Interview with Yamada Sensei, 2008

Editor’s Note: This interview was first published in Aikido East in January 2009)

What would be the one thing you would like to impart to all Aikido students.

I would like people to aim for a higher level of Aikido through fun and positive practice.

How has teaching affected your progress throughout your Aikido career?

Because I started teaching early, I think I progressed more while I was teaching rather than while training. I understand the learner’s perspective, and having a broader view, I was able to tackle matters more positively.

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Black Vortex – An Interview With Yamada Sensei

Translated by Masako Nakatsugawa from a Japanese Magazine 2004

Editor’s Note: This interview was first published in Aikido East, the newsletter of the USAF Eastern Region. Photo courtesy of Jaime Kahn.

Would you tell us what prompted you to start Aikido?

When I was a child, before Aikido opened to the public, I had heard about it from my uncle, Tadashi Abe. I even had the privilege of seeing O-Sensei’s demonstration at someone’s residence. He gave the demonstration in black kimono; it seemed as if I was watching a black vortex whirling around. Since then I wanted to do Aikido, and when I entered a University, Kisshomaru Sensei (Doshu) kindly let me in as an uchideshi. So in my case, the first day of my Aikido was the first day as an uchideshi.

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Inside Aikido Part 2: Interview with Yoshimitsu Yamada, 8th dan

by Peter Bernath, 7th dan & David Halprin, 6th dan

Part two: Coming to the United States

Sensei, how did it come about that you came to the United States?

There were a lot of reasons really. Number one because of the language. I already spoke English, not as good as now but some. That’s one reason. Secondly, I had been teaching American people at the American military bases in Japan so I was pretty familiar with the American people’s mentality. And also, I wanted to come to New York. I knew that New York was my kind of town.

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Inside Aikido: Interview with Yoshimitsu Yamada, 8th dan

by Peter Bernath, 7th dan & David Halprin, 6th dan

Editor’s note: This interview with Yamada Sensei was conducted during the 1998 USAF Eastern Region Summer Camp at the University of New Hampshire. It is the first part of an extensive interview. Here, in his characteristically frank and colorful way, Yamada Sensei recalls his early days as an uchi deshi at Hombu Dojo.

Part one: The uchi deshi years at Hombu dojo

Sensei, the first thing we wanted to ask you about is your history in Aikido. Your personal history, why you started Aikido and how that came about.

I started because of my relative Tadashi Abe Sensei. He was an uchi deshi of O-Sensei in the early days. Because of him I knew about O-Sensei and Aikido.

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An Interview with Kanai Sensei

By Julien Neves-Pelchat, Aikido de la Montagne, Montreal, Canada
(reviewed by Helena Neves-Pelchat, Julien’s mother)

My name is Julien, I am 10 years old and I’ve been practicing Aikido for a year. I have passed my yellow belt exam and I am now working hard for my orange belt.

I love Aikido. During my life, I’ve had the opportunity of visiting different Aikido dojos and I’ve always been impressed at seeing the different techniques and the amazing tobiukemi.

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A Thought on Reigi Saho

by Mitsunari Kanai

Fundamental Philosophy of Reigi

The motivating principle of human survival, based upon the instinctual needs of food and sex, is power. The ability to effectively use power is crucial for the sustenance of life itself. The technology of fighting, pre-modern and modern, is an expression of this power, and the human race has survived to this point in history because of the ability to properly use this power. In fact, the development of this technology has given rise to new ideas, scientific advances, civilization, and culture. The basic principle of power is deeply rooted in life itself, and it is still the basis of human society as we know it today.

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Kanai Sensei Speaks in Ireland

by R.A. Whelan

Note by R.A. Whelan:

I had the good fortune of traveling to Dublin, Ireland to attend Kanai Sensei’s seminar at Trinity College. The event was organized by John Rogers, 5th Dan, head of the Irish Aikido Federation. It was a terrific seminar (or rather it was “grand” or “brilliant”) with much goodwill shared by the many international attendees.

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Arms and The Man: Sugano Sensei and Arms Training

by Skip Short, New York Aikikai

“There are so many different types of knowledge in the world. Aikido is only one of them. It is unrealistic to consider Aikido as the end of our search for knowledge. And in Aikido we should still be searching for what Aikido is and why we are practicing.”

So said Seiichi Sugano as we started our discussions. I was surprised and intrigued. I had expected from his demeanor in the dojo and on the mat that Sugano Sensei would portray Aikido as a discipline with spiritual aspects and the potential for serving as a catalyst for learning in one’s own life.

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Reflections on Budo

by T.K. Chiba, 8th Dan, Shihan

Editor’s Note:  Thanks to David Birt for allowing us to reproduce this article.

Introduction by David Birt, Chief Instructor of The Davis Aikikai
The following dialog is printed with the permission of Chiba Sensei and takes the form of an exchange between Chiba Sensei and the editor of the Aikido Journal, Stanley Pranin.  I have read the views expressed in this dialog in other essays written by Chiba Sensei and consider these insights extremely valuable.
In particular, I feel the reader should pay close attention to Chiba Sensei’s apt analogy between Aikido and a tree, hopefully a living and vibrant tree.  Only by understanding ourselves as part of a greater whole can we rid ourselves of the intolerance that threatens to fragment contemporary Aikido into separate schools, each of which feels they represent the “truest” manifestation of O-Sensei’s budo.

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Discovering the Body

by T.K. Chiba, 8th dan

Anyone who thinks that putting more hours into training will necessarily result in greater achievement in Aikido, is thinking like a child. Fundamentally, this materialistic attitude does not lead anywhere but to an insoluble problem. No matter how many hours of training we accumulate, we cannot avoid moving, day by day, closer to the grave.

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