Linda Holiday’s book is not one you can just sit down and read. There is real wisdom in this tome that demands time. Like a gourmet meal, you don’t wolf it down as quickly as possible. You take small bites and let things digest and move on to the next course.
The author advises in the beginning of the book, “Take your time as you read and reflect on each of the teachings.”
Part II of the book is where Anno Sensei answers questions. His down to earth answers are clear and will resonate deeply with the readers. As Holiday Sensei writes in a later chapter (Chapter 5):
“One of the remarkable aspects of Anno Sensei’s teachings is his willingness to engage in candid conversations with Western Students and teachers. It is a startling, disarming experience to hear such a high-level Aikido instructor respond to a student’s question with, ‘I don’t know,’ and then follow it up with an insightful discussion of the issues involved.”
Linda Holiday concludes this delightful example with:
“He affirms our common humanity and encourages us to deepen our practice.”
And the author shares that “…Anno Sensei says he is only beginning to understand the depth of Aikido.” I often heard the late Kato Sensei say the same thing, calling O Sensei “a genius.”
This is not a book about how to do a particular technique a certain way. It is an exploration of what is behind what happens on the mat and what can happen in our lives. This is what the reader can learn from what Anno Sensei shares-- from himself and his insights into O Sensei's gift to the world.
This is one of the many reasons I like this book so much. In fact, it has become part of my morning reading and is well marked (as the cover photo shows).
Again, thank you Linda Sensei for your years of hard work bringing forth this classic in the world of martial arts literature in general, and Aikido in particular.
"Journey to the Heart of Aikido - The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei" published by Blue Snake Books, Berkeley, CA ISBN 978-1-58394-659-6 US $21.94