Those who have the greatest impact on our lives sometimes do so in the smallest or most subtle ways possible. These individuals may not even be aware of the effect they have had. We may not either come to realize the impact until much later on. A single word or random gesture could create the biggest ripples.
I had the honor of training with Yoshimitsu Yamada Sensei on several occasions and briefly speaking with him once to thank him for his instruction.
Though I didn’t know Yamada Sensei personally, nor did I train under him directly, his Aikido had great bearing on my training during my formative years in the art.
The greatest lesson I learned was while attending one seminar at the late Donovan Waite Sensei’s Dojo in Philadelphia. Yamada Sensei was teaching nikkyo. With several large clusters of aikidoka practicing the technique, it was easy to go unnoticed. However, Yamada Sensei had caught my “butchering” of the technique and made his way over to offer direction. It was a light bulb moment for me. It wasn’t what he said because words were kept to a minimum, but more so what he did. He proceeded to use me as uke to further explain the technique and its application. It was an eye-opening experience. I not only saw the technique executed, but I experienced it, feeling what it was supposed to be. In that moment, it all made sense, and I realized that to truly understand, we must experience. Without that experience, the essence of what it is we are attempting to achieve can be missed or lost altogether.
My time with Yamada Sensei may have been limited, but what he taught me that day has been a vital part of my training ever since, and I have applied that concept to all areas of my life.
Thank you, Sensei.
I extend my best and deepest condolences to the family, friends, and legions of students worldwide of Yamada Sensei.
– Michael Aloia
Asahikan Dojo, PA