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Aikido Toho Iai

Book Summary:

O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, often said to his students that training for Aikido without using the sword is not enough. For the first time, this book introduces a system founded by Shoji Nishio Sensei called Aikido Toho Iai, which is the connection between the art of sword drawing and Aikido techniques. The sword is the origin of the Aikido techniques, and this book shows you how to use it the right way. Using the examples of 15 sword forms and the corresponding Aikido techniques, the book enables you to create your own sword form for different Aikido techniques by understanding the principles of the sword. This will bring you more success in the martial arts and much more fun while training for it.

***A 2nd Edition in a larger format (ISBN 9781841262772) was released in 2009 by the same publisher.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This is a recently released book from Meyer & Meyer Sport Publishing, published initially in German, and now available in English. The author, Michael Russ Sensei, has an extensive background in martial arts, including Aikido, Karate and Jiu-Jitsu. He is a direct student of the late Shoji Nishio Sensei, and this book is dedicated to the heavily sword-influenced Nishio style of Aikido, which Nishio Sensei called “Aikido Toho Iai”.

The core of the book is comprised of 15 sword and sword-drawing techniques, and their corresponding empty-hand Aikido counterparts. Each technique is laid out in sequential photographs, accompanied by explanatory text. Every effort is made to show the close relationship between sword work, for which Nishio Sensei was well known, and the movement and body mechanics that will be familiar to most Aikido students.

The early passages in the book also contain a brief description of the evolution of Japanese swordsmanship, as well as basic facts about the sword itself, but in spite of the unwavering emphasis on the sword-Aikido relationship, this is definitely not meant to be an instructional volume for those wishing to undertake sword training.

The book is well laid out and profusely illustrated. The photos are professional, all in color and of excellent quality. Printing is done on heavy, high quality paper, and the typeface is easy to read. The only issue I could find with the quality is that the book would be better in a hardback binding, or with a cardstock jacket, as the front and rear covers seem to get dog-eared easily.

At some 250 pages, there is a lot of information here, and from a perspective that is different from most of the mainstream Aikido fare (Nishio Sensei himself wrote only one book). Russ Sensei seems to have stayed true to his teacher in this writing. The cover price of $19.95USD is not at all objectionable for a piece of this quality, and although it is too early for used copies to be available, new copies can probably be found on Amazon.com and elsewhere at prices lower than the cover price. Recommended for followers of aiki arts of all styles.

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