The turning leaves: Shintaido Northeast fall retreat

Brad LarsonShintaidoLeave a Comment

Just got back from our fall retreat (gasshuku), and some of the powerful elements: the theme “Gratitude and Grace” as we work through with our longtime instructor and friend Joe Z. his experience of chemotherapy and our mutual support…The image of the muntjac deer on the gasshuku brochure with the theme of “encountering” the world and the interdependence that can dissolve boundaries that we construct…The beautiful leaves changing colors and gently spinning and falling as we practice. And as always the community of friends that has grown over years and decades as we learn and grow through our body movement, connecting to sky above, earth below, and nature around.

Keiko (practice) 1: Green Hill Park, Worcester. A cloudy misty morning, pleasant and quiet. Instructor: Stephen Billias.

  • Taimyo Kata: one of the translations: “Great Mystery”…(I forget the other)
  • Part 1 Notes: diving into the ocean of ki, closing section with hands above head, shower of energy
  • Part 2 Notes: Tai ki mai is not cutting…more like dancing with the sky, or reaching energy up all directions. Turning hands and ankles at same time: helps to be rooted through the center of the foot, or look to the distance
  • Part 3 Notes: self-wakame (can be to a variety of things: wind, sounds, even “floaters”…connecting around).
  • Noticing the misty world around, clouds above, occasionally clearing above us. The great hill around us, with us in the navel of the world

Keiko 2: Green Hill Park again. Sunny and sometimes cloudy afternoon, in the shade of a big tree. Instructor: Bela Breslau

  • Stepping practice, four steps. (Barefoot in grass, a pleasure in October)
  • Then cutting corresponding to those steps (Mai irime, yoko irime, etc) with partners
  • Then cutting with partners in imagination, without arm movement, just body and stepping
  • Joe Z. comments: “such a special space created with partner, after bowing, a chance to learn with your partner, creating a special space. Approach it with eagerness.
  • Another Joe comment: inspiration through life challenges from a child’s comment: “Just try again…” Don’t worry, just try again. (The simplicity of just doing it again)…

Keiko 3: Joe and Deb’s. Damp grass Sunday morning, low flying clouds in blue sky, golden leaves flutter down. Instructor: Margaret Guay, with sections from Michael Thompson.

  • Warmups in tight circle, bringing Joe in first shifting weight, then gentle lift/kick. Margaret’s good cheer, always a part of her keikos.
  • Cutting with partner, 4 directions. Michael’s notes about making sure we cut/connect with the partner in the first part, before trying to move their direction. Experimenting with my height differences (always the case)…don’t short change my reaching up just because of different heights
  • Ten step meditation…together as a group, as friends, under the sky and falling leaves

The food (always a consideration): Picnic/potluck lunch on Saturday, dinner at Dalat Vietnamese, a long-time Zaweilski dining spot with some very traditional ingredients if you’re adventurous. (Ask Roger). Sunday brunch at NU Cafe, and (note to self) the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had: PortaPesto Chorizo with eggs, chorizo, portabella muchroom, parmesan cheese, and basil pesto on a toasted ciabatta.

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