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What are the classical/canonical books written about Aikido? I am interested in all styles (aikikai, iwama, yoshinkan, shodokan, whatever) training "manuals" as well as more philosophical work.

I am taking the hit, see this meta discussion. Suggestions as to how to make this type of questions on topic are appreciated -- feel free to edit this.

Just because there is an accepted answer does not mean I am not looking for more answers!

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

I won't answer for classical, as it's a matter of personal opinion.

Personally, I'd consider "canonical" just the two books written by O'Sensei:

Also, given that Kisshomaru Ueshiba gave a significant contribution to help O'Sensei shape Aikido, Kisshomaru's own books may also be considered as canonical.

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"Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere" by Westbrook and Ratti

and for Yoshinkan style "Total Aikido" by Gozo Shioda

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+1 for Shioda's book, -1 for Westbrook and Ratti. Even thought the illustrations are good, the content is confusing and in some cases inaccurate. – Sardathrion Feb 6 '12 at 14:18
LOL! I only remember that I was a bit disappointed about the American style of writing of Westbrook and Ratti. But it isn't a bad book. It also has a rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon and I think it is one of the most read book on Aikido (at least in the west) so in my opinion it's definitely a classic. As for "canonical", I agree with tacone and would like to add "The Spirit of Aikido" by Kisshomaru Ueshiba – THelper Feb 8 '12 at 7:44

Aikido Shugyo is also an excellent resource, containing both lots of anecdotes about Ueshiba Sensei as well as deep and well-explained insights from Gozo Shioda Sensei. And don't let the fact that it's writtem by the founder of Yoshinkan distract you -- there's not really anything specific to Yoshinkan in there.

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Good foundations for Shodokan Aikido:

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  • Once I read a book about the Life of Morihei Ueshiba (though I don't remember the exact book's name...). I never thought of it as of a "canonical book", but if something is, it is this book - for me.

  • I'd definitely take a look at The Secret Teachings of Aikido.

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One of the best aikido books I've read is Advanced Aikido jointly written by Phong Thong Dang and Lynn Seiser. There are very thorough descriptions and explanations of techniques which is a nice change compared to other books. Ideas such as Zanshin and mushin are discussed.

It is very well written and is excellent for anyone who has progressed beyond the basics of aikido

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I can suggest Aikido Principles "Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art" from Stefan Stenudd. The author is an Aikikai instructor but I also found the book useful as a Kobayashi style practitioner. It is mostly about the basic concepts in Aikido, not the techniques. The spiritual side of Aikido has also been mentioned.

For german readers, I can also suggest "Aikido. Lehren und Techniken des harmonischen Weges" from Rolf Brand. This book is, on the other hand, a technical instruction. There are really good explanations with pictures. It is a pity that it is not available in English.

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For hombu aikido technique, I'd say the canonical textbooks are the two "Best Aikido" volumes produced by Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu and his late father.

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