Eddie Hagihara : Congratulations And An Introduction

The year of 2017 started with good news for the aikido community in the USA. This good news was announced in January during Aikikai’s annual kagami biraki celebration. Four Americans were promoted to 8th dan for the first time in aikido history. Needless to say I know all of them very well so it makes me very happy.

One particular person among the four is Mr. Eddie Hagihara from the USAF. I’m especially happy for him for many reasons. The recommendation for his promotion was made by me and the USAF for his exemplary aikido life for many years and his long-time support of the aikido community. That is the congratulations part of this story. Now for the introduction.

 It is unfortunate that Mr. Hagihara is not well-known to the new generation of aikidoists in the USA. The main reason for this is due to the wonderful qualities of his personality. Hagihara Shihan is a very quiet, shy and humble person. (Except when he has a few glasses of beer!) I know these qualities very well because we’ve known each other for 55 years. He was born in 1935 and promoted to shodan in 1962 by the late Koichi Tohei Sensei. Right after he received his shodan he went to study at Aikikai in Japan. I was already an uchi deshi there and that was the first time we met. And we became friends. At that time there were very few foreigners training at Aikikai, not like the present.

By the way, Mr. Bob Nadeau, who has also been promoted to 8th dan, was also in Japan for the same reason as Hagihara Shihan. The three of us hung out together on and off the mat because I spoke English. Both Eddie and Bob traveled with me when I went to teach regularly at a US military camp. They were especially helpful when I taught Americans. However, I still wonder whether they were really accompanying me in order to drink the good scotch and beer available in the military camp.

 Now I must tell you a serious story that shows Eddie’s true nature. By 1962 I had already decided to accept the invitation to be the main teacher at the newly formed New York Aikikai. In contrast to the present, the dojo was very small in membership and most of the students came from judo. Eddie was an original member of the dojo and was the main teacher even thought he had limited knowledge at the time. That’s why he was sent to Japan; to improve his skills and become the main teacher in New York. At that time communications were not as easy and sophisticated as they are today and there was plenty of confusion. Eddie found out about my assignment in New York while he was in Japan and I’m sure he was very surprised and confused about it. The reason I respect Eddie and owe him so much is that his attitude toward me after this confusion was great – he was gracious and humble to me as if nothing bothered him. He gave full support to my goals and efforts at the New York Aikikai. I came to New York in 1964 to be chief instructor and Eddie came back at the same time. I felt bad about the situation but there was nothing I could do but apologize to him.

After his return to New York, Eddie got married and opened a dojo on Long Island. He still displays the qualities of quiet strength and humility that are the foundation of his nature and that have made my aikido mission here even easier. I have great respect for him because of that and that’s why I feel so happy about his promotion. He’s still very attached to the New York Aikikai and I think he loves it more than anybody else.

My congratulations to Eddie Hagihara and my best wishes for even a longer life in aikido.

Happy New Year 2017

Dear USAF members:

I wish all of you a happy, happy new year.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support and the wonderful moments you have given me throughout the year.

I imagine that every one of you will make a new year’s resolution.  My resolution is to have another healthy, positive year in order to meet your expectations.  I hope you also have a good year and go back to your “Shoshin,” that translates roughly to “Back to the original motivation or pure motivation.”

I imagine that you were so happy only to practice Aikido when you started an Aikido life.  Please always carry that pure mind with you.

Looking forward to seeing you again in 2017 whenever and wherever it may be.  I love you all.

Y. Yamada

 

The United States Aikido Federation: Looking Forward


First, I’d like you all to know that I am healthy and well, and have an excellent report from my doctors.  While I still have a way to go before I can be as active as I’d like, each day I am improving and feeling stronger and more eager to get back on the mat.

Over the summer I thought a lot about my position in the USAF and in my mind compared it to my dojo, New York Aikikai. A few years ago, I resigned from the Board and as the President of NYA. My job title now is simply Chief Instructor.  It is the position I am most happy in.  I realized that my title at my dojo would also work very well for the USAF and helps create a good plan for our future.

As of January 1st, 2016 I will no longer be the President of the USAF and will no longer be a board member.  Instead, I am excited for my new title, Chief Instructor and Technical Advisor of the USAF.

The positions of President, President Elect and Vice President of the USAF will be eliminated.  The officer positions will be Chairperson, Treasurer and Secretary, and there will also be a Chairperson of the Technical Committee. When I can no longer serve as Chief Instructor or Technical Advisor, the Technical Committee will assume my responsibilities. The Board and Technical Committee, along with Laura Pavlick as Director of Operations, have very different roles and qualifications, and will work together to serve our members and support our federation.

I am very pleased with these changes because I think they solve concerns about the future in the most positive way.  I plan on being around for a long time, enjoying my new title and providing my oversight and guidance just as I have always done.

I wish you all a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to seeing you on the mat soon.

 

Message from Yamada Sensei

Dear Aikido Community,

It has been four weeks since my operation and I am finally back in my office at the New York Aikikai. Once again I surprised my doctors with how fast I have recovered. They have given me a clean bill of health and have told me I can even travel by plane now.

Thanks to everyone for your support and good wishes. All of that has given me a lot of positive energy toward my recovery.

However, since even Superman gets old and doesn’t recover from kryptonite so fast, I will still need about another month before I can be back teaching.

I am anxious to get back and see all of you on the mat again.

Y. Yamada

August 28th, 2015 from Yamada Sensei

Dear members,

As you already know, this past year has been a very difficult year, starting last September with personal health problems and following over the months with many losses and challenging events.  Last September, I wrote a story about a homeless guy who was found living in the dojo basement, and it turned out that we called him Cancer.  I explained how I was lucky to have a friend named Robot, who did an excellent job removing the cancer and how he helped me get strong and back on the mat in a very short amount of time.

Well, the superintendent has found someone else living in the basement, and though we don’t know if his name is also cancer, I will be having my friend Robot cleaning it out and removing all signs of him on September 29th.   I have been told this will be a much easier guy to chase out than the last one.  From now on, I will keep my basement uncomfortable with no air conditioning in the summer time and no heater in winter. I will get a stronger key and put up a sign that says “Smoke detector!”.

I’m sorry to have to give you this report and to make you worried again, but I will be back on the mat much faster than the last time.

Thank you in advance for your concern, I am doing very well and will keep you updated as we go.

Y. Yamada

Best Wishes For The New Year

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by.  As you know, 2014 was a special year for me in many ways.  Most importantly, it was the celebration of my 50th anniversary at New York Aikikai.  I had so many wonderful occasions to be all over the world, and I appreciate how hard you worked at hosting and attending seminars that focused on my anniversary.   I made so many speeches, was awarded honorary plaques and statues, received so many gifts, and even had a chance to sing some of my favorite songs for you at summer camp while Steve played his guitar. It was a yearlong party for sure.  My health then became my focus towards the end of the year, but once again you showed me so much support and understanding.  The perfect way to end the year was the NYA Christmas seminar, where I was able to teach and relax at my home dojo and be surrounded by my students and all the visitors who traveled to be a part of the event.

Even though I am in good health and continue to grow stronger every day, I will use 2015 to take the time to further my recovery and return to my old self.  Sometimes that might mean traveling less or not teaching as many classes, and as you know, I can grow restless when I am told to take it easy.  But I am determined to be as fit as ever, and even if my schedule is lighter this coming year, in my heart I will always be on the mat.

Happy New Year,

Sincerely

Y. Yamada

A Message From Yamada Sensei

It was last winter when this unbelievable incident happened at New York Aikikai.  One day after class, one of our uchi-deshi had to go to the basement to adjust the boiler in order to get more heat for the cold night.  To his surprise, he found a homeless guy was comfortably living in our basement.  You might not believe this but it is a true story, and we didn’t know that he had been living there for quite a long time.

Not too long after this incident happened, this time, accidentally, I found that a homeless guy named Nodule was living in my lung without my permission….continued…


 

 

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A Continuation of Sensei’s Message

I’m afraid my earlier announcement surprised you and caused some confusion. I appreciate very much your concern, but please do not worry. I’m fine. As matter of fact, I’m in the middle of a one week seminar in Germany.
Upon my return to NY, I will be undergoing a minor procedure. I have only canceled some of my fall seminars  because the doctors have requested that I do not fly for a couple of months after the procedure, so I see this is an opportunity to finally take a short rest from from my busy travel schedule.
I promise that I will stay young and strong.
Y. Yamada

Sensei-tional Message From Sensei

I hope everyone had a wonderful summer and you are all ready for the next season.

I’d like to let you know that I will be inactive for the months of September and October. I have decided to have a long rest to refresh my body, to prepare for many more years to come.

I’m not ill, so please do not worry. I’m still healthy and strong like a superman.

Y. Yamada

A Message of Thanks

Summer Camp of 2014 is over and it was an exceptionally successful camp.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Summer Camp organizers, the wonderful ladies and staff at the reception desk and the many other invisible efforts that were made by so many members. I’d also like say thank you for the big donation that was made to New York Aikikai from so many individuals and dojos.  I didn’t know it was going on and it was a great surprise.

So far this year I received so many warm congratulations everywhere I went. All I can say is that I’m the luckiest guy surrounded by so many wonderful people. You are my treasure.

I was also given so many gifts from many people, and meaningful letters from the Chicago City Mayor, New York City Mayor, and the Vice Prime Minister of Russia, but to me, the most wonderful gifts were the big hugs from so many ladies who are normally very tough on the mat. I promise you that I’ll continue to do my best to work for you.

Y. Yamada

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