Spiritual Foundations of Aikido, The
This book deals in detail with the so-called esoteric aspects of Aikido-- those things that we hear about, but seldom understand. For example, one chapter deals with Shinto, its history, mythology, current state today, and its connection with Aikido. Other chapters cover topics like "Kototama," "One Spirit, Four Souls," "Three Origins, Eight Powers," and order in the universe. These topics, and others, are part of the spiritual side of Aikido; they are most often found in the sayings of Ueshiba O-Sensei, and it is rare that someone attempts to make these ideas clear. Here is a book length attempt to do so. Although there are many technical photos of waza, with explanations, this is not a technical manual; the author is illustrating points made in the text by showing examples applied to practice. At the end of the book is a quite extensive glossary.
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Review by: Clark Bateman
This is a staple aikido publication, being one of the more popular titles showing the relationships between aikido and numerous philosophical and/or spiritual schools of thought. Although some basic technique is discussed, Gleason Sensei focuses primarily on the principles of spirituality, whether it be through the teachings of the kototama, zen, breath training, Shinto, or any number of other references. Many of the relevant kanji characters are identified, and origins for the principles are discussed. The tone of the book is such that a beginner is not going to get lost, and an experienced aikidoka is not going to get bored.
Gleason Sensei was a student at Aikikai Hombu for many years, and in this book, he tries to explain in laymen’s terms some of the often cryptic spiritual teachings of O’Sensei. Some breathing exercises are described, and so is paired bokken practice. Many of Gleason Sensei’s past teachers are quoted. The book is as relevant today as it was at its original printing more than ten years ago.
The book is unpretentious, and does not favor any particular style. Those of you who prefer only the physical side of Aikido should probably pass on it, although it wouldn’t hurt to at least browse it. It may stir an interest inside you that will do you good to explore. Printing and drawings are clear and easy to read, and type is set double-spaced. Availability is very good, both new and used, and prices are quite reasonable. I recommend this book if the topic is to your liking.
It is also my understanding that Gleason Sensei has another book project in the works, entitled "Aikido and Words of Power" due for release in February 2009.