Jean de Rochefort wrote:
Kancho Shioda says to use the book as an instructor until one is available.
That is a foot...That is a foot in my mouth.
It doesn't say that (either copy of "Dynamic" I have). It says that you should use it as a reference.
However, I'm pretty sure "Total" says it...but I can't recall...and I loaned my copy out...
After rereading your post, I don't know how the issue of training without an instructor got mixed in, but, the book for technique is definitely "Total Aikido".
I'd say buy them in this order if you're from a Yoshokai orYoshinkai (I'm from Yoshokai...so maybe I'm not one to tell you about Yoshinkai....but...you know) : "Total Aikido," "Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere," "Dynamic Aikido" and then "Aikido Exercises."
In "Exercises," Shifflet says that "Total" can't be beat for technical. Further, he/she (?) says that the principles are all the same.
So, maybe if you're not from one of the cited styles, it might be best for what you're looking for.
I found, Shifflet, from a Ki Society background has a different perspective on breath power than I do...that could just be that I don't know what I'm doing.
"Dynamic Sphere"and goes way off into some things that I wasn't on board with. However, after training for a year or two, that book illuminated Aikido for me in many respects.
So, from a technical perspective, I'd say (even though it wasn't asked) that "Sphere" should come before "Exercises."
However, for what I consider to be a real down-to-earth perspective on Aikido that I didn't really get out "Sphere" you've got to go with "Exercises."
If you're from the Yosh family, I'd say you've got to own all four...and a handful of others...