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Aikido related-books:

Aikido and the Harmony of Nature and The Principles of Aikido by Saotome Sensei. Harmony is a true classic; a book that offers up something new every time you return to it.  Principles is a book that Saotome-sensei never wanted to write and to this day never fails to mention how much he never wanted to write it.  The book sensei never wanted to write is still the best technical manual available on Aikido.

The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido and Words of Power by William Gleason: These books are frustrating, however they contain information, available nowhere else, on many of the religious concepts from Shinto and Omoto-kyo that underlie O-Sensei’s thought.

The Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba: When people with no aikido experience ask me for an aikido book to read, this is the one I give them.  It is a short, readable, and thought-provoking book by a venerable teacher.

“The Art of Aikido” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba
“Aikido It’s Heart and Appearance” by Morihiro Saito
“Aikido in Daily Life” by Koichi Tohei
Spiral Impact by Karen Valencic 

Other martial arts:

Legacies of the Sword by Karl Friday: This is an academic, but highly readable, book on the Kashimashin-ryu school of swordsmanship, which was a major influence on O-sensei and from which he derived much of the aikiken.  The school was grounded in a sophisticated philosophy, discussed in detail in this book, that clearly informed O-sensei’s thought.
Karate-do Kyohan by Gichin Funakoshi:  I would recommend any book by Funakoshi.  This book is great for the basic physical fundamentals that underlie Karate, and most martial arts.
Flashing Steel by Masayuki Shimabukuro and Leonard Pellman: I think this is the best introductory book I’ve ever read on any martial art.  While it is primarily about iaijutsu, the first third of the book is invaluable for anybody interested in the conceptual framework for traditional Japanese martial arts.

The Roots of Chinese Qigong by Dr. Jwing-Ming Yang: This is a great book for delving into the esoteric world of Chinese Qi.  Qi is a difficult concept for many because the language we use to talk about it is rooted in its origins in ancient Chinese Taoism.  If Qigong were a product of the 20th century we might be talking about it in more modern empirical terms.  Dr. Yang trained extensively in Chinese martial arts in Taiwan before studying engineering at Purdue.  In this book he approaches this murky subject from a perspective informed by Chinese tradition, but grounded in science.

Zen in the martial arts – Joe Hyams
On the warrior’s path – Daniele Bolelli
Kishido: way of the Western warrior – Peter Hobart

 

Non-martial art books:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker: DeBecker is a leading authority on predicting violent behavior.  This book is a fantastic guide to recognizing the warning signs of manipulative and obsessive people.  I’ve given numerous copies of this book away to friends and family over the years and many people, especially women, have told me that they found the book immediately applicable.
Combatting Cult Mind-Control by Steve Hassan: Hassan is a counselor and former cult member who now specializes in deprogramming victims of cult manipulation.  While this book focuses on helping cult survivors, there is also a lot of useful information for avoiding hucksters and “teachers” in it for all the wrong reasons.
Tao te ching – Stephen Mitchell pocket edition translation
Born to run – Christopher McDougall

 

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