Yamada Sensei

Video: Yamada Sensei’s memorial seminar – Bernau 2023

Yamada Sensei passed away

Dear Aikido Community,

It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of our beloved teacher, Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan.

Yamada Sensei died peacefully on Sunday, January 15, 2023 under the care of doctors at Mount Sinai Hospital with his family by his side.
Private funeral arrangements are being made by Sensei’s family. Please respect their privacy during this difficult time.

The New York Aikikai will hold a memorial at a later date that will be open to all who loved and learned from him. We know many of you will want to express your sympathies in some manner. We will make some appropriate suggestions shortly.

Yamada Sensei arrived in New York City in 1964 to become chief instructor at the New York Aikikai. He started aikido at age 17 at honbu dojo, Aikikai Headquarters, as an uchi deshi (live-in student) to O Sensei. He not only built the NY Aikikai into a world-class aikido school but he helped spread the relatively unknown marital art into a thriving community throughout the US, and later on, internationally. A great proponent of individuality and full-hearted training, his classes soared with the harmony and power of a symphony, inspiring all to give their best.
The NY Aikikai will remain open as Yamada Sensei wished. He loved nothing more than big classes with high spirits, so please honor him by training as you would if he were leading class. His amazing energy and generosity of spirit will be there on the mat for all of us.

Yoshimitsu Yamada
February 17, 1938 – January 15, 2023

The New York Aikikai Board of Directors

Yamada Sensei’s message for Sansuikai

Dear members,

I would like to take this opportunity to send my regards to all of you.

The long awaited spring has come and the pandemic is hopefully slowing down. Many students have started coming back on the mat. Needless to say, this makes me very happy and I’m proud of you for your patience and strong mind.

The NYA and I are doing fine; however, I’m sorry to say that I need some time to get back in shape after the long lay off.

Please continue to be careful. I hope to see you and hug you soon.

Y. Yamada

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!!