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Suenake, Roy; Watson, Christopher -- Complete Aikido
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Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 10.0
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Description: Complete Aikido is the authoritative text on this enlightening martial art and self-defense system. Packed with history and philosophy, this definitive guide offers precise descriptions with 400 clear black-and-white photos illustrating the correct--and incorrect--way to execute aikido techniques.
Keywords: suenaka watson complete aikido
ISBN: 0804831408


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AikiWeb System


Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Author: Alvin Wen
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Alvin Wen

Complete Aikido (Aikido Kyohan: The Definitive Guide to the Way of Harmony) is a history of and introduction to Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho ("Wadokai") Aikido.

The first half of the book presents a biography of Suenaka Sensei, who was born in Hawaii to a Japanese-American family with a tradition of martial arts practice dating back to the 1200's. The early part of this section provides a unique first-hand account of the introduction of aikido to America in Hawaii in the early 1950s, where Suenaka studied with Koichi Tohei and later met O-Sensei during the Founder's visit to the U.S.

A member of the US Air Force, in 1961 Suenaka was stationed in Tokyo for three months, where he studied with O-Sensei and Tohei Sensei at the Hombu Dojo, and then transferred to Okinawa. While in Okinawa, Suenaka taught aikido in a number of locations, eventually opening a dojo of his own. Suenaka's remarkable accounts of his experiences with O-Sensei provide refreshing new insights into O-Sensei's ability and personality, and Suenaka's trials as an outsider opening an aikido dojo in Okinawa make for great reading.

Suenaka was present during Tohei's legendary split with Doshu after O'Sensei's death, and was one of the original shihan in Shin Shin Toitsu aikido (Tohei's new organization). The accounts of this turbulent period and Suenaka's resignation from the Ki Society in 1975 provide a rare glimpse into this little-discussed period in aikido history. Others involved in the situation will no doubt take issue with some aspects of Suenaka's perspective.

This biographical section is fascinating, well-written and occasionally very funny; I had trouble putting the book down.

The second half of the book deals with the actual practice of aikido as taught by Suenaka Sensei. It contains chapters on etiquette, stretching, ukemi, aiki taiso, general techniques, and pins. While the photos in this section are quite well done and the descriptions are clear, this section of the book does not live up to its title--26 waza are neither "complete" nor "definitive"; they are more accurately an introduction to Wadokai aikido. The authors explain that the techniques chosen are included to show a wide range of techniques; among other categories, buki-waza, koshi-waza, and suwari-waza are deliberately omitted.

The technical section does, however, convey some of the "flavor" of Suenaka-style aikido. Suenaka's background in karate and judo show through in places (for example, in the use of kicking atemi against ryote-tori), and it is quite interesting to examine many of the more unusual details presented.

I recommend "Complete Aikido" as a rare first-hand account of an important part of aikido history; while the practical section of the book is interesting reading, I found it disappointing given the book's lofty title.

-Alvin Wen

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AikiWeb System


Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1318
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

Author: Scott Hall
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Scott Hall
Date: 2002-05-31

Sensei Suenaka, a treasure in the martial arts world takes us on a fantastic journey. As much an adventure of one man's remarkable life as well as a textbook. This book outlines Suenaka's training at the feet of the modern masters. Suenaka takes us into the world of Aikido we have never known. This work illustrates dojo politics during the 60s and 70s and provides insight as to how systems originate. Documenting the split between Tohei and O'Sensei one can see the true sense of Suenaka's dedication to his art and the way.

Sensei also puts to rest claims that Aikido is ineffective self-defense. In the second section what is shown with clarity and detail is a text on correct and incorrect technique. Commonly mislabeled a soft art anyone who has trained in "true Aikido" smiles wistfully and wonders when does it get soft?

An outstanding work, very well done and a must read for any martial artist, this book is for beginner and expert alike. Written in a down to earth style that appeals to everyone from the seasoned hanshi to the recreational reader.

In a world with only a handful of true masters all of which can be found in the Yellow Pages of any city, it is inspiring to know that such a man exists.
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Shihan Sonny


Registered: July 2009
Location: Guangzhou
Posts: 5
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros:
Cons:

This book is about a man (Suenaka Sensei) who has trained with the best of the best in Karate, Judo, Kenpo Jujitsu, Kung fu and considers Aikido to be the martial art of choice and Osensei as the best martial artist that ever lived.
I would encourage anyone who has an interest in what happened behind the scenes to Aikido and Hombu Dojo between Doshu and Tohei Sensei after O'Senseis death in 1969 to give this book a read.
As far as the technical aspects of the book, I am quite bias. I am named in the acknowledgements and photos of me appear in the technical section of the book as well. It is the style of Aikido I practice and teach.

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chillzATL


Registered: July 2000
Location: ATL
Posts: 847
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: great stories, little spoken details of Aikido history and some technical points to boot.
Cons: none

The first half of the book is as interesting a martial arts story as you're likely to find. Starting with his childhood in Hawaii and building up to his eventually retirement from the military and life as a martial arts instructor in Charlston, Sc (where he still teaches today), it's almost like a story you'd get in a movie. He's literally traveled the world training with a who's who list of martial arts legends, not to mention testing that training many times through the years. As a fan of Aikido history it was very interesting to hear Suenaka Sensei's stories of O'sensei, Tohei sensei and all the things that took place in Aikido through the 60's and 70's. It really is a fascinating read and as another reviewer said, I had a hard time putting it down! It's crazy to think that there's someone like him teaching in South Carolina of all places!

As for the technical section, I found it to be a good reference. I've never been fond of technical martial arts instruction books, but I doubt that's what Suenaka Sensei intended this to be. The technical reference does a good job of showing the finer points in what Suenaka Sensei considers the right way and wrong way to do some techniques. Considering his background and experience I doubt there are many who could argue against them.
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