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. 
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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.

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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.

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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.





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.





21/Twelve

24 07 2012

Twenty one/Twelve. It was the 21st annual memorial banquet and the 12th memorial tournament. Hard to believe we have been at this for that long. Time passes quickly. Not only is it amazing that long for the events but also that is just a small part of the time we the seniors spent training. For those of us who stay with the training it is a lifetime involvement, a way of life.

The Tournament:


The tournament started Sat morning on time close to it. When I arrived my students were already there practicing ! I had four students competing this year. Percentage wise I was told later I had the largest there this year.

The event was smaller this year, more than last. I think there were only 6 schools there. A reflection of the economy. Still it was a nice group. The Tai Chi was the largest section this year. They were still running that section long after the external competitors were done. We were able to disassemble the external ring while the internal section was on break.

I did not get to see all of of my students do their thing other than a small portion as I was the coordinator again of the events. So I stayed pretty busy, but did manage a couple of shots of my crew.

Over all they did well. No one from my group placed but they all finished and faced their fears. That was big. Their competition came from the school where I studied Tai Chi, so they got to work with the master’s students.

Also I noticed there were some changes to the form. With all the judges from that school it did lean things more in that school’s favor. No matter, everyone was happy that they had the experience, and that was what was important, not the wining part. Especially for a first timer.

The tournament started about 9 and I left after getting a sandwich about 12:30. Nice I had the rest of the afternoon to rest. Which is just what I did. I went home and napped.

The Banquet:


I arrived slightly late to the banquet knowing how it was in the past. Still I was early 🙂
Once inside I located my table. There was only one vegetarian table this year and the only ones there were my students! That was a surprise. None of the usual veggie heads were there. The dinner itself was weak only four dishes were served 😦 .

They were nothing to write home about. Oh well . Otherwise things ran as normal at the dinner.

The Meeting:

The board of directors meeting was on Sunday. As a member I needed to be there. I had planned on going to Kyudo practice afterward…if it was not too late…It was.

Things started out pretty casual. Questions about my trip and all. I got one of my Sihing to do the GrandMaster’s wooden man form, while I video’d. Wonderful, one of the things I want to be sure to practice in Japan. I am organizing my Kung Fu library for training and reference.

After that it was down to business. It got interesting watching the mood change and tempers flare. Along with that came the yelling in Chinese, then Chinglish. After that phased out and things got explained, revised, modified by the end it was one big happy family again.’ The topic of heat this year was weather or not to change the tournaments to every other year instead of annually.

There is a seminar that follows these events. I will not attend this year.  😦 Too many things that call for funding right now. Chan retreat is next week. The Kyudo seminar two weeks after that. all these falling at the same frame and having to take off work is “musugashi” on the pocket. Bummer I have to miss the last Kung Fu seminar for me in the states but, line$ have to be drawn somewhere.

A nice thing is though that Ling Sisuk loves Japan and will come visit once we are settled, so I can get private lesson from him there…sweet or what?!





Monday’s Child…

14 07 2012

Monday Kyudo practice after the “S” job is holding up as a good choice. Really the only choice I have to get some 28meter time in. Most Sundays I am working when Sensei has practice.. I could have gone after work but they changed the times to earlier in the afternoon. Monday’s are my time at the Dojo. It is nice to have the quiet time for me. I enjoy getting a full session in of Zen Taikyoku Kyudo Ryu So little by little I am gaining confidence in my shooting and hitting again. Maybe even more so, than before. Still I need more practice. Not just on hitting but on the overall shot. The shot is not all about hitting, the stance is not all about the legs, the draw is not all about the arms. Getting all the little pieces in line , the hit will take care of itself…sort of.

I have been asked to put together a sailing video for the Aoki Yacht Zen 24 out of Japan. I used this opportunity of needing to learn the software to do a filming practice of my training session in the

Zen TaiKyoKu Ryu. 🙂

It was fun…

Done with my iPad.





As the arrow flies…

27 05 2012

The biggest challenge right now, well, other than money, marriage, lack of sleep,  the soon up coming boat passage is the even sooner Kyudo seminar.

Other than casting off this is the big outside challenge for the year. Yet, at the same time in the big picture it means nothing. The world will not change, I will not change, no matter if I get the new piece of paper or not, afterward it is back to another day of training.

The annual Tai Chi Mantis Kung Fu events are up coming. However they are not a concern as there is nothing I have to do, other than just be there. I do have two students competing this year in the tournament, doing taichi. That is kind of nice since it will be my last event for a couple of years until we get resettled.

My Kung Fu and TaiChi classes will be ending ether Aug or Oct. Kind of sad I do not have a student who can take over and keep the classes going. I have one long term student who helps teach now and then but she can not maintain a consistent attendance. So the Bay Shaolin school will be completely dissolved here and reborn in Japan like a phoenix.

Over the last couple of weeks I have put in some extra Kyudo time. Solo practice, gone to class and this last Sunday went to the range with Sensei. Then another solo practice yesterday on Monday. The results are showing. I feel like I made a break through on shooting I am back up to 50% or better on my hits. I am therefore feeling much better, sometimes, about testing in Aug. Of course I will not let up on the practice. I want to be very comfortable (hahaha) for the Aug trials.

I do need to watch how much I travel do these days, thanks to the increase again of the fuel prices. It is about 1 hour drive, some times more to get to the dojo. That adds up quick at almost 5.00 a gal.

I have discovered the truth of setting up the form correctly the arrow will hit. That set in over the last couple of practice sessions. The thing is to be 100% consistent on one’s foundation. That is the challenge .

One disappointment for Aug is the Chan retreat has been changed to July. I was looking forward to doing the Kyudo the intensive for a week then follow up with a few days of Cha’n to unwind.
Now the Chan will be two weeks before the Tai Hai. Can I carry that “space” for two weeks? I should not need to, it should be on-call… More training, yosh!

I have picked up a new goal for next year. It is doubtful I will be ready to test for Yondan in Japan next year. However I would like to attend the Kyudo event in Hawaii. It is outside of the ANKF program. It would be fun to get in about a week of Kyudo and Zen training, even better in Hawaii. After 6 mo on the water it should be fun…if i can pull it off money wise. I do want to get in a few days of practice when we stop there on the way to Japan. That would be cool. I wanted to get some shooting in on our last trip there but that did not work out. Sometimes things roll like that. Or in this case that is how the arrow flies sometimes.


Another thing that has opened in Japan…
I wanted to do some ceramic work again and I was hoping to find a connection once there. As it turns out Yoh Sensei is good friends with a potter who lives in the mountains there in Osaka. I will have an introduction and a visit to him once we relocate. So I have my Zen connection, ceramic, Kyudo, and sailing connections. A new life waits. These were the main things I wanted to do in Japan other than play with a band. Even there I have a small connection with a couple of musicians. Things continue to look up for the move once there…the thing is just getting there.

One step, one arrow, one mile, one moment at a time





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.