I found Journey to the Heart of Aikido: The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei by Linda Holiday to be an engaging, enlightening, and excellent read in regards to the more inner aspects of the martial art of Aikido. The wisdom shared by Anno Sensei, based on his first hand experiences with Aikido’s founder O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, and his decades of teaching this art, delves into the inner aspects and spiritual teachings that O-Sensei stressed were the true meanings of the art, which are heavily into heart, peace, and love.
The book is written and translated by Linda Holiday, a senior instructor of Aikido. It starts with her telling how she left for Japan in the early 1970s to begin her journey into this martial art of peace. Having also lived in Asia to study martial arts, I enjoyed learning of some of her experiences, and how she started training under Anno Sensei. (One must note that O-Sensei had just died a few years before Holiday moved to Japan, so her instructors, including Anno Sensei, were direct students of the founder, and things were still very close to how O-Sensei did things.)
The second part of the book contains teachings from Anno Sensei. You can compare it to many short essays on various aspects of the art of Aikido. These reflections on the art were selected by Holiday from extensive taped interactions between Anno Sensei and Western students and teachers. They are drawn from formal classes in Aikido dojos, and conversations in more intimate settings with Anno Sensei’s closest students as well as beginners, artists, musicians, teachers, and professionals in many fields.
I feel that Holiday did an excellent job in selecting passages to present in this one volume, as well as translating them and organizing them to capture the true essence of Anno Sensei’s teachings. And through this, we gain an authentic look at the teachings and wisdom of not only Anno Sensei, but O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba as well.
The book also contains many photographs, quotes, and calligraphy that add to the beauty of the book as well as the message it contains. I actually read this book slowly so I could savor the wisdom Anno Sensei conveyed through these translated messages. Continuing to teach and share into his 80s, he’s a remarkable and wise man, and I am grateful to Holiday for capturing his wisdom and putting it into print for all of us to read in English.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about the spiritual and inner peaceful teachings from the martial art of Aikido. These teachings will not only help you understand the art better, but help you better yourself. And I would say that this book is a must read for anyone who practices the art of Aikido and wants to learn more of what the founder, and this direct student of his, taught and teach.
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