Ok, I am a big fan of John Stevens' "Classical Aikido" and the traditions of Rinjiro Shirata. I am also (pretty obviously) a big fan of Shioda Kancho. But I have to say that the "biographies" fall more in line with what I would call "mythologies". As such, I think they perform their function well. They relay the stories, myths, and quite a few facts about the founder and his teachings. But since there are no or few footnotes or bibliographies...even the facts are kind of hard to cross check. They do make for good reading though.
On the other hand, you have the works of Stan Pranin. When you read these, you often see the specific questions asked of specific sources. This enables you to make intelligent decisions about some of the motivations of the person being questioned, and to cross check information from various sources. Biases are more easily revealed. You can see the training history of the person being questioned as well. All this goes to being able to make an informed decision on certain matters...Mr. Pranin usually keeps the editorializing to a strict minimum.
Both mediums are good to have, in my opinion. And if you haven't had a chance to train with Stevens Sensei, I highly recomend it. People often talk about riai...the connection of the sword to our tachi waza. Stevens Sensei's seminars make the connection perfectly clear. It is a joy to train with him.
Last edited by Ron Tisdale : 06-10-2003 at 02:40 PM.