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AikiWeb System 04-15-2019 07:39 AM

Watahiki Yoshifumi, Student of the Founder, Passes Away
Posted 2019-04-13 17:41:21 by Carl Thompson

It is with great regret that I must inform the aikido community of the passing of Watahiki Yoshifumi Shihan. Born in 1937 in Iwama, Ibaraki Prefecture, Watahiki Sensei entered the aikido founder’s dojo in 1949 at the age of twelve. He is one of the last few aikido teachers in the world to have trained on a regular basis as a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba, over a period spanning twenty years. Rising to the rank of seventh dan, Watahiki Sensei taught aikido in the founder’s dojo (the present day Ibaraki Branch Dojo) as well as the children’s class in Iwama Budokan. For those of us who had the honor of knowing him, this is a devastating loss of an ageless, indomitable figure in former Iwama Town. He was always rushing around the dojo, repairing things, building things, cooking, cleaning and of course teaching, with a youthful vigor that left uchi deshi less than half his age struggling to keep up. He seemed superhuman to us, indestructible, and so his death comes as a great shock. He passed away on the morning of the 8th of April, 2019 at 81 years of age. after being admitted to hospital the week before for tests. It was discovered that Sensei had late-stage intestinal cancer. He leaves behind a large family, including many devoted aikido students. His traditional ‘tsuya’ vigil and funeral were held on April 11 and 12 respectively. People traveled from across Japan and as far away as the US to attend. He will always be in our hearts.

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Aviv 04-15-2019 03:32 PM

Re: Watahiki Yoshifumi, Student of the Founder, Passes Away
Condolences to his family and students.
May Peace be with his spirit.

Ethan Weisgard 04-17-2019 01:51 AM

Re: Watahiki Yoshifumi, Student of the Founder, Passes Away
My deepest condolences to Watahiki Sensei's family on his passing from this world.

Watahiki Sensei embodied the spirit of the Iwama Dojo. He was kind, hardworking and strict. His strictness came with warmth of spirit. He was strict because he felt for the responsibilities that belong to being a part of the Iwama Dojo - it's history and legacy. He came to the dojo every day, working hard to keep it looking nice and presentable.

Watahiki Sensei was a great carpenter and builder. He was constantly working and building something every time I saw him. The Iwama Dojo as it appears today owes very much to Watahiki Sensei's hard work.

Watahiki Sensei was a great cook. He cooked very often for the many Dojo parties that are such an integral part of our Iwama Dojo life. I have so many wonderful memories of the delicious dishes he prepared for us - his Katsuo Tatataki was especially good!

Watahiki Sensei also ran his own restaurant in Iwama that we Uchi Deshi would sometimes visit to enjoy not only his delicious food, but also to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere he and his dear wife created in their establishment.

Watahiki Sensei's Aikido was an embodiment of his spirit, as well. It was strict, and kindhearted. It was Old School in the best way possible. And he was incredibly enthusiastic in his teaching. His love of Aikido shone through in his classes. Perhaps "shone" is not the correct description - it was more like a burning flame, that was such a pleasure to experience when he was teaching.

Watahiki Sensei will be deeply missed by all of us who had the pleasure and honor of knowing him. And his spirit will be felt in the Iwama Dojo for all time.
May He Rest In Peace.

dbrasse 04-17-2019 06:44 AM

Re: Watahiki Yoshifumi, Student of the Founder, Passes Away
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Watahiki Sensei, but I feel very fortunate for the time that I got to spend with him. Watahiki Sensei was a gentleman in every sense and will be sorely missed.

Rest In Peace Sensei.

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