Tag Archives: aikikai

Interview with Aikido Shihan Yoshimitsu Yamada, Part 2

Yoshimitsu Yamada in Hawaii 2011Yoshimitsu Yamada at Aikido Celebration Hawaii 2011
the 50th Anniversary of O-Sensei’s 1961 visit to Hawaii
Pat Hendricks taking ukemi

Yoshimitsu Yamada was sent to the United States in 1964 by the Aikikai in order to help spread and develop Aikido in America. He was followed by Mitsunari Kanai Sensei, Akira Tohei Sensei and Kazuo Chiba Sensei, whose cooperation eventually led to the formation of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF).

In the introduction to Part 1 of this interview below I spoke a little bit about my personal connection with Yamada Sensei, but there is one more personal connection that I have not yet mentioned.

Takeshi YamashimaTaking ukemi for Takeshi Yamashima
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden – 2011

Takeshi Yamashima was a long time student of Seigo Yamaguchi, and is famous for his soft, yet powerful, style of Aikido. He has been a regular at Hombu Dojo’s morning classes for many years and instructs at a number of dojo in the Tokyo area. He also holds a license in Yagyu Shinkage-ryu Kenjutsu.

I trained with him in Japan for three years, starting in 2000, and after returning to the United States I invited him to come to Hawaii. He has been visiting us in the Hawaiian Islands every year since 2004.

Takeshi Yamashima’s first Aikido teacher was….Yoshimitsu Yamada. As a young Hombu Dojo uchi-deshi Yamada Sensei was dispatched to oversee the instruction at the university dojo where Yamashima Sensei started Aikido!

This is the first part of an interview that originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan. You may with to read Part 1 of the interview before reading this section

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), and Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2).

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Interview with Aikido Shihan Yoshimitsu Yamada, Part 1

Yoshimitsu Yamada KauaiYoshimitsu Yamada on Kauai, Hawaii in 1966
seated between Hawaii Aikikai instructors Yukiso Yamamoto and Sadao Yoshioka

Yoshimitsu Yamada was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1938, entered Aikikai Hombu Dojo as an uchi-deshi in 1956 and was dispatched to New York to aid the development of Aikido in the United States in 1964, the year that I was born.

I last saw him in 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the 50th anniversary celebration of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s 1961 visit to Hawaii. He didn’t remember me then, but we had met previously at the New York Aikikai in 1982. Of course, he had no idea who I was then, either, but I had wandered into the New York Aikikai to ask about going to Japan to study Aikido at Aikikai Hombu Dojo. I was eighteen years old when I went to Hombu with him that fall, the same age that Yoshimitsu Yamada was when he began studying Aikido.

At the time I had been studying Aikido with Frank Hreha and Mitsugi Saotome of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, with whom he had been having an ongoing, and sometimes acrimonious, dispute. I was blissfully unaware of the background drama, and he never mentioned it, instead offering to take me to Japan with him on his next trip. Despite having met me scant minutes before, he immediately set me up with his travel agent, who arranged a visa with Yamada Sensei’s mother as my guarantor.

When we got to Japan he set me up with a room in a small Minshuku (a boarding house) in Wakamatsu-cho, and then took me to help get enrolled at the dojo. After which….I didn’t see him for many years. I eventually returned to the United States, and continued to train with Mitsugi Saotome and ASU – but I will always remember his kindness to an unknown fifth-kyu walking in off the street with extreme gratitude.

This is the first part of an interview that originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of Gekkan Hiden (月刊秘伝 / “Secret Teachings Monthly”), a well known martial arts magazine in Japan.

This interview was also published in a collection of interviews with students of the Founder published in Japanese as 開祖の横顔 (“Profiles of the Founder”) in 2009. There was a short introduction to this work in the article “Morihei Ueshiba – Profiles of the Founder“. A number of English translations of interviews from that collection appeared have appeared previously – Nobuyoshi Tamura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Hiroshi Isoyama Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Shigenobu Okumura Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), Nobuyuki Watanabe Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2), and Masatake Fujita Sensei (Part 1 | Part 2).

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Four Generations of the Ueshiba Family

Mitsuteru Ueshiba

Chris Li translating for Mitsuteru Ueshiba Waka-sensei
Waikiki Yacht Club, Honolulu Hawaii – February 2010

Aikido and the Aikikai, where does it go from here?

Mitsuteru Ueshiba (Waka-Sensei), the great-grandson of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba, made his first visit to Hawaii in February 2010.

Personally, I have been able to train under three generations of the Ueshiba family – some people at that seminar, and many of my instructors, have trained with all four, starting with O-Sensei to Kisshomaru Doshu to Moriteru Doshu to Mitsuteru Waka-Sensei.

Waka-Sensei himself is the first generation of the Ueshiba family teaching Aikido who did not have a chance to meet the Founder.

Among those practicing Aikido worldwide there are many people holding Dan ranks today who hadn’t even begun Aikido when Kisshomaru Doshu passed away.

This means that we are finally getting far enough away from the origin to see what has (and hasn’t) worked organizationally, and for the traditional ties that have bound Aikido together to this time to come to a pivotal transition point. Continue reading »

Aikido en het Onbekende [Dutch Version]

武産合気

“Takemusu Aiki” by Morihei Ueshiba, edited by Hideo Takahashi

*This is a Dutch translation of the article “Aikido and the Unknown – What don’t we know and why don’t we know it…“, courtesy of Ernesto Lemke of Seikokan Aikido.

Wat we niet weten en waarom we het niet weten….

Toen Sam Chin vorig jaar Hawaii bezocht vertelde hij ons (samengevat) dat het niet zo slecht is om niet te weten – zolang je maar weet dat je niet weet. Dat sloeg bij mij echt de juiste snaar– is dit niet waar het probleem daadwerkelijk begint?

Toen ik met Aikido begon was er erg weinig informatie beschikbaar (in het Engels). Wat er wel voor handen was – zo weten we inmiddels- was een gekuiste versie. Hier is een goed voorbeeld van de Aikido Journal website en hier een ander van Meik Skoss op de Koryu.com website. Vergeleken met nu waren er veel minder buitenlanders die Japans spraken, laat staan dat zij de originele Japanse bronnen konden lezen. Daar kwam bij dat de meeste Japanners een min of meer uniforme versie van de geschiedenis en bijzonderheden van Aikido presenteerden.

Tegenwoordig zijn er echter honderden boeken over Aikido beschikbaar in het Engels – en andere talen – dus wat is het probleem?  Continue reading »

Aikido Shihan Hiroshi Tada: The Budo Body, Part 6

藤本洋二、鏡開き

Hiroshi Tada Sensei with Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu as Yoji Fujimoto receives promotion to 8th Dan
Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Kagami Biraki 2010
Fujimoto moved to Italy in 1970 to assist Tada in developing Aikido in Italy

Never read books on archery. Never criticize another persons technique.

This is part 6 of the English translation of an interview in Japanese with Hiroshi Tada. You may want to read the previous sections first:

Part 1: explore Tada Sensei’s samurai ancestry and his encounters with Shotokan Karate Founder Gichin Funakoshi.

Part 2: find out how Hiroshi Tada met Shin-Shin Toitsu-Do Founder Tempu Nakamura.

Part 3: discover Tada Sensei’s thoughts on “telepathy” training.

Part 4: read Tada Sensei’s thoughts on Japanese Budo and Kata training.

Part 5: learn about the most influential person in the history of Japan, and their relationship to Japanese Budo.

You may also be interested in “The Day I Entered Ueshiba Dojo“, in which Hiroshi Tada recounts his first encounter with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei.

You may notice that the tone of the interview is quite conversational. This is the way that it appears in the original Japanese – the original was not heavily edited, with the result being that the natural conversational tone was preserved. However, this also means that the discussion is sometimes less focused then a more heavily edited interview would be.  Continue reading »