Musubi

When someone practices the martial arts, they typically wear a dogi and use a belt (obi) to tie it closed. The Japanese word we use to explain the knot in this obi is pronounced "musubi," which is actually a very common word for Japanese people.

It's actually so common that not only do we use the word "musubi" to describe the knots we tie, but in fact, "onigiri" rice balls can also be called "omusubi". There's also a story about why we call balls of rice "onigiri," but for today let's just focus on why they're called "omusubi." The word "musu" means "to produce" something. And the word "Bi" 'means power. So the reason that we call a rice ball "omusubi" is because we get power from eating them. This also may explain why we feel more powerful after we tie the belts of our dogi at the beginning of each practice.


There is an old movie about a woman named Hatsujo Sato who has been called "the Mother Theresa of Japan" because she would give homemade rice balls to people who came asking for help after reaching their limit in life. The people who were given these rice balls were said to have been saved from their troubles after eating them. It's possible that the power from these "Omusubi" made with loving care for others may have also healed their hearts as well.


When we write 'omusubi' using kanji characters, it is written as 御結び . The kanji character 結 typically means "to connect, gather, harden, or fasten". But it also has a meaning of "people who work together".


In many aspects of our lives, we work together with others to achieve something and gain power doing so. Most often we do this naturally, without ever paying conscious attention to this process. When we create relationships with other people or things, we call these relationships "en" in Japanese. We also say that we tie these relationships together ("en wo musubu"). For example Sato-san and the people who came to see her for help had a chance to eat her rice balls because they were connected (or tied together) through this "en".


I am deeply grateful for all of these elements o“musubi, ” and when I tie my belt tightly around my dogi for practice, I'll keep the motto of Chiseikan, "Learn together, help each other, grow together" in my heart and do my best in the few remaining practices we have this year.


I hope you all have a healthy and happy New Year!

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