Archives for 2014

A Message Regarding Yamada Sensei’s Travel

To The Aikido Community, Students and Friends of Yamada Sensei,

Yamada Sensei has communicated with the aikido community through the US Aikido Federation, Europe, Australia and South America about his recent operation.

The operation was a success and Yamada Sensei is making exceptional progress in terms of regaining his pre-operative health. He continues to impress his medical team with his recovery. At the New York Aikikai he has resumed his full teaching schedule; the intensity and energy level of his classes have not diminished a bit.

That said, he is still in the recovery process. Yamada Sensei’s doctors would like his strength, conditioning and healing to proceed unimpeded so that his recovery will be full and complete. They have urged him to restrict his exhaustive travel schedule for the next several months in order for that to happen. Ideally it would be best for Yamada Sensei to limit those trips that are the most demanding because of flight lengths and teaching schedules.

If you are hosting one of his seminars please be understanding of Yamada Sensei’s recovery especially if he should need to postpone your event. This is all temporary; Yamada Sensei has every intention of resuming his teaching schedule around the world. His return to full health is the key to that happening.

Thank you.

Steve Pimsler

President, NY Aikikai

Bermuda Aikikai Celebrates 31 Years

 Over the weekend of October 25 2014 something pretty amazing happened in the middle of the Atlantic.

Bermuda Aikikai, headed by Sensei Collins Smith, 6th dan, has been around now for 31 years. Last year for the 30th anniversary we had a suitably celebratory seminar lead by Shihan Richard Stickles. This year was different, this year was “in-house” with almost all of the instructors being direct students of Sensei Smith. We are talking about upwards of 10 instructors all coming from this tiny little island dojo so you know something great has been happening there.

A little history: Sensei Collins Smith started his martial arts career in his teens. He was a world-class karate fighter and even went twice to the Karate world championships in Japan. Somewhere along the line he discovered Aikido and soon became a student of now Shihan Stickles. For years Sensei Smith studied in New Jersey with Sensei Stickles, in New York with Yamada Sensei, and out west with Chiba Sensei. He returned to Bermuda in 1983 to open his dojo where with unwavering loyalty to his lineage and dedication to his students he has quietly been teaching Aikido ever since.


Bermuda is a dot in the middle of the ocean and Bermuda Aikikai was never going to be a big commercial success, and yet Sensei Smith juggled work and family and the dojo and never gave up, for him Aikido was, and still is, a gift to be received and passed on. He brought the biggest names in Aikido to his students and always supported his students when they wanted to go out and see the larger world. His philosophy was to teach the foundations and let people’s personalities take it from there, something I think he learned from Yamada Sensei and something that, 31 years later, was wonderfully evident in the diversity of aikido we saw when 10 of his students, all now instructor level, brought their styles and in some cases their own students to the mat.

The Aikido that started on that little island has spread. I now have a dojo in Nova Scotia, Canada (Lunenburg Aikikai), Anthea Pascaras has a dojo in London England (Notting Hill Aikikai), and there are two other dojos headed by Graham Fraser and Evie Pond in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick respectively (Mount Saint Vincent Aikikai and Aikido of Central New Brunswick) both under Sensei Smith’s umbrella. The little ripples that started in Bermuda 31 years ago have now crossed the ocean and spread to other lands.

Back to the seminar: 10 instructors all affiliated with Bermuda Aikikai, something like 300 years of collective experience, 10 different styles all unique and yet somehow still linked together, 5 affiliated dojos, a whole lot of fantastic aikido AND a trip on Sensei’s boat. I would say that makes for a pretty fantastic 31st anniversary party and a tremendous measure of one man’s work.

On a serious note I have called Sensei Smith my friend and teacher for nearly 25 years and  my debt to him can only be repaid by following his example. I now have my own dojo in the equally (compared to Bermuda) isolated eastern edge of Canada. Like Bermuda Aikikai we will never be a big dojo, but we are close knit and we are growing and if there is one thing that the seminar in Bermuda last month taught me it is that great aikido can come out of the tiniest places when your heart is in the right place and you have loyalty and dedication.

James Constable

Chief Instructor, Lunenburg Aikikai

Photos by John Manderson | Luminous Imaging

Florida Winter Seminar celebrates Yamada Sensei’s 50th Anniversary

This year the Florida Winter Seminar celebrated Yamada Sensei’s 50th Anniversary by holding a special Red Carpet event. During the event the audience had the opportunity to see a movie clip that Yamada Sensei starred in called Master Blaster. We presented him with an Oscar for his performance and to show appreciation for his 50 years of dedication teaching Aikido in the US. At the end of the show people close to Sensei talked about how he changed their lives.  Jonathan Weiner of Aikido of Charlotte directed this film and captured it with his crew.  We are all very thankful. Please enjoy this special tribute film to Yamada Sensei.




Penny Bernath

Florida Aikikai

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…




News About Yamada Sensei from New York Aikikai

Success in the Heartland with Children’s Aikido

First Annual Mid-West Children’s Aikido Seminar – June 2014

On June 7, more than 60 children and young adults from across the Mid-West gathered at the tastefully renovated dojo in Urbana Illinois for a full day of Aikido instruction and “games” to sharpen their skills, deepen their understanding of “the Way of harmonious spirit,” and to forge new friendships with their peers.

Two dojos with robust children’s programs, Fairfield (Iowa) Aikikai and Central Illinois Aikikai (CIA), the hosting organization, worked together to offer four Aikido sessions on Saturday.  Lessons were offered by Julio Soares, Bogdan Heretoiu, CIA’s chief instructor Knut Bauer, 5h Dan, Shidoin, and Fairfield Iowa Aikikai’s chief instructor, Sensei Motier Haskins, 5th Don, Shidoin.  The seminars consecutively increased in skill level concluding with break fall practice and group photos.

“I was feeling a bit shy going to a different town to practice, but everyone in the Central Illinois Aikido dojo made us feel very welcome and after a few minutes I felt right at home.  I am looking forward to next year seeing my new friends again!”  LR

A few older “children at heart” adults joined in as well and were reportedly very busy just keeping up with the younger crowd!  Everyone also enjoyed a pizza lunch break hosted by the Central Illinois Aikikai.

“This was a great experience.  I was impressed by the maturity and dedication of our young adults, some of whom are now transitioning from junior black belt to the adult Aikido world – fifth and fourth Kyu level.”  Sensei Motier

Senseis Bauer and Haskins are thinking ahead to next year and the possibility of expanding to a two-day weekend seminar or perhaps even a full week “Summer Camp” and inviting children and young adults from all over the US to enjoy Aikido in the heartland.

written by David Todt (Fairfield Aikikai)

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

Aikido of Suffolk Aikikai’s New Location

After spending 14 years in the same location in the Village of Patchogue,
NY, Aikido at Suffolk Aikikai has moved to a new comfortable location in
Medford, New York. The space is air conditioned and provides plenty of
parking.  The move coincides with the celebration of Suffolk Aikikai’s 20th
anniversary on August 6, 2014.





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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