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.
 
_/|\_
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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
 
 




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?!





Blessing on this National Day of Mourning for Native peoples

25 11 2011

Since the moving to the boat most of my time has been spent adjusting and settling in to life at WaterWorld.

 


There has not been much time for anything else. I have attended one session with Shifu on our Friday practice and one Kyudo session with Sensei.

 

However nothing regular for practice. There was a potluck Thankgiving dinner at Sifu’s school this past Sat. There were lots of good veggie foods. I am noticing more veggie dishes are turning up at these events. Nice for me. Yummmm.

I did make a discovery the other day. While setting up a place for the Yumi to live on the boat, I found that I could string and un-string a Yumi in the gallery there is plenty of room for that. Well maybe not plenty but enough.

In the process of making  home for weapons of art, I learned the sailor’s way of String Art and made several hanging ties for misc pieces.

I believe  I am the only cruising yacht that is set up to hold a Yumi, Ya’s, Kali sticks,

Chinese sword, sakuhachi, shamisen,

 

bass guitar, keyboard, flute plus the regular traveling stuff. I am ready for making music or battle. 🙂





Friday Fu, w/Kyudo thoughts – June

29 06 2011

I was on the way to Friday class with Sifu and Fong Sisuk It came to me whilst preparing mentally for the class it is the similar mind set as when doing Kyudo. That lead me to think, really it was more like preparing for Tai Chi Chuan (notice I am using the full name) and how doing Kyudo is not just like doing Tai Chi Chuan but rather doing Tai Chi Sword. Because with Tai Chi Sword not only must have that oneness on connection with your stances ( Ashibumi) , hips, spine, limbs, breath, eyes, (Dozukuri) connecting the flow of those with the sword.  It’s position, grip, tip, (Yugamae), a further extension of that blending of oneness, in your movements but use the sword (Yumi). Achieving the San mai itai. The real difference is in those moments of stillness that one has doing Kyudo (yet as in sitting meditation there is still movement within stillness).  At least when you are doing it as a group, the Kiza, the waiting time. Realizing of course that doing the Kyudo “set”, Kata it starts when you enter the Dojo floor, not just when you are shooting. I have heard it said by Jyozen-san that the shot, (the kata) starts when you pick up the Yumi/Ya. The Tai Hai is the Kyudo Kata…Hmmm, maybe I’m thinking to much about the seminar (-_-)

These are my thoughts whilst driving to Campbell for my monthly class session. The mind set of doing Kyudo is the same as Tai Chi Sword, different movements to the Kata but the same mind, the same connection to the weapon being held. The same extending of spirit and Chi. Got it!  Just more that Zen/Chan stuff.
The release if the arrow is the Tai Chi Fajing ( power strike) of Kyudo.

Once there at the school I joined in the conversation about dealing with a much larger opponent. Sisuk empazided the importance of making the person fight your fight. Part of the higher levels of training is “sizing” up your opponent. Understanding his weak point and his strong points and using those weak points against him/ her. We, he said are Mantis a little small insect. We have to use our mind to fight, to control our adversary. Part of that control not only comes from physical control but mental control as well. Praying Mantis is a complex art , Tai Chi Mantis is even a higher complexity.
Another point covered was the use of the elbow and forearms . The Mantis is a multi jointed insect do not restrict your thoughts, actions to just use of hands.

The rest of the time was spent on some technical aspects of some movement and some comparisons with Aikido on controlling. Sisuk again stressed that the higher level of our art was about control and the compassion of control to end a conflict over pounding someone to death or submission. Training is about controlling ourselves first, then the other person. There is a saying from the Tao Ching  something like.  Mastering others takes wisdom, Mastering ourselves takes Strength.

At one point while we were eating or almost there Sifu said “to be good with Kung Fu, you have to learn it, then forget it”. I have heard this “meaning” before but the first time in this context, this setting, so it clicked into several things all at once, Music, Kyudo, Ceramics, Sailing…

All is Chan, Chan is all.

 





Steps

2 06 2011

It is raining as I write this from work. This iPod is great, I have been able to do a lot of my blogging here while bored at work. I like the rain and this quiet morning is nice. Even though this is not a great job it does have its points. Like this, the quiet of the parking lot at dawn.

Another step toward moving came about yesterday I got the final approval on the office / storage space we need for our stuff once we move onto the boat. I even got half a month free rent. … Very nice!

When thinking about it seriously it is kind of scary this big move. I will miss our apt even though it is expensive it is nice and comfortable. I was watching the sunset yesterday thinking what a blessing it has been to view them these last two years.

Now burning each one into my soul as they are growing fewer from this place. Sometimes they are soft, sometimes passionate! We have three months to draw, appreciate every final moment of beauty from here. The view, the fireplace, the convenience of all the facilities in one place. The of course there will be those times of beauty on the boat. Yet different. It will also be nice to accumulate  some funds in the bank. This last year in this Apt has been really for LZ because I wanted to move before but she works hard and needed it for her spirit this year. It was also good to have her mother  visit us in this place and share the beauty.

Kyudo

I have stepped up my training routine to include daily KIZA (危座) practice so I can lessen the discomfort or at lest deal with it better for longer periods. I think that is one of the more difficult and painful aspects of Kyudo. Staying in Kiza while waiting for your turn to shoot. Then doing the form with grace, power, spirit or with as it is said “Shin Zen Bi”.

My details for the trip are ready. The big disappointment is after sending in my application form within a week of them being issued along with deposit money for a single room. Then having to resubmit new forms, then later finding out I still needed to summit yet another form to request a single room after already doing so from the beginning as stated. Did I mention these other forms I did not find out about until after the single rooms had been already issued. Sigh, very disheartening. It is not that it is big of a deal to share a room, I have done that on other retreats but I was looking forward to being able to do Zazen, read, perhaps play an instrument, talk on Skype, get up early without intruding on another or them on me. Like a mini vacation after the extra effort of getting the financial part done early. Oh well adapting is part of training. (Note to self bring sleepwear.) These type of things are always a challenge for a private type of person. There is a saying it is more beneficial to meditate in chaos than in the quiet. I will survive and enjoy, the venue looks nice. ” It is easy to be happy when you are happy, the test of Zen is to be happy when you are not” also on the bright side I save 50.00

Thinking of adapting to discomfort I wonder if there will be any consideration for vegetarians as far as meal. Better to ask (additional: note to self bring food) There is usually something I can eat then fill in from town later. It is more of that adapting thing. When you are a veggie-head it comes with the turf in order to survive. Hmmm so that 50.00 savings will come in handy.
*update the menu is vegetarian friendly yay!*

I have a training trip planned to LA in the works for July. I want to visit Jyozen Sensei for some Kyudo counsel and also see the Dark Knight of Kyudo, Darth the hated, to pick up a second and stronger Yumi. Additionally we will visit some Kung Fu connections he has, and I, a couple of my Fu Family.

…and speaking of Kung Fu (nice Segway ne)

Right after I return from the Kyudo seminar starts my annual Tai Chi Mantis events and I do mean right after. I return on Friday night and Sat morning the tournament starts. The good thing is I only need to do support, I am not competing, Saturday night there is our banquet, Sunday is our board meeting. Following that is our three day seminar, that I’ll plan on attending. Only because this time we will work on applications and technique not learn another form, that I will not have time to practice and then forget . It is far better to fully understand the basics , the foundations from many angles, than to learn something part way.

All the while moving out of apt by Sept 1.
With a little birthday treat for LZ and I with a day trip to Calistoga for a room with a Jacuzzi and dinner. This to wrap up our stay at the apt, celebrate our birthdays and my ( hopefully) Nidan promotion .





A mixed bag Friday

29 05 2011

My plan for the day which was Friday, included a trip to the archery range to shoot with Sensei, then down to my Shifu’s school for Friday Fu night with the fam.

First stop was at the range for some Kyudo 28 meters. I had not worked with Sensei for several months due to my schedule and the travel distance (read as gas prices). I was feeling fairly comfortable with my shooting form so I was not nervous.  I told him I was still working on my Tenouchi as my biggest challenge. He gave me some correction on that, and also thought my built up wrapping was too built up.

We shot 20 arrows for the afternoon, his game was off, due to a cold, so I beat him with hits by one arrow.  Another pointer he gave me was in Daisan I was over too far to the left but corrected myself by the time I was in Kai. I should be pointing at the target in Daisan (second Aim) . The other thing was keep some bend in my arms as my arms go over my head before Daisan.

Otherwise he thought I had made improvements in my form from the last time he saw me. He said I’m not sure what you are doing, but keep it up because you are improving…yeya! Everything is Kyudo, everything is Chan, everything is Kung Fu, everything is training, the world is our Dojo.

I also find out that only he and I are attending the seminar this year in MN, everyone else backed out, timing or money reasons. It does not effect me, but there will be no class-spirit pump up. That will have to wait until next year when Northern CA hosts the seminar. At that time hopefully I will be going for my San-Dan and my final test in the states. There will be another from my Dojo also testing San-dan at that time. The others will be going for Shodan. It should be fun and importantly a lot cheaper with no airfair or hotel cost to deal with…just before we leave for the open ocean…Yeya!

I missed Kung Fu last month, I had too much going on. This time I was heading there no matter what, the Kyudo first plan was because I was going to be in the area so I could save on travel and ga$.

I arrived to find the group going through a set of books brought back from Hong Kong. These book were done by one of the 8th generation who has many many many Tai Chi Mantis films on You-tube. He put together a group of  books on the Tai Chi Mantis system. One, book three in particular dealt with the History, Philosophy and traditions of Tai Chi Praying Mantis. It has lots of old pictures of Sigung through the years, and shots of the old temple where he was a young monk, along with forms and info. There was also a picture of the Tai Mantis logo I designed for one of my old schools. This book is on my must have list. It is mostly in Chinese but there are parts in English. This for us Tai Chi Mantis players is a monumental work.

After reviewing some of the book, we got down to some practice. Fong Sisuk took questions on the differences between 7 star Mantis and Tai Chi Mantis and point out some of the differences. Some being, 7 star is built on straight line movements and principle, it is also more striking in nature. Tai Chi Mantis is more angles and circular. Tai Chi Mantis is also built around controlling the opponent. Rather than striking or knocking them back so they can possibly attack again, Tai Chi Mantis keeps them in close, so they can not escape. In a way it keeps more to the Buddhist principle compassion, Tai Chi Mantis can end the fight by controlling, trapping, grounding the attacker so the fight will not continue, where 7 Star would end the fight, by killing or maiming the attacker. An important statement made by Fong Sisuk was in training we train to control ourselves. You can not control other until you first can control yourself. This is an important principle in traditional Martial arts.  Eng Sifu teaches us both 7 star and Tai Chi praying mantis as well as Northern Shaolin for our roots. One can not just start out training Mantis without the groundwork, proper foundation.

Another subject talked about during our eating time was WuShu vs Traditional KungFu. Nothing is wrong with WuShu Fong Sisuk said however it is not the same as TKF. One of the main things is it lacks the culture and the spiritual principles of Traditional Kung Fu ( TKF). These were taken out of the training by the communist on purpose.

Another topic spoke on is how the current true masters are lamenting the fall of interest in traditional Martial arts. Also how many are claiming to be masters but are just posers. How hard it is to find students who are willing to put in the time and effort to learn and carry on the arts. Many many parts, principals, techniques and much culture is being lost with the new generations. Not just here in the states which is doing well compared to Hong Kong. Many of the Old Masters fear for the future of Chinese Traditional Martial Arts.