‘Tomiki Aikido’ by Neil Saunders
An excellent book for all ADS Members
Amazon Book Reference: Tomiki Aikido
‘Aikido – The Tomiki Way’ by Neil Saunders
Also an excellent book for all ADS Members
Amazon Book Reference: Aikido – The Tomiki Way
‘Aikido – The art of fighting without fighting’ in PDF format.
‘Aikido from the inside out’, a online ebook by Howard Bornstein
The following sections provide some brief overviews of various Aikido/Martial Arts related books read by members of the ADS.
Please note any comments made are only those of the reviewer and may not be considered as comments by the Aikido Development Society.
Title: Tomiki Aikido – Randori and Koryu No Kata
Author Dr Lee Ah Loi
A basic guide to the Tomiki style of Aikido as practised by the ADS. The initial sections of the book covers the basic etiquette of Aikido within the dojo followed information such as basic hand/foot movements, basic joint locks, breakfalls and movement around the mat (Shotei).
This is then followed by a (illustrated) section on each of the following Katas:-
- Randori No Kata (Kihon No Kata, ‘Basic 17’)
- 10 Counters (Counters to 10 techniques from the Randori No Kata)
- Koryu Katas 1-6 (Dai Ichi, Dai Ni, Dai San, Dai Yon, Dai Go and Dai Roku)
There are also a couple of additional sections on the state of Aikido today (well in the late ‘70’s / ‘80’s anyway and some brief history.
Reader Comments ( Reviewed by Paul Jones 1st Dan)
This was the first Tomiki specific book I bought (my first book on Aikido was on Yoshinkan Aikido, by Shioda Sensei) on Aikido.
I think at one time it was considered ‘the Tomiki bible’, although this was more likely to have been due to it being the only Tomiki book available.
It’s still a reasonable read I think and Loi Sensei certainly has a great Aikido pedigree, being trained at one time or another by Yamada, Inoue, Oba and Tomiki himself.
It’s probably a book best suited to beginners now. The early sections on basics are fine and not too limited by the poor quality photography, but once it moves into the advanced traditional kata’s (the ‘Koryu’ sections), it becomes pretty unfathomable. Granted there are descriptions, but given the complexity of some of the techniques in Dai Yon for example, a start/end picture and a couple of words doesn’t really cut it unfortunately. At best these latter sections serve as a memory jogger for the more experienced Aikidoka.
All in all, it’s a reasonable book, best suited to beginners. If you want a more comprehensive, better quality example of Loi Sensei’s work, then you are better off seeking out the 2 videos that she produced covering both the Randori No Kata (+Aikido basics) and Koryu Katas.
Amazon Book Reference: Tomiki Aikido
Title: Angry White Pyjamas
Author Robert Twigger
An Oxford Poet Trains with the Tokyo Riot Police
Reader Comments (Reviewed by Paul Dobson Chigwell, Winchmore Hill, & Debden Aikido Clubs)
Well, the title let’s us know straight off that this book is going to have a few jokes in and it does. Much of the book is quite amusing, lively and well written. It tells the story of a young man who signs up for a one year full-time crash-course in Aikido. Not just “any” year-long course though. This one is at the Yoshinkan Dojo in Japan and is the course put on for Police Officers wanting to join the Kidotai, the Japanese Riot Squad.
The Author introduces himself as a 30ish Englishman who finds himself aimless, unfit and in an alien culture. He takes up Aikido (as a complete beginner) in an attempt to force himself to get a little fitter. He rapidly gets sucked into the Aiki world rather more than any of us might imagine. This is a “start at Zero, and aim for Hero” type story and we are treated to quite graphic descriptions of the hardships he encounters along the way. Will he survive the course? Will he graduate with a Dan grade? Will it all get too much to endure…………
The book is very popular and won the 1998 Somerset Maugham Award and the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award. You’ll certainly recognise the techniques described, and if you’ve been practising for some years you’ll know (or have heard of) a lot of the senior figures referred to. He gives opinions of Chiba, Yamada, Shioda, Kisshomaru and a whole lot more. There’s also a brief but interesting description of “Gracie Jujitsu” (argued by many to be one of the best ”street-fighting” styles) and what happened in the contest between an Aikidoka and one of the Gracie boys
I did get the feeling that the author is a writer writing about Aikido, rather than an Aikidoka learning Aikido and then writing about it. I may be wrong but I think he probably saw a book in this project early on, and that was his key motivation to take the course. That’s not really a bad thing, but we do get the feeling that he is there almost against his will much of the time. This is not a criticism, but it may explain the angle the book is written from.
We’ve probably all come home from the occasional Aikido session feeling more than a little tired. Well, if you think that you’ve just had a tough training sessions and your Sensei has worked you hard, you might like to compare yourself with some of the scenes of life as a student on the Yoshinkan training program. Broken bones are frequent and a blood-stained Gi is standard. Some students seem almost to hope for an injury “not too bad, but bad enough to get a few days off the mat”. Puts our Sensei’s sessions into perspective, doesn’t it?!
I particularly liked a couple of the chapter titles:
“How Does a Man Prove Himself in the Age of Nintendo?” is the opening chapter and shows how modern Japan still maintains a definite link to the past that is difficult to imagine in the West.
A joke on a previous book title is one of the chapter titles; “Zen and the Art of Being Really, Really, Angry”.
The book has got to be worth reading for that alone!
I greatly enjoyed the book. It’s funny, well written and informative. I would definitely recommend it as a “Good Read!”
Amazon Book Reference: Angry White Pyjamas
Title: The Japanese Sword
Author Kanzan Sato
Tachi (the word used to represent a sword) is derived from the word Tachikiru – meaning “to cut in two”.
Kanzan Satō having devoted a considerable portion of his life to the study of tachi is clearly a well versed expert on both the history and nature of Japanese weaponry and the book is an informed and detailed assessment of the relevant cutural context along with the physical and esthetic elements of tachi and to a more limited extent some other weapons (tosu, tanto and naginata to name a few), but as a comprehensive technical reference it is not an easy read.
Reader Comments (Reviewed by Ann Billett 2nd Dan, Winchmore Hill, & Chingford & Woodford Aikido Clubs)
It begins with an assessment and pictorial reference of the physical properties ascribed to various types of tachi or katana which relate to the variations in length, shape, width, and unique markings specific to master craftsmen or schools of sword makers. Technical developments such as the highly tempered single edge blade and the introduction of curvature to a blade to ease drawing of the tachi evolved out of the need to refine these weapons for constant civil war through the ages. Guards and mounting points for weaponry demonstrated both practical daily usage requirements and status.
In the old sword period up to the mid 14th century sword making tradition was centred culturally in five great provinces Yamashiro, Sagami, Bizen, Yamato and Mino with sword making migrating to the urban and cutural focal points throughout the periods from the mid 14th Century (Heian, Kamkura, Nambokuchi, Muromachi and Edo) through to the abolition of sword wearing in 1876 as Japan embraced the mechanistic and modern influences of the Western world.
A significant portion of the book is devoted to Meito (great swords) such as O-Kanihira and Dōjigiri which were recognised as unique cultural treasures early on in Japanese history and were recorded in historical census documents (such as the Kyōhō meibutsuchō) as well as being handed down as precious treasures through significant families and organisations.
The practical necessity which resulted in reforming or re-tempering weapons to shorten them for changing use as well as the widespread cultural restrictions brought about as a result of World War 2 meant that a number of treasures have been lost. However there are many beautiful photographs on display throughout the book courtesy of a number of Japanese national museums demonstrating the martial treasures which have been retained for the benefit and appreciation of all.
The book concludes with several shorter sections including a fascinating pictorial reference on the making and maintenance of swords along with guidelines on appraisal and comparison of Kotō and Shintō swords.
In summary this book is a comprehensive cultural and technical reference for anyone with an interest in Japanese weaponry particularly swords.
ISBN Book Reference: ISBN 0-87011-562-6 ; ISBM4-7700-1055-9 C1372 ¥4900E (in Japan)