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Aikido and Spirituality [Paperback]

Margaret Greenhalgh
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £50.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

6 Jan 2010
Among the modern martial arts most often mentioned in relation to "spirituality" is the Japanese martial art aikido, created by Morihei Ueshiba (1883 -1969) in the 1940s. He described aikido as an art of peace and viewed its practice as a spiritual endeavour. Academic observers, however, have cast doubt on the authenticity of spiritual content in the martial arts while others consider that spirituality is not possible outside the confines of established religion. This book refutes these arguments by exploring in detail aikido's relationship to Japan's spiritual traditions. Drawing extensively on Ueshiba's discourses and writings, it compares the aikido world view and practice methods with those of four belief systems influential in Japan - Daoism, Zen Buddhism, Shingon Mikkyo and Shinto. The book shows how Ueshiba pierced the meaning of these traditions and was able thereby to synthesise their spiritual practices creatively. It also sheds light on various sources of confusion surrounding spiritual aspects of the martial arts and should interest martial arts' practitioners and anyone concerned more widely with new forms of spirituality.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: VDM Verlag (6 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3639222989
  • ISBN-13: 978-3639222982
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 22.9 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,241,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Margaret Greenhalgh has practised aikido since 1978 and has broad interests in East Asian culture, philosophy and religion. She has a BA in French and Spanish from the University of London and an MA in East Asian Studies from Durham University, England.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Mourad
I found this book absorbing. The author - who practices aikido - presents a strong case for aikido being a technique of spiritual development by taking the novel approach of comparing its outlook and practice method with those of four Japanese belief systems. The introduction gives a summary of the main writings on spirituality in the martial arts and explains some of the difficulties which arise when dealing with this subject, for instance the difficulty of defining the term "spirituality". The first chapter then deals with some of the issues surrounding the notion of of spirituality in the Japanese martial arts in general, such as misunderstanding of the history of the Japanese word "budo", and then goes on to identify the main themes of Japanese spirituality. The next chapter looks at the life of the found of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and discusses his thought as conveyed in his writings and teachings. Each of the four chapters following then concentrates on the relationship of aikido to one of the four Japanese belief systems being studied. These are Taoism, Zen Buddhism, Shingon Buddhism and Shinto (particularly the Omoto sect to which Ueshiba belonged) .
The book shows really where aikido's spiritual content came from. What I liked about it is that it pins down the notion of "spirituality" so you know exactly what is being written about. It also makes a nice summing up of the thought of the aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba which I haven't seen anywhere else. This book filled in lot of gaps in my knowledge about the background of aikido in East Asian thought. It was originally an academic research project and is written in academic language but I didn't find it difficult to read. And it's full of surprises - on nearly every page I found myself saying "Oh, I didn't know that!"
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