"Aikido: An Everyday Approach to the Martial Art That Can Change Yourself and the World" takes us from the author's first days in Aikido where he has trouble learning to roll, to his later years where he teaches the art. He generously shares a variety of stories and insights gained from his many years of training with some of the most well known names in Aikido. Paul's authentic and sincere voice stand out as he describes how Aikido has impacted his life.
This book has great information and relationship to life and Aikido. I found the stories and ideas blend well as presented by Paul. It helps you remember that Aikido isn't just something you perform or go through the motions with, but something that becomes part of you.
This is a small book with a big impact! The exercises were very helpful and I loved the insight the author offers. An inspiring read!
Paul Rest’s book offers practices that are straightforward and practical ways to applying Aikido off the mat. The practices are illustrated with entertaining examples from his own life and practice.
Paul Rest has been practicing Aikido for over 20 years and holds the rank of 4th dan. He has trained with many of the top instructors in the US and in seminars with some of the leading teachers from Japan including the current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba. He is also a pioneer in Low Impact Aikido, an area of growing interest in the Aikido world. Low Impact Aikido is an opportunity for students to practice the art who are not able to take falls. This will be the subject of a forthcoming book.
The Preface by Hiroshi Ikeda, 7th Dan Shihan provides his perspective after reading the book:
“This small book is a treasure, a generous sharing of uniquely personal , yet universally familiar, experiences encountered on the path of Aikido training.” (Page xiii)
Section I – Mind/Body/Spirit- contains three chapters entitled Mind, Body and Spirit respectively. These chapters provide a unique perspective on these concepts.
Here is an example: “The purpose of paying attention to the mind is to have this become part of the larger dialogue that includes all parts of oneself…So, I always re-mind myself: Let your mind become part of the team. And most of all, hold in yourself that a beginner’s mind is the best mind to have.” (Page 6)
This section focuses on the unity of mind, body and spirit, a core principle of Aikido practice. There are numerous insights from Paul’s many years of training and teaching as well as examples from other people, which illustrate mind, body, spirit unity.
Section II – Aikido and You – Aikido in the World – contains eleven chapters that help us to work with basic activities such as standing walking and turning and how Aikido can help us take these fundamental movements and create opportunities for training.
Here is an example: Standing-“How we are standing reflects who we are in the world…’Grocery Cart Exercise’…When you are in your local supermarket, play a game…Begin by slumping…notice how people around you react…Now stand up…When I have done this exercise and I change from a slouched way of stranding to standing straight…I’ve noticed people are friendly. I can find what I am searching for more easily…Students have reported clerks running up to help them.” (Pages 19 & 22)
The later chapters in this section provide similar practices using different parts of the body such as eyes, hands and fingers and skin.
Here is another supermarket exercise: Hands & Fingers-“What happens when you grip your shopping cart tightly...Now relax your hands and fingers. What has changed...We are no longer thinking one thing and our hands and fingers are doing something different. As one of my Low Impact students said recently, ‘It’s a whole new world.” (Page 54)
These types of exercises may seem simplistic but that is a big part of their value as they can be done in the most ordinary places while performing the most ordinary of tasks. My own experience with them has helped to turn grocery shopping from a task I don’t enjoy to something I look forward to as a chance to train.
Section III-Provides an example of one of Paul’s classes, his thoughts on Low Impact Aikido and a glossary of terms.
Here is the context in which he teaches:
“One of my major quests as I learned Aikido (which continues-- as I will always be a student) was learning…I couldn’t demand one part of me change and leave the other parts of myself out in the cold…My body needed to learn the techniques…My mind needed to set forth my intention…My spirit reminded me why I was here…the bigger picture.” (Page 83)…We are changing ourselves and the world--one technique at a time, one class at a time, one breath at a time, and one heartbeat at a time.” (Page 88)
The book concludes with a discussion of Low Impact Aikido:
“Low Impact Aikido is a way those individuals can train who cannot take the rolling and falling that is involved in most classes…An opportunity to step on the mat and experience this exquisite art.” (Page 89)
The book is well worth reading because it offers practices to take the art off the mat that are practical and can be used in our most basic daily life situations, such as the supermarket examples. Working with these practices will enhance daily life activities and also help to improve your Aikido on the mat as well.
My relationship with Sensei Paul Rest goes back to the summer of 2009 when I was performing the first installment of Richard Wagner's ring cycle in San Francisco.is anyone who knows the Ring remembers, my character, Wotan, carries a spear. Well I wanted to make mine, and did. The local press heard about it and I did a very nice article about the Ring cycle featuring the spear that I had made.
Sensei Paul heard about this, and ask for an interview. It was only one question: "how does your martial arts inform your singing?" Well I was already intrigued, because I never considered myself a martial artist. He told me later that my comments would be included in his new book. I thought that was great, but forgot about it.
Time passed, and my sons instructor, Master Brian O'Connor, offer a course in close quarter combat at the local dojong (studio). Well I jumped at the chance.
It seems to fill a need that nothing else had. So I quickly signed up and I am studying the traditional form of Tae kwan do which includes Hop Ki Do. This is the Korean version of Aikido which Sensei Paul has achieved the rank of fourth Dan.
This was great, but once again, time past. I got an email from Sensei Paul that his book was finished, I was in it, and what I like a copy. Well of course I did. To be honest, I did not want to read it; I just wanted to see my name in print.
However, I was intrigued by the first few pages and began to read it. I was doing a job in Italy, and had a little to do, so… I read on.
Sensei Paul has a gift for simplifying the spiritual aspect of Aikido and bringing it down to a very palatable level.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is even remotely considering the martial arts. I also recommend this to people who were skeptical of a martial arts. While I am at it, I recommend this book to people who just want to increase their spiritual life.
Aikido is One of the most peaceful martial arts and this book brings the spiritual aspect of Aikido home, as well as the physical aspect.
Mr. Paul Rest has presented to the world at large a useful, insightful, loving introduction and perception as it relates to "The Gentle Art" of Aikido. As a long time Martial Artist myself, I realize that the "everyday" reference is for me the most valuable. Often Martial are viewed from afar as mystical, magical misunderstood actions that Mr. Miyagi teaches by waxing on and off. However, we who have learned the essence of the arts realize that to be a willing participant contributes to our lives in the same ways that learning to sew or flying an aircraft or training for and running in a marathon does. To invest yourself is to improve yourself. ...and to me, the practice of the activity you love, is to make continuous personal improvement. Paul's book is the kind of text that helps you do just that on an everyday level and adds a smart and experienced acquaintance with Aikido as a bonus. Thank you Paul for a great book
Aikido: An Everyday Approach To The Martial Art That Can Transform Your Life & The World goes beyond techniques to the "what for" that is why those of us who train Aikido continue on this path. Paul shares from his everyday life and his teaching experience how Aikido is a transformative practice. One might stumble on this from years on the mat, but here one can read and recognize these insights when they first might be accessible but still in nascent form. I have also found Paul's approach to low impact Aikido useful in my own work with psychology students when i have taught them Aikido practices since some of them are able to do the rolls. Yet the essence of Aikido is available to anyone who pursues these modified practices.
Paul Rest's "Aikido: An Everyday Approach to the Martial Art That Can Change Yourself and the World" provides some wonderful insights as to what the core of aikido is all about. He provides several everyday life examples of how we manage chaos and conflict, and how we might approach it in a more graceful way applying the philosophy of a martial art.
Paul Rest's slender volume is a deceptively quick read. But one immediately finds that the book is beautifully infused with the essence of Aikido--in both its practical and philosophical dimensions--and that it compels a second or third reading, a reflective study to earn the grand reward it has to offer. I have trained in Aikido for 27 years and have read many books on the art, yet I found Paul's insights to provide a fresh look at several fundamental Aikido concepts.
Magnificent approach about feelings regarding Aikido but which can be linked to other Martial Arts by extension. Spirit, respect, heart are all the ingredients which bring to Paul's book a nice/pure and pragmatic vision of the life in general.