooks, kicks, hopping , angles, elbow and shoulder strikes. He said it had been 30 years since he worked on the Dummy but watching him one would never guess. He said it was all body memory.


One of the cool techniques he demo’d from the Wooden Dummy practice , beside the seizing which he demo’d on me, ouch!! were the hidden punches. Which were delivered under a blocking or trapped arm, where one could not see the punch to defend. Not only was it a surprise, it was fast. I felt two fast punches  on my ribs when only expecting my arm to be locked… sugoi!

When Shifu said it was time to eat, we adjourned to his office (usually we eat in the training hall) as there were only a few of us tonight. Fong Sisuk told us stories of Sigung’s past and training methods in such things as iron body and how he ( Sigong ) came to study Mantis. Which was because a Bandit who was a Mantis Player almost killed him, such was his skill, even though Sigong had spent his youth as a Shaolin monk.  He as said there are many things of Sigung’s that are lost now because he did not get to teach them, such as horse back archery and his medicine skills. Sigung worked as a security guard on horseback after he left Shaolin. He did not do Kung Fu for fun and to have a lot of trophies to get students. His art was refined in real life and death encounters. His trophy was to come home alive.

I did not get the review lesson in Hsing Yi I planned on for the evening, but I did get more than I planned on. As usual it was a worth while trip to Shifu’s for Friday Fu