I like this book…

I recently came across an Internet based aikido book: “Aikido from the Inside Out”.

The title says it all. Rather than going for the traditional, “here is a technique (lots of pictures), here is another technique (more pictures), blah blah,” which is all very good as a general reference when you are trying to remember techniques that you are working on in class – one can describe this as “from the outside in” – this book forgoes discussion of technique and tries to get to the heart of what makes aikido tick.

For me this is exactly what I want to try and achieve in my classes. I am not so interested in people learning techniques by rote but that they understand what the techniques are trying to tell us about how we should use our bodies in conflict situations; what are the principles that lead us in all techniques.

O Sensei, himself, coined the phrase takemusu aikido for his martial art toward the end of his life. Here takemusu means “spontaneous creation” and implies that aikido is not defined by techniques (or form) but by spontaneous creation of movement that fits the current situation, harmonizes with it, takes control and leads in the direction that ends in peace.

I see the practice of technique and to a lesser extent kata as a training aid to learn more about the principles of aikido. It is not acceptable to just think about the technique and whether you are copying the teacher accurately when training. You must be thinking deeply about the movement, you posture and positioning, the energy and direction of the both attacker and defender so that you can come to appreciate the principles on which the technique is based. Only then will you be able to deal effectively with unexpected attacks. Equally when teaching, although superficially you must demonstrate the technique correctly, in the back of you mind you must be thinking about what principles you are trying to convey.

Read this book and let me know what you think. I don’t necessarily agree with all of it but I commend the attempt to break from the normal format of aikido books.