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Aikido: Essential Guide to Mastering the Art

Book Summary:

This is a clearly presented basic guide to Aikido training and some basic technique with many full-color photographs.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This is a new book, published in the U.K. Bruce Alleman Sensei is an instructor within the Aikido Federation of South Africa organization, who instructs at the Fishhoek Aikido Club. I am not aware of any other publications to date by this author. What sets this book strikingly apart from the typical Aikido fare is the photography and the overall publication quality. At 96 pages, it is not a huge book, but is impeccably formatted and logically laid out, with all printing on heavy, glossy paper. The photographs are numerous, and are all in color. There are artsy time-lapse photos, and many sequential photos which dissect the techniques quite nicely. I am not a big fan of learning techniques from a book, but with those discussed here, it might actually be possible (to learn, not to perfect). The photos are captioned and well explained. Color graphics tie the sequential photos together.

There are condensed chapters devoted to aikido origins and history, discussions of uniforms, weapons and basic principles, and numerous simple techniques. Much of the Japanese-language terminology is used, but not at all in a confusing way. The book is not written in such a way as to favor any particular style of Aikido, but is general and carefully objective in its approach. If I have one gripe about the book, it is only this: The subtitle “Essential Guide to Mastering the Art” is misleading. Nobody is going to “master” Aikido by reading this (or any other) book. The typical practitioner of Aikido is not going to find any new information here, as the book is very basic, but it is certainly presented in a clear and concise manner. It would make excellent reference material for any novice who wants to know more about the art, or is considering undertaking the training. If you have a “dojo library”, it would make a good addition to show new students, particularly teenagers or young adults. I’d like to see a copy or two in every high school, college and public library. If you’ve seen what’s out there now to choose from, you understand why. I would also encourage Allemann Sensei to do something along the same lines, but more advanced, in the future.

The book can be purchased new through Amazon or Abebooks, and there are listings for used copies (How used can they be? The book just came out a couple of months ago.) at considerable savings. Shop around for the best shipping prices, as most copies are shipped from the U.K. and will cost extra. Overall, in spite of its basic nature, this book is a very nice presentation, and slicker than anything I have ever seen at the entry level.

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