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Saotome, Mitsugi -- The Principles of Aikido
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Description: From the Publisher:

Mitsugi Saotome—a principal student of Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido—explains the philosophy and practice of the popular martial art, which emphasizes harmony and peaceful resolution of conflict. Over one thousand photographs illustrate the basic principles and techniques, including the use if the wooden sword, the wooden staff, and "empty hand" techniques. The reader is given guidance in the proper physical, mental, and spiritual attitudes with which to approach this practice and in ways to apply the wisdom of Aikido to everyday life. Also included are lectures by the founder himself.
Keywords: saotome, principles
ISBN: 0877734097

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AikiWeb System

Registered: April 2001
Posts: 1320
Review Date: Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 0 


Author: Ken Speed
E-Mail: Send E-mail to Ken Speed

Not Another Introductory Aikido Book

The Principles of Aikido, A compilation of translations of Saotome Sensei's writings and transcriptions of some of his lectures, provides the reader with a thought provoking and informative perspective on the interrelationship between Aikido's defensive techniques and its philosophy. I knew at my first reading that this was an exceptional work but like so much associated with Aikido it took considerable work and perseverance to even begin to perceive the significance and implications of what is offered.

At first glance, the familiar step by step photographic method of illustrating techniques misled me to believe that this was yet another book about Aikido's self defense methods. After several readings I realized that Saotome Sensei hadn't presented this collection of armed and unarmed techniques with the intention of teaching them to the reader. They are, instead, selected and grouped to exemplify relationships between these techniques and the philosophy and tradition of budo which underlies Aikido. For example, one of the opening chapters discusses musubi or blending and in it Saotome Sensei stresses the process of learning Aikido as the vehicle which develops musubi as well as the pivotal importance of musubi to the very existence of Aikido, "It is these qualities of trust, cooperation, open-mindedness, and generosity in the practice of Aikido that allows its students to relinquish the fears that limit them and inhibit their ability to interact with others and to gain the confidence and trust in themselves that will enable them to gain the harmonious connection with others that is musubi. Without musubi Aikido is not Aikido but just another way of fighting."

The chapter entitled, " The Sword and the Spirit of Ikkyo" is not only a masterful exposition on the history and tradition of budo and Aikido's close relationship with and preservation of that code of conduct but is, as well, a vigorous, lucid, and impassioned presentation of the importance if Ikkyo to both the individual Aikidoka and the practice of Aikido. As well, Saotome Sensei's explanation of the importance of training in the use of weapons in Aikido the development of both technique and the philosophical perspective of Aikido will be of particular interest to all of us who are in the USAF Western Region.

I'm very new to Aikido and I must confess I feel my attempts to comment authoritatively on the thoughts of someone such as Saotome Sensei who has dedicated his life to Aikido seems like an act of outrageous hubris. I have learned or at least developed a degree of acceptance for the idea that many of the answers to the questions we have about Aikido must come from within ourselves and may very well not present themselves to us for years if at all. Questions with which I have been wrestling for the past few months are "What is Aikido?" What is it I'm learning? Is it a martial art, a philosophy or something else altogether?" I was amazed to find that Saotome Sensei addresses this very issue in the chapter, "Mirror of the Spirit: The Aikido Dojo", "Since Aikido is a martial art whose purpose is the refinement of the human spirit and the promotion of peace in the world, the Aikido dojo includes the influences of both the warrior societies and the religious dojo. Aikido is not a religion for it has no dogma or doctrine, but it is a deeply spiritual pursuit. The Aikido dojo is a temple of the spirit; both of the individual human being and the divine spirit that infuses all things in the universe. The Aikido dojo must also maintain the severity and discipline of a community of warriors, for Aikido is budo, the way of the warrior. Aikido is not meant to be an abstract theory of spiritual values, but a practical training that strengthens your courage, your internal serenity, and your ability to relate to others. It is meant to change your mental attitude so that you do not revert to aggression and violence under stress but instead continue to behave in a fashion that prevents or stops conflicts. Aikido is meant to give you the courage of your convictions." Saotome Sensei has provided as much of an answer to such questions as one can expect from someone other than oneself.

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