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Old 02-10-2011, 11:43 AM   #1
George S. Ledyard
 
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Book by Tom Read Sensei

Aikido Aikibojitsu and the Structure of Natural Law

First, let me say that this is a work of genius. Just about every page has content that causes me to stop and ponder. If you are the kind of person who revels in works like the Dancing Wuli Masters or the Tao of Physics, works for laymen on the nature of the universe,then this book will be for you.

Read Sensei moves seamlessly from physics and mathematics to the spiritual and technical implications of these principles to martial arts and Aikido specifically. So often, spirituality and rationality are seen as in opposition. People generally are more comfortable with one than the other, as in Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in which he juxtaposes the "rational / scientific" worldview against the "groovy" world view. As in Pirsig's work, this book endeavors to show that there is no separation between the rational and the spiritual.

That said, if you are firmly in one camp or the other, you will probably not deal with his book well. It requires that you go back and forth, sometimes with no warning. It requires that you have a flexibility of mind that allows for really big stretches in your thinking. The folks who think Aikido is just about throwing an enemy on the ground will hate it. The folks who think Aikido is the art of being nice to each other will hate it. If you don't want to seriously exercise that muscle between your ears, do not buy this book, you won't make it through the first chapter.

But if you are looking for something REALLY profound, clearly based on insight developed through decades of personal practice and direct experience, then this is one of those books that you'll read now, read again later, and still be reading twenty years from now as your understanding of your Aikido deepens. It is an amazing book. Not easy, but really amazing.

The Book

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 02-10-2011, 12:21 PM   #2
jbblack
 
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

George, you are correct many will hate it and many will love it. I'll let you know, I just ordered it.
Cheers,
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:56 AM   #3
danj
Dojo: Brisbane Aikido Republic
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

Intrigued by the lure of physics and mathematics I had a look at the book excerpts. From an aikidoka perspective I found some real gems/koans to ponder on what is clearly deep knowledge gathered from years of experience. From a physical science perspective I could see how the scientific terms used could fit what the author was trying to say, but its not necessarily good science and for me detracts from what the author is trying to say through unnecessarily verbose language.

Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
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Old 02-11-2011, 01:12 PM   #4
George S. Ledyard
 
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

Quote:
Daniel James wrote: View Post
Intrigued by the lure of physics and mathematics I had a look at the book excerpts. From an aikidoka perspective I found some real gems/koans to ponder on what is clearly deep knowledge gathered from years of experience. From a physical science perspective I could see how the scientific terms used could fit what the author was trying to say, but its not necessarily good science and for me detracts from what the author is trying to say through unnecessarily verbose language.
a) it's best to treat the book as an Aikido book that relates concepts to science than as science. That's how I look at it.

b) I understand about the "verbose language" issue. I definitely felt that way at the beginning. Now that I am further into the book, I can see that, in some ways this is a "learn a foreign language textbook". Read Sensei has created his own descriptive system, borrowing liberally from science, without being truly scientific, borrowing from various spiritual systems, without trying to necessarily be precisely true to those systems. In that sense his goal is getting the reader to understand and the concepts he uses are for that purpose. What he is trying to describe is his direct experience, born of countless hours of training and the insights that came to him through that effort. I think his use of scientific concepts is central to his meaning but I think it would be good

So, just as in any language text, there is lots of repetition of the basic vocabulary in the dialogues. I am finding that this is a good thing because it is helping me reinforce the meanings Read Sensei has given these terms. This is especially true because I read during relatively small chunks of spare time. So I pick the book up and resume where I left off and don't necessarily remember every detail that went before. So having a lot of verbiage is good for me since it reinforces the concepts through repetition.

In a way, books like The Tao of Physics underwent some of the same criticism from the hard science guys because it was popularization and not science. Or Alan Watts was criticized for his books on Zen because they weren't solid scholarship nor was he actually a Roshi. But, from my point of view, Tom's book is attempting a paradigm shift on how you think about practicing Aikido and in a much larger sense how you evaluate the experience you have of your own reality. Whatever meaning is really contained in the book will really only be revealed through practice. The book is just the conceptual framework for that practice. What is truly remarkable to me is that this is how Tom actually thinks about what he is doing. It's how he talks about it when he teaches. I find the complexity of his experience staggering. He has trained for decades, just like many of us. What he has seen in that training compared to what many of the rest of us have seen is humbling and inspiring at the same time.

That's why I get so disappointed when people try to reduce Aikido into just another fighting style. If that's all one is worried about in ones Aikido, his experience of the art is like a desert compared to the lushness of Tom's conception.

George S. Ledyard
Aikido Eastside
Bellevue, WA
Aikido Eastside
AikidoDvds.Com
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Old 02-11-2011, 02:15 PM   #5
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

Quote:
George S. Ledyard wrote:
If you are the kind of person who revels in works like the Dancing Wuli Masters or the Tao of Physics, works for laymen on the nature of the universe,then this book will be for you
I think Sagan or Hawkin books are better.

Quote:
In a way, books like The Tao of Physics underwent some of the same criticism from the hard science guys because it was popularization and not science.
I can't agree with that.

On Read Sensei book: considering I've only read the excerpts available in his website, his social position in the aikido world and you being his friend you'll understand me not giving my unworthy and surely wrong opinion.

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Old 02-11-2011, 07:05 PM   #6
danj
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

thanks George for the followup, much appreciated. I found from what little I read to be refreshing as a new angle on aiki from other books I've read, hopefully the language isn't a barrier to it being well appreciated by lay audiences or a turn off to the technical.

One of my favourite teaching moments was when I heard "Your aikido will only improve when your concept of aikido improves" by Kenjiro Yoshigasaki sensei ( I think originally a chemical engineer and head of a Ki Society style organisation in Europe), looks like this book might offer up an abundance of such. The juice may well be worth the squeeze I'm tempted to pony up to find out - though postage downunder (where available) is often the killer.

FWIW and quite OT around the world universally science seems to be both derided and yet held on a pedestal at the same time. The process of science is something of a benchmark and many clamber for the authenticity it brings, when often they might be better off just standing on their own merits. Its a red rag to scientific bull when things like 'quantum physics' are used as badges for some new age topic. I'm not suggesting this is the case here.

Brisbane Aikido Republic: AikiPhysics, Aikido Brisbane news,
ph 0413 001 844, 1593 Logan Rd, Mt.Gravatt, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA
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Old 01-29-2012, 07:22 PM   #7
Tyson Walters
 
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

I'm working my way through this book at present, and although a not a light read by any stretch of the imagination... I'm enjoying it.

Thanks for the recommendation George.
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Old 01-31-2012, 01:56 PM   #8
azrielg
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Re: Book by Tom Read Sensei

I've read this book, and I loved it. It has helped me immensely by providing a different conceptual framework/perspective from which to draw upon when reflecting on aikido, aiki and IS. This book really puts a fresh spin on spirals in aikido, so to speak. I agree that it is not really "scientific". However, this does not detract from his contribution and worth of this book--once you adapt to his terminology you gain access to a rich and descriptive new way of thinking.

I hope I'll get an opportunity to train in aikido and staff with Read sensei once I've got a better grasp on the basics.
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