saotome vs. ikeda
agreed, Saotome's tape "principles of Aikido" as well as it's partner book (same title) are a must, at least the book is. Saotome is very ecletic in his training, and he has become more solid yet softer in his later years, (compare this with footage in the early to mid 80's and you'll see what I mean). Ikeda is a lot more dynamic, but a lot younger too. Both are very, very good, but as a beginner Saotome's tapes and books(Principles of Aikido, and Aikido and the Harmony of Nature) will give you more than enough to keep you busy for awhile.