Dear USAF Members,
As you now may know, Yamada Sensei passed away Sunday morning. He suffered from complications from his recent surgery and suffered cardiac arrest, which lead to his death. There are so many shared condolences being expressed by aikidoka within the USAF and around the world, through social media, texts, emails, and phone calls. This is a strong and loving community, and we will continue to do our best with everything we have learned from Yamada Sensei and the Shihan we sadly lost before him, to keep aikido and the USAF growing and strong. We hope this letter helps to answer some of the questions we have been receiving.
On Sunday evening the USAF Board, consultants, administration, Technical Committee and the New York Aikikai Board met together on Zoom. We discussed some immediate concerns, but most importantly we knew that we must allow the Yamada family all the time they need to navigate their way through their terrible loss. There have been many requests for information about donations, memorials, funerals, etc. We kindly ask that you please be patient. We will keep you posted as this process unfolds so we can best honor the family’s wishes and needs. While word has spread rapidly through social media, we also want to make sure we remain respectful and properly notify Hombu Dojo and Doshu of Sensei’s passing.
Many questions lie ahead, some we are already asking and others we do not yet know. We want you to know how proud Yamada Sensei was of the USAF and all the instructors and members who make up each dojo. He always said the USAF has the best aikido in the world, the strongest organizational structure, the most supportive members, and the tightest community of friends. His favorite week of every year was the USAF summer camp, when we all gathered as one big family to enjoy our practice together with time both on and off the mat. It was a week for him to truly relax and enjoy watching everyone around him, seeing the results of his years of hard work, and sharing his humor and warmth. He said teaching a class was like being an orchestra conductor, paying attention to all the instruments and helping them to create the most beautiful music together. He was happiest when he was on the mat conducting his symphonies.
Please know that we will approach each question and challenge as best we can and will keep you informed as much as possible. We ask that you share this with the members of your dojo, so they too know that the USAF is united in our efforts to get through this sad and difficult time together, and to keep the path he forged directed forward to the future. We must take the time to mourn our loss as individuals, dojos, and as an organization. And as Yamada Sensei would most want, we should keep training. He believed everything can be resolved on the mat.
With warm regards and heartfelt sympathies,