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Not What You May Think
on 10 April 2010
Of course, the book is about Aikido - it is faithful to its title. So, under this perspective you are not about to be disappointed.
Now, is that enough?
In fact, if you have browsed it you may have got an idea, shortly to be described, that may induce you to buy it: if the following one is the idea you got, please consider seriously investing your money in another book.
That is, at a first perusal you may be believe this is a terrific manual where all the techniques are illustrated by a consistent set of photos, several per each technique; this is exactly how the book seems if one just has an overall look at each page as a snapshot: it looks good; and, also, you may find cool that, judging form the index, the headers of each technique seem to match the traditional Japanese term for the technique with its English correspondent.
If that is what you think and, consequently, you plan to purchase this book on the basis of similar an impression, rethink at least once again.
As for the headers, when you move on from the index preview to the actual chapters, those headers that seemed so cool just hang there as meaningless patchworks of words gliding down from an alien sky: the author should have explained better the Japanese terms once in the actual chapter - that is, since they are provided, it would have required a minimal effort to make English speaking readers understand what each single Japanese word stands for; instead, the whole Japanese name of the technique is provided without any detail about what Japanese word corresponds to what English word; this is not so neglegible a problem, because a deep and solid understanding of a technique implies also having a clear synopsys and terminology in your mind. If you think this book will help you with that, forget about it: in that department, it is rather set to increase your confusion.
But, most significantly, the images that illustrate each technique are completely non-descriptive. The captions that go with them too often refer to a "right" or to a "left" that finds no obvious or consistent reproduction in the allegedly matching images (images are numbered and each caption refers to the images by that number), and no image (really no one) makes you understand even the slightest element of a technique's dynamic. Judging from the preview you may think the chapters may live up to the promise: you find that they are a very poor implementation of what you could expect.
To the very least, I suggest you closely inspect the images before purchasing - don't do as I did, that is: don't be "fooled" by the apparently consistent layout: though the layout may seem the best one for a manual of this kind (Japanese header, English ehader, column of captions, column of photos), it is then thoroughly ruined by the fact (when you see the images in their real size) that each photoset seems to be fit for a caption that is not the one provided there.
That's the issue. The Aikidokas performing in the photos seem to be working for a different type of caption, because when you watch the photos you are interested in the _details_ not in the overall impression, and it is precisely the detail where the caption/photo pairs utterly fail.
Also, it is a very bad thing indeed that there are no close ups of hands: what is the point with a caption describing how your hands should be placed and move, if the photos do not illustrate this pivotal factor in the least?
This book presumes you already know Aikido very well, so that you can fill in its many gaps between images and captions - but, then, if you already know Aikido that well, what need do you have of such a book, right?