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The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido Paperback – November 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If interested in a serious exploration of Japanese religion, the practice of Zen, or aikido history, this title could serve well. It thoroughly explains the basic philosophical concepts behind this martial art and the components of Shinto and Zen." (Library Journal)

From the Back Cover

MARTIAL ARTS / EASTERN PHILOSOPHY

The Spiritual Foundations ofAikido is a necessary book, both timely and well written. William Gleason’s book is the first to explain the spiritual teachings of the founder in detail.”
--Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, author of The Principles of Aikido

The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido is the first book by a leading American aikido teacher to examine how this twentieth-century martial art sprang forth from the ancient spiritual traditions of Japan. William Gleason, a fifth-degree black belt, offers a lucid commentary on the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. Many of Ueshiba’s teachings appear here for the first time in English.

Ueshiba considered aikido to be not a fighting method or a competitive sport but rather a means of becoming one with the laws of universal order. Aikido, he insisted, is rooted in the principles of the kototama, a set of sacred Japanese syllables. Examining the basic tenets of Shinto and Zen, Gleason shows how the syllables of the kototama represent different aspects of universal life energy, or ki. His explanations of such concepts as One Spirit, Four Souls, Three Origins, and Eight Powers describe the generation and movement of ki, which is the source of the martial artist’s strength.

More than 160 photographs illuminate the application of the kototama to the actual movements of aikido. In 22 photographic sequences, the author and his students demonstrate several complete forms in detail. Yet Gleason’s depth of analysis makes this book far more than a mere technical manual. The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido will be a priceless resource for both the novice and the seasoned practitioner of the martial arts.

WILLIAM GLEASON has studied aikido and Japanese medicine and philosophy for more than two decades, including ten years’ study in Japan. The director of Shobu Aikido of Boston, Massachusetts, he also has translated books by George Ohsawa and Mitsugi Saotome.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Destiny Books (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892815086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892815081
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.6 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Shoshin on December 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a beginning student in the art of Aikido, I hardly feel capable of rendering any worthwhile judgments on the content of this book. It's value to me personally in achieving an understanding of the process of learning the art has been tremendous, however. Gleason Sensei's explanations and examples have helped me greatly in making the connection between Aikido training and the way of life which this art is truly meant to be. This is one of those books which, while reading, you will continuously say to yourself "Ah - now I understand!" or "Yes - this has happened to me!" It is a book which you will be inspired to share with your fellow students as well.
Unfortunately, I must in honesty say that Destiny Publishers has failed in their effort to provide a lasting medium for the words of William Gleason. My paperback copy of this book disintegrated into a handful of loose pages before I was halfway finished. It is truly a testament to the inspirational worth of this book to me personally, that I overcame my impatience and finished it despite this.
Still, I would rate this a "must read" for anyone seriously interested in Aikido - regretfully, I cannot lend you my copy.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By aikigeorge@msn.com on January 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
A student of Yamaguchi Sensei at Hombu Dojo in Japan for many years, Gleason Sensei has succeeded in giving us the first comprehensive exposition of the spiritual beliefs of the Aikido Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. A great companion volume for Aikido and the Harmony of Nature, this volume expresses theses concepts in the terms that he Founder himself would have used. Not an easy read, this book is best digested in manageable pieces. For the serious student of Aikido this book provides a wonderful window on how the physical techniques of the art are really a form of spiritual expression and allows one to go far beyond the viewpoint afforded by the very smell amount of writing that has been translated from the Founder's own words into English.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1996
Format: Paperback
This book is a most interesting review of and introduction to
the spiritual aspects of Aikido. More than just aspects,
William Gleason, the author, shows that without
the spiritual, aikido would be a hollow physical shell. With
grounding in Shinto, esoteric Buddhism and other spiritual
fields explored and assimilated by the founder of Aikido, the
author gives a good case for patience...In other
words this is surely not a discipline for those hoping for
enlightenment in a weekend. The only objection I have to this
book which applies, I believe, to martial arts books in general,
is that the aikido practice photographs are of doubtful value. Two dimensions
will never do justice to three: you cannot judge distances,
angles, positition and the rest by looking at these pictures.
Or any other pictures, for that matter. Pictures of the founder of aikido are
interesting because one look at his face and you understand
that aikido is the antithesis of a murderous, brutal martial art.
A true budo, a fine book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ronald K. Pendleton on April 10, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As of this writing I am 67 years old and have only been training at aikido for just less than three years. And as O'Sensei recommends, I do now train every day and am learning to be more perceptive of everything around me. Although difficult to put into words, I believe I was attracted to aikido initially because I felt something was missing in my life and aikido seemed to present an opportunity to find out what that might be within the context of mind/body/spirit. For me, aikido has become a continuous and never ending process of becoming and existing more fully (beginner's mind) in each and every moment. I found what William Gleason Sensei has written in "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" helps to confirm what I have been discovering and has helped me to establish some of the initial structures (co-ordinated mind and body) I needed to facilitate the process, or flow, (spiritual) of blending, maintaining connection and becoming one with those with whom I train and all others .
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Bryan Harrell III on December 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Aikido should really be more about the spiritual aspects of the same rather than merely being a pursuit of martial arts expertise and this well written work by a life long adherent of the same serves as to open the doors to such an understanding for the aikidoka.

spirituality does not simply happen to one, although many a "sensei" seems to think that such does.

Spirituality and awareness must be sought and trained in just as the physical aspects of aikido must be trained in.

Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei himself, stated that until one awakens to the spiritual reality of life he will never actually practice aikido.

I would and do recommend this book for all aikidoka, espeically for those who teach the art.

namaste
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jeff on July 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Awesome, information packed, comprehensive encyclopedia on the shinto foundations of Aiki. I highly recommend this book.
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William Gleason Sensei has put together a well structured description, with poignant examples, of the spiritual mindset of the founder of Aikido ([...]), before he started to teach a martial art intended to end fighting. It is NOT an easy read, or accessible to everyone, but is intended for people of a particular physical/spiritual awareness, such as those who practice Aikido or Yoga. If you are an Aikidoka (one who practices Aikido) and are curious about the purpose behind some of the movements, and the point of view of Osensei when he set them in motion, this book is for you. There is advice to take away on every page, even if you might come from a different religious point of view. There are undeniable universal truths worth noting, and this book builds on them, step by step.
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