"musubi," or "connection"--a seminar with horii shihan

February 1, 2011

Our Tendokan Dojo welcomed Etsuji Horii Shihan from Kobe, Japan for a two-day seminar over the weekend August 21-22. In addition to the seminar, Horii Shihan taught our regular classes on Friday and Monday as well.

One thing Horii Shihan repeated both in the seminar and in the classes was “musubi”—the idea of connection with one’s partner. Staying “connected” with my partner has been difficult for me both in uke and tori. Although I know the whole body must move from the center in accordance to the flow of the technique, I often feel as if there’s some blockage right around where my hand meets my partner, making the area from my hand to my shoulder rather rigid.

For whatever reason, hearing the word in Japanese gave me a new image about staying connected with my partner during a technique. Musubi can be translated as “tying” (as in an obi, or a rope), and is also used for the idea of “union” (it is the first character in the characters for “wedding,” which ties into the idea of “blending” that Sensei often mentions). Whereas my image (due to my insufficient understanding of the concept) of staying connected with my partner was a stiff, stick-meets-stick type of a picture, I now have an image that it is more dynamic and flexible, like a rope, and this has given me a kind of breakthrough in how I stay connected both in uke and tori.

This was a concrete reminder that many points of entry exist for absorbing and understanding Aikido. It may be a word, a physical movement, a spatial orientation, or yet, something else. I hope my training will deepen so I can become ever more open to those points of entry into a revelation/discovery. ––James Yaegashi

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