View Full Version : Farewell to a Friend

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10-18-2008, 01:27 AM
On October 15, a friend of mine, and a fellow deshi passed away.

I do not claim to know Robby Bishop throughout his whole life, but I do feel compelled to comment on his impact on my life. A few days after hearing of his passing, I'm still having difficulty knowing he's no longer in this world. I still get his mail, and after 3 years he's still a registered voter of California. On Monday I was cursing him for not getting involved and registering in whatever state he happened to be in (Florida, as I found out a few weeks earlier).

A little background, when I started to train I was not living in the dojo, but (if memory serves) Robby was. As a 3rd Dan at the time, he moved to San Diego to help build Jiai Aikido. During this first year there were basically Dan's and 6th Kyu's. Roughly a few months after I joined, my friend and fellow deshi Kevin joined.

For those 6 months it was not an uncommon sight on a Friday night for Sensei, Robby,Kevin and myself to be on the mat. Sensei, Robby, and 5th Kyu's. Need I say what a beating we took? Yet time and time again Kevin and I would show up, give it our best, learn as FAST as we could, and attempt to give as good as we got.

There were many a night when we pulled ourselves, dripping in sweat, muscles beyond exhausted, off the mat. Only to be looking up at Sensei and Robby, laughing to themselves, at our state of exhaustion. I would like to think we at least made them sweat, but I have no real reason to believe so. I was just happy to still be alive.

What's the most important thing in life? Breathing.

Kevin and I are of the sort that need to be pushed. We thrive on it. We need that inner competition to know that we're getting our asses beat easily and to know that, we, have the potential to at least stand up to these guys! We trained hard. We trained fast. We trained to the extent of our abilities and the next day wondered how we'd get back on the mat. But that burning passion to excell was there and that was brought to a burning fire by both Sensei and Robby.

I can still see him every day bouncing down the stairs strapping on his Hakama laughing as we struggled to figure out how to tie ours. "I only need 3 mins before class to get ready, this thing ties itself!" I needed 20 minutes to make sure I didn't tie my knee to my ass. Always respectful and at 5'4" tall, he hit like he was 7'8" and 300lbs. "Well, you knew I was going to hit you, why don't you move?!" Yeah, I learned to move. And fast. And the faster I tried to move the faster he'd come in and hit me. I loved it.

And after the hard classes, being totally drained from not being relaxed, we did conditioning. Sensei's "Navy Seal" conditioning program. Pushups. Pullups. Situps. Dips. Over and Over and Over again. Hating it all and loving it at the same time. Then we'd head to Casa Guadalara for shitty margarita's and cheap burrito's. But not before Robby slugged down his ice cream/bananna/protien shake. That guy, ate like a champ up in the 'bat cave'. He also ate a lot of tuna. Lots and lots of tuna. I still have cans of it he left after moving away.

5 days a week and a bonus class on Sunday. Never-ending happiness to kick the crap out of us. To push us, to make us WANT to be better. Really, we just wanted to stop getting hit so hard. Whatever, his method worked. Atemi's are a REAL PITA when nage wants to make you move.

Outside of class, the guy loved beer and steak. He would come over to my brew sessions and drink my homebrew while we made more. Back in those days my beer was NOTHING special. But the guy slugged them down and came back for more. Years later, and now too late, he'd love where I've progressed.

My personal connection? Well I moved into the Dojo shortly after he moved back to Boulder. This Dojo has seen 2 deshi's. And while I really wouldn't call Robby an uchi deshi, he was, and always will be my #1 Sempai.

I had plans to see you in Denver last weekend until I found out you had moved to Flordia. I will never forget the training, the beers, your 10,000 calorie ice-cream 'protien' shakes and your love of Aikido.

Your light in this world has not passed. For those that remember you will carry it forever. Thank you for the training, it will never be forgotten.

Mary Eastland
10-18-2008, 08:39 AM
thank you for wrinting this. i am sorry for you loss.

Roy Dean
10-18-2008, 11:25 AM
I am very sorry to hear this. Robby was a good man, and inspiring budoka, and I'm honored to have known him the for the short time that I did.

10-18-2008, 02:09 PM
Deepest compassion and condolences.

I have visited your Dojo. Perhaps we trained together.

While if there is life there is death, accepting it is hard.

My respects to you and yours.

Rev.K. Barrish
10-18-2008, 05:10 PM
Mitama Shizume no Kotoba
Words to Calm the Soul
The ancient kami reside in the connection between heaven and earth.
Our parents and grandparents and ancestors are descendants of the kami.
The kami spirit has divided and divided and has been handed down to us by our parents.
You have passed on from the present generation
And have returned to the eternal home, the birthplace of mitama,
The land of the kami.
The land of the august kami no different than life on heaven and earth.
Yet it is a land where you neither hear with ears,
Nor do you see with eyes.
This land is along the water’s edge, a pure, clear shore with lapping waves.
Gather and come to this eternal realm
Of white clouds in the land of heaven
Where brilliant rays push through thousands of white clouds
From the Great Shrine of the Sun, the shrine of Amaterasu Ōmikami.
In the Great Shrine of the Sun,
Descendents from generation to generation don bright clothing of the sun’s rays
And wear great, auspicious jewels of adornment.
In this quiet place may you settle your mitama and reside in tranquility.
I pray earnestly, together with your family and your friends,
That you will be settled and find calm in this place.
I believe with deep sincerity in the true path, the way of the kami.
We pray before you—
Myself, your parents, your children, your friends—
To tell you that we are well.
We receive the pure brightness of the kami, so have no worries.
May you soar from the heavens to see that our lives and homes are in order.
May your mitama be raised high and secure.
Please reside and settle with calm in the eternal place of the kami.
Please protect our family that we may prosper.
Please protect our family that we may prosper.
With humble soul, I trust in the way of the kami and will fulfill life’s purpose with sincerity.
Faith is as eternal as Heaven and Earth.
Restore us to our original brightness, and grant us strength that we may overcome life’s difficulties and live in harmony with the divine spirit of Great Nature.
Sweep the impurities from my being and purify my spirit;
Grant me protection; grant me happiness.
Bring brightness to my soul and give me guidance.
Every day and every night, may we be purified, refreshed and in good health.

Ian Starr
10-18-2008, 11:24 PM
Hi Eric,

Thanks for posting such great memories of Robby. I have been checking aikiweb to see if anyone would post but for whatever reasons was reluctant to do so myself. Robby was my best friend and I appreciate you sharing that stuff and taking the time to mention him.

I hope to train with you and everyone from Jiai in the near future. Take care.


10-19-2008, 12:21 AM
That's very sad news. I had the pleasure of training with Robby at a couple of Ikeda sensei seminars. A real pleasure to train with.

If I may ask, how did he pass away?

Again, I am so very sorry for your loss and for the loss of the entire Aikido community.

10-19-2008, 08:48 PM
Ian, your friendship with Robbie lit up Boulder Aikikai for many years. I am truly sorry to see him go.

10-20-2008, 10:57 AM
Robby seemed to light everybody's life up. He will be sorely missed. We are all in shock.

10-30-2008, 11:10 PM
I only got to train w/Robby a few times while visiting Jiai, and I will treasure those memories. What a great training partner and human being. Very sad to see him go.

10-31-2008, 12:20 PM
Didn't know Robby well, but you didn't have to to love him at first sight. Always cheerful and friendly and up. Trained hard. Strove for precision. Impeccable demeanor. Never heard a negative word from him. Very sad. Doubly so--he took his own life, in answer to the question above. Very sad.

Dan Rubin
10-31-2008, 05:22 PM
In other words, at the same time that Robby was acting cheerful and positive on the outside, he was being tormented by demons on the inside. That will be my memory of him.

You're right, Don. How very sad.

11-10-2008, 12:37 PM
Since it was posted he took his own life, this needs to be addressed. Robby was dealing with some things in his life, the details I'm not aware of and should not be speculated about. He was on a medication and was exhibiting some of the side effects. This troubled his doctor and was being weened off of the drug.

Suicidal thoughts is a known side effect of the drug, however he had not expressed any of these thoughts to his family, friends, or doctor. When he took his life, it was very unexpected and from what I gather, impulsive and probably had a lot more to do with the medication than anything else.

A tragedy for him and everyone who knew Robby.

11-10-2008, 01:01 PM
Here is a photo of Robby that really sums up his Aikido.

This is how I remember him.

Ron Tisdale
11-10-2008, 01:40 PM
Thank you for your post, and my condolances on your loss.