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Journey to the Heart of Aikido presents the teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei, one of the few remaining direct students of Morihei Ueshiba, the legendary founder of Aikido. After a lifetime of practice and teaching in Japan, the United States, and Europe, Anno Sensei conveys through his teachings Aikido's essential spirit of love, harmony, gratitude, and purification with simple authenticity and eloquence. Author and translator Linda Holiday--herself a senior instructor of Aikido--brings to life the intimacy of this communication through translated discourses on the deep practice of Aikido and candid dialogues between Anno sensei and Western students.
Journey to the Heart of Aikido includes Linda Holiday's vivid account of her adventure as a young woman studying Aikido in the mystical region of Kumano, Japan, in the 1970s, and a poignant telling of Anno sensei's life and his first-hand experience of training with Aikido's founder. An essential resource for the global Aikido community, Journey to the Heart of Aikido also offers spiritual teachings relevant to all contemporary seekers, touching a wide range of themes such as the meaning of martial arts, the integration of body and spirit, the truth of interconnectedness, and the practice of peace, offering all readers insight into the profound spiritual questions at the heart of life.
About the Author
LINDA HOLIDAY first moved to Japan in 1973 to receive instruction from Aikido teachers who were direct students of the founder of Aikido. She was one of the first Westerners to study Aikido in the remote, mystical Kumano region of Japan, where she became a close student and personal interpreter of Motomichi Anno Sensei. A 6th degree black belt, she has taught Aikido professionally since 1976 and founded the nonprofit organization Aikido of Santa Cruz in 1982, where she continues to serve as its chief instructor.
MOTOMICHI ANNO is one of the highest-level teachers of Aikido in the world. Born in 1931, he is one of the few remaining members of a generation of Japanese master-teachers who received direct instruction from the founder of Aikido. Anno Sensei received his 8th-degree black belt in 1978 and has been a senior teacher at the Kumano Juku Dojo for over forty years, serving as its chief instructor for the past nine years. In 2009, Anno sensei received the prestigious Distinguished Service Award from the Japan Martial Arts Association for his lifetime dedication to teaching Aikido. Deeply rooted in traditional Japan, Anno sensei is an international teacher who has a remarkable ability to convey the heart of Aikido to people of different cultures. He continues to live on his family homestead in the countryside of western Japan, and teaches in Japan, the United States, and Europe.
“This book is a treasure of wisdom from the heart of a true peacemaker, offering a tangible experience of interbeing as well as practices we can use every day to cultivate well-being and compassion.” —THICH NHAT HANH, Zen master and author of Peace Is Every Step
“The sublime life and teachings of Morihei Ueshiba are authentically presented in Journey to the Heart of Aikido through the lifelong training of Motomichi Anno as well as Linda Holiday’s amazing dedication and research. As one who studied with the Master in his tiny nightly class right after World War II, I am overjoyed that the essence of what I witnessed and learned in Japan’s countryside sixty-five years ago is now available to the public in the Western world.” —KAZUAKI TANAHASHI, author of Brush Mind; co-translator of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, under the direction of Morihei Ueshiba
“Entertaining, insightful, at times humorous, but always compelling… Linda Holiday’s Journey to the Heart of Aikido is a monumental work that documents the teachings of Aikido master Motomichi Anno, a direct student of the art’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba. Over the years, Linda has become intimately acquainted with the culture of Japan to a level few foreigners attain. I wholeheartedly recommend Linda Holiday’s book to every aikido practitioner and martial arts aficionado. It is a complete package that will not fail to inform and inspire, and is surely destined to become a classic.” —STANLEY PRANIN, editor of Aikido Journal
"Few remain - among them Anno Sensei, now 82 - who experienced O Sensei's teaching firsthand and felt his celebrated fusion of irresistible control and harmless, illuminating spirit. As the founder's direct students dwindle with time, aikido teachers everywhere share concern for perpetuating the truthful transmission of his vision...As [Holiday] relates in the opening of the book, it was at a dojo - a practice hall - in the rural Kumano district, where O Sensei had lived and frequently taught, that she and a few other young Americans immersed themselves in aikido with teachers, including Anno Sensei." —San Francisco Chronicle
“Linda Holiday shares her journey with us, with honesty and clarity. As the story unfolds, step by step her quest becomes clear; she devotes herself as a student of Hikitsuchi Sensei, and then Anno Sensei becomes her mentor. Through his teachings, Anno Sensei guides us with a benevolent smile and the deepest humility to ‘the heart of Aikido.’ His reflections on all aspects of practice are very rich and will surely answer all the questions we may ask. Journey to the Heart of Aikido is also a beautiful testimonial to fidelity: that of student to teacher, and teacher to O-Sensei.” —CHRISTIAN TISSIER, Aikido seventh dan shihan, Paris, France
“Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, established Aikido as a way of harmony, an art of peace, a path of light. Motomichi Anno, one of the last remaining direct disciples of the founder, and his student Linda Holiday have devoted their lives to preserving Morihei’s legacy. Journey to the Heart of Aikido presents Anno Sensei’s simple, yet profound teachings, together with an inspiring account of his life and his experiences with the founder. This is a rich, valuable book, lovingly put together in the true spirit of Aikido.” —JOHN STEVENS, Aikido seventh dan; author of Invincible Warrior, a biography of Morihei Ueshiba
“An extraordinary and important contribution not only to the literature of Aikido but to the larger world of the martial arts as well. This intimate and penetrating look into the development of Aikido reveals a sacred world of power, vision, and harmony. Linda Holiday has deftly crafted a historical narrative that allows us to see the inspiration of the founder of Aikido, embodied in one of his direct students. As the Aikido community evolves, this book will be a guidepost along the way. It’s a classic.” —RICHARD STROZZI-HECKLER, PHD, author of The Leadership Dojo and In Search of the Warrior Spirit; chief instructor, Two Rock Aikido; co-founder, Tamalpais Aikido.
“Today there are few instructors who can speak from personal experience about the founder of Aikido. I read with great interest Motomichi Anno Sensei’s portrait of the founder, and his impressions of O-Sensei’s instruction and personal character, interwoven with his own reflections on a lifetime of practice. Linda Holiday’s experiences practicing Aikido at the Kumano Juku Dojo in the 1970s also make for a truly fascinating story.” —HIROSHI IKEDA, Aikido seventh dan shihan; chief instructor, Boulder Aikikai
“The teachings of Aikido are truly universal, and thus this book is for everyone. Anno Sensei's lifelong journey along the path of love and harmony is an inspiration to us all. I praise Linda Holiday for her dedication in bringing this treasure to the world, as I know it will help guide countless readers on their path to personal and global peace.” —BRANT SECUNDA, shaman and healer in the Huichol tradition; author of Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You
“Journey to the Heart of Aikido offers a portrait of the founder born of Anno Sensei's deep love and close contact with O-Sensei. He retells many wonderful stories and shares profoundly important teachings received directly from the founder. This is an invaluable resource for all Aikidoists and for other martial artists as well … a book I am planning to read many times over, to let its rich wisdom sink in.” —ROBERT FRAGER, PHD, Aikido seventh dan; founder, Sofia University; president, Western Aikido Association
“Linda Holiday writes with devotion and a pure heart. Journey to the Heart of Aikido inspires greatness through humility, dedication, and self-responsibility. Through Linda's personal story and the teachings of Anno Sensei, I feel that I have been introduced to the living flame of the lineage of Aikido burning bright.” —TAMI SIMON, founder and publisher, Sounds True
“For over forty years I have endeavored to understand how O-Sensei was able to manifest love in response to aggression, both on and off the Aikido mat. This book is a gift for all who wish to develop greater spiritual understanding of Aikido, its universal application, our potential to embody the principles, and the amazing abilities of its founder.” —WENDY PALMER, author of The Practice of Freedom: Aikido Principles as a Spiritual Guide and The Intuitive Body: Discovering the Wisdom of Conscious Embodiment and Aikido
“A truly exceptional and vibrant Aikido book…a must-read book for everyone who is interested in the origins of Aikido and the spiritual foundations of the art. Through the words of her teacher, Anno Sensei, Linda Holiday brings to life O-Sensei’s lifelong quest to create a peaceful martial art. Reading Journey to the Heart of Aikido is like traveling through time and space to meet with the founder of Aikido and step into his world of sincere physical and spiritual determination and practice, inspired by the sacred nature in Kumano. This book is a treasure.” —JAN NEVELIUS, Aikido sixth dan shihan, Vanadis Aikido Dojo, Sweden; author, Vaken Vila
“Brilliant, illuminating … Journey to the Heart of Aikido is aptly named. Linda Holiday opens our eyes to the light that shines on the path.” —FRANK DORAN, Aikido seventh dan shihan; chief instructor, Aikido West Dojo
“Those who read this book will not only be rewarded with a deep understanding of what Aikido is, but will be entertained and moved by Anno Sensei’s personal and ongoing journey to go deeper into Aikido’s essence.” —MARY HEINY, Aikido sixth dan, Seattle, Washington
“The flow of universal knowledge from O-Sensei through Anno Sensei to Linda Holiday … Read this book and enjoy that inspired journey.” —ROBERT NADEAU, Aikido seventh dan shihan, direct student of O-Sensei
“This is a long-awaited account of Aikido’s development in Kumano’s mysterious mountains. The simplicity with which Aikido’s positive message is articulated here may stir many people looking for meaning in life to seek an answer in the practice of Aikido. Everyone will benefit from reading Journey to the Heart of Aikido. It may well help us all to transform the ravages of a materialistic world.” —SUSAN PERRY, PHD, Aikido sixth dan, author of Remembering O-Sensei; co-chief instructor of Musubi Dojo, California
“Linda Holiday’s clear, poetic translation of Anno Sensei's teachings provides a wonderful resource for those of us wishing to better understand the words of Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. The founder’s spiritual philosophy of love and unity is embodied in a martial practice that can appear antithetical to it. Yet Anno Sensei’s interpretation of the founder’s teaching embraces the paradoxical nature of Aikido and makes the principles alive and accessible to us. Anno Sensei's humility, compassion, and wisdom are ever apparent. Journey to the Heart of Aikido brings to us the fruit of a heart-to-heart transmission of the Way.” —DARRELL BLUHM, Aikido sixth dan shihan; chief instructor, Siskiyou Aikikai, Oregon
“What a great story. Well told, tender in places, with a genuine warmth and depth … and so inspiring. It is a tale of humanity, not just a martial art. It will reach out and touch everyone.” —HANS GOTO, Aikido seventh dan; founder and chief instructor, Bay Marin Aikido
“Journey to the Heart of Aikido resonates with the truth of the Oneness of us all. Even readers unfamiliar with the art of Aikido will feel and recognize it. The most important thing for our world community is recognizing and valuing the connection that we have with all beings—a connection that the founder of Aikido talked about, and that Motomichi Anno teaches from his own heart. Linda Holiday, writing with a magic reminiscent of Aikido itself, is able to express this high level of teaching in this remarkable book. I will keep it as a frequent reference.” —DANIELLE SMITH, Aikido sixth dan; chief instructor, Aikido of Monterey
“Journey to the Heart of Aikido takes the reader unhesitatingly into Aikido's demand that we completely envelop our opponent's heart with love. A remarkable book, in which a ‘lineage of love’ is precisely transmitted.” —KIMBERLY RICHARDSON, founder and chief instructor of Two Cranes Aikido, Seattle, Washington
“Journey to the Heart of Aikido is a richly deserving of all the accolades in the section titled, “Praise for Journey into the Heart of Aikido...The book is chock full of fantastic color and black & white photographs that alone would make the book a must have for an Aikido or martial arts library." —PAUL REST, 3rd degree black belt; one of the founding members of the Western Aikido Association