Re: It Had to Be Felt #71: Yamada Yoshimitsu
I first got to know Yoshimitsu Yamada when I lived in Cambridge, Mass. I was at Harvard and would walk down to Mitsunari Kanai Sensei's dojo in Central Square to practice. Occasionally, Yamada S would appear as a guest instructor, but the aikido of the two instructors was quite different. Back in the UK, I trained in London and on one occasion, he was the visiting shihan at a spring seminar. At this seminar I took my shodan examination and Yamada Sensei's name appears in my first yudansha book (for some reason I have three). What was notable about the test was the content: the Hombu syllabus was entirely ignored and I now follow his example when I hold my own shodan examinations.
Now I live in Japan we correspond, usually by letter, but always by telephone when Yamada Sensei is in Tokyo. I took my shodan test in 1978 and we have had a student - teacher / mutual friend relationship ever since. Such relationships are one of the crucial features of aikido, especially as the years accumulate. I have had many aikido teachers, but Yoshimitsu Yamada stands out.