Ki in Aikido: A Sampler of Ki Exercises
The book: http://www.scribd.com/doc/22819329/Ki-in-Aikido
A Review of the Book by C M Shifflett
Since leaving the Virginia Ki Society area (hundreds of miles of distance make it hard to attend class), I've held dear a list of little Ki tricks and tips that I compiled at class. C. M. Shifflett's book is very much like that list, except more concise, explanatory, experimental, and philosophical.
Though I think the book starts off a little too defensively about the more esoteric and metaphysical aspects of Ki, it quickly rolls up its sleeves and gets to work, wading into a series of exercises. Not just "Do This" exercises, but class "experiments" --- "Try this and see what happens. Then try this and compare results." The answers are not usually given (though they're often obvious), and the reader is invited to explore just what Ki can do in casual, simple situations. As Ed Keith wrote: "...it is an excellent book if for no other reason than that to the best of my knowledge many of these exercises have never been written down before." The many simple and elegant illustrations help considerably --- and if you've met people at Virginia Ki Society, you might recognize a good number of the illustrated figures! The one disadvantage to the exercises, aside from the need for a partner for most of them, is their progression (arguably a good thing) and lack of individual introduction. This simply means that, to get the most out of these, one should really read the book from beginning to end, instead of just picking out a random exercise. These exercises follow and demonstrate themes that are developed through the book, and missing the theme may mean missing half the point.
What kind of themes? The author's selection of quotes (and there are a great many priceless, wonderful quotes on most pages) quickly gives one an idea of the philosophy behind the book, a philosophy built upon and demonstrated over and over, and finally spelled out in detail. It is the familiar underlying principles of Aikido: relaxation, focus, mind-over-matter --- and it is also a welcome look at the themes of benevolence and attitude. Though many other books on Aikido have stressed the importance of benevolence and looking upon others positively, few have gone so far as to outline the experiments by which one can demonstrate the reality of how one's very thoughts can affect not only oneself, but everyone around one. Thus, it can be said that the book offers an often neglected look at the spiritual side, the spiritual philosophy and the spiritual implications of Aikido. For some, as the author notes, the implications may even be too much to take.
I think this text will prove to be invaluable to all sorts of people who are interested in Aikido: beginners, advanced students, teachers (who are students in their own way!), and everyone in between. It is also my hope that it will bring a bit of Aikido's spirit to those who are not involved in Aikido. And of course, I am personally looking forward to trying out these techniques with my fellow Aikidoka friends.