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Discovering Aikido: Principles for Practical Learning

Book Summary:

This book analyses the principles that enable the student to learn Aikido efficiently. By understanding the various principles the Aikidoka will gain the personal strategy and then apply that new knowledge in practice.

This book is targeted at the keen beginner and the intermediate student as well as the more advanced Aikido practitioner. The book will also be of wider interest as many of the principles that are discussed also relate to other martial arts such as Jujutsu and Judo.

The author assumes that the reader has begun to practice Aikido, or a related art, and begins with advice on etiquette, warming-up and posture, and then considers attack, technique, breakfalls, self-defence, methods of practice and more. The sequence of the chapters follows a natural progression in terms of studying Aikido.

Well illustrated with over 150 photographs and diagrams.

UPDATE 02/2011: The author has recently put the entire contents of the book into the online public domain at www.discovering-aikido.com

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This is a newly released book, authored by a regular contributor on the Aikido Journal forums, an Aikikai stylist who currently resides and instructs in South Korea. The book is intended for those who are already engaged in the study of Aikido, and does not waste space talking about how to tie an obi or how to fold a hakama, but goes right to the business of explaining in some detail the dynamics and mechanics behind the various movements intrinsic to Aikido.

There are chapters on warm-ups, posture, breathing, spacing, balance, generating power, attacks, and many other topics, all discussed matter-of-factly, at what I would judge to be an intermediate level. The text does seem to waver somewhat between facts and opinion, but not in a way that would be detrimental. The author has definite ideas on how to train proficiently, and they are put before the reader succinctly in this text. The book is well illustrated, with numerous detailed diagrams and black/white photos. The photos are taken outdoors against a wooded natural backdrop, which seems to enhance some photos, but also makes others less clear.

One glaring omission from the material is any discussion, or even acknowledgement of, the principle of ki. The power of mind and breath do get much ink, as does the generation of mechanical power, but the concept of ki is left out completely. Some discussion of it would have made the book much more balanced, although I know that in some Aikido circles, ki is a vague and unsubstantiated element.

The book is a fairly easy read, although the single-spaced text is a little rough on the eyes, and the magazine-styled columnar text format seems a little out of place here. If you can get past all that, though, there is a lot of material presented here, and much can be learned from this book. I liked that the author targeted the material to the experienced practitioner, and that this is not just another “here’s what Aikido is” book. There is just no need for any more introductory level books on Aikido, because there is nothing that can be said at that level that has not already been said dozens of times before.

The book is a little pricey, especially since there will probably be a shipping charge on top of it, but in my opinion, it’s worth the money. It is a book that one can go back to and re-read from time to time, as there is real information here. Availability is good through Amazon and other online sources. I don’t expect to see them in the MA supply stores for a while, and used copies are obviously not available yet. I would recommend adding it to your library.

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