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Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


Cheryl Matrasko
James Loeser
Matthew O'Connor


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Budo Secrets
Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters
John Stevens, author

by Cheryl Matrasko

published by Shambhala, Publications, Inc.
Boston & London

High on my list for both good reading and personal interest for the serious Aikidoist is “Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters”, by Professor John Stevens, published by Shambhala, Publications, Inc. Boston & London.

In “Secrets”, Stevens introduces us to numerous budoka, the principles that form the backbone of their individual arts, and the various philosophies behind each of them. In addition, he adds colorful martial tales, fables, calligraphies, and artwork to give us more depth to our own understanding of the martial arts.

The book is neatly divided into three sections: The Principles of Budo, The Philosophy of Budo, and Tales of the Masters of Budo. The first segment reveals the training principles of Yagyu Reyna, Kyuzo Mifune, Jigoro Kano, Gichin Funakoshi, the Tanseki School of Swordsmanship, Ten Virtues for a Ninja, to name only a few.

In the Philosophy of Budo, Stevens shows us the wisdom behind the various budo principles. For instance, we are introduced to the lessons of Issai Chosan’s “Neko no Myojutsu” (Marvelous Techniques of the Old Cat). Chosan’s points out limitations of both pure technique and Ki, and true harmony should be a function of nature.

Some of the other subjects that Stevens covers are: mushin (or no-mind), Secrets of Samurai Swimming, Tesshu Yamaoka’s Carpenter’s Plane, Tempu Nakamura, Morihei Ueshiba’s masakatsu agatsu, Yagu Munenori, and so on and so on.

Short stories, with lessons attached to them comprise the last section, Tales of the Masters of Budo. With the numerous paintings, prints and calligraphies placed in the pages, the readers find meaningful impressions behind many of the budo principles and philosophies that Stevens unfolds in each section. Plum Blossoms Open Because of the Frost and Snow, is a scroll by famous swordsman Hakudo Nakayama, communicates that the trained martial artist will perform best even when confronted with danger and crisis.

As a long time Aikidoka, I have always found John Stevens’ books an excellent source of knowledge and reference. In addition, I found his book very entertaining and appealing to the child-side of me, as I read of the various lessons the pages had to hand down to me. It gave me a few more fables and lessons to pass on to my own Aikido students!

  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications
  • ISBN: 1570624461
  • Many kudos to Professor Stevens!

    Thank you to John Stevens' publisher Beth Frankl for allowing us to review this book!

    Permission received to display book's cover and quotations used for this review from Shambhala, Publications, Inc. Boston & London
    and are Copyright
    © by
    Shambhala, Publications, Inc. 

    © 2002, Aikido World, Inc.  All rights reserved

    Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for Northwestern University Medical School - Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. 

    She started Aikido in 1965, studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei, and thereafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu to extend her martial arts education and perspectives. Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and supporting Aikido World Journal.

    Literary materials, film clips, and pictures are copyrighted by their respected authors and owners. Permission in writing to the owners must be made for any duplication, display, or reprint.

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    Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
    (C. Matrasko as uke)
    © 1978 C. Matrasko

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