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A message from the USAF

Dear USAF Members,

This has been a difficult time as family members and Aikidoka around the world, including New York Aikikai and USAF members, mourn the loss of Yamada Sensei. On behalf of the USAF Board and Technical Committee, I am writing to you to keep you informed of what the USAF is working on both in the short and long-term as we navigate our way through this tremendous loss to the aikido community.

On Thursday, January 19th, I met with the Board, the Technical Committee, and Board advisors to discuss the issues described below as well as other matters.

1 – We are working closely with Osawa Sensei, who Yamada Sensei designated to be the liaison between the USAF, Doshu and the Aikikai International Department. He is being very supportive and helping us with many things, including the logistics for receiving the 7th dan certificates from Kagami Biraki 2023. We are enormously grateful for his assistance.

2 – We are in the process of finalizing a portrait of Yamada Sensei in digital format (jpeg) that will be circulated to dojos. Please know that displaying Yamada Sensei’s photo on the dojo’s kamiza is optional. A memorial portrait for your kamiza should be a head shot (not full body) in a dogi, looking straight into the camera. As is Japanese custom, a picture of anyone who is deceased must be held in a black frame. It is also recommended that the picture be printed as an 8”x10”.

3 – There has been such a tremendous outpouring of people sharing their stories and photos with Yamada Sensei on social media. They are truly wonderful to see and a beautiful tribute to Sensei’s personal connection to people all over the world. I am looking into creating a centralized location where these memories can be shared. This will probably be a Facebook page (or group), titled Yoshimitsu Yamada Shihan Remembrance Page and will be available for anyone to contribute their photos and memories, while making it easy for everyone to view the posts in one location.

4 – New York Aikikai and Yamada Sensei’s family are organizing a memorial service in New York City to take place on Saturday, February 25th. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to the USAF blog located at to receive announcements and updates regarding the memorial service and other USAF information.

Finally, to honor Yamada Sensei’s legacy, let us continue to practice with the joyful spirit he shared with us both on and off the mat.

Warmest regards,

Laura Pavlick

Director of Operations


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