We had an unplanned guest instructor from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo (Tokyo headquarters) at class last night.
I don't know the particulars which brought this about, but on Monday a sign suddenly appeared announcing Yoshiaki Yokota-shihan, 7th dan, would be teaching the next day. Word seems to have traveled quickly, however, and the dojo filled up -- much more than the usual weekday evening crowd.
This was the first time I got to see an instructor from hombu. I was very currious as I didn't know what to expect.
I found Yokota-sensei's class to be quite interesting and a bit different than any other instructor I've seen. He had elements of other Japanese shihan I've seen before, but everyone brings something different to the table.
His aikido was very fresh to me. It was clean, strong and very accurate. Very traditional, in fact. Yet, he had a fluidity and style that I liked a lot. He also had a way of explaining and looking at things that I hadn't thought of before. In fact, I'm still digesting it and I probably will be mulling over the things I saw for quite some time. I guess that's the best compliment one can give...
In addition, Yokota-sensei was quite pleasant and friendly. I could tell the dojo was on edge in the beginning of class. You know, trying to size up the guy and also hoping to give a good impression of the NY Aikikai. I'd say he broke the ice very quickly and led a very at ease and enjoyable class.
Afterward, I happened to be standing in the hallway when he was making his way out. He stopped by each one of us and shook our hands with a "thank you." I have to say, I was impressed. I hope he'll come again.