Saturday, May 6, 2017

4 Out of 5 Ninja Stars for "Aikido Weapons Techniques"

In the interests of disclosure, I was given this book for review purposes.
Title: Aikido Weapons Techniques: The Wooden Sword, Sick and Knife of Aikido
Author: Phong Thong Dang and Lynn Seiser
Publisher: Tuttle
Published: 7/11/2017 (originally 2006)
Format: Softcover
Pages: 144
Cover Price: $12.95

Take Away: This is the perfect book to introduce the integration of aikido and the weapons practiced along with aikido.  It should be on every aikidoka's shelf.

    Back to my wheelhouse: aikido.  I've read the other books by these authors, and have loved them.  Somehow, though, I missed this one.  I was excited by the chance to get a copy of this book.  So excited that i read it in 1 day.

Content

    This book is beautifully layed out in its simplicity.  There is an introductory section which describes aikido, aikido training, and the concept of weapons use in aikido.  Which at first may seem contradictory.  Aikido is supposed to be this "peaceful, non-violent" martial art, yet a weapon's sole purpose is to hurt people right?  The authors do a great job of showing how those conflicting philosophies can be blended to create a unique set of practices with weapons.
    After the introduction, each of the three weapons associated with aikido is given its own section.  The wooden sword (bokken) is first, followed by the jo (4ft. staff) and finally the tanto (Japanese knife).  Each section gives you a beginners look at the weapons including its history, how to hold it, and then delves into the basic practice techniques.

Pros

    What I love about this book is its simplicity.  There is no assumption of knowledge, yet doesn't come off as a lecture.  It does a very good job of just presenting the information for your edification and enjoyment.  Also, each of the sections have enough well done pictures to easily decipher what the authors are describing.  The practices/techniques are easily mimiced from the description and the pictures if that's your goal for this book.

Cons

    I don't really have any complaint about the book.  The book does exactly what it is designed to do;  Introduce the weapons practices of aikido.  It does this really well, and is easy to figure out how to practice on your own.  Perhaps, it may be to basic?  Or maybe, because I'm an aikidoka it seems that way to me?  I don't know.

Conclusion

    Overall, I enjoyed the book.  After reading it, I immediately went to my home dojo and started practicing.  Which I think anyone can do with this book.  It makes aiki-weapons very accessible.  For my rating, though I'm not going to give it a perfect score.  I'm going to give it 4 out of 5 Ninja Stars for two reasons.  One of my criteria for my rating system is 'how useful is it to ALL martial artists?'  If you don't study aikido is this book useful?  Yes, I think it can be if you are looking for basic aiki-weapons practices.  If not, then maybe not so useful.  Also, I know it's an introductory book, but I would have liked to see more in depth look at the weapons uses and practices.  Maybe, that's for another book?

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