At first glance, the title of your column had me thinking you must have written about training with Rod Kobayashi, or maybe Bill Sosa?
Let me just say that after reading it, I'm now thinking more about my aikido training rather than someone else's.
Sorry to disappoint. In many ways, that would have made for a much better article, but less to my immediate concern when I first wrote the essay.
I have not yet decided if I will eventually participate in the actual IHTBF series. I do think they provide an excellent vehicle, and illuminate, if not these great teachers themselves, then at least people's experience of them. To your list, I might also add Fumio Toyoda, Peter Ting and Henry Kono.
I have gotten so much from so many, there is a real desire to convey it forward in some measure. Yet I'm afraid that when it comes to writing about these great teachers, I wind up feeling like I'm trying to shine a flashlight on a mountain. Fine for seeing where to put your foot next, but not so much for appreciating the grandeur.
But if your reflections have turned back to your own training, that's not so bad. At the same time (and in the spirit of so much of the article's subsequent discussion) I might propose that none of us really own our own training. Whatever dues we pay, whatever effort we put towards earning our belts, aikido comes to us as a gift from a long lineage and multiple channels of benefactors. And whatever self-improvements we enjoy, and whatever skill and knowledge and experience we acquire, if it is not shared with others, we become an evolutionary dead-end for all that was given us.