Martial artist and boxing instructor at ECC dies at 79

Mits Yamashita, age 75 in 2017, was a part-time boxing instructor, who first learned the art of jiu jitsu before becoming prolific in boxing training with the likes of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. (Reyna Torres/ The Union)
Mits Yamashita, age 75 in 2017, was a part-time boxing teacher, who first realized the artwork of jiu jitsu earlier than turning into prolific in boxing coaching with the likes of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee. (Reyna Torres/ The Union)

Mitsura “Mits” Yamashita, martial artist and self-defense teacher at El Camino Faculty died on the age of 79 within the hospital after battling an present coronary heart situation.

Yamashita, who died on April 14 was a prolific martial artist together with his predominant artwork being aikido, however he was additionally educated in karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Thai boxing, Yanagi-Ryu, Aiki-jujutsu and judo.

With all these arts and their forms of hanging and grappling, being versed in lots of varieties helped Yamashita incorporate all of them into his aikido, making it his personal versatile artwork. Yamashita taught aikido in his dojo, Sanbukan Dojo.

Johann Hellmannsberger, one of many present senseis at Sanbukan Dojo, mentioned that Yamashita admitted that aikido alone was weak and shouldn’t be taught by itself. Yamashita had a blended martial arts (MMA) mentality.

Through the 40 years that Hellmannsberger has spent with him, Yamashita has been a buddy and mentor.

“As lecturers go, I don’t assume I’ve ever had a instructor who was simply as motivating or as fascinating as he was. He made the artwork enjoyable and really fascinating,” Hellmannsberger mentioned.

Hellmannsberger first met Yamashita by chance at ECC in 1980 after coming into the incorrect five-digit code for a course in Administration of Justice. He wished to take a category in legislation however ended up taking a category in self-defense for law enforcement officials.

With no data or curiosity in martial arts, Hellmannsberger would simply give the category a attempt, just for him to finish up loving it, sparking his curiosity within the martial arts world with the assistance of Yamashita.

“It was my favourite class and he ended up being my favourite instructor,” Hellmannsberger mentioned.

Yamashita taught boxing at ECC and the scholars that have been in his class have been taught the basics behind boxing which have been stances, conserving your guard up and throwing a correct punch.

Music main with a minor in bodily schooling, Michael Nicoli, 33, was a former scholar in Yamashita’s class, which was a welcome place for college kids, irrespective of their weight class or background.

“He form of creates an setting the place you’re not being judged,” Nicoli mentioned.

Ever since Nicoli took Yamashita’s class again in 2010, of all of the combating classes he realized from the category, he seems like the category needs to be taken greater than as soon as.

“He’d offer you manner an excessive amount of data for one class. I took it for ten years and I really feel like I’m nonetheless lacking components of it,” Nicoli mentioned.

At ECC, college students have been solely allowed to take the boxing class as soon as, however Nicoli was allowed to audit the category many instances, at one level turning into Yamashita’s assistant within the class for ten years, serving to him out and listening to the life classes he’d ship each session.

“I used to be lucky sufficient to be there each semester,” Nicoli mentioned.

Nicoli made an Instagram account the place he offers one-on-one boxing classes to the general public primarily based on the boxing classes he realized from Yamashita, passing on his classes to others.

“I principally begin the category the identical: stance, hand positions, correctly throw punches, transfer with the punches, protection, after which we get into the drills,” Nicoli mentioned.

Nicoli additionally created one other Instagram account for Yamashita’s boxing class that archived all of his classes and sophistication actions over time, leaving a way of the form of particular person Yamashita was.

Nicoli mentioned it’s now a memorial of the category.

Fred, the proprietor of the South Bay Moo Duk Kwan launched me to their dojo the place Fred and Mits Yamashita as soon as educated on Wednesday Could 4,2021 in Torrance, California. (Francisco De La Cruz/Particular to The Union)

Yamashita has his personal YouTube channel the place he posted movies of his martial arts classes in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Nicoli mentioned that Yamashita held again a coronary heart surgical procedure years in the past in worry of dropping his job at ECC as a result of he beloved to show, however since lessons turned digital, Yamashita had extra time to get the surgical procedure and get well.

Yamashita had all the time lived with a defect in his coronary heart valve, and after having six coronary heart stents for 15 to twenty years, he took the quadruple bypass surgical procedure that docs beneficial him.

In accordance with the Sanbukan Dojo Facebook page, Yamashita was admitted to the Keck Hospital of the College of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 1, at 7:30 a.m.

Earlier than Yamashita went to the hospital, he posted a video on YouTube asserting to his college students about his surgical procedure and the way he’s not too fearful about it.

“I can inform you the sincere reality, I’ve not fearful one minute about it,” Yamashita mentioned within the video. “I’ve no fears. No anxieties. I sleep properly each night time.”

Jeremy Johnston, a buddy of Yamashita and dojocho (administrator) of Sanbukan Dojo, mentioned that he battled his coronary heart defect by being lively via martial arts and educating.

“He’s been a instructor, being lively always his entire life, and this final 12 months, he hasn’t been capable of be as lively and I believe that basically took a toll on his physique’s capability to struggle off this coronary heart defect that he’s all the time had,” Johnston mentioned.

Johnston gave updates on Yamashita’s time on the hospital via the Fb web page and since visitations on the hospital are restricted, solely two individuals, Gary Abraham and Mike Jackson have been allowed within the hospital with Yamashita to flow into updates on to Johnston by cellphone.

“Took a bit of bit longer, however the surgical procedure itself really went very properly and he was progressing barely forward of schedule of his preliminary restoration,” Johnston mentioned. “He was feeling good so far as his mindset and his temperament.”

Yamashita took lengthy rests after his surgical procedure whereas docs put him on machines to maintain him secure and provides him coronary heart drugs.

“I do know they did the whole lot they may. I believe his coronary heart had simply been broken a lot over time. I don’t assume there’s something anybody might have executed for him,” Hellmannsberger mentioned.

A fighter. A thinker. A buddy.

Yamashita is remembered by his college students and friends as a driving pressure to achieve turning into a greater fighter and humble from inside as he handed on his philosophy of not worrying, calling fear a waste of time and saying that it’ll all work out.

“We’re all higher, not solely in our skills to the martial arts however higher in our character as a result of we knew any individual like him,” Hellmannsberger mentioned. “He had a profound impact on lots of people and I believe lots of people would inform you a similar factor.”


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