High on my list for
both good reading and personal interest for the serious Aikidoist is
“Budo Secrets: Teachings of the Martial Arts Masters”, by Professor
John Stevens, published by
Shambhala, Publications, Inc. Boston & London.
In “Secrets”, Stevens
introduces us to numerous budoka, the principles that form the
backbone of their individual arts, and the various philosophies behind
each of them. In addition, he adds colorful martial tales, fables,
calligraphies, and artwork to give us more depth to our own
understanding of the martial arts.
The book is neatly
divided into three sections: The Principles of Budo, The Philosophy of
Budo, and Tales of the Masters of Budo. The first segment reveals the
training principles of Yagyu Reyna, Kyuzo Mifune, Jigoro Kano, Gichin
Funakoshi, the Tanseki School of Swordsmanship, Ten Virtues for a
Ninja, to name only a few.
In the Philosophy of
Budo, Stevens shows us the wisdom behind the various budo principles.
For instance, we are introduced to the lessons of Issai Chosan’s “Neko
no Myojutsu” (Marvelous Techniques of the Old Cat). Chosan’s points
out limitations of both pure technique and Ki, and true harmony should
be a function of nature.
Some of the other
subjects that Stevens covers are: mushin (or no-mind), Secrets
of Samurai Swimming, Tesshu Yamaoka’s Carpenter’s Plane, Tempu
Nakamura, Morihei Ueshiba’s masakatsu agatsu, Yagu Munenori,
and so on and so on.
Short stories, with
lessons attached to them comprise the last section, Tales of the
Masters of Budo. With the numerous paintings, prints and calligraphies
placed in the pages, the readers find meaningful impressions behind
many of the budo principles and philosophies that Stevens unfolds in
each section. Plum Blossoms Open Because of the Frost and Snow,
is a scroll by famous swordsman Hakudo Nakayama, communicates that the
trained martial artist will perform best even when confronted with
danger and crisis.
As a long time
Aikidoka, I have always found John Stevens’ books an excellent source
of knowledge and reference. In addition, I found his book very
entertaining and appealing to the child-side of me, as I read of the
various lessons the pages had to hand down to me. It gave me a few
more fables and lessons to pass on to my own Aikido students!
Many kudos to Professor
Thank you to John Stevens'
publisher Beth Frankl for allowing us to review this book!
Permission received to display book's cover and quotations used for
this review from
Shambhala, Publications, Inc. Boston & London
and are Copyright © by
Shambhala, Publications, Inc.
© 2002, Aikido World,
Inc. All rights reserved
Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for Northwestern University Medical School - Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law.
She started Aikido in 1965, studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei, and thereafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu to extend her martial arts education and perspectives. Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and supporting Aikido World Journal.
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