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,


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…




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

Springtime and NYA’s 50th Anniversary

Finally, spring has arrived after a long and bad winter. The dojo’s bulletin board has many flyers of spring seminars all over the country.

As everybody knows already, this year is the 50th anniversary of NYA. Many people are expecting a big celebration. That makes me very happy and I appreciate your concern very much.

I’d like to offer you one big opportunity to celebrate at one time with everybody together, but I found out it is very difficult to get a big place for that in New York City. Instead, the NYA is planning a small celebration on June 7th at the dojo. Everybody is welcome but please do not expect a big event.

So far, at every seminar I went to, people gave me big congratulations and I appreciate it so much. I also appreciated that you gave me so many gifts. But for me, just your thoughts are enough.

Please don’t give me things I can give to somebody. Just give me things I can’t give to anybody. That is, a big hug from the ladies and a handshake from the guys.

On June 7th, the dojo will open for the party at 4pm. At around 5pm I’d like to make a speech.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there.

Y. Yamada

Happy Holidays

Each year I look forward to December, mostly because of my dojo’s holiday seminar.  The mat is always full of New York Aikikai members, both old and new, as well as so many visitors who come to celebrate aikido and friendship.  I am happy to be home at this time surrounded by people enjoying themselves.  It’s always a good weekend for me.

As you may know, there are some recent changes in the USAF Board of Directors. Many board members dedicated several years of their time and put in a lot of hard work for the USAF.  We are thankful for their service and all they did. But it is also important to be open to change and allow others to have a chance to dedicate them selves.   As of November, the board has a new Vice President (Andy Demko), Chairman (Joe Nemeth), Treasurer (Paul Forhan) and Secretary (Larry Bieri).

Looking forward, 2014 will be a very busy year for me.  I will travel to dojos all over the world celebrating the 50th anniversary of my arrival in NY. I hope you will join me on the mat, as I continue to do what I came here to do half a century ago – spread aikido.  Happy holidays to all of you.

A Message Regarding 2014 From Yamada Sensei

Dear Aikido Friends,

The year of 2014 is going to be a big and meaningful year for me. It will be the half-century anniversary of my time in the United States and of the NY Aikikai.  I know that neither you nor I want to miss such a great opportunity to have a big party and celebrate together.

I had a few ideas to make this celebration an enjoyable one for everyone.

One idea was to use summer camp for the time and location of the celebration, but unfortunately, that will not work out. It will be impossible to accommodate the many people who might come from all over the world.

My second idea was to have a big seminar in New York City. It seemed like a good idea at the beginning, until we found out that there were no big spaces that could handle such a big crowd and provide us with the services we would need, like changing rooms and showers. There were also safety issues and regulations that both public and private places would impose on us and make the number of people who could participate very limited. I would not want to have many people shut out because of such restrictions. I’m very upset about these circumstances but we really have no choice.

So here is my solution: In 2014, I will still conduct my yearly major seminars so I can see you all. Whenever and wherever you see me, just give me a big hug and warm words.

Anyway, we will have a drinking party at the NY Aikikai sometime in June of 2014 and you will all be welcome to attend. I’ll let you know the exact date later in this year.

Thank you for your understanding, your concern and your wish to help me celebrate.

Y. Yamada

A Message From Yamada Sensei

Each year I sit down and think about what to write as the New Year begins and another year lies ahead.  I always come back to the same thoughts. I feel lucky to be involved with so many people all over the world, and wherever I go the experience on the mat is always familiar – people smiling, and each one taking time in their busy lives to practice aikido for their own personal reasons.  It’s important to not only focus on the fun of practicing, but on the technique and learning to execute the moves in a clear and meaningful way.  I see that the students are working hard to achieve this and it’s important that the instructors continue to strive for this as well.  Aikido is a unique chance for people to do something positive for themselves and together, and that should always remain in each persons mind.

This past December New York Aikikai hosted its annual Christmas seminar.  It was the first seminar since we have completed our dojo renovations.  It was wonderful to see so many people in the dojo, and to see the new beautiful space filled with all of our friends enjoying themselves.  I am very grateful for this change, and hope you will have a chance to come and visit the dojo to see our new improvements some time soon.

An Important Message from Yamada Sensei

We have just finished the USAF summer camp of 2012 and it was a big success. It was the second biggest summer camp of our history in terms of attendance, and I’m very happy. A million thanks to all the people who worked so hard to help organize this big event. I would like to mention many individual names to show my appreciation, however, there is not enough space to do so. Anyway, it was successful because of everybody’s effort.

One unique point of our camp is that we have so many classes taught by so many instructors, including women and people from other countries, and each one of them showed their personality and skills freely. That showed my motto for our federation is working: Freedom, Friendship, Fairness and Flexibility. This is what no other country offers besides ours.

Needless to say, my biggest concern is to make everyone happy, but nothing is ever perfect. My summer camp headache is to make the class schedule. There are so many capable instructors for a limited number of classes, so in the future I must make some adjustments and shuffle the schedule around. I need your understanding and I will do my best. You can expect another good camp for next year. I will also try to improve my singing.

At the end of camp during the farewell party, I introduced my ideas for the future of the USAF. You may have received the official letter with my announcement, but here is a copy of the letter to read if you have not seen it.  I also asked the Technical Committee to do the testing at camp, as it is also one of my ideas for the future. I understand that there was some confusion among the members when this happened. Please put your trust in whoever it is that oversees our tests, and not question their decisions as I have put my trust in them as well.   After all, changes must be made sooner or later and since it is my responsibility to make sure the USAF stays strong in the future, it is better to start addressing them now. I will remain involved in the oversight, instruction and guidance of the federation for many years to come, and hope that you will accept with positive thoughts the many changes I have offered to secure our future.

You should be proud of yourself to be a member of the best federation in the entire aikido world.

Y. Yamada