Farewell to a Friend
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.