February 17, 1938 – January 15, 2023

First Chief Instructor • New York Aikikai 
Technical Director • United States Aikido Federation

In 1955, Yamada Sensei was accepted in the Honbu Dojo uchi deshi program (live-in apprentice) to study directly with O Sensei, the founder of aikido. He was 18 years old with no martial arts experience. Besides O Sensei he studied under such aikido masters as Kissomaru Ueshiba, Koichi Tohei and Kisaburo Osawa. An invitation to demonstrate aikido at the 1964 World’s Fair brought Yamada Sensei to New York City. He stayed on to become chief instructor at the New York Aikikai and introduce aikido to the east coast of the US. By 1972 he already assumed his role as aikido ambassador to the world at large, introducing his vigorous, inspiring and joyful teaching style to thousands of appreciative students on practically every continent. With the amazing global growth of aikido since his days as uchi deshi, Yamada Sensei continued to bring the spirit and heart of aikido to every class he taught, whether for beginners or advanced students. He believed that a solid foundation in aikido basics was crucial for every student’s advancement and that the best path to that lay in sincere, positive training.