Recommended reading: “My Experience with Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei” by William Gleason

The article below on the late Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Yamaguchi Sensei taught at Honbu dojo, the world headquarters of aikido at Wakamatsu-cho in Shinjuku, and also had a small dojo at Ikenoue, about a half-hours ride from Honbu on the train. The latter was a large room (24 tatami mats) in a small house that belonged to a partially blind woman who made a living doing shiatsu massage. You could not do breakfalls or rough practice there because it was in a house, and because the mats were a good deal harder than usual dojo mats. One evening, I presented myself at the front door of the Ikenoue dojo with my letter of recommendation. Sensei was not at all pleased. He had never had a foreign student and it seemed he didn¹t particularly want one. This dojo was for his chosen few. It had an atmosphere of secrecy, as though the essence of the art was to be found here alone. In addition, although Sensei could speak English, he refused to do so. He would talk to me using one of his students as an interpreter. To add to his chagrin, my own arrogance was completely obvious. I felt that my past studies gave me an insight into aikido that few others had. I was truly a sword in his side. On the other hand, he could hardly refuse me as I came with a letter of recommendation from his older brother.

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  1. Brett Jackson says:

    Lovely article. Very enjoyable reading. Thanks for you careful and clear-sighted descriptions!

  2. The teacher-student relationship is so precious. How can it be taught? How can it be passed down?

    Thank you for sharing yours.

    Patrick Augé

  3. touching, thank you for sharing such a personal experience.

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