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Aikido

Book Summary:

A newly published British import, this is a basic Aikido overview in a quality package. There are sections on history, biographical data, the Aikido mindset, technical information, and self-defense. Note: A 2007 Lorenz release entitled "T'ai Chi and Aikido" contains a word-for-word republication of this book, along with a previous T'ai Chi publication.

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Review by: Clark Bateman

This newly published book is an ambitious effort by Peter Brady Sensei, longtime student of Kazuo Chiba Sensei, and a principal figure in the British Aikido scene. The book is billed as a “guide to the history, philosophy practice and etiquette” of Aikido, and as a “complete Aikido course, from beginner to advanced level”.

The book is logically divided into sections, beginning with a look backward (several hundred years worth) at the evolution of the thinking and technical elements that most will accept as the basis for the development of O’Sensei’s Aikido. Included are glimpses at the formation of the Seiwa Genji and Minamoto No Yoshimitsu, into the Takeda clan, and forward through the DaitoRyu of Sokaku Takeda, to O’Sensei and into contemporary times. There are numerous vintage photographs in this section. There is then a nice section on traditions and etiquette. The explanations of formal sitting and bowing positions are insightful and well-illustrated.

A section follows on the basic Aikido principles and philosophy, ki and kokyo, and clothing and equipment. Next is a large section on warm-ups, stretching and other preparatory activities. The remaining half of the book is devoted to basic-to-intermediate techniques, both taijutsu and bukiwaza. A practical self-defense commentary is included.

Initially, I was skeptical when I saw the publisher’s claims that this was a complete advanced course in Aikido. Indeed, it most certainly is NOT. But it is an organized, very well thought out and presented primer. It is the type of book one might seek in a library if one wanted to learn a lot about Aikido from the outside, in order to better understand the history and conventions of the art. The excellent quality of the photography (most non-archival stuff is in full color), and the good quality glossy paper, combine to make for an attractive package. There are numerous “sidebars” in the text, which highlight featured content. The typeset and spacing is very readable, although the photo captions are a little tough on aged eyes. The book is a big, coffee table sized volume (it wouldn’t fit entirely on my scanner) but this adds to the overall feeling of quality and substance.

The serious Aikido student is probably not going to find much new information here, but there is a lot of the conventional data here all in one place. Standard Japanese-language naming conventions are used. There was obviously a lot of work put into this book, and it is easily a good value at the cover price of $24.99. The usual outlets have been taking pre-orders, and assuming there is adequate supply to fill those, you should now be able to order one for immediate shipment. Recommended.

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