In Memory of Yamada Shihan – January 15, 2023

Kristina Varjan, Chief Instructor, Aikido of Kohala

There are special people in our lives who never leave us even after they are gone.
Yamada Sensei was one of those people.
How can someone that has given so much to others ever be forgotten?
He can’t and he won’t!
Yamada Sensei introduced me to our amazing world of Aikido in 1975.
He was generous, a great cook, a strong leader, with a great sense of humor, and a true diplomat as well.
He made everyone around him feel special.
Being on the mat teaching to so many, meeting new people, that was what was truly
important to him.
Spreading Aikido to as many people in as many places as possible was his mission in life.
It seemed like he never tired, but he did. He was human.
He came to teach a seminar in Hawaii at our dojo (Kohala Aikikai) in 2003.
I saw him outside the dojo preparing for the seminar and asked him if he was ok.
He said: “I’m nervous. I still get nervous after all these years. Like it’s the first time that I am getting on the mat to teach!”
It seemed to me like he was once again embracing the concept of “SHOSHIN”, beginners mind, every time he taught a class or seminar.
I think many of us have felt the powerfulness and the freshness of his dynamic teaching in each class stressing the basics, even if it’s Ikkyo again and again.
Get everything you can from your Senseis, talk to them, and stay in touch with them.
Their commitment and vast experience are invaluable.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart Ms Yamada, Mika, Risa and Tatsuya for sharing Sensei with us all.
And when your Sensei says “ROLLS”, throw out a few on the mat!
Some of you will know what I mean…

Kristina Varjan

One Reply to “In Memory of Yamada Shihan – January 15, 2023”

  1. Thank you Kristina, for sharing your memories and feelings about Yamada sensei. He was the last of that group of 1950s uchideshi who spread aikido to us in the U.S.
    For those who were fortunate enough to have trained with one or more of these sensei, we more than ever have the responsibility to pass on what we received through them.
    We miss them so much, but they live on through so many.

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