This is a fairly detailed guide for the beginner, and as such includes chapters on history, philosophy, styles, clothing, safety, waza basics, physical and mental training, and advancement. The authors state "Because aikido is made up of these two distinct elements – the technique and the spirit – people are often drawn to one aspect of the art more than the other....What one discovers after dedicated practice is that these two seemingly separate elements are really interconnected, so that the spirit is discovered through practice of technique, and the technique is improved when the spirit is embraced."
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Review by: Clark Bateman
This is a recent publication, and is the first in a series of books by the same authors. The other titles, “Advanced Aikido” (June 2005) and “Aikido Buki-waza” (late 2005/early 2006) are not published as of this writing, but will be reviewed here as soon as they become available. Dang Thong Phong Sensei is lifelong martial arts teacher, with an impressive and diverse background, including advanced rankings in Aikido, Judo, TaeKwonDo and Vietnamese Kung Fu. He is the founder of the Tenshinkai Aikido organization, based in Westminster (Orange County), California. Most of you regulars to the AJ or AikiWeb sites already know Lynn Seiser Sensei, an accomplished writer and academic, and one of Phong Sensei’s senior students, who is a regular contributor to both sites. He is also a serious book collector, and that, in and of itself, makes him a “swell guy” in my book.
This book is intended to be an introduction to Aikido, and it is exactly that. There are chapters devoted to the history and philosophies of Aikido, choosing a school, stretching and warm-ups, basic falls, footwork, and basic techniques. There is also discussion of the major styles of Aikido, explaining some of the contrasts and how they came to be. I was most impressed that a chapter was devoted to ki development and the teachings of Koichi Tohei Sensei. This shows remarkable objectivity and represents the efforts by the authors to bring balance to their presentation. In my opinion, authors too often ignore or even denigrate systems not their own. To offer a fair representation of Aikido without even a brief explanation of the principles of ki is questionable. Many dojos do not even acknowledge ki or undertake even rudimentary ki training, so to see it given its due by two Aikikai authors in a book of basics is refreshing.
The book is modestly illustrated (black and white), but not a lot of pictures are necessary to cover the fundamental material presented here. It is well laid out, easy to see and to read, and thoughtful, when viewed from a beginner’s perspective. It is exactly what I would expect a book called “Basic Aikido” to be. Availability is good, with both new and used copies available from the usual suspects. Used copies should be in good shape, because the book is so new. Good job, Lynn-san. This “KWATZ” is for you!
Review by: Kirk Rains
This book is very comprehensive with the "basics" of the art. It is great read for the beginner who has little to no knowledge about Aikido. I recently started my journey with Aikido and found this book also helped connect some of the dots with philosophy and techniques. I refer to it regularly.