"Deep wisdom gleaned from one man's aikido journey.
This small book is a treasure, a generous sharing of uniquely personal, yet universally familiar, experiences encountered on the path of aikido training. In it you will find everything from practical and comforting advice to poignant insights. It's like having a valuable mentor (sempai) close at hand".
Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan
About the book
This book began on one rainy winter morning in 2009 Paul Rest scribbled notes about ideas he had for a book in a notebook while sitting in front of crackling wood stove. Already a prolific writer about Aikido, over the next months he returned to his notebook again and again. Each time he wrote a little more until chapters began to emerge. By 2011, a full draft of the manuscript was complete. He asked a number of Aikido friends to read this draft and then make any comments or suggestions they had. The manuscript was revised four times in the next two years. By 2015, Rest realized the manuscript was ready. He then asked senior Aikido instructors to review the manuscript for comments that would be included with the book. He has remarked publicly, “Writing this book was like learning to fall and roll. You awkwardly start and learn as you practice (write) more and more until you have something that feels right. This is what happened to me writing this book. I learned and grew as I moved forward. Every sentence was a door there to walk through.”
Breathing Without breathing, we would not be alive. Air comes into our lungs, exchanges are made through the alveoli, and we take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. When our bodies need more oxygen, we begin breathing deeper. Walking, turning, running and other activities trigger this. It is a marvelous mechanism we have. Yet, most of the time our breathing is shallow. We take in this needed oxygen from our upper body. A little breath in, a little breath out. It is only when we are exercising or are stressed that our breathing patterns change. Notice that I used the word, “patterns.” That is because we all have breathing patterns. For most of us, it is not an optimum pattern. We all need to learn about making our breathing deeper and stronger. Breathing should include our whole body, our whole being. In Aikido, we learn that breathing not only is necessary with every technique, it is a way to connect. I say, “Breathe your attacker in.” By this, I mean include the whole person that you are training with. Do not wait until the attack and technique is upon you to begin your breathing. Breathing can connect you and your training partner the moment you line up to begin working together. As we move through a technique, breathing becomes the way we stay connected. We also connect with our center, eyes, touch, bodies and the technique itself. Breathing is the glue that holds all this together. The flow of energy from our center comes out through our breathing. When it is being done correctly, it is felt by both nage and uke. When it is not, there is usually a breakdown at one point in the technique.