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Old 09-07-2008, 05:50 PM   #1
MM
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John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

Finished reading John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido.

http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Aikido...0830927&sr=1-1

Overall, I think anyone wanting to pursue aiki...do should bypass this book altogether. From what I understand of aiki...do, Stevens misses it completely. He goes off on tangents with many other religious themes and tries to tie them together with aikidoTM and Ueshiba. I don't agree with any of his ideas. The pictures about Ueshiba were good.

Two things that stood out:

1. Page 37, there is a story about Shirai and Terada. "jolted by a shock of ki power" and "frozen to the spot". Interesting ideas that are found throughout Daito-ryu greats (including Ueshiba).

2. Page 47. "Morihei declared that 'Aikido is the breath of A-UN'."
Hmmm ... so, can we theorize that the Aunkai, headed by Ark, is the way to the breath of Aikido?
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Old 09-07-2008, 06:17 PM   #2
rob_liberti
Dojo: Shobu Aikido of Connecticut
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

Careful Mark, he may just be writing a biography about you and aikido someday...

Someday I really hope to have the time to take a shot at that kind of work myself. I just want to be able to manifest the principles of aiki in my own body before daring to speak on the subject myself.

Rob
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Old 09-07-2008, 07:59 PM   #3
Allen Beebe
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

One day John Stevens and I were in Powells Books* here in Portland. He was doing research for one of his books and so we went to the Zen section. There was literally a wall of books on Zen. I couldn't help but express how odd it seemed to me that we were standing in front of a wall of books that virtually all started by stating "Zen cannot be expressed in words."

I feel the same way about Aikido's secrets. Still, despite the paradox of a publicly sold book of "secrets" and a seeming over abundance of mediocre texts, I love books, and would morn the loss of the opportunity to turn my nose up at a wide variety of tomes.

*The downtown Powells takes up one city block and is three stories high. It is a "must see" if you love books and come to Portland, OR.

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-08-2008, 05:43 AM   #4
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
One day John Stevens and I were in Powells Books* here in Portland. He was doing research for one of his books and so we went to the Zen section. There was literally a wall of books on Zen. I couldn't help but express how odd it seemed to me that we were standing in front of a wall of books that virtually all started by stating "Zen cannot be expressed in words."

I feel the same way about Aikido's secrets. Still, despite the paradox of a publicly sold book of "secrets" and a seeming over abundance of mediocre texts, I love books, and would morn the loss of the opportunity to turn my nose up at a wide variety of tomes.

*The downtown Powells takes up one city block and is three stories high. It is a "must see" if you love books and come to Portland, OR.
Some things are worth the price and some aren't. I didn't find this book worth the price and I found it on sale. Would I mourn the loss of this book? Probably not. If you can get it really cheap and you've got most other aikido books, sure, the pictures are neat.

Powells, huh? One city block? Three stories high? Are you trying to tempt me to visit Portland? I'll have to save a whole lot more money now that I know about Powells.
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:41 AM   #5
Allen Beebe
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Powells, huh? One city block? Three stories high? Are you trying to tempt me to visit Portland? I'll have to save a whole lot more money now that I know about Powells.
They have other locations in the city as well, AND they sell used books (my personal favorite) and rare books. Heck! They even sell those trashy fantasy novels one hears about!!

Allen

Last edited by Allen Beebe : 09-08-2008 at 07:43 AM.

~ Allen Beebe
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Old 09-08-2008, 07:54 AM   #6
gdandscompserv
 
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

If you like stories high specialty stores, try Tokyu Hands in Japan. I could spend days in that place.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...okyu-Hands.JPG

Last edited by gdandscompserv : 09-08-2008 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 09-08-2008, 08:55 AM   #7
ChrisMoses
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Re: John Stevens book The Secrets of Aikido

Quote:
Mark Murray wrote: View Post
Powells, huh? One city block? Three stories high? Are you trying to tempt me to visit Portland? I'll have to save a whole lot more money now that I know about Powells.
Like Allen said, that's just the main store, their tech-book store is just down the way and is its own building!

but I digress...

I agree completely Mark. I discount completely half of what's in that book and am highly suspect of the other half. I sometimes wonder if Stevens was actually trying to capture in words just how obviously incredible OSensei was in person. Since, "Man, you just have to see this guy!" doesn't sell books and doesn't work with someone who is dead there is a real danger for the cult of personality aspect of Aikido to fade away (I think it already has in many circles). I can think of at least one senior Aikido instructor here in the NW who (in my view) is still driven to study and embrace Aikido based largely on a few instances of being on the mat at the same time with OSensei and exchanging some eye contact. That's genuinely impressive! Making him completely legendary in scope can continue that paradigm to some extent. Last year the Aikido school where my sword school trains did a demo, one of their yudansha wrote up some notes for the presenter to read during the Aikido demo. Here are a couple actual quotes that were offered in all honesty (and I found out later were based on Stevens "biographies")

Quote:
Even if we accept every exploit of all the legendary warriors, East and West, as being literally true, none of those accomplishments can be compared to Morihei's documented ability to disarm any attacker, throw a dozen men simultaneously, and down and pin opponents without touching them, recorded scores of times in photographs, on film, and by personal testimony.
Quote:
In purely physical terms, Morihei was one of the strongest men to every tread this earth.
Quote:
Nineteenth century Tesshu Yamaoka, founder of the Muto Ryu, the School of No-Sword -- martial artist supreme, master calligrapher, and Zen master -- is perhaps Morihei's only rival as Japan's greatest budoka (martial artist).


Thankfully they were receptive to some of my suggestions on the presentation, but one thing that kept coming up (and one of the reasons I'm most disappointing with Stevens works) is that since Stevens is in a position to accurately research Aikido and the founder (a senior Aikidoka living in Japan who is a Historian), his information should be accepted as definitive. Given his credentials, he should be, but then...

Chris Moses
TNBBC, "Putting the ME in MEdiocre!"
Budo Tanren at Seattle School of Aikido
Shinto Ryu Iai-Battojutsu
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