Current Sensei's Corners
I am quite often asked about books that one can read on Aikido, and although books are no substitute for a relationship with a qualified instructor. That being said there are a lot of numerous books out there that do make a handy reference guide. The list I have created is by no means exhaustive, and there may be omissions depending on what oneís particular views on Aikido are. I tend to shy away from recommending "My life in Aikido" or "What Aikido means to me" type books, as they donít cover history, Tradition, Philosophy or technique. These are the elements on what I tend to view as important and universally understood. Not what each particular Sensei has to say about their lives in Aikido. Unless of course their last name is Ueshiba than that is a different story altogether. Most of these books are available via our links on the site, and most are still in print.
Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
Originally written in the fifties, this is the main text of Aikido technique. It also has a brief history of the founderís life. Photos tend to be dark, but all in all, a classic and a great start point.
Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
This is a non-technique book on Aikido written by the Doshu in 1984. Excellent overview of Philosophy and history of Aikido.
Budo: Teachings of the founder of Aikido
Translated by John Stevens, includes a Foreword by Kisshomaru Ueshiba. This is a reprint of Oísenseiís 1938 training manual. A privately published text that is the only book that Oísensei actually posed wrote for. Gives an outstanding outline of his art at the time.
Budo Training in Aikido by Morihei Ueshiba
This is a historical text written by Oísensei in the early thirties. The pictures are all hand drawn and the explanations are vague. Yet, historically an important book.
Principles of Aikido by Mitsugi Saotome
An excellent overview of most of the basic techniques from the various attacks. Also there are some articles written on Budo and on the meaning of Ikkyo, as well as various articles written by Saotome Sensei.
Aikido and the Harmony of Nature by Mitsugi Saotome
This is a good yet difficult read of various aspects of not just the philosophy of Aikido but its interdependence upon Natural movements that occur in everyday life applied in Aikido technique. Saotome Sensei includes various aspects of philosophy, science and Japanese cultural History. A heavy read, but each time you re-read it something else you will discover.
Takemusu Aiki by Morihiro Saito (Vols. 1-5)
This is an ongoing series of technical books written by the well-respected Saito Sensei. Each book categorizes certain techniques from each attack. Based off an earlier series "Traditional Aikido" which is currently out of print. This series basically outlines the Iwama period of Oísenseiís art as written by his top student. An excellent series.
Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda
This is the basic text of Yoshinkan Aikido written by its founder Shioda sensei. Shioda Sensei was one of Oísenseiís pre WWII students. After the war he ended up forming Yoshinkan Aikido, based off his earlier training with Oísensei. Excellent work that really encapsulates the basics of Yoshinkan, and a good insight to Aikidoka of all styles.
Total Aikido the Master Course by Gozo Shioda
This is the long awaited follow up to Dynamic Aikido. This includes much greater detail into the fundamentals of Yoshinkan Aikido. Photos are much clearer as are the techniques being pictured. Both are highly recommended as I feel no style really breaks down fundamentals as much as Yoshinkan does. They are considered the "hard" style of Aikido and with that comes an emphasis on stance and on centerline focus. Even in the book one can clearly see this in action.
Complete Aikido by Yoshimitsu Yamada
Basic text written by the Head of the United States Aikido Federation. Written in the early 80ís it is interesting to see Yamada sensei with a bad hair decade. Good overall view of the kihon waza of the USAF.
Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere by Adele Westbrook and Oscar Ratti
No list would be complete without the mention of this text, coincidentally enough this is the one book I do not own. This text presents a fairly comprehensive look at Aikido from a somewhat technical aspect. They break things down by numbers such as immobilization number one instead of Ikkyo, or projection throw number two. Most love it, I am the "rebel" who does not. I have read it, and would still recommend it, for at least the illustrations in it. Not to mention itís popularity as one of the standards.
Classical Bujutsu, Classical Budo, Modern Bujutsu and Budo by Donn F. Draeger
I highly recommend this three volume set to anyone who really wants to understand the evolution of the Martial arts. In this set, Draeger sets forth the evolution of the species, so to say. Of what now is called Budo. Some criticize the work as being too "black and white" yet for anyone interesting in our martial lineage and history, this is the "Grayís anatomy" of Martial history.
Abundant Peace: Biography of Oísensei by John Stevens
Good overview of Oísenseiís life, currently revamped and re-titled as Invincible Warrior, same book, more pictures. A lot of the stories in the book are based on anecdotal retelling. Essentially in some Stevens isnít letting the truth get in the way of a good story. If you catch my drift.
This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are countless other titles available. What this list does present to you is an overview of the various styles represented in the US today as well as various Senseisí views on Aikido and on the founder as well. All the titles are a good starting point to complement both your day to day training and your time on the mat. I have purposely left off texts that are Aikido memoirs by various authors, not to offend them, but your Aikido is how it affects your life, and improves the quality of it. Not how someone elseís did. Your journey is yours, for you to undertake and for you to understand. Each personís will be unique and essentially indescribable to others. This is what makes Aikido a way of life not just something you do for a few hours a week.
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