I’ve found it to be the case that, for many of the aikido greats, their first books are their best books – or at least the most interesting, because the most marked by O’Sensei’s thinking. We find Nidai Doshu writing: “There is little difference between the movements of Aikido and those of Japanese swordsmanship…” and talking about “the Realm of No- Self,” and about entering into shikaku. 1) Koichi Tohei Shihan’s 1960 Aikido the Arts of Self-Defence has introductory sections on ‘Aikido and Nature’ and ‘The Spirit of Loving Protection for All Nature’ and covers 50 techniques – the same number as Budo. As Ellis Amdur points out, 2) the earlier editions of Ki in Daily Life include a – presumably – Omoto-kyo breathing exercise, which is cut from later editions. Morihiro Saito Shihan’s
wonderful Traditional Aikido series is not only a fascinating window into, we may guess, what tanren and suburi O’Sensei had him do – and in what order – but the Japanese text of, at any rate, the first volume, is written from a point of view where ki-flow and ki-connection are primary, and the physical movement is embedded in the flow of the ki.
Nevertheless it was a surprise, recently, to re-read in Issue 2 of Aiki News (May, 1974), in the editorial: “The essence of O’Sensei’s genius was his ability to “tune-in” to the intent of the attacker at extraordinarily subtle levels. This hyperawareness enabled him to gather “advance information” regarding the nature and timing of the attack…”