10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2004
This book is actually co-authored by the direct successors of the founder of Aikido; therefore this instantly gives the book merit. It is an excellent book for those interested in, or those practising in Aikido. I have been told many times everyone needs to go back to the basics (even the dan grades).
This is a very well laid out book ideal for the beginner (of which I currently am). I have found this book invaluable in helping with the understanding of the basics. Each Aikido move within this book is accompanied with detailed photos walking you through the complete CORRECT movement!
There is an explanation at the very beginning which covers what Aikido is – the essence of the art. There is also a questions and answers section (6 pages) within this book which clarified things I did not totally understand. There is so much more within this book than I believe you will find anywhere else. The only thing this book does lack is it does not include any of the training with the Bokken or Jo staff, Aiki-ken suburi and awase movements.
Overall I could not recommend a better book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2010
As a widely read beginner in Aikido, my favourite instructional text has become "Best Aikido: The Fundamentals" by Kisshomaru and Moriteru Ueshiba, the second and third (and current) doshu, son and grandson of the founder of Aikido, translated by John Stevens. The title is not inspiring, but the content is: wall to wall clear photograph sequences in the modern style practised at the Aikido Hombu dojo in Tokyo.
I believe that, as the authors and other reviewers have said, this can only be viewed as an aide-mémoire to support instruction by a qualified teacher. I am currently using it to help me retain details of technique whilst illness prevents me from attending classes. It has a useful section on frequently asked questions as well as a brief explanation of the nature of Aikido. It is a training manual unlike the philosophical texts such as 'Essence of Aikido', 'The Spirit of Aikido' or the more basic earlier guides such as 'Budo'. It starts with the standard etiquette, warms ups, stretches and exercises, stances and foot movement, with a section explaining the principles of throwing, pinning and breath techniques and then going through each technique in detail, both omote and ura, with close ups of the hand grips.
Master Moriteru Ueshiba co-authored the work published in Japan "Kihan Aikido: Kihon-hen" shortly before his father's death and appears throughout the illustrations, so any British Aikido Federation members or other groups affiliated to the Aikikai Foundation can feel assured this represents authoritative current stylistic detail: very upright stances with withdrawn knee, un-agressive tegatana held low and relaxed, direct irimi etc. I particularly appreciate his demonstrating the basic stances and movement without the hakama, a very modern courtesy extended to assist learners who traditionally would have had to learn much that was not shown through their own process of trial and improvement in long hours of practice.
The nearest quality text I have is Dynamic Aikido by Gozo Shioda, the founder of the Yoshinkan school and this highlights the stylistic differences which continue to grow between Ueshiba's early pupil and his own development of Aikido and that of his heirs. I believe that a beginner needs the text written for one's own school: the differences are significant. My sensei can demonstrate a technique in the style of different schools of Aikido as well as his own interpretation after a lifetime of study with many masters, but I feel that this is something for seniors.
The English that the experienced John Stevens used in the new book is much clearer than previous books I have read and techniques are shown from different angles where relevant. I also love Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere by Westbrook and Ratti, but while Ratti's drawings beautifully capture the flow of energy in technique, which I imagine is particularly of interest to students of "Ki-Aikido", I have found them vague on mundane matters such as how to place the feet, how deeply to enter or how far to raise the hands - matters which I have learned make a technique work or not work in practice, especially with a well taught senior or someone who hasn't been trained to fall over if you wave a hand vaguely in the right direction. It must also be said that Westbrook and Ratti were awarded shodan after a relatively short period of study, whilst the authors of 'Best Aikido' by contrast have between them been masters of the Aikido World Headquarters since 1948. Similarly I find Aikido: Traditional Art and Modern Sport by Brian N. Bagot much abbreviated in comparison and showing placements and angles different to how I have been taught.
The second and third volumes move on to more advanced technique. I don't miss the jo or bokken from this volume as, having picked up bad habits with them in the past, I am happy that my sensei illustrates many techniques with them, but asks beginners to focus on the unarmed fundamentals first, just as the authors obviously expect, introducing some illustrations in the second volume. I imagine one should get a book such as Aikibatto by Stefan Stenudd if seeking to practice Aikiken more specifically.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 January 2004
This book is short on words, but full of well shot images allowing the basic movement of each technique to be described.
It is a handy resource for anyone that practices the art as it attempts to codify the basic movements. Written by both the current Doshu and his father, it must be assumed this is the official version of the basics.
The faq in the front of the book gives a nice official response to the questions of most beginners.
As with all Aikido books of this type it lacks the something from it's static nature and over reliance on posed images; as the first section of the book maintains Aikido is something to be practiced daily under qualified instruction.
I was expecting slightly more than I got from this book.
This is a good book for the beginner. It answers most questions and demonstrates the fundamental techniques. It is one to refer back to after/or just before a class. I recommend the second part to this book, as well as the third installment from Moriteru Ueshiba, they are both as good as this and combined make and excellent aikido reference.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2009
Having had this book now for a little while, I conclude that it is a good book and will enhance my training. However, the pictures would have been better in colour as black & white, by it's very nature, can hide/obscure detailed views of hand/body placement