Beliefnet
Although it doesn't have the name recognition of karate, aikido is the up-and-coming ancient kid on the block. In "The Way of Aikido," longtime practitioner George Leonard introduces the art for non-aikidoists, claiming that its physical lessons can be applied to non-physical situations such as verbal confrontations.

Aikido is unique among the martial arts for its practice of "blending" with the attacker. The aikidoist "moves toward the incoming energy and then, at the last instant, slightly off the line of attack, turning so as to look momentarily at the situation from the attacker's viewpoint." Leonard notes that in his lectures across the country, the question-and-answer sessions had been confrontational, with him demolishing his challengers point for point. After he began to study aikido, however, he practiced entering the worldview of his challengers, and found that the hostility was replaced by a genuine conversation about their mutual differences. After a time, such hostile questions ceased altogether, pointing to aikido's well-known effect of easing conflict before it even begins.

Leonard provides readers with introductory exercises on centering (finding their physical center, or "hara"), becoming conscious of the present moment, tuning in to the inner state of others, and taking ownership of their surroundings, relationships, health, and work lives. This practical, accessible book is for both accomplished martial artists who wish to apply its spiritual teachings to their everyday lives, Dale Carnegie-style, or for total beginners whose experience of aikido will be through their heads and hearts more than their bodies.

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