The Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

This is one of the first martial arts books I ever owned, so it has been over a quarter of a century since I read it; my recollection of its content may not be as fresh as it is with other works.

How I came across the book is an odd story in itself. I had only just begun training about a month before with Sensei Eaton and Takemusu Aikido, as the School was known back then, when I took a two weeks off to go camping in the hinterland of Grafton, with friends who were building a community on some land they owned there. I felt a little guilty on missing out on classes while I was away, (loyalty to your School and teacher was just as strongly emphasized back then), but the trip had been organised long before I joined the School.

On the morning we were setting out, a courier arrived at my house to deliver a package to someone who no longer lived there, indeed probably had not lived there for some time, (this was a West End share house). The courier did not care and insisted on leaving the parcel.

The parcel was this book. I took it as some kind of omen and claimed the book as my own to read while away as a substitute for physically being on the mat.

The book is written by the founder of Aikido, O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba’s son. It covers the general principles and philosophy of Aikido, with a strong measure of historical content. There is nothing in it that one would consider new or unique, but it does put it all together in a very accessible manner.

My initial impression on first reading the work was that of it being, quietly inspiring; and I stand by that assessment today.

It is worth reading as an historical document and for the insights and understanding it provides on fundamental principles as given by one who was an intimate part of the evolution of the art. It is not without its overt biases and proselytizing nature, but that is to be expected from such a source.

It is the sort of book one can randomly open at any page and find something worthwhile:

“Ai-ki cannot be exhausted

By words written or spoken.

Without dabbling in idle talk,

Understand through practice.

This is identical to the realization that it is impossible to know the secret of the Japanese sword by analysis. It can be known personally only through actual experience. All matters related to the human heart and spirit are of such nature.”

Sensei Eacott

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