Yoshimitsu Yamada (1938-) is an aikido instructor who is ranked 8th dan by the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. He was a direct student of Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei for more than ten years. He is the chief instructor of the New York Aikikai.
Yamada is from Tokyo, Japan, and was introduced to aikido through his father's cousin, Tadashi Abe, who trained at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and a friend of Master Koichi Tohei.
Yoshimitsu Yamada started at the Hombu Dojo as an uchi deshi in 1955 at the age of 17. His experience with westerners and ability to speak English made him a natural choice to teach American soldiers.
With the passing of his colleagues Mitsunari Kanai in 2004 and Seiichi Sugano and Nobuyoshi Tamura in 2010, he is one of the most senior of the last generation of direct students of Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei.
Morihei Ueshiba developed Aikido from his combat studies of Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu with Sokaku Takeda, and his spiritual studies with the Omoto Kyo and Onisaburi Deguchi.
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He first visited the United States in 1964 to perform an aikido demo in New York. Although the New York Aikikai was founded in 1961 by Yasuo Ohara, Yamada assumed control because of his higher rank.
He often traveled to Boston, Philadelphia and further south. In 1966 he invited Mitsunari Kanai to take over in Boston.
Yamada has students who have developed to 7th dan level. In 1988 Yamada invited Seiichi Sugano to join the dojo, making it one of the few dojo outside of Japan with two 8th dan shihan in residence.
In 2004 the New York Aikikai celebrated its 40th anniversary with a summer camp with many shihan and Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba visiting.
He continues with an active teaching and travelling schedule, holding seminars in the U.S. as well as Latin America, Russia, France, Germany and other points around the world.
Thousands of students attend his classes.
He is well known for his clear and strong basic technique. Beyond his technical ability, he also possesses a gift for passing on his knowledge. His students have become some of the most well-known and high-ranking aikidoka in America.
Yoshimitsu Yamada is president of the United States Aikido Federation and chairman of the Latin America Aikido Federation.
He is the author of the book Aikido Complete, and has made many aikido training videos, including the Power and the Basics series, which outlines the syllabus and requirements for gradings. For more information... click here