Let me start this review with a disclaimer. I’m a student of the author Nev Sagiba and have had the good fortune to work through the subject matter of the book during training. So, I approach the book with a positive attitude toward it and the approach of the author. This is not a book that shows techniques in a step by step way. Rather, it is a manual, or aide memoire, for students who have had at least two to three years experience in practicing Aikido.
The book outlines a framework for studying transitions and counters using sixteen widely practiced and basic techniques. As the author says, the material here is neither entirely new nor unknown. However, the framework is a valuable way of developing skills. Let me explain with a simple example.
The transition from ikkyo to sankyo is something which is practiced in many dojos and often at an early stage of training. It’s proper execution feels seamless and teaches important lessons about movement and engagement to both uke and nage. Now consider how you would perform the transition from sankyo to tenchinage. This is perhaps more challenging but, again, in solving how to achieve the transition both nage and uke learn important lessons about movement, engaging the centre of their partner and staying connected.
Nev Sagiba’s book provides a systematic approach to exploring such transitions and also provides a framework for learning basic kaeshi waza. Leading ki, timing, staying balanced and engaged with your partner, and understanding the place of atemi in practice are all valuable lessons that this approach provides.
In exploring the transitions and counters you will find some that flow and elicit moments of aiki magic. These techniques are rapidly absorbed into your practice. Practicing other transitions or counter sequences, however, are like grappling with Zen koans – a lot of practice and meditation occurs before enlightenment.
Perhaps the best way to think of this book is as a map. It provides information about a path to something valuable but you need some basic skills to make sense of the map. It is for teachers or people who learn by exploration. If you are looking to be “told stuff” look elsewhere. If you learn by doing and would like to do so with a plan then you might find this book useful.
Link to Four Diamonds 1024