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Aikido - often considered the "softest" of the martial arts - seeks to neutralize an opponent without doing harm, utilizing the natural flow of ki in relaxed movements that turn away or redirect an attacker's force. In an almost magical dance, the attacker goes cartwheeling through the air while, paradoxically, the defender seems nearly stationary. Here, Tom Bearden's studies of aikido shed light on basic principles that apply to everyday human life: our body mechanics, our balance, our senses, and our interactions with the natural world and the people around us. Going beyond the merely physical, he also touches on states of consciousness, meditation, and how these affect our ability to perceive and use subtle energy. Thus, the information is of interest not only for its application to the physical world, but also to the unseen world of ki. The same concepts apply equally across the broad spectrum of human activity - whether one is a carpenter building a house, a clinician observing a distressed patient, a housewife doing laundry, or a student crossing the street. Some of his wry observations about innate human reflexes - and how to evoke them for self defense - arose from watching wild creatures such as snakes, pumas, and birds during his boyhood in the back woods of Louisiana. Other observations on self-development pass along authentic insights that carry on a centuries-old Oriental tradition founded in Zen meditation. The functioning of the conscious and unconscious mind, the training of habits and reflexes, and insights into the nature of Self, are all addressed in this book. A sandan, or third-degree black belt, is hard-won in any martial art and is the culmination of many year
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