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Old 06-24-2006, 12:49 PM   #14
Carol Shifflett
Location: PA
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 53
Re: A good illustrated reference?

Sean Orchard wrote:
People always recommend this, and yes, Oscar Ratti's illustrations are beautiful.
But, I think the book's classic status is largely down to its being one of the first books of its kind. Its rather overrated imho.
Even if you love it though, you'd have to admit its pretty hopeless for the purpose Mary is looking for - essentially an aide memoir for the names of techniques.
Wonderful illustrations! Hopelessly turgid text! I bought ADS in my first week of Aikido but it was two years before I could make sense of it. I don't know the history, but the text has the feeling of a doctoral thesis wherein obfuscation is valued over clarity. OTOH, I can see why they thought it reasonable to replace names with a numbering system. OTOH, in real life, Immobilization #5 to Attack #3 just doesn't work.

Not for beginners UNLESS the beginner knows how to use it effectively. Effective use is as follows:

1. Sit down with your instructor or knowledgeable dojomate and identify the techniques per the terms used in your dojo.

2. Study the technique descriptions by breaking the long narratives into individual numbered steps.

3. Rewrite the individual steps into instructions that make sense to you.

4. Dance the techniques according to your own rewritten directions -- then get on the mat and practice, with input on stylistic differences from your instructor or knowledgeable dojomate.

Not to indulge in Shameless Commercial Plug here, but "Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training" began as info sheets for beginners having problems with language and terminology. It includes a "Translation Table" of the Attacks and Immobilizations used in ADS and info on the meanings of the highly descriptive Japanese terms. OTOH, it was never intended as an instruction manual for technique -- therefore there are also cross-references to pertinent info in "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere," "Total Aikido," and whatever is appropriate to your individual style.

Bonus: If you disassemble ADS as above you'll notice some back-of-the-book illustrations which are backwards or out of place -- apparently deadlines were looming. And you will be among some of the few who have actually READ the book in detail over the past 30 years. Most of us just look at the pictures.

Carol Shifflett
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