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Aikido, Iron Balls and Elbow Power: The Teachings of Alex Essani [Kindle Edition]

Nick Waites
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Alex Essani, the Aikido teacher and practitioner, whose thoughts about the practice of Aikido are expressed in this book, does not actually exist – he is a fictitious character invented by the author as a means of exploring ideas.

However, the training philosophy and methods attributed to Alex Essani are definitely not fictitious: they are based on the author’s personal experiences with real Aikido instructors, in particular his current sensei, and on many years of practising, studying and teaching Aikido. The conversations between the two main characters, Alex Essani and his student Ian, are inventions used to illustrate an important principle or concept. As the author’s real Aikido teacher would put it after telling a tall story, “This is a true story; only the facts have been changed”; insofar as the author has fictionalised real incidents and conversations, this book is the same – it is fiction based on fact.

In this second edition of the book formerly entitled “Iron Balls and Elbow Power”, the author has revised or extended many of the original chapters, and added seventeen new chapters and a completely new Part 3 which describes a range of commonly practised Aikido techniques.


Product Description

Review

I was really surprised when reading this book as much of the material sounded 'familiar' to parts of my own learning experience. Indeed, on reading, some of the teachings I had 'forgotten' were revitalised. In the author's intro above he indicates that it is based on a 'fictional character'. That may be so, or may not necessarily be so, but but the ideas contained within are real ideas that few teachers will ever teach. So, I thoroughly recommend this book - it is based on sound teaching, and provides sound teaching.
-- Amazon customer review Dec 2005

I'm going to echo the previous reviewers here, and wholeheartedly recommend this excellent little book.

Don't let the 'little' put you off. Mr Waites has crystalised and concentrated many years' worth of experience and insight into this work: the result is light on pages, but heavy on 'Aha!' moments.

It is important to realise what this book is not. Firstly, it is not a technical manual, full of details on individual techniques (though having trained all-too-briefly with the author, I can assert that he could have written an excellent one!). Secondly, it is not a book of gimmicky tricks and short-cuts to aikido mastery. Instead, it is something much more valuable: Mr Waites has written a series of short, punchy chapters of just a couple of hundred words each, each one illustrating a specific and crucial point. These are points about the inner structure of aikido, about ways of using the body efficiently and training the mind correctly. Without these principles, aikido techniques become a pointless dance; once these principles are understood and internalised, the correct shape of individual techniques becomes both obvious and intuitive. While some of the principles Mr Waites describes appear in every text on aikido, others are very rarely acknowledged in print.

For these reasons, I would recommend this book to any student training at any level. And if the above doesn't persuade you, it's also really quite entertaining! -- Amazon customer review Jan 2008

This is a truly delightful little book. It fits easily into the pocket and can be carried anywhere. It is constructed around short precise chapters of two or three pages, each of which contains a comprehensive and easily assimilated training topic. In every way its a highly accessible text, and equally useful to both the beginner and the seasoned practitioner.

Set in a fictional context, it is a new departure in Martial Arts literature - most of which falls into one of two distinct categories : the technical manual or the treatise on spiritual development. This narrative context allows the writer to address a fundamental aspect of training usually sidestepped in Aikido books, the sacred transaction between teacher (Sensei) and student. In this way the text explores all the 'levels' on which learning takes place - not just the body, but also the personality .

The exposition of underlying training principles is clear and comprehensive, and is supported by precise descriptions and well drawn illustrations. An entire programme of exercises is described which aims to develop key skills - both physical and psychological.

Its a very grounded book. There's no grandiose speculation. The observations it makes are clearly derived from many years of Aikido practice. All this adds up to a feeling of great 'authenticity'. And this derives from a very real sense of 'enquiry'. The text raises important questions and encourages the student to 'explore'. There are no trite, easy answers. No magic secrets.

In addition its filled with humor and entertaining anecdotes. There's nothing pompous or sombre in it. The author clearly practises what he preaches - that while one should take one's Aikido seriously, one must never take oneself too seriously. -- Amazon customer review April 2005

Review

I'm going to echo the previous reviewers here, and wholeheartedly recommend this excellent little book.

Don't let the 'little' put you off. Mr Waites has crystalised and concentrated many years' worth of experience and insight into this work: the result is light on pages, but heavy on 'Aha!' moments.

It is important to realise what this book is not. Firstly, it is not a technical manual, full of details on individual techniques (though having trained all-too-briefly with the author, I can assert that he could have written an excellent one!). Secondly, it is not a book of gimmicky tricks and short-cuts to aikido mastery. Instead, it is something much more valuable: Mr Waites has written a series of short, punchy chapters of just a couple of hundred words each, each one illustrating a specific and crucial point. These are points about the inner structure of aikido, about ways of using the body efficiently and training the mind correctly. Without these principles, aikido techniques become a pointless dance; once these principles are understood and internalised, the correct shape of individual techniques becomes both obvious and intuitive. While some of the principles Mr Waites describes appear in every text on aikido, others are very rarely acknowledged in print.

For these reasons, I would recommend this book to any student training at any level. And if the above doesn't persuade you, it's also really quite entertaining!


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2120 KB
  • Publisher: Koteikan Press; 2 edition (16 Dec. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GKMKEO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,101 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and enlightening 2 Aug. 2009
By Lefty
Format:Paperback
There are instructional books on aikido that are a mixture of text and photos to help describe the movements for each step of a particular technique. There are books on aikido that describe the writer's personal journey while practicing the art. This book is a mixture of both. The book uses fictional characters to better express the many subtle points of aikido. You follow the character through his practice and his discussions with his instructor. The book discusses the etiquette, how you work with your classmates, and how to improve your technique, but it is not the step-by-step approach. You can read the book in a linear format, or you can choose a chapter.

I enjoyed reading the book. I have reread this book several times and each time it has given me a different perspective on how I practice. I keep it nearby so that I can read a chapter or two when I'm relaxing and I visualize the movements described.
Easily one of my favorite books on aikido.

Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely first rate... 7 Feb. 2012
Format:Paperback
I think I have said in some of my other reviews how much I like travelog. Specifically, travelog which charts inner journeys. This is a great example of such a book.

As a relatively new practitioner of Aikido, this book was a surprise and delight - filling in many of the blanks that every new student has about the art, but also serving as a constant reminder of something. While Aikido may only be comprised of a relatively small number of techniques, their refinement and application are matters of immense subtlety and sensitivity.

This is one of the best books on Aikido that I have read. Humorous, relevant, insightful and genuinely informative. If you're a student of any of the more cerebral martial arts, it will surely appeal. Really excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 24 Sept. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is a great martial arts book. There are many concepts particular to this style of Aikido explained in short readable chapters. I also think that these are applicable to many other martial arts as well. I often re-read many sections and find this gives encouragement and often new insights into my training.
I also know that this book is built from a life time of real experience (both the author and also the fictional/real character)and can vouch for the authenticity of much that is contained.
However, don't expect to become an Aikido expert just by reading this. For that you will have to do the Iron Ball technique every day for the next 40 years, exactly like Essani.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BOOK 17 Mar. 2013
By ALEXANDRU JUCAN - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Simply a good book with lots of tips, i guess it works for some , i personally enjoyed it and would recommend to all aikidoka,
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