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.
 
_/|\_




Kyudo break

25 01 2013
We have been in Long Beach for the last two weeks. It is sort of like coming home to me having lived in LA for a number of years, like 20 or something.
We have been given use of a slip for our stay by the kind efforts of the Seal Beach Yacht club.
It has been over six weeks plus since I got to do anything physical other than sail. Last weekend since I had transportation I wanted to go to Kyudo since I could visit with one of my favorite Kyudo instructors Jyozen Sensei. There wer classes both on Sat night and Sunday morning. We started out for class on Sat, however since we were running late and the traffic was going to make us later. It was decided to turn around and not go. I always think it is on the rude side to show up late for class. More so really late as we were to be.
Sunday was another day.
Sunday we got it together to make it to the early morning class in the park. This was a better class for me, since I had sent my knee pads off to Japan. We do not do the full TaiHai in the park. We do however do a meditation before shooting, as is done on the Sat class. I was asked to lead the meditation. This is my second time at this so was no big deal. I had heard some comments before starting about just starting, since Jyozen Sensei was not there. However since I was ready to do the meditation we had at it. I kept in mind that some wanted to get at shooting, since our time was limited and just did a short meditation.
We do standing shooting rounds with four arrows in the park sessions. This gives one a chance of a short warm up but still goes pretty fast as it is somewhat free shooting. I struggled with my shots. Feeling awkward from not shooting. However my main problem was not the lack of shooting, but having a Kake, that was too small. Surprising how wired that felt. I still was able to pull off some fair shots, but man o man I felt awkward .
image
After I finished, Jyozen Sensei was there and came over saying , they told you to shoot bigger lat time right. I said yes, I thought so he said. I saw you struggling. Your base was good, but you kept going back and forth with you mind for base to hands, and did not really make your draw bigger. He then gave me some tips on understanding the push with the left to open the right and pull with the right to open the left principal. Also using the push of the left and the weight of the Yumi to raise and open my left arm in daisan.
It helped, even with the small yukake I was able to shot better. However the small glove really really was a struggle. I thought when I was trying it on before buying this used glove it fit better. I was so wrong. I dropped a couple of arrows and my fingers felt like they had no control. Still I adapted and made a couple of fair shots.
It was a good morning of shooting. I like shooting with this group.
image
Next I need to get some TaiChi practice in. I have been getting stagnate on the boat. We will be in Mexico soon, and I can get a routine back, maybe I will be able to find a place to practice my Fu, and Kyudo.
I am still keeping up with my Chan sitting, I need no room for that. I also got to visit with my senior Chan brother and sit with the group. That was nice, even though I ended up being the , surprise to me, guest speaker for the evening .Oh well I take these things in stride it is the Chan way.  Yosh!     _/|\_




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?!





Japan to China

14 09 2011

Okkkk, I am behind on posting, if anyone cares, sorry, I have a life…

What a difference a day makes. On Friday evening I was the fresh new lowly Kyudo Nidan, on Sat I was in the role of the Kung Fu “master”. Friday was the end of the Kyudo seminar, Sat was the start of the Kung Fu sessions our 20 th yr. anniversary.

Once again the Chuk Kai memorial Kung Fu tournament and banquet was being held in the Bay Area. We have the largest concentration of schools in the country. There are schools in Walnut Creek, Alameda, San Jose , Campbell and San Francisco.

Overall with the shrinking of the economy the turn out becomes smaller. Yet we still have a turn out from the Bay Area schools , plus LA, Boston and Washington state school. Not huge attendance but enough to keep us going and feel the love.

As with the last few years I was once again called upon to do the event coordination.   This usually keeps me busy setting up what event runs next and which need to be combined due to lack of enrollment.

This year we were down to two rings instead of three.  One ring is for internal forms (kata) the other is for external forms and weapons. After all these years we have gotten things running smoothly and with less people we are able to wrap things up by late afternoon. This gives everyone a chance to get a bit of a rest before the evening banquet which is held in Oakland’s Chinatown.

In the years past we have had the tournament for only Tai Chi Praying Mantis schools. After the board of directors meeting on the Sunday following the banquet it was decided to open the tournament to outside schools. Tai Chi schools will be invited next year and follow that the following year with other external schools.

Next year will be my final year attending as a resident. It is my hope to return in 2014/15 with a couple of students from Japan. We’ll see, if nothing else it will be just me.

The banquet this year still managed to have a good turnout, however in the past couple of years there were two vegetarian tables, this  year only one and only three of us at it. A small benefit of that was we had as much food as we wanted, and even took a bunch home. It was also the best food section for us veggiesheads.

Even so it would be nice to have the economy improve enough to have more people next year. Still even with the collapse of the economy it is good we are still able to maintain this tradition in honor of the late grandmaster, Chi Chuk Kai for 20 years. That in itself is an accomplishment, with none of the disharmony that has gone down with other Organizations.

On another note but similar I have decided to do some minor study in the art of Aikido. My Kyudo Sensei teaches Aikido also and the class is just before the Kyudo class so it seems like the perfect setup since I will need to be there for Kyudo. A couple of the ladies from the Kyudo class take both. My interest in studying is not about belts or ranking as I will do no testing. I found from watching Aikido classes that a lot of the techniques are the same we use in Tai Chi Mantis with only a slight variation . So I am thinking the practice of Aikido will give me a chance to practice with a partner. My Kung Fu students have not reached the level of training that we can practice together on that aspect of martial study. So I am looking to enhance the principles of “ChinNa” and get some two person practice in.

The next big thing I want to finish here is the beyond combat series. I have the final interview in , I just need to edit it down. The last interview is with Jyozen Sensei a Zen monk and instructor for the LA Kyudo Kai who does Tai Chi Chuan.





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.

 





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.





Kung Fu Beyond combat- the series, spiritual warriors Pt 2

23 03 2011

The second part of this series is a visit to the Logan school of Shaolin and speak with the Rev Shifu Steve Baugh, head Sifu  (and Abbot of the Temple) of the Lohan School of Shaolin in Las Vegas. Shifu Baugh’s Chan lineage is from the linage of Hsu Yun. His Kung Fu linage is among others, The Five Animal System of Ark Wong and the Northen Shaolin lineage of Wong Jac Man along with the Praying Mantis linage of Chi Chuk Kai.

Shifu Baugh is another classmate of mine from our days with the Northern Shaolin Tai Mantis school formally in Torrance, CA. under Doctor Kam Yuen. He like several of our advance class already had prior Martial Art training before joining our school. Everyone like and respected him.

As it turned out another of our classmates was also in town. He runs the Tai Mantis school in San Bernadino.

He was in town with his student for the Lion Dance seminar that was being held at the Lohan School, so it was like a mini reunion with the three if us.

In this interview Shifu Baugh and I  went into his office so we had much less background noise. Most of the his student were taking a seminar on upgrading their Lion Dance Skills so there is a small bit drumming going on at one place.

Otherwise this is a clearer interview and we were not rushed. Because of this the Shifu was able to really relax and speak. Some things I wanted to ask he just covered in his informative narrative. I’m sure you will find this as interesting as I did.

The pictures on this video are not that great but it is about the audio not the pictures 🙂

Check out other videos from the Lohan School of Shaolin on Youtube.

The next interview is this series will be hopefully in May with Jyozen-san. A Zen priest, in LA. He currently studies Tai Chi from my Shaolin Linage Family, he is also a teacher of Kyudo, with a past background in Karate.

_/|\_

Pray for Japan, pray for the world…