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Feeling Aikido: Body Awareness Training as a Foundation for Aikido Practice

Book Summary:

FEELING AIKIDO is a practical manual showing how to use body and movement awareness exercises to enhance the effectiveness of Aikido defense techniques and deepen Aikido practice as a meditative and spiritual process. In order to truly blend with the attack, we need to be deeply aware of the attacker, and to do that we need to be anchored in a mindbody state of self-awareness, power and compassion. This is where the practices of self-defense and self-awareness converge. The book details exercises on intentionality, posture, breathing, balance, coordination, power, and compassion. The emphasis is on improving the defender’s mind/body functioning as well his/her ability to perceive and make use of attackers’ imbalances. To see sample chapters, please go to being-in-movement.com.

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Review by: Wendy Palmer

For advanced practitioners and senseis, Feeling Aikido offers a resource for deepening your understanding of Aikido and a wealth of ideas for conveying the principles at the heart of the practice.

Aikidoists know that the most fundamental principles- relax, blend with the attack, direct the flow gracefully through the form of a technique-can be very difficult to execute even after many years of practice. Paul has produced a clear and accessible guide that clarifies what it is in our body posture and use of attention that stands in the way of our natural birthright-beautiful, fluid execution of Aikido techniques.

Posture is probably the single most important reference point for recognizing the way the body is organizing ki - energy. Paul points out that if we try to “stand up straight,” we might inadvertently tighten or squeeze muscles in a way that actually cuts off the flow of our ki. Paul has carefully broken down many of the subtle aspects of posture. He offers simple exercises, which use contrast between ease and effort. He shows us that the way we use our eyes and tilt our head are powerful contributors to the quality of our posture. They dictate whether our posture will produce ease and efficiency or strain as we execute techniques.

Using a similar format he demonstrates how to apply proper balance, distance, timing and attitude to the basic techniques as well as ukemi. His descriptions of exercises are easy to grasp and the photos give clear visual examples of the difference between stress and ease in an Aikido stance.

As we know, Aikido has tremendous healing possibilities. It embodies the spiritual aspects of using ki and unconditional love as a way to allow interactions to recover their natural fluid and balanced state. This book provides simple embodied practices for healing at many levels. Paul's application of these practices in work with abuse survivors (in his earlier book Winning is Healing: Body Awareness & Empowerment for Abuse Survivors) is the most powerful and impressive trauma work I have ever seen.

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