Touching words by Elroy Goliath Sensei on the day of Yoji Fujimoto Shihans funeral…

Today my teacher will be laid to rest. Although unable to be by his side today, those close to him know that I am there in spirit. Few people understood my relationship with him (and admittedly sometimes I didn’t either). More important for me is that I was by the Master’s side 2 weeks ago in Milan, where I had the opportunity to speak my heart and not talk about the end but indeed the future… a moment that I will carry with me for eternity.

If I was with him today, I would have said the following to my teacher :

Maestro thank you…

– for showing me how to put one foot ahead of the other;
– for teaching my body to understand how to move;
– for accepting me when I chose to follow you, as times were very difficult ;
– for being an inspiration in my life… as teacher and as friend;
– for inspirational times on the tatami and off;
– for being a leader to so many of us around the world;
– for being a father when I needed one;
– for being hard on me when I needed to improve myself or even when those around me were at fault;
– for failing me in my first attempt for Sandan with you;
– for your sacrifice:
– for being a light of inspiration for so many of us here in South Africa and not just a selected privileged few;
– for showing compassion and setting an example to the privileged and the rest of us in a country still torn apart by the disparity of inequality and apartheid;
– for changing my life;
– for choosing me to take forward your legacy here in South Africa;
– for absolutely brilliant aikido, still unmatched anywhere 🙂 ;
– for being.

Your student always. Rest in Peace.



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