65 trips around the sun


Six Five

This week or so, past was my birthday autumn solstice. I had not planned it that way, however since the Universe put it out there, I accepted. There is a saying by Elkhert (s.p) about taking everything as if you planned it. Some would say we did…

LZ also had a birthday this month as did her friend . They wanted to go to restaurant we had visited before.
So we did. From there we walked around “deep” Namba, looking at stuff then to a wine Bar for another drink.
We had fun, it was not really about me, but close enough 🙂 because when one’s wife is happy, the man is happy.
The next day, my day, I took off work. Still I was up early. I wanted to do a little early morning Meditation, KungFu and also film a set. 
Sort of video document of my KungFu at this age. It went ok, not as good as I hoped for. It took me a long time to get the footage i wanted and by that time I was getting tired having done the “kata” quite a number of times to get the camera angles, moves, etc. Tricky doing it single-handed. 
I was just “ok” with the finished film it was passable. However when I posted it to the FB forum of my system’s founder, I was surprised at the amount of approval from peers and seniors. So I guess I am not looking too shabby for an old dude.
Afterward I hung out at home for a while then went to lunch with LZ. We went an Indian restaurant she found, as I love Indian food. This place was pleasantly good concerning the food. 
They had a chunty I have miss since Berkeley. so even thought he samosa were not what I expected the chunty made up for it. The Salat Pagneer was good as was the Lasse. I was able to find out they sell Turmic spice and balsamic rice. So overall I left a happy camper. From there I went to Kyudo…or maybe I went to Kyudo first. Hmmm age memory lost ? No matter.
Kyudo, was in there somewhere during the day, matters little where, it matters it was there. It was pretty quiet at the dojo, for the most part I had it to myself. I remember this because I had a chance to do some camera and video work un-bothered. I got some decent alone time practice in. I think I made some advancement in understanding something or applying it. Too many days, weeks have passed to recall. The real point is I was there practicing and enjoying my work-study. I also decided with all the extra work I have been dealing with, I should go for getting the Yumi I want. I have been taking a survey of people’s kilo Yumi strength. I have my 15.5k bamboo core bow, after spending the last several weeks shooting the 13 k, I like the feel and being able to really work on my alignments. The average seems to be 15. I am going with a 13.5 for a everyday Bamboo Yumi. A YonSun made in America by Symansky a student of Shibata XX. 
My first Yumi was by him and I liked it. Kyoto style is what I hear it called. A big factor at this time and place is I can have a well-built to Japanese standards, custom built, Yumi for less than half the cost of buying here. Kind of reverse of the old days in America when one could buy a qulity item from Japan for less than American built, like a Honda or something vs a Ford. Yeah, so it going to take a little over a month to build, shipping here I do not except to see it until Oct. Another factor in buying in the States is my cousin is flying in to visit and can bring it with her, more savings.The next I was off on a sailing adventure. It was not planned, and only heard about it a few days before. I had a boat pickup job. Another guy I sailed with before to Okinawa and I were going to Aioi to bring a boat back. We would take a train there in the morning, spend the night then sail back the next day. No overnighting on the boat whilst under sail. Perfect!


It was a pleasant sail back from Aioi. We motored sailed all the way, winds were pretty light. No drama befell us and I got some fair pictures, having brought along my Nikon with the big lens. That story is for the sailing blog readers.
So ended the week with the sail, really though I went to Kyudo again afterward so that really was a good cap to the end of the week.
So on the topic of birthdays I posted this on FB.
FB: Friends , definitions in a new age;
once upon a time, back in the day as we say in the hood your “friend” had a different “meaning” . My birthday was this month. Facebook book says i have 570 “friends” . About 60 of them, which surprised me, took the few moments needed to wish me a happy birthday (thank you). Small as it was in action, the impact was a surprise in the largeness of emotional gratitude. as an artist i am pretty sensitive to input. Ok so, 570 people are my friends, 60 took the time to say “yo” , ( about 20 of them i really have met) let’s say 110 were off-line and had no idea, no, let’s say 210 were busy in the real world and had no idea. So that leaves 300 people who are suppose to be my friend but do not give a rat’s azz about my birthday and it is too much effort to click and type something. However want to read my feeds and be in my business, iznt interesting! My main peeve here is that Facebook has changed the meaning, or at least the quality of the mean of Friend. How can 570 people be my “friend” when most of them do not even say hello.
This is a sign of age, I have heard, when you start bitching about how things were back in the day!.

OverHeat revisited


Return to Overheat, the club

Wow, it has been almost a month since I posted. In the past this would have not mattered much as there were only two or three readers. I now have a noticed I have 51 followers, wow, shocking. Doubtful they all really follow, but still. Wow!

With that in mind I should up date. I have been on the busy side with living stuff to blog about. I can not just make this stuff up, well I could and one path of thought is that I am making it up. “We make our own reality” or “we write our stories”, others say, it is already written we live according to a script. Hmmmm. Whatever…

This was my second time playing at Overheat. The Doc had been there last month with out me as I had a real job that day. This month I was back. The Doc had taken care of my entrance fee and was there waiting when I arrived. There were less people than last time, but all seemed really into what was happening. 
As it turned out we were the last act scheduled to play. So I got my drink and I sat to wait and watch. It was a variety of acts. I was not impressed with any. They had their heart it in it, but the skill was not there yet. It reminded me of a karaoke bar setting, where people who do not sing very well, no dreams other than singing this local bar go to have fun for the evening, with live music. I could not help but wonder why the Doc wants to play here? From today’s show and some other thoughts and input showing later, I figured out he does not care about developing, his playing is all about the moment, wherever that moment is located. Playing tight, smooth, professional, none of that matters only the moment of enjoying the playing. Pretty “Zen” like, in a way. It does lack the quality part, quality of the practice which is also “Zen”.
We waiting through the acts and finally it was our turn. We are setting up, I want to check the turning to him. He did not want to put much effort into it. While I was still arranging myself he was ready and said “we should start playing something” and starts. Ok, i am thinking hmmm. He is paying for this spot, they are not paying us, he should take his time and be fully ready not rushing. Ok, I join in a few moments later. He is really into his slide guitar now so the song was a slide blues . We did the song, it sounded so so. I had to play in a key a step lower than what he said the song was in, because we were out of tune. Then we do another song. Next he wants me to sing a song, what do you want to sing I am asked? then asks ” are we in tune?” No! I said that in the beginning, I said. We took a moment to match tuning. Good grief, WTF!
The rest of the set went ok. In fact one of the songs was pretty fun as a couple of the guitar players that were there joined us. It gave a nice full sound and change the vibe more of a whole, instead of us playing to them.
There is a saying, all’s well that ends well. We ended well, so the rest, whatever…

Next session there is late in Sept. It is ok, since the Doc is paying the entry fee of 15.00 (which includes one drink) I will plan on arriving closer to our start time so I do not have to sit through all of the acts. It is not really an enjoyable venue however it is in my mind, practice.


Chi-rock – July Session

Our monthly Blues band gig at the Blues Bar came up. We were lacking a drummer, he was out of town. I did not consider it a big deal, the Doctor and I have played several venues, without him. As it turned out it went well and truthfully
I did not miss him at all.

I took my acoustic bass instead of the full electric. It gives me a different sound. Also I can slap the body to get some drum type sound. It requires a different type of playing action, and can get tiring after a while, unless one has practiced a lot. I could feel my hand cramping late into the set. Still with just the two guitars , Bass and regular it is a nice combo. I just wish the Doctor would get an acoustic guitar. That would give some nice old style blues sound. He did bring a second guitar that night which was also elec. he had it tuned to what is call an open D tuning. This makes it easy to play with a slide.
The owner called in a friend of his to play with us, with him playing harmonica. It was a bit of a hurt since I also play harmonica while doing Bass. However in fairness I do not play it on every song, or with the depth and sound that come from only playing Harmonica and it did give some more fill. Because when only playing harp on can use the hands to add dimension to the sound. So I laid back and just played Bass for the most part. There was one song, the guy could not quite get so I played as always.
Overall the sound was ok, the Doctor seemed to be fixed on doing one song he liked for a long time with several variations on it during the evening.
Since there was no one there that evening, a Wednesday but two customers, no one complained or cared. Well except maybe me. It was a very very casual evening. The Doctor chatted and drank, a couple of times I started playing a song on my own, because I felt bad about wasting time and he joined in. Oh well, it is his gig, I just feel he needs to handle things more professional when playing for money. A freebie is another thing all together. 
masako n me

A fan, she always wears a Kimono to the club.

I have another session with the Jazz Group upcoming later this month. I have three songs to play with the, plus will sing a couple. I am looking forward to really having a full sound with serious players and getting a bit of my Jazz / funk fix on.

Kashita Shrine Tai Kai

Kashita Shrine Tai Kai – the lesson

Back when I first came to this area I went to the Kyudojo that was closest to me. It was at this Kashita shrine. It had an old school Dojo feel to it and it was at a Shrine, so it had, at least to me a special “cool” feel, being at a shrine. I first went to visit and was told I could join. I was way happy, WAY happy. My next visit to start, after I had changed into my gig, I was told I could not join. They were sorry but the owner would not allow it. I was crushed. I could have at least been told that before I changed to shoot, or even better before I arrived. I was crushed, and even though I was told a reason, I thought it was a no Gaijin entry type thing…I am glad I was wrong.
I was told I could join over at Kishiwada, my current Dojo. Over the last couple of years I have come across the people from this school at various events. For the most part they have been nice. However I had not forgotten the suffering, the embarrassment of it all. That was my worst being in Japan experience. I am lucky in that matter. Some people have bad stories to tell.
I just found out recently that some of the advanced people that have helped me over the last couple of years have been from that Dojo and even the one who lent me the Shakuhachi and the other who plays guitar I am buds with. I was quite surprised to find that out and it explained several small things I had wonder about having noticed.
Over the last few weeks or days really I have been getting some one on time with Yamashita Sensei, as well as the Dojo Kaicho and the head Sensei Watase. Arms, hands, alignment, grip, etc. slow progress, but progress. Getting used to the different Yumi and giving some serious thought to the purchase of a Bamboo one of about the same weight. I am speaking with a bow maker in the states now. A student of Shibata-san XX. Buying from him will cost half the price of buying here. With my cousin working for an airline and planning a visit here, my shipping charges are minimal. So if I continued to work through the summer three days a week, which I am hating in this heat, but that is another story, I could save up the money instead of going to Nagoya in the spring… Something to meditate on… ( yes, that was a run on sentence, my college professor would have a fit.)
However for now I digress…

I have in addition to getting some in depth instruction, also I have been getting some solo practice time. Whenever there is some change to my form, my hit rate drops. I have accepted this as part of the way. “It ‘s like that, and that’s the way it is.”So yeah, TaiKai day arrives. Now that I am more comfortable at these events and my dojomates, I am enjoying them more. It kind of reminds me of my younger Kung fu days as a “Padawan” or as a young “grasshopper” when we a group of us from the school would go to all the “karate” tournaments to complete.


I always get a lot of attention when I travel with the Yumi. Not so much me, but the Yumi always draws looks.

It was hot hot hot that day, the hosting dojo had shade tents setup for the guest schools. When I arrived I spotted a few of my group right away and joined them. My mind was filled upon arrival with thoughts of my last visit and how things have changed. I encountered a few people I knew from the hosting dojo and was welcomed. I bowed to a few I did not but remembered when they remembered me, like the head Sensei.

I still liked the feel of the dojo, it had that old Japan kind of feel about it. Along with the Sakura and bamboo trees along the range, one really had the sense of shooting out in nature. With that in mind I am sure it is quite unpleasant on foul weather and cold days. Also the toilet is small and old style, another plus for modern Kishiwada.

Shooting started after the opening greetings. I was number 23 out of some 60 something. I was in the middle of threesome. I like that, all I had to do was follow. I like it when they arrange it that way.
To cut to the chase, I shot the worse ever since doing these TaiKai. Out of three sets I only hit one, the very last shot. I had a hard time finding my sighting. Many shots where centered but just too high, or too low. I was very disappointed with myself. Watashe Sensei said I was too tense in my hands and shoulders, but I did not feel that way to me. Both he and Yamashita Sensei said I was leaning into my shots and Yamashita Sensei said my left tenouchi was off, not a good jumongi. I felt it was my target sighting. Oh well. More practice Either way. A funny thing, as in interesting not hahaha, is that two other SanDan who were also testing with me the last two times for yondan, they also hit only one! Later I also I found out a Yon Dan who passed when I was testing for San Dan, he hit zero. Some days, things just do not work.
A couple of days before I told Yamashita Sensei I was not going to attend the up coming Shinsa, I was going to wait until Spring. I felt I needed more practice and many corrections to fix. I felt there was no need for me to rush. I need Not to be so focus to be so focused on the “prize” but the skill. He said something in Japanese that I did not understand, he said it was some “saying” about looking forward to something and the pleasure of achieving it. Anyway he sort of said it was a good idea. He said the Kaicho would be good at helping me achieve that skill level. I told him yes, the Kaicho has been very helpful. He is my favorite other than him, I did not say that part, it is just my thought, for you reading. Anyway. I have a “sempai” in Canada who was testing for yondan when I was testing for nidan, he just pass his Yondan Shinsa.
This TaiKai confirmed to me I was making the right choice to wait and train more. With my new knowledge of the certainty it is not just about hitting and want to sharpen up overall as well as my hits. I want to feel I deserved to pass, not I got lucky. This mind set I believe will put me closer to Go-dan when Yondan is reached. In fact I should be training as if going for Godan not YonDan. This was my lesson from the TaiKai.

Suizen 吹禅 – July

Blowing Zen – July

This Aug it will be 6 month since I started Shakuhachi class. It is kind of slow going but, I find it interesting. I am kind of thinking in a light sort of way, maybe, I can become a Shakuhachi street musician. As a Gaijin of color that should attract some attention playing the Shakuhachi. I still have a long ways to go being still basically a mudan.
Just a wild thought , but it is good to have some dream and purpose. It help stimulate the mind and spirit. Also with hooking up with this new Jazz group it gives me another outlet for playing …down the road as we say, stateside.
My Kyudo Sempai lent me his extra Shakuhachi to practice with. It has the nice feel of the real bamboo. I have been taking it to work with the last week and finding a quiet spot to practice a little. My practice at this level is mostly getting a clean sound from the Shakuhachi. I do not know any songs as yet. I can play Amazing Grace though. Otherwise. the songs I am working for class are kid’s folk songs. Pretty boring but good drills. Otherwise I just make up tunes to keep it interesting.
Sensei asked me the other day, “are you tired of playing Shakuhachi? ” i said ehhh, which means in Japanese, what you talking bout Willis? Or huh? He said people usually get tired and quiet after about 3-6 months. I said , no way, i am looking forward to doing some interesting things later. I guess it is the same with any art, I find it so with Kung Fu and TaiChi, many are very excited at first then find out how much effort and dedication is needed, and grow tired of doing it.
This is why pills are popular, people like instant results, people are basically lazy. The way our society is setup, it does not help that mindset of, getting something quick and easy. That is not real life, a seed takes time to grow into a tree or to bear fruit, unless it is Monsanto which is poison and killing folks slowly. 
So anyway I am prepared to develop Shakuhachi Kung Fu. 
FYI: the word “Kung Fu” does not mean fighting. It means a skill developed, by hard work and effort.