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Home > Columns > > January, 2007 - RIP: Musubi and Zanshin
by Lynn Seiser

RIP: Musubi and Zanshin by Lynn Seiser


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It is Monday evening. I have settled in after having a good day and a satisfying dinner. The phone rings and it's a good friend of mine in California. We have trained together for years and the bond between us is strong. I am always glad to hear from him. He informed me that another of our training partners, Randy, died the night before in a tragic auto accident. Musubi, Zanshin.

Musubi is the word we use to talk about the connection between tori and uke. Zanshin is the word we use for the lingering of that connection.

Musubi is what one felt when training with Randy. He connected to you. Not just your body in training, but your heart and mind. He trained with a grin or a smile on his face. He was happy to be training and he was happy to be training with you. His connection was honest and genuine. He didn't give you a technique you couldn't make work and he didn't want anything given to him. He always wanted to train hard. If you left an opening, he would close it and smack you. He made your technique better. He trusted you and he earned your trust. He wasn't someone who practiced martial arts, he was a martial artist. This is his connection, Musubi.

Zanshin is how one felt after training with Randy. The connection lingered. It showed in the way you trained with others. It showed in the way you thought about Aikido and the people you train with. He made you proud of the discipline and respect. His lingering and extended spirit went beyond the dojo. He was an accomplished jazz guitarist who loved playing on other's CDs, teaching, and smiling with his eyes closed as he moved with the improvisations. He was a patriot and a reservist. He was a family man who loved and was unconditionally committed to his wife and children. He was solid in his spiritual faith, practice, and identity. He was the same in whatever context you saw him. This is his linger energy and spirit, Zanshin.

I don't always accept that things are as they should be because they aren't always the way I want them. At best, I strive to accept things for the way they are. If we are born, someday we will die. That is inevitable and without excuse or explanation. It is the quality of the time between that defines life. If the secret to immortality is to live a life that is worth remembering, then Randy will be immortal for those of us to have been fortunate enough to train with him. We will never train without him. This is Musubi and Zanshin.

Think for a moment of all the people you have trained with. How would you feel if you knew this was the last time you would ever get to train with them? How would you express your deepest gratitude and appreciation?

Seiza, Rei, "Domo Arigato Gozaimashita. Sayonara".

(Kneel. Bow. "Thank you for all you have given. Good-bye.")


Nidan Randy Penland, Tenshinkai Aikido, Westminster Aikikai


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