Video: Seigo Yamaguchi, 8th dan, at the 1994 All-Japan Demonstration

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Seigo Yamaguchi Sensei was one of the leading teachers of the postwar aikido generation. He taught for many years at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo and had a legion of followers, including a great many French students who developed a predilection for his instruction. One of his most famous students is Christian Tissier of France.

Yamaguchi Sensei’s aikido was poetry in motion. He had a unique way of blending with and then unbalancing his attacker. Many of his techniques were characterized by bobbing and weaving motions and finished off with explosive throws. He had a strong background in swordwork and sword principles are clearly visible in his demonstrations.

Duration: 3:55
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  1. Really lovely to watch, and watch carefully, as there is no strength used at all folks. I studied under Hari Sunao Shihan (based in Saga, Kyushu) whilst I lived in Japan for 9 years, and he was one of Yamaguchi Sensei’s students I do believe. An amazing Aikido teacher with great skill, expertise, and knowledge. It was like trying to grab water and ending up flying across the mat not knowing how. I really learnt a lot from him. Just watch out when you visit, as he has a rather strange foreigner as one of his top men. Like some foreigners I met in Japan, who have attached themselves to someone of importance in Japan, they can get very jealous and spiteful and quite dangerous especially if they believe that you are a threat to their position and standing. I ended up not being able to pick up half a glass of water for 2 years, let alone my kids, all due to one spiteful incident in the dojo. I had smiled and just turned away from one of his comments when he grabbed my arm and did an elbow smash (Ude nabashi) without any warning. Low and cowardly? Yes. Did he get into trouble over it? No.
    Keep in mind that the Japanese people are well known for not directly confronting foreigners (or anyone for that matter) when they see wrongdoing, and therefore nothing was said or mentioned about what he did. This foreigner apparently had a bit of a reputation for damaging students throughout the years (fractures, concussions, sprains, etc).

    So my advice is, be very polite and respectful to all when in Japan, but always be on guard when you come across a foreigner who has been in Japan for quite some time, as they can be a bit mean and nasty, and downright spiteful. Some even can be downright dangerous. Hence the Japanese term “Henna Gaijin” or “strange foreigner”.

    Enjoy the journey

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