Yoshimitsu Yamada passed away recently. He was many things, but above all he was a teacher.
In my aikido practice decades ago I first became aware of Yamada Sensei through VHS video tapes. There were a number of high-ranking senseis who had some prominence in the aikido community, and a few who seemed to aspire to celebrity, but Yamada Sensei appeared constitutionally incapable of anything other than humility and unqualified encouragement.
His simple goal of daily improvement became my goal in various crafts, and is still the only future I seek.
On one of my recurrent trips to New York City — again, decades ago — I went to the New York Aikikai just to watch him conduct a class. I didn’t want to sit in, I didn’t want a picture with him, I didn’t want anything except to see if the person matched the images I had seen, and he did. The exact same person on camera, and in person in a roomful of students on a random day.
Yamada Sensei’s last class — part 1 of 3.
— Mark Barrett