Perhaps Yamada is getting 'softer' in the sense that learning to 'fight' is no longer his prime objective. But having fun and getting people to meet each other is. Aikido evolves into dance, for lack of better word.
That's an interesting observation/question Tim, and one I've often pondered myself. The question I have regarding it though is, if somebody like Yamada Sensei, or Ikeda Sensei, or any of the other well known Shihan, get 'softer' as they age, do you think it is because of some wisdom or enlightenment they have had about life, fighting, values, priorities, or simply the physical limitations that tend to follow aging?