Taylorís book, Aikido - More Than a Martial Art, is an
enjoyable and thought-provoking piece of work. It is the product of
rigorous inquiry into the various aspects of Aikido and the unique
development of the basic premises on which Aikido is predicated. It
organizes an individual quest into the underlying principles of Aikido
into a series of original discoveries. As most books on the topic
rehash the original teachings of the Founder of Aikido, Aikido -
More Than a Martial Art delves into the original teachings from a
fresh and unique approach. Born out of numerous, in-depth debates
about basic principles, the book categorizes insights and techniques
into a highly structured compendium. Because the inquiry into the
basic principles goes into depth, the book is intentionally repetitive
on certain points. This can be likened to daily practice, and makes
the reading very easy and instructive. Most important, however, the
bookís expansive and original coverage of Aikido makes for a
valuable and highly testable piece of work.
The book begins by providing a basis
from which to approach Aikido. We learn that reason and intuition are
self supporting and complementary and that it is essential that both
be continually developed This first section exemplifies the thought
provoking nature of the book. Because the views contained within are
born out of the author's experiences and insights, he admits it is
unlikely that everyone will agree with them and he does seem to
suggest that each reader must discover for themselves what the basic
principles of Aikido really are.
The author shares some interesting
discoveries about the reality of Aikido practice. For example, because
all attacks are unique it is essential that we learn how to develop
our natural, 'non-martial', movements and responses so that they can
be used protectively without conscious thought. In this way, we can
work up a sense of security while accepting the continuously changing
nature of reality. And this acceptance is a basic principle of honest
By covering important topics such as
maintaining your center, good attitude, immediate response, and the
moral issues of safe training, the book develops a sound basis on
which to approach healthy Aikido training. By reiterating, "you
get good at what you do," the author impresses upon the reader
the significance of repetition, both of right movement and wrong
movement. He recommends that the practitioner learn to slow down and
do the movement right every time, lest he begin to pick up and
maintain bad habits.
The author points out various potential
emotional and social pitfalls of Aikido training, and he reminds the
reader always to reflect on what they are learning. He also points out
that while the theme of staying relaxed during Aikido movement is
stressed on every level by almost all teachers, this relaxed state is
not always easily achieved, and he provides some useful tips on how to
cope with this, not the least of which is the wry, "remember not
to hold your breath."
The inquiry into the basic principles
of Aikido turns the authorís attention to the spirituality of
Aikido. He questions the value of such considerations in the training
of most students, and he finds descriptions of "Universal Ki"
and achieving an understanding of "Universal Love"
unhelpful. He draws attention to the fact that "Aikido is above
all, a practical art for dealing with the real world - for making you
aware of the here and now and perhaps helping you see the
extraordinary in the ordinary."
The last part of the book includes
insights into the techniques themselves. By setting the stage on how
to practice effectively, the author advises the reader to have a clear
picture in his mind of the movements to be made and, above all, the
reasons for them. In this manner, the reader can see the application
of the basic principles and put the pieces together to form fluid
movement through slow and deliberate practice.
Before describing the techniques
themselves, the author discusses features common to all techniques,
such as body positioning and posture, atemi, ukemi, breathing. He also
advises on such things as training partners, injury, and picking the
right instructor. Although the descriptions of the techniques do not
have accompanying illustrations, the text is heavily cross-referenced
and incorporates the main points of previously discussed sections of
Overall, this book is a concise (78
pages) compendium of original discoveries into the basic principles of
Aikido. Aikido - More Than a Martial Art provides a rigorously
logical basis on which to build a foundation for Aikido training. It
offers suggestions on how the reader can put their own way of training
and thinking to the test by adopting the same spirit of inquiry as the
author. Because of its concentrated and cross-referenced structure it
is a book that stands repeated study. Mr. Taylor's fluid style of
writing and clear vocabulary (he also has twelve novels to his name)
make reading both easy and enjoyable.
The book is available ONLY by mail
order or credit card sale. Details are given on www.atlanticleisure.co.uk.
© 2000, Aikido World,
Inc. All rights reserved
Loeser has his M.S.from Northwestern University, in Biotechnology - Specializing in Medicinal Chemistry /
Currently, James is a dental student at the University of Illinois at Chicago,
practices Aikido, and is a board member of Aikido World, Inc.
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