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Friday, September 25, 2015

POST 219 25SEP2015 DISCRETE TEACHING UNDER THE MOON - VIETCHI POST -COULD THE SWORD HAVE A SOUL-Continued Monterosso Trail



POST 219 25SEP2015 DISCRETE TEACHING UNDER THE MOON - VIETCHI POST -COULD THE SWORD HAVE A SOUL-Continued Monterosso Trail




From VIETCHI POST Autumn 2015

























 from
 PHAN HOANG’S NOTEBOOK
The spontaneous writings presented in this collection are first drafts, not edited texts


POST 219  25 September 2015
Could the sword have a soul?
(continued THE MONTEROSSO TRAIL, Post 218)

(continued)The challenging Monterosso Trail seems endless as I was advancing deeper and deeper in its heart. The sun has risen, high above the horizon. The trail is now turning upward, higher and higher. I started feeling a bit tired. I left my hotel very early this morning when it was still dark, and did not have to eat much before hiking. From my hotel to the entrance of the Monterosso Trail, the distance is long enough for my body to consume all the calories of my small breakfast. I now felt hungry. Looking forward, I saw the trail rising slightly, then without notice, disappearing under the trees. Looking backward, I clearly saw the long trail nicely snaking upward to me. However, the long trail did not give me any clue of my current location and the remaining distance to the next town, Vernassa, another magical place nested in this chain of mountains.  I vaguely remember that Vernassa is located about twelve kilometers south of Monterosso, but I now realize that twelve kilometers of hiking on this narrow trail is quite different from what I could have expected.

As I was continuing to advance on the trail, a nice big rock quietly makes its appearance at my left side, while the right side of the trail is the steep slope of the mountain sliding down to the ocean. The nice rock invited me to sit on it. I sat down and closed my eyes, then perform deep breathing. The fresh air revived my body and also my mind. When I opened my eyes, I could not see any beautiful tiên as I could have dreamed in Vietnam.  According to Vietnamese imaginary tales, in high mountains live very wise and beautiful people with magical power; they are immortal.  But, right now, I was not in any mountain in Vietnam: I was hungry on a deserted trail in Italy. Perhaps Italian tiên live in the clouds or on the sea, while bandits often hide themselves in high mountains, and of course I did not wish to meet any of them!

Anyway, what is important at this precise moment to me was what I could feel about the world inside me, but not the outside world. A world of five thousand years I was taught, which became part of my own world and was impregnated in my soul. There were many historical trails of my people, victorious or painful, that I know by heart through school lessons, from parents or mentors, and folk stories. I have personally walked on some others trails, which gave me unforgettable experiences. Again, I closed my eyes and tried to recall legends and stories on the Trang-Si Viet (Vietnamese Swordsmanship of ancient time), which was more similar to the western knighthood of Vietnamese style than the formal Japanese swordsmanship, the Samurai class in the old days of Japan.

When I was an adolescent, I have already started to collect legends of the sword. I was passionate by all of these legends, a secret passion .These include the sword of King Le-Loi, which returned to the Lake of Sword in Hanoi; the sword of King Hung, which killed his daughter; the sword of the terrific King Nguyen-Hue, which dared to tell him that he was wrong. Also, there were many wonderful others such as the shining sword of Princess Bat-Nan, the chanting sword of Commander Ly-Thuong-Kiet,  the crying sword of the young Earl Tran-Quoc-Toan, the unbroken sword of General Hung-Dao, the thunderbolt sword  of  Master Nguyen-Trung-Truc, the invincible sword of Master Hoang-Dinh-Bao, and the mystic sword Van-Thang- Guom. These extraordinary legends, victorious or sad, success or failure, all share a common ground, which is the soul of Vietnamese swordsmanship.

The City of Hanoi, my fatherland, had a mystical name of The Rising Dragon (Thang-Long), a name that sticks in our heart because of its beautiful image and of its nicer sound than the term Hanoi. During centuries, Thang Long has been witnessing so many historical events that there are plenty of special stories on almost every corner of a street. I have deeply known a glorious historic Thang-Long, a theater of innumerous combats of our ancestors rather than Hanoi, a city put in decline when the Nguyen Dynasty rose to power. Legends that I collected in the North when I was in Thang-Long are those that reflect the soul of Vietnamese sword and stick; those that I later collected in the South reflect the spirit of Vietnamese modern martial artists, we call it “Hao-Hon Giang-Ho” (the detached spirit of great-fighters who travel through rivers and lakes). The beauty of legends lays on the combination between facts and myths, reality and imagination. Facts provide the framework and imagination makes the legend attractive. Fiction is also very attractive, but it will not last for long. In contrast, legend is eternal because it is part of the history and part of the folk tales, and therefore a heritage. Through legends and historical records, I learned that, in ancient time, Vietnamese people believed that the sword of a Trang-Si has a soul. There were swords which were crying at night, others looking for serving a real master, other swords taking revenge for the honor of their defeated masters, and some swords refusing a dishonest combat.  Could the sword have a soul? This is a vital question for those of us who practice the Art of Viet Chi-Kiem. (to be continued at the next Post 220)
Phan-Hoang 
 
Following are pictures of the Monterosso Trail, taken 27 November 2008



                                                            

        

































     
                                                   
                         


                                                   
                                                      



























Sunday, September 20, 2015

POST 218 19SEP2015 SECRET OCEAN - MONTEROSSO TRAIL Phan Hoang Letter


POST 218 19SEP2015 SECRET OCEAN - MONTEROSSO TRAIL Phan Hoang Letter
SECRET OCEAN
WHY


















Post 218 19SEP2015
SECRET OCEAN


About two weeks ago I enjoyed enormously watching the iMAX movie Secret Ocean at an iMAX Theater, next door to the Canadian Museum of History. In this documentary movie Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of ocean pioneer Jacques Cousteau, offers a breakthrough look at a secret world within the ocean. Full of surprising details on life underwater in three dimensions and magnificent colors. This is another world we did not know much. Perhaps the smallest life in the sea is the mightiest force on which we all depend.  Secret Ocean inspires a strong desire to protect life underwater.  Ironically on the surface of the ocean, especially with the current conflicts in the Pacific, the ambition of certain nations could one day initiate disastrous wars.

The first time I watched an iMAX document dates back to 1983, and it was at Disney World in Florida. No need to say that I was very delighted.  Everything I saw made me feel like I was in a real world. This is a great invention.   iMAX (image MAXimum) is a motion picture film format and a set of cinema projection standards created by the Canadian company iMAX Corporation. iMAX has the capacity to record and display images of far greater size and resolution than conventional film systems. Hope you can find an iMAX theater close to your place. 
Charles Steven Hogan, 19 Sept. 2015


















 THE MONTEROSSO TRAIL






 from
 PHAN HOANG’S NOTEBOOK
The spontaneous writings presented in this collection are first drafts, not edited texts


Post 218 19SEP2015


In October 2008 G.M Phan Hoang wrote to followers and black-belts: “I am travelling in Europe from mid-October to mid-December then after I will go to Okinawa and other places in Japan until mid-January 2009.  Taking this occasion of long travel I write a series of letters to my disciples, thinking of them when I am “on the road”. Monterosso Trail is the third letter of this series.

Monterosso is a picturesque town among five enchanting sites in Cinque Terre (Five Lands): Monterosso , Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore, in the northern Italian coast.
The section of Cinque Terre trail that runs from Monterosso to Vernazza is the most rugged and physically demanding portion of the 12km long trail ; the scenery is absolutely magnificent.




                                                                 

THE MONTEROSSO TRAIL
ĐƯỜNG MÒN MONTEROSSO

On November 13, 2008, early morning, I left the Tibetan Temple in Pomaia, Italy, to move to Monterosso, a small town of Cinque Terre, I had visited before and I loved it. Although the distance is less than a hundred and fifty kilometers, it took me a whole day to reach it, by bus, train, walking, and taxi. I arrived to the rented apartment, uphill, at 8:30 p.m., exhausted and hungry.

Nestled in the foot of a long mountain Monterosso faces bravely the wide open ocean and turns firmly its back to the modern society. Out of the summer season you could hardly find an Internet Café here; the small local population did not seem having such a need and a few visitors who came to this quiet place at the time I arrived were not coming here to sit in front of a computer screen. Planned to stay for two weeks I will surely discover many picturesque aspects of this old town along with some interesting stories and customs. But at first, to me Monterosso is a good starting place for many narrow trails through isolate mountains. In this season, when the winter is soon approaching, the challenging trail could immediately bring you back to the ancient time when you tread the crooked path. The trail runs endlessly up and down between the blue sky above and the deep ocean below. At some places it becomes so narrow and dangerous that two persons cannot cross at the same time.

I started hiking early in that cold morning. It was not easy to find the entrance of this trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, and all the way up there was no one on the horizon, no sign of human activities, no coffee shop, no water, nothing. On this trail, you find yourself alone in the middle of the unbelievable beauty of Nature: colorful trees, beautiful rocks, green woods, white cloud, and a light blue ocean below. All seem to be a dream. By the silence of the trail one can get senses of some vague fear of an animal attack, a human aggression, or an unhappy accident that could take place at any time. Who knows if on this narrow trail one could be forced to encounter a surprise attack of wolves or wild boars, or an unexpected hit of a deranged guy trying to push you out of the trail making you fall down to the abyss. In fact, you are hiking alone on this trail because that is your choice to be alone, walking your own path, testing yourself, waking up your surviving instinct which was steadily diminishing less with age but more by the comfortable life in modern urban cities, even you keep doing your martial art every day. Still, whether on a deserted trail in a foreign country or in the day to day busy life at home, you are always in need of a loyal companion: an effective companion, a companion for life and death who follows you anywhere, in silence.  Could that be possible?
That morning, alone on the narrow trail from Monterosso to Vernassa, between the sky and the ocean, facing some potential dangers, I was happy for having my companion with me. Do you know who was he?
-My Chi-Kiem Wooden Sword. Yes, my Wooden Sword is my loyal companion.
(to be continued)


 Charles Phan Hoang, 2008
             
                                  
                         


                                                   
                                                      




PICTURES TAKEN IN MONTEROSSO



























End ¨post 218  19SEP2015