View Full Version : George Leonard Sensei Passes Away

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Janet Rosen
01-06-2010, 11:26 AM
I am informed by Paul Rest that George Leonard passed away this morning.

A year starts, the wheel turns, a teacher passes, the world continues....we pause to remember.

01-06-2010, 11:43 AM
My heart goes out to him. I loved training with him, he is/was a wonderful person! He will be missed.

01-06-2010, 11:53 AM
Condolences to the Leonard family, and to all who knew Leonard Sensei.

His contributions to Aikido will always be treasured.

AikiWeb System
01-06-2010, 11:59 AM
Posted 2010-01-06 11:58:30 by Jun Akiyama
News URL: http://www.tam-aikido.org

I have received a report that George Leonard sensei of Aikido of Tamalpais has passed away. Born in 1923, Leonard sensei was the author of aikido-related books such as "The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei" and "Mastery" as well as many non-aikido books and articles. He held a fifth dan in aikido and taught at the Aikido of Tamalpais dojo in Marin County, CA. An interview with him may be found here (http://www.aikiweb.com/interviews/leonard0400.html).

My condolences go out to his friends, family, students, and loved ones.

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01-06-2010, 12:16 PM
his book 'the silent pulse' was one of the first i read when i started studying.

rest in peace

01-06-2010, 12:39 PM
My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family...I am looking at copies of his books on my bookshelves as I write this.


William Hazen

01-06-2010, 03:15 PM
He wrote some good books and contributed a lot to other educational programs that have greatly benefited me and many other Aikidoka.

01-06-2010, 03:55 PM
Condolences to the family on behalf of Calgary Aikikai, in Canada.

I first read "The Silent Pulse" and "The Ultimate Athlete" while in university. George inspired me then as and educator and an amateur athlete and later ( many years later!) when I started aikido ten years ago at age 49 when I rediscovered him in hakama.

One of my goals was to travel down to Aikido of Tamalpais to practice at his dojo and I still plan to do that in his honor.

Thanks for the words and example.

01-06-2010, 09:18 PM
Condolences from Aikido of Midland.

01-06-2010, 10:09 PM
Very sorry to hear this. His books and his students will carry on as he rests.

01-06-2010, 10:41 PM
Here is an article/tribute to George Leonard sensei written by Paul Rest:


-- Jun

Shannon Frye
01-06-2010, 10:47 PM
Condolences from Aikido Fellowship in Va. We will remember him in our prayers.

Mark Uttech
01-07-2010, 05:52 AM
There is always a respectful silence when a warrior falls.
The sound of the wind travelling through the trees is enough.
Condolences to the family.

In gassho,


raul rodrigo
01-07-2010, 06:11 AM
My own training was influenced by his book of his such as The Way of Aikido and Mastery. I made it a point to train in Tam dojo when I was in the Bay area back in 2005, hoping to meet him. But by then, unfortunately, he was no longer teaching.

01-07-2010, 10:33 AM
Here is an article in the Marin Independent Journal on George Leonard sensei's passing:


-- Jun

01-07-2010, 10:34 AM
I have several of his books.
Trained with him once.
A great man.
A great loss.

01-07-2010, 10:42 AM
Another article in the San Francisco Chronicle on George Leonard sensei's passing:


-- Jun

Robert Cowham
01-08-2010, 03:28 AM
I continue to enjoy his books and made a point of visiting Aikido of Tamalpais on a couple of business trips to San Francisco, and was able to train in 2 or 3 of his classes.

I particularly remember a casual lunch with him and some others after class at a local cafe - what an engaging, interesting and yet humble man.

He leaves a great legacy.

ze'ev erlich
01-08-2010, 09:56 PM
We are deeply saddened to hear about the death George Leonard Sensei.
Israeli Aikido Association - Aikikai

George S. Ledyard
01-10-2010, 02:06 PM
George Leonard was one of the real pioneers. When I started Aikido his writings were really the only things written about Aikido from an American perspective. His ability to express things in words gave a vividness to things that made them seem larger than life and very inspirational.

As I started to teach and write I found myself wishing that someday someone would go up to Leonard Sensei and tell him how much they loved what he wrote on-line... having had countless occasions in which I had to explain that no, I hadn't actually written any books, that was George Leonard!. I doubt it ever happened, George Leonard was a teacher of a different stature entirely. It would be hard to over estimate how much he effected our Aikido community and impossible to assess how much he helped Aikido in the US to grow the way it did.

George Leonard's passing is a milestone. His confidence that one man's efforts could bring about positive change stand as a model for the rest of us. He touched a lot of hearts along the way.

01-11-2010, 04:09 PM
The first time I ever saw the name, "George Ledyard" on this message board, I thought it was George Leonard having fun. It didn't take me long to notice their different writing styles, so I figured out that Ledyard Sensei is his own person.

I have seen one photo of Leonard Sensei in one of his books. I have read "Mastery" and "The Way of Aikido: Life Lessons from an American Sensei." With incredible pleasure, reading his literary works, particularly the latter, He became this grandfather-esque figure to me, yet on the verge of superhuman. As an author myself, it was difficult for me to imagine such a skill set that he had when it came to communicating with the reader with such a casual intelligence. George Leonard Sensei is probably one of two authors I've read who speaks with me instead of toward me. The only other I can think of who seems to create a mutual understanding of personality is the Nobel laureate Hermann Hesse.

I'm sending you a Hello, Sensei! My best guess is you are now existing in a spiritual afterlife, laughing at all of us because you know that in different periods of time - and each relatively short when compared to eternity - we'll all be sharing in bliss.

Love, Respect, Gratitude,
Ai to Rei to Arigatou,
Drew kohai

reyne caritativo
01-12-2010, 10:27 PM
Read his book, The Way Of Aikido and liked it. A Westerner's view and experience of an eastern art. Never met the Man in person and wished I did before he passed away...Rest in peace fellow aikidoka.

01-14-2010, 08:46 PM
Here's a memoriam for George Leonard sensei from Esalen:


-- Jun

01-16-2010, 03:38 PM
That's an excellent and comprehensive page on Leonard Sensei. Thank you for finding it, Jun. I remember reading about LET, but I had no idea that so many people had at least tried it or stuck with it. I guess over here in the southern tip of Florida, I don't hear enough about what's going on along the Pacific. I really wish I could have met him even just for a few seconds. Maybe in my further life 80 years from now. Nevermind, I'm a smoker. 79 years!


01-18-2010, 01:07 AM
I just came across this obituary for George Leonard sensei in the New York Times:


-- Jun

01-18-2010, 11:02 AM
I now know even more about this man who has inspired me for a decade. I remember venturing into the woods at a quiet historic site in Tallahassee with Mastery in my hands. I found a bench in the middle of nowhere and - surrounded by quiet forest - read the book. His writing style and content are so clearly nonthreatening that I could just let it all in with no fear of wrongful advice. That was a special time for me because I had just started Aikido, and I had begun exploring spirituality in a meaningful manner. When later I found his The Way of Aikido, browsing the martial arts section of a store, I wasn't looking for it because I didn't know about it. As soon as I saw the title, subtitle, and George Leonard Sensei's name, I knew immediately I would purchase it. Sitting on another park bench in another quiet Tally park, this book both fascinated and enriched me greatly. I hold Saotome et al.'s Aikido and the Harmony of Nature as the greatest work of nonfiction not because the writing is superior to Leonard Sensei's, but because it is so vastly epic in scope. Plus, I don't find enough books these days with excellent illustrations sharing deep metaphors and meanings. Leonard Sensei was a student of Saotome's, although I have no clue as to any writing collaboration between them or even how close they were as student-teacher or as "heterarchial," to use a word I learned from Leonard Sensei, friends.

Thank you again, Jun. I hope to still be able to learn more about this generous and brilliant Aikdioka.

With so many magazines out there about Hollywood celebrites, popular musicians devoid of deeply meaningful songs, and clothing fashion, do magazines portraying people unheard of on a massive scale even exist? How many people would buy them anyway? What if my neighbor or friend did something courageous that only I knew about. Only I would know about it.


01-18-2010, 03:36 PM
I just came across this obituary for George Leonard sensei in the New York Times:


-- Jun

Thank you, Jun.

Thank YOU, Mr. Leonard.

Boris Spassky
02-13-2010, 09:34 PM


Peter Gombeski
04-25-2010, 02:21 PM
I'm very saddened at the loss.

His The Way of Aikido was one of the most influential books I've read. Thank you for the lessons.

Peter Gombeski

Mike Mittelstadt
04-25-2010, 03:06 PM
The first discussion of aikido that I ever saw was in a second-hand copy of Mr. Leonard's book, "The Ultimate Athlete," which I bought in the mid-1980s. I was instantly intrigued although I did not enroll at an aikido school until 2000. Nevertheless I have found George Leonard Sensei's writings inspiring all along. "The Way of Aikido," which I bought about five years ago, is one of my favorites. The art has lost a true master.