John Stevens book: Abundant Peace: The Biography of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido
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An Excellent Overview of the Origins of Aikido
Stevens' biography of Morihei Ueshiba goes a long way towards providing the interested student with great information about the origins and philosophies behind Aikido. His examination of the Omoto-kyo religion and Ueshiba's esoteric Shinto beliefs provides a great background on the philisophy of Aikido, while the information on Morihei Ueshiba's teachers and personal investigations into the martial arts shows both the origonality and relation to other arts of Aikido. The book moves reletively quickly over Ueshiba's life, and at times it feels as if a lot of time is being rather quickly skipped over. It would be interesting to know what other information there is to fill in these gaps. The author also makes obvious his own personal admiration for Ueshiba; the many stories of O-Sensei's unbelievable feats are presented uncritically, and with no more concrete attribution than any of the other apocryphal reports of Ueshiba's power. Abundant Peace is perhaps most valuable as a source of information on the martial and philisophical origins of Aikido, particularly for its focus on the origins of the Omoto-kyo movement, Ueshiba's own beliefs in kotodama, and the innovation involved in the techniques of Aikido. As a biography of Morihei Ueshiba it is at times too brief and too uncritical, but serves as an excellent starting point for learning about the life of the founder of Aikido.
Must have book for all Aikido students
John Stevens, Aikido teacher, Professor of Buddhist studies, and author has put together the first full biography of the life of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido. This book is an absolute must for any person wishing to understand the context in which Aikido was developed and see the art as the Founder himself saw it. The relationship O-Sensei had with his two primary teachers, Sokaku Takeda of Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu and Onisaburo Deguchi, of the Omotokyo religious movement is especially important. It shows how O-sensei in many ways embodied the characteristics of the ultimate warrior (Takeda) and the ulitmate mystic (Deguchi) in a combined form allowing him to create something completely unique in the practice of Aikido. The only caveat regarding the book is from its tendency to repeat uncritically some of the less believable, mythical stories about the Founder's martial accomplishments as if his true accomplishments needed some embellishment.
Good look at Aikido and it's founder
This is a great book to all those who are interested in aikido. But not just the martial side. You will learn to appreciate how the style came to be, and the life of the man who brought it to be. The parts I realy enjoyed with this book was it went right back to the childhood days of O Sensi and showed right from the start where he begen his training and the resons why. After reading this book you can feel like you lived a lifetime with one of the greatest masters of our time.