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Aikido: The Book in Between

Book Summary:

This is a collection of the author's thoughts and interpretations of the lessons he has absorbed through his aikido training on such subjects as love and sex, the sword, nutrition, politics, and others. Modestly illustrated.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This book has just hit the market, although in a limited fashion. The book is, to say the least, unusual. It is a collection of opinions and anecdotes of the author, who introduces himself at the outset as “Nobody”. This moniker may be closer to the truth than he wants to admit, as I have never heard of him. Apparently, neither has the internet, since careful searches failed to yield a clue as to his background or Aikido lineage. There is certainly nothing in the book that credits or even acknowledges his style or prior teachers, nor even a reference to those teachers of note with whom he shares similar ideas. All I can find in my research is that Frastas Sensei began his martial training in 1976, and opened his own dojo in 1989. Although the author is obviously an intelligent and deeply thoughtful man, there is a distinct lack of credibility here. Perhaps if any reader of this review knows of him, you would be good enough to add a comment here with some bio.

The content is purely opinion, on topics such as death, love and sex, mankind’s search for truth, rules for society, the sword, bushido, religion, politics, and numerous others, all ostensibly from an Aikido perspective. I won’t go into whether I agree with the author’s points of view here, as I am just one person, but I would have to say that the book is thought-provoking, primarily because I often found myself struggling to figure out just what the heck he is talking about. It is more than a dumb ol’ country boy like me can fathom. Your mileage may vary, but it left me floating out among the star particles.

I should point out that, although it is a ponderous volume, there are (thankfully) not 390 pages of reading in this book. There are dozens of pages with nothing on them (usually the back pages of photos), and many others with only one sentence, but they have all been counted toward the total. It is illustrated (black/white), and the photos usually depict the author doing techniques, but they seem to have been placed at random. The photos do not bear any relationship to the text found in proximity, and there are no captions. All in all, the photos are largely disjointed and irrelevant. The text is single-spaced, but easy on the eyes. The book is too new for used copies to be found, and at the time of this writing, can be ordered new at Amazon.com, or from the publisher directly at www.trafford.com/4dcgi/view-item?item=6814 . The price is $43.02 US, plus shipping. This is a lot of cabbage just to hear someone’s opinions (after all, you can hear mine right here for free… and worth every penny!). I hate to pan the book, because it obviously represents a tremendous amount of work by the author. Some might find it inspirational, but the truth is that it really didn’t float my boat. You probably should wait until you can get a used copy for much less.

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Review by: Herman-Matthias Schenter

If you’re looking for a technical martial arts book, then “The Book In Between” is not what you are looking for.

On the contrary, this remarkable book offers a theoretical analysis of the most important aspects of life, from simple “daily routine” subjects,to more philosophical and esoteric ones, from the perspective of an Aikido teacher.

I must confess that in the beginning I was quite reluctant of reading a book of this kind, written by someone who refuses to refer to his background and rank in martial arts. I thought “who is this guy anyway?” That is, of course, until I saw the pictures! In these black and white photos, the author is demonstrating a series of very impressing Aikido techniques, some of them rarely seen nowadays.

As for the text, the author develops his point of view and ideas in various subjects such as nutrition, sex, money, ethics, etc. He is also daring to “touch” sensitive personal and social matters such as religion, politics and death, without neglecting martial subjects such as the Japanese sword, chain of command and how a martial arts’ school is to be run.

His opinions, no matter how strict and cynical they may seem are surely reflecting the way of the warrior in modern, daily life. Whether you agree or disagree with him, you will find his ideas quite objective and very down to earth, not at all driven by some sort of fanaticism.

The “vehicle” the author uses to get us to his point is a very “original” writing style (one that sometimes looks like poetry) with a lot of proverbs.

Although you will probably need to read the book more than once to get to the point, it is a “must” at your private library.

By the way, this guy also has a site (marioaikibook.com)

Check it out!

Herman-Matthias Schenker (Mechanic)

Berlin

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Review by: John Whisler

Outside the beaten path

I’ve been practicing Aikido for about a decade. And during this time I have come across many Aikido books… My view is that after reading a few of them you simply get bored, since you read over and over again cliché phrases and conclusions about “harmony” “the way of peace” and other suchlike. Most books in one way or another present Aikido to be filed with roses (and because I love Aikido that’s probably true!). But this book is all about viewing the roses without being afraid to touch and be bled by its thorns…

Not a “beginners” book in any way.

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