Below is an excerpt from an interview with one of the most senior Yoshinkan Aikido instructors in North America, Yukio Utada. The rest of the interview may be read here.
What has kept you going for more than 36 years?
Aikido has appealed to me on many levels. Initially, there was a fascination with the physical. In judo I had found that size and strength difference could often frustrate my ability to throw an opponent. But, with aikido I found the ability to generate great force and throw an opponent with little effort. Refining this ability over the years has never diminished my respect for its subtlety and power or curiosity over the principle that makes it work.
Philosophically speaking, I found the harmonizing concept of aikido fascinating.
Culturally as well, the study of aikido exposed me to some of the finer aspects of Japanese culture and not only gave me greater appreciation for my roots but a method to share with others that which made Japanese culture special. I have witnessed numerous differences between American and Japanese cultures, I am proud to introduce budo to Americans, not as a Japanese but as a human being who can bridge these two great countries. In order to promote an atmosphere of Zen ( good will/ virtue) one has to be a person of virtue. It is easier said then done. But, to me striving to become a person of virtue is thoroughly worthwhile and goes hand in glove with aikido training, and you can do it even when your joints are sore! (Laughing)