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Aikido: Basic and Intermediate Studies

Book Summary:

A comprehensive text, fully illustrated, with detailed explanations covering most of the initial studies a new student will undertake at basic and intermediate levels. Update for 2006: This book is now available in a reprint edition (basically the same as the Trafford book, but now published in Australia by the author). The new ISBN# for this second printing is 1921207043.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This is a new book, just in print. John Litchen Sensei is an instructor of Aikikai lineage from Australia. I believe this book is his first Aikido publication. Technical assistance was provided by Graham Morris Sensei. This is primarily a technical manual, and was actually written in a format which allows it to be used as a textbook by Australian school students. In Australia, apparently, some students have the option of taking Aikido as a physical education elective. (I did NOT know that!) At 274 pages, it is a sizeable book, well formatted and laid out. Key words and statements are highlighted in bold type.

As you would expect from what is essentially a textbook, the book has good information on dojo etiquette, and even a very good capsule devoted to the hakama, right down to the traditional meaning of each pleat. There are the obligatory passages on the origins and history of Aikido, but the bulk of the material is about technique, from the most basic (warm-ups, stretching, breathing drills) to the somewhat more intermediate techniques, such as weapons taking. The book is well illustrated with very detailed drawings, which are actually photographs which have been digitally converted to monochromatic pseudo-drawings. Interesting. There is an extensive table of contents, and a brief, but useful, glossary.

Common Japanese terminology is used for most techniques. The quality of the paper is not top-grade, but will do nicely, and helps to keep the costs down. Type is a bit small for older eyes, but still very readable. Trafford Publishing is one of the new breed of on-demand publishers, and the books are actually printed in any quantity immediately upon being ordered.

There are little snippets and annotations from the author throughout the book, which are quite insightful and informative. It is evident that a great deal of care and preparation went into its publication. There is not much here that’s news to the seasoned practitioner, but there’s a lot of good stuff for the novice through the kyu grades. The relatively low cost for a fairly thick book means that you get much bang for the buck. You can get one through Amazon, but the cost is the same if you order directly from Trafford.com, and the turnaround time should be less that way.

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