Practice: form and formless

13 05 2013

I had thought once we set sail, this blog would end. However somethings just seem more fitting here than on the sailing site.  I do not know if it matters to my 4 or 5 readers. Never the less this will be my final post for a while as we are heading to the South Pacific and I will be internet-less for some 35 days.

 

 

We moved from the marina there in downtown Ensenada to another location just outside of town. Very nice upscale , location attached to a hotel. My practice session are less elaborate here, mostly just working on my Chen Tai Chi and fundamentals of  Kyudo and meditation. My new “Dojo” is right on the beach front , very nice. 

 

However there is no shade so once the sun hits , it is on! Seriously! It is nice in that I do not have the lookers like at the other place, for the most part I get to practice in private. 

 

I love being able to do zazen and hear the ocean kiss the rocks on the shore. Also having a platform with a shade cover is nice for my stillness time. I feel the time next to the ocean is good feeling that Chi. I will be able to be up close and personal shortly as we will be leaving with in the next few days. Our time here in Mexico is winding down.  It is a mix of joy and sadness.

 

We will be at sea for some 35 days , it will be interesting to see what I can arrange as far as practice. Stillness will be easy movement will be limited.  Still practice is practice , both for and formless. A cup of ocean water is still ocean water.

 

So that is it for the local news. Next post will be from the other side of the Equator . I will shoot an arrow in respect for King Neptune. It is traditional to make some type of offering to the King Water Spirit. Mine will be the arrow and the shot to honor his royalness…Yosh!

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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.
 
_/|\_




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 … Kyudo -n- Fu

24 10 2012

LA … Kyudo -n- Fu

It has been a while since I posted , way too busy! Things are still moving
forward…yosh.

I wrote this a while back but got too busy to publish…ok I forgot.

A younger Kung Fu classmate invited me to his wedding. It was one free weekend. I needed to go to LA anyway to switch Yumi from the monster to something I could ready draw more than once…a day!
Sounded like good timing so I took off for SoCal. I also figured I could visit a couple of people now instead of rushing when we are passing through on the ZenCat to Japan.

The trip down was thankfully boring and un-thankfully hot. I was surprised how hot it was in LA. They were having a heat wave. Even down in the beach town it was hot.

Spent the first night with a couple of buds then headed off to the wedding . It was hot, hotter than at the beach since it was inland. After the ceremony and lunch the reception was held at the Kung Fu school. Unexpectedly a nice wind picked up and cooled things down. I hung out there for a while then slipped out, I had other places to be…

Next stop was Pasadena Japanese Cultural Center, home of the Nan Kai Kyudo group. I had planned on joining the class for practice after I received the new Yumi from my friend. However since the traffic was horribly full of suckness I was late and choose to pass rather than disrupt the class flow…so I thought.

When I arrived I was also in time with Darth Kyudoka we did the Yumi exchange and chatted. Since I was already late , as was he I did not think about rushing in to class. At one point we headed into the dojo and was met by JyoZen Sensei , who invited us to shot. I declined and was in the learning by watching mode, so I sat upfront and just watched. JyoZen Sensei had split the groups into two. One did the traditional taihai shooting the other did the one makawara three person sharei. Interestingly stuff.

While I was watching, waiting and gazing, Jyo Zen Sensei gave me his note book to read through. Very interesting the amount of detail in his notes. I found out later he has written several un-published books on Kyudo.

I called it a night fairly early and went to my sleeping arrangements and watched a small amount of video before slipping into sleep land to ride dragons.

Sunday I was up early to go to the Rancho Park Kyudo practice. There was surprised to be asked to lead the morning meditation and a round of Tai Chi. Wow I felt like an important guest 🙂

Clean up meditation

After our morning drills we had at shooting. This was first shooting of this new Yumi. I like it! It is just a bit stronger than the Spring Princess which is 15 k. The new Yumi, Aki no Gekko Kamakiri, is 16.3k.

I can feel the difference when I shoot. The stronger weight reminds me to draw with my back and hara, but I do not feel like I am on the edge of doom when going into Hanare, like with the 18kYumi, or sticking my head into a bear trap like with the 22k yumi. I remarked to JyoZen Sensei I never thought I would have three Bows, one light, one heavy, and one just right. He explained about the usefulness of having the variety. It made sense when I listened.

I was also told, my tenouchi is much better, and I need to expand upwards more in Kai, but overall improving.


I did a couple of rounds of shooting and it was time to take off back on the road. I did my farewells and headed off for another group of visitations on the way back to the thankfully much cooler Bay Area.





Kyudo Chronicles – UC Davis – Zanshin

27 08 2012

It is all done, the last event here for me. Well of sorts I will be going to a boat show in Oct. However that is not about me. It is for Aoki Yachts corp out of Osaka. As far as Kyudo, and Kung Fu it is done.

The seminar did not turn out as I hoped but, life sometimes is like that. It was still a worthwhile trip to attend. I learned a lot! It was good to see past aquatances and make new ones. I picked up some good points at the seminar which will help me later. I finally figured out and am fairly comfortable with the raising one knee thing in Kiza. That was huge in my book. Also established a connection with my dojomates we feel like a school now I think. I am not sure but i think it is the same for my Sensei. This maybe his largest class of Shodans. Speaking of my Dojomates, I think we are the most diverse Dojo in the Renmei.

I believe the connections I made with the Sensei there at the seminar will be beneficial down the road.

I went to class yesterday and shot with my new bow. It was suppose to be my Sandan bow, and I guess it still is. It is my training bow to get there.

I really shot with it for the first time in class tonight. It shoots well but right now it feels like a lot of effort to shoot. My old Yumi is 15k, this one is 18, I can really feel the change. It will help/force me to draw and shoot with my bones to get comfortable with it. Even with that I have one more bow coming. I am exchanging a 22k bow for a lighter one. 22k is ridiculously too much!

It will be shipped to Japan when our things get fully packed. I will be taking my old 15k bow on the boat with me. I hope to get to shoot some in Hawaii at one of the dojos there and perhaps I’ll find some place on the passage to shoot. Also I hope on some of the stops in Japan on the way to Osaka there will be some local Dojo I can stop at to shoot. That would be something interesting to start blogging about on the new Zensekai-Nihon blog. Maybe even a good couple of articles for the Kyudo mags.

For now it is the same if I passed, or not, back to training. I did not start Kyudo for the rank but for the training. My first style had no ranks I just wanted to learn, adapt and enjoy. Use some of the training and experiences in life and my Kung Fu teaching and training. I think I have been successful in some of that. The ranking thing came about because I wanted to continue training in Japan and heard it was needed. In traditional Kung Fu we have no ranks, no belts. Now I want to achieve Yondan, it will open a different level of training. Once that happens, we’ll see. Godan…Renshi…why…still, I will keep my mind open. One grows with an open mind and heart.

onward!





Cha’n in the Redwoods

5 08 2012

Day one

This was the second part in my series of stateside final events to handle before launch. The Kung Fu part is finished the tournament and banquet were done. Now it was time for the Chan retreat and seeing my Chan family and goodbye’s. It is all getting more real now.

It was to be another early start to the day on Sat, but not as bad as a work day rising. I was up and on the road by 5:30 am. It was 1.5 hrs drive to the Redwoods in the Santa Cruz Mtns. Traffic was ok at that hour so it was an easy drive. I arrived shortly after 7:00am. Everyone was already doing their morning meditation, except my cousin who was approaching the meditation hall as I was approaching. What a surprise timing!

After our greeting I set about finding out what was going on. I was a bit thrown off by seeing the meditation sitting when I thought it was suppose to be Chi Gong time. As it turned out that was up next, I had read the schedule wrong.

Settling in:

I joined the Qi Gong session. It was lead by the visiting teacher, the person given the Buddha seal/imprint by our Shifu in Taiwan. He a Kung Fu person turned Spiritual guide and Chan Master. I wanted to have a talk with him. I would wait for my chance. For now I needed to settle in. After the Qi Gong was breakfast and the mass greetings, of “hao Jo bu jhin” (long time no see)

Before eating though I was able to sign in, get my badge, locate my sleeping room and greet a few others I knew.

Breakfast was ok. Some veggie stuff, plus fruit, cereal, bread. Afterward I put my stuff in the room then headed off to the first lecture on the weekend theme fulfillment.

On the way to the meditation hall, chapel I encounter Miao Ming, the visiting teacher , I walk up along side him and introduce myself. We chatted a small amount and said we would get together later to talk. That was easier said than done as he was always speaking with someone and answering their questions. I did not want to intrude and wanted just a couple private moments for my interview for my “Beyond combat series”.
The one time I saw him alone he was meditating, I did not disturb him.

The Program

The lectures started next. The first one was on fulfillment which is also the theme of the retreat. Then a break followed by a meditation period. It was a open meditation session. We could stay in the hall or go out on the grounds. I took the outside option and used the time to explore the grounds some before finding a spot to sit.

Then lunch time was upon us. About this time the clouds had burned away so I took a spot on the patio to eat my lunch in the sun.

Interaction:

Our next section was a short lecture, then a group exercise . I dislike this part, find someone you do not know and partner up with them. We were to sit with this person, talk with and or meditate with them for a few moments, then draw the impression you are feeling. We had to do this with three people. It was hard. It was not an art project so whatever it looked like was fine. It was about synchronizing with the person and showing/drawing your impression. I had a couple of interesting drawings one of which was very complex and correct, one other was simple yet also close to target. Afterward people were asked to share some of the drawing and their impression of the work. Many people thought their artwork was right-on correct to the point of being scary. Out of this I gained two new buds for the next days.

These are not mine.

Time for another break, then Chi drills, then dinner.

Fireside chat:

After the last session after dinner we had a bonfire side Q and A session after singing a couple of Cha’n songs. I stayed with the group for a while by the fire listening to the questions asked of Mao Ming until it got too cold, then I headed to my room.
I had a basic shared room with two others and got the top bed on a set of bunk-beds. My roommates were non/Chinese and new to Chan. I used my iPad for a while, emails, FB, and a Naruto video before turning in for the night, ending the day.

Day II

The next day for the most part was a repeat of Sat. For the morning free meditation I found a spot to do some Tai Chi before locating a spot among the trees to do some meditation.

The interaction drill for the day was several groups discussion on the Heart Sutra and giving our impression of what it said. To me it said, it is all the same day!

I still do not understand how I got picked to be the spokesperson…again, what is up with that?!

Closing

The last session of the day before dinner was the “sharing ” and introduction part. This is where people get up in front of everyone and say whatever about their experience with Chan. This can be and has been in the past very emotional, lots of waterworks. I thought I was going to miss this part since it was listed for Monday. However since I was leaving on Sunday I was asked to come up and intro/share

I did a little talk on my Chan studies with Kung Fu, sailing and the Environment. I was on my way back to my seat when my cousin brings up I am leaving…oh boy, thx cuz!

Ok I had to come back and speak… This is where things got emotional. I do not know why I have such an attachment to these people, when saying my group goodbye I was very close to losing it to tears and emotions, and had to take a short pause and bring up some Chi to hold it together. I was getting so choked up I could not finish my last sentence, I hate when that happens. I guess my spirit really feels a sense of this is my spiritual family connection. Even thinking back to the moment seriously chokes me up…weird. I do not hang out with any of them much, yet … The Force is strong with the Chan Family.

Interestingly it is not just me. My cousin is also involved with this group. She also feels connected to the group. Even as a practicing Catholic with limited funds she with help made it here to Ca from Ga to attend the retreat. Also everyone who meets her in the group loves her. It is nice having her involved with the group so I can get her feedback on the group and see it is not just me trip’pn.

I never got to do the interview I wanted with the visiting teacher. I did find an article in the Chan mag that had some of the information I wanted. I was told I can find it on the Chan web site. I can use that to make the blog post. I also got his eMail so I can contact him if need be.

I sat with the visiting teacher for a short while after dinner for a brief goodbye. He express his regrets at not being able to spend sometime with me and invited me to visit him in Singapore sometime. This made me think, hmmm now I have a contact in mainland China and to further that thought…as a Heart Chan member I have several thousand points of potential contacts in Taiwan…there are over a hundred thousand members in Taiwan… One practitioner came up to me and said she is such n suches mother. When I come Taiwan she would be happy to show us around… cool or what. You never know what the future brings.

It should be interesting visiting Taiwan. We will be visiting one of the main meditation centers in Taiwan when we stop there. A temple in the mountains of Taipei surrounded by a Tea Plantation.

So wrapped up this years retreat. It was good this was a good venue. I really love being in the Redwoods. They have so much Chi. We had another retreat in the past by the ocean. It was nice but the Chi here was stronger and the facilities better.

Meeting with like minds and strengthening, one’s practice from time with the Shanga is a good thing.

Where in the world is the Zen-kun?

I will be seeing some of the Chan group again before we leave. A few of my local peeps I’ll hook up with. When we get to LA I will need three days to visit and bid farewells. My Cha’n, Kyudo, and Kung Fu peeps, this before we make our final Stateside stop and visit in San Diego.

 

More Photos 3





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.