"With its dedication to harmony, its mandate to protect the attacker, and its mission to make the world one family, aikido is perhaps the most open and optimistic of the martial arts," writes fifth degree black belt holder George Leonard, president of the Esalen Institute. This brilliantly written volume explores the way of aikido as a path to composure, harmony, self-sufficiency, and spiritual centeredness. Blending colorful anecdotes with thoughtful philosophizing, Leonard (Education and Ecstasy) has created the essential guide to this unique martial art.

Aikido requires the skill, grace, and timing of ballet. Its principles of moving from center, relaxing under pressure, and extending energy can be applied to everyday life. Leonard explains the art of blending — going with the flow of an enemy — as "an expression of love."

An equally enlightening chapter focuses on "taking the hit as a gift." Leonard shows how aikido practitioners are able to gain new energy from an attack. The author also explains this martial art as a means of staying alert, being fully engaged, and incarnating nonresistance. The Way of Aikido is a philosophical gem.