Yamada Sensei – to the members with gratitude

Yoshimitsu Yamada
US Aikido Federation

I am writing this at a small park in front of my apartment. It’s 7 am. Beside me, some ten doves are pecking at bread crumbs. Every now and then, a brave sparrow couple dares to intrude. What a heart-warming sight! Were I given a cup of Italian espresso and a Cuban cigar, it would be beyond my bliss! But, under the current circumstances … When the birds retreat to their nap, the park may find a lonesome man dancing in a frenzy to his smart-phone music while, away on a bench young lovers, sitting 6 feet apart, may still affirm their love.

To our generation who never knew the Spanish flu of 100 years ago, the “Corona attack” was a horror no one had experienced to date. Saying this in the past tense sounds as if the issue has come to an end, but unfortunately, we must still fear and be ready for a second and third wave. Bearing this firmly in mind, let me tell you how we have faced and coped with this catastrophe.

Please allow me to begin with a personal experience. In February every year, I go to Japan to take care of both personal and official business. It was the same this February. At that time, I had heard about the corona virus, but I was not aware that we were in any immediate danger. However, when I checked in at my usual hotel, I noticed something was amiss. February is China’s New Year, but the Chinese tourist groups that normally fill the hotels were strangely absent. Then, having learned the news of infections on a cruise ship, I immediately decided to return to the US. Alas, the corona virus traveled faster than me, and upon return I found New York under an emergency order. In March, we were told to stay home and close our Dojo. Frankly, at this point, I felt that this would be like a vacation, but for more than two months now I have been inundated with phone calls and letters that required my attention (never mind vacation). Then my thoughts were full of “negatives” – declining Aikido membership, financial problems with the dojo, disappointing cancelation of domestic and international summer camps as well as more than a dozen training sessions, etc. that I look forward to and enjoy. Most painfully, I learned about the passing of our members and their loved ones due to Covid-19.

When I felt the most despair, it was the very people whose future I worried about that helped lift my spirit. Nearly every day I received phone calls of encouragement from members around the US and the world. Hearing their words, I was happy they felt a part of the Dojo, that Dojo is theirs; further, I was touched by the passion they have for Aikido and the affection they feel for Dojo and Sensei, i.e., me. As time went on, they came together which led to their developing an on-line class program. This act by Aikido members reaffirmed for me how important Aikido, Dojo and students are to me. All this made me very proud of them. They are my treasures. The corona episode, which initially made me feel so negative, has in the end made me appreciate the positives. Thank you all! Let us persevere together! You and I have Aikido!!

Yamada Sensei’s message for Sansuikai

Dear Sansuikai Members,

All of us in the aikido community have been affected by COVID-19. It seems like almost all dojos have closed either voluntarily or by government orders. It is hard for me to have the NY Aikikai closed but we must do our part to help and make sure our students stay safe. Many of you have been kind to call or write to see how I am. I want to assure you all that I am in good health – but very bored – and I am looking forward to the time we will all be able to train again. Hopefully we will be able to do so at next seminar (Madrid and Lyon seminars are cancelled).

Please take care of yourself and your family.
With big hug and kiss.

Y. Yamada

Bernau 2019

Group photo from Bernau summer camp by Gabor Megyesi.

Dan tests update

The examination requirements for USAF/Sansuikai for the kyu and dan degrees can be found here. The requirements for kyu depend on the dojo. These for dan degrees are mandatory for all Sansuikai members.

For dan test You must fill up Aikikai documentation. Please read the text below before proceeding to complete the documentation!

Each examinee is required to fill in the electronic form, print it out and provide it to the Yamada Sensei. Person applying for Shodan completes ‘Shodan application form’. Those who are applying for Nidan or above fill ‘Nidan or above application form’. Each document contains few sheets.

Yamada Sensei will accept dan application forms 2 times a year from now on, May and August. So the best time to take a test is seminar in Mallorca or in Bernau. If You have application forms before May or August, You have to hold them until then.

Important instructions on how to complete the documentation (mandatory):

  • All fields in the form must be typed (do not hand writing). Filled application form must be printed and then signed by applicant.
  • Do not forget to put number of attendance days after Your last test (right up corner). You should put only practicing days – days You spent on the mat since last test. For minimum number of days refer to the USAF test requirements. For example, if You practice 3 times a week, during the year, You have approximately 156 practicing days per year. According to the USAF requirements for Shodan You must have 300 practicing days. It means You have to practice 2 years, 3 times a week after 1st kyu.
  • Name of organization is: USAF/Sansuikai,
  • All dates must be in the format DD/MMM/YEAR, e.g: 24/AUG/2019
  • At “present rank information” put the place and date of Your last test,
  • If You are taking test in Bernau 2019 at “date of examination” please put 24/AUG/2019,
  • Examiner’s name: Yoshimitsu Yamada
  • Do not fill field called “For Aikikai Use” (left up corner),
  • Do not fill fields “Examination Fee” and “Registration fee”.
  • For Shodan do not fill “Aikikai membership No.” and “Date of Aikikai registration”. Only for Nidan and above You fill up this fields (number and the date You could find in Your Yudansha Book).

Please print Your forms, and do not forget to put Your signature at all documents.

For Shodan You fill up sheets “Shodan form 1″ and “SHODAN FORM 2&3.Enrol&Y-book” from this document:

Shodan application form

For Nidan and up you fill up only 1 sheet on the bottom “2ND, 3RD, 4TH DAN FORM 1″:

Nidan or above application form

Test Prices:

  • 1 Dan: $200
  • 2 Dan: $200
  • 3 Dan: $250
  • 4 Dan: $400
  • 5 Dan: $1000
  • 6 Dan: $1200

2019 Kagamibiraki promotions

On the 13th of January, Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba made the announcement of the grading recommendations and held the award ceremony for the promotions. We are pleased to inform that Roberto Bollero has been promoted to 7 dan. Congratulations!

Alain Salée has passed away

We are very sorry to hear about the loss of one of our Sansuikai teachers, Alain Salée, 7th dan Aikikai, chief instructor of Aikikai Verviers, Santan Ryu. He died age 79.

We met Alain many years ago at the yearly summer camp in La Colle-sur-Loup in France, to which he went many times to study aikido with Tamura sensei and Yamada sensei.

Alain was one of the aikido pioneers in Belgium and one of the longest active aikido practitioners in Belgium. He started practicing Judo back in 1952. We’re not entirely sure about when he started aikido but probably that was around 1960. He studied with Noro sensei, Tamura sensei, Yamada Sensei, Sugano sensei and Asai Sensei, among others and taught aikido in Verviers in Belgium.

As a profession he was a policeman. Once retired, he build a new dojo in Verviers and continued to teach aikido there until his death in 2018. He was a respected example of an aikido practitioner dedicating his life to studying and teaching Aikido.

You can read an interview with him in the Aikido Journal (French version) from 2005.

Rest in peace, Alain.

2018 Kagamibiraki promotions



On the 14th of January, Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba made the announcement of the grading recommendations and held the award ceremony for the promotions.

From Sansuikai Europe:
Salee Alain 7 Dan
Aziz Belhassane 7 Dan
Yavor Mihaylov 6 Dan
Alessandro Chiancone 6 Dan
Jules McGough 5 Dan
David Ross 5 Dan

New Shihans:
Jochen Maier Shihan (6 Dan)
Roberto Bollero Shihan (6 Dan)
Jisch (J.J.) Scheuren Shihan (6 Dan)
Peter Van Marcke Shihan (6 Dan)
Dariusz Zieba Shihan (6 Dan)


Message for 2018 from Yamada sensei

Dear Sansuikai members in Europe,

Happy New Year and I hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas.
I understand that you are having a very cold winter so please keep yourself warm.

Now another new year and I hope it is going to be a wonderful and productive year for you. As for myself, I will be 80 years old but I will try my best to work for you in many ways. However, it is too much for me to visit each of your countries so please try your best to come to see me wherever I go this year.

Y. Yamada

Yamada Sensei’s message for Sansuikai members


Dear Sansuikai members,

I wish all of you a happy, happy new year.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support and the wonderful moments you have given me throughout the year.

I imagine that every one of you will make a new year’s resolution.
My resolution is to have another healthy, positive year in order to meet your expectations.
I hope you also have a good year and go back to your “Shoshin”, that translates roughly to “Back to the original motivation or pure motivation”.

I imagine that you were so happy only to practice Aikido when you started an Aikido life. Please always carry that pure mind with you.

Looking forward to seeing you again in 2017 whenever and wherever it may be. I love you all.

Y. Yamada

Message from Yamada Sensei!

Dear Aikido Community,
It has been four weeks since my operation and I am finally back in my office at the New York Aikikai. Once again I surprised my doctors with how fast I have recovered. They have given me a clean bill of health and have told me I can even travel by plane now.
Thanks to everyone for your support and good wishes. All of that has given me a lot of positive energy toward my recovery.
However, since even Superman gets old and doesn’t recover from kryptonite so fast, I will still need about another month before I can be back teaching.
I am anxious to get back and see all of you on the mat again.
Y. Yamada