A story, a history, a legacy…

An inspiring philosophy for the world today

“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."

JAN NEVELIUS,  Aikido 6th dan shihan, Stockholm, Sweden

Journey to the Heart of Aikido presents the teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei, one of the few remaining direct students of Morihei Ueshiba, the 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.

From the Introduction to Journey to the Heart of Aikido, by Linda Holiday

It is our hope that Journey to the Heart of Aikido will be a valuable resource for the global Aikido community, and a source of inspiration for all who are interested in Asian wisdom and spiritual practice. These teachings of the heart of Aikido speak powerfully to Aikido students and teachers of all levels, as well as to people who have not participated in Aikido before and may never undertake its physical practice. This is not a book of technique, nor is it an advertisement for any particular “style” of Aikido. Through focusing on the essential message of the founder of the art, we hope to strengthen a sense of worldwide common purpose, inquiry, and practice.


"Step forward with us on the Journey to the Heart of Aikido"


Journey to the Heart of Aikido: The Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei consists of two complementary parts. In Part One, The Journey, I weave together personal narrative and historical information, inviting you into a deep connection with the world of Aikido and its living lineage. Chapter 1 tells the story of my personal journey on the Aikido path, which drew me from California to Japan in 1973. Come along with me as I meet Anno Sensei and others in the remote Kumano area of Japan and undergo the traditional rigors of training there. In Chapter 2, I introduce you to Motomichi Anno as a child in rural, war-torn Japan, and describe the evolution of his life in Aikido. His fateful meeting with the founder of Aikido in 1954 set Anno Sensei’s life on a new course, and ultimately led him to become an international teacher of peace. Anno Sensei’s story is braided together with stories of O-Sensei, Hikitsuchi Sensei, and others, providing a new window into the postwar development of Aikido in Japan and its subsequent international expansion.

In Part Two, The Heart of Aikido: Teachings of Motomichi Anno Sensei, the book shifts from narrative to deep reflections on the heart of Aikido, direct from a master-teacher who studied with the founder. In Chapter 3, Anno Sensei communicates what it was like for him to study personally with O-Sensei, and shares his memories of O-Sensei’s teachings and presence. In Chapter 4, he explores the basic spiritual principles that are the foundation of Aikido practice, and gives thoughtful answers to questions posed by Western students. In Chapter 5, Anno Sensei explains how the principles of Aikido can be expressed and cultivated in the physical training of Aikido. Chapter 6 introduces the traditional practices of breathing and purification in Aikido and applies the concept of misogi (purification) to other parts of life. In Chapter 7, Anno Sensei explores the meaning of terms O-Sensei used to “express the inexpressible,” such as kami and the Floating Bridge of Heaven, and offers an essential understanding of interdependence and gratitude. In the final chapter, Anno Sensei articulates the value of Aikido’s spiritual philosophy and pragmatic practice to a global community urgently in need of peace. It is an empowering vision, communicated sincerely from one heart to another.

My own motivations in writing Journey to the Heart of Aikido are simple ones: gratitude and service. I believe the best way to repay the generosity of Motomichi Anno Sensei, and all of the Aikido teachers who have shared their inspiration with me, is to pass it on. I dedicate Journey to the Heart of Aikido to the hope that the integrated spiritual practice of Aikido will play a positive role in the evolving future of humankind.

Step forward with us on the Journey to the Heart of Aikido. It is a work of love, an offering of the heart.

Linda Holiday

Santa Cruz, California