Book Review - Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training
This book is packed with drills, tips, and insights.

Author: C. M. Shifflett
Publisher: Round Earth Publishing, 2000
paperback, $19.95

cover of Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training
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C. M. Shifflett's Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training is packed with drills, tips, and insights that are useful for all martial artists, not just aikidoists. And when I say packed, I mean there's a lot of stuff here. I get a lot of books to review for About Martial Arts visitors, and a lot of them are slim and only marginally useful. Shifflett crams in more content in this one book than other authors put into three volumes.

For example, the first 80 or so pages is devoted to introducing aikido and the concept of ki. There's books that size alone on those topics. Then the rest of the book covers techniques and exercises to develop those techniques. The descriptions of the techniques aren't to the same detail as other "how-to" texts (e.g. Shioda's Total Aikido). But the book isn't intended to fill the same role--rather than a student's textbook of aikido, Shifflett's book is more like the instructor's text--containing the gist of the subject but adding the nuances and tips needed to teach the material effectively.

Along with the instructional material, there's also several reference sections: an extensive annotated bibliography, a glossary of aikido terms, and an interesting section titled "Off the Mat, In Real Life," which delves into the non-combat conflict resolution skills of martial arts.

I picked up a lot of drills and ideas to try in our workouts--even though I don't consider myself an aikido student. My favorite tips included the section on learning to roll correctly--exercises I hadn't thought of--and the suggestion to practice jo (staff) techniques with a length of PVC pipe filled with sand and water. I tried my usual staff techniques with the filled pipe and gained a whole new insight into transitions and grip changes.

This is a great book, and well worth reading. I'm still finding little tips here and there to try; it'll be fun seeing if I can try them all.

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