Posting my reply to a msg from ki-info group
Okay, are any of you familiar with Shoji Sensei, who I believe ran Southern California Ki Society until (I believe) he retired from training.
Back in the late 1980's when I lived near San Francisco, I traveled down to L.A. with a few other dojo friends for a very big seminar hosted by SCKS and Shoji Sensei (the invited teacher was Maruyama Sensei from Ki no Kenkyukai).
Shoji Sensei was quite a character and he taught a class or two during the seminar, so we got to "see him in action". The words that sprung instantly to all our lips were "Yoda Sensei". Shoji Sensei evoked Yoda in so many ways, from the mundane (general facial features, speech patterns, and stature -- though definitely not quite as short as the Yoda character himself!) to the esoteric (he made Aikido and Ki seem mystically powerful, remeniscent of the scene in Star Wars where Yoda lifted the downed flyer out of the swamp while teaching Luke Skywalker how to properly use the Force). We all found this very amusing (and endearing) but attached no significance to it, and the "Yoda Sensei" moniker (meant only in the most affectionate way) stuck.
Only many years later I mentioned this to another aikidoka and was told about Lucas' aikido practice in L.A.; it was the first I'd heard of it. I was told "oh yes, actually the Yoda character was based on Shoji Sensei."
At the moment I can only call this hearsay; any confirmation,refutation, or thoughts on this out there? I find it just too good not to be true, and certainly goes along with what you are talking about.
Idle rumour has it that Shoji Sensei was the model for the Yoda character, but that Lucas himself didn't see him. I heard that some of his staff had attended a KS class during pre-production of StarWars.
In Skywalking: The Life and Films of George Lucas
, Dale Pollock wrote that "Lucas's concept of the force was heavily influenced by Carlos Castaneda's Tales of Power, an account of a Mexican Indian sorcerer, Don Juan, who uses the phrase 'life force'."
However, Lucas said that he had read extensively on myth and mythology theory,"...as many as fifty books. I basically worked out a general theory for the Force, and then I played with it." from
Ki in Star Wars