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Aikido - Past, Present, Future (2005)

  Directed by: Michael Field
Written by: Michael Field
Starring: Michael Field
Links: Official site
Genre: Documentary

This movie gets: 5.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Informative, if a little dry" - a review by pearly

Aikido - Past, Present, Future is a documentary about the progression of the martial art of Aikido. The documentary is the brainchild of Michael Field, who is the head of Field Aikido, a school based out of Melbourne, Australia. At Field Aikido, the focus is on Iwama Ryu Aikido (Iwama being a region in Japan, and Ryu meaning style), and the school only recognises the methods handed down to them by Morihiro Saito, who Field trained under intensively for a number of years, and then kept in contact with until the Sensei's death in 2002.

The documentary is loosely split into three parts. Firstly, the history of the art is discussed, the development of the style and the way in which it has been handed down is detailed. Then, moving more specifically into the Australian region, the film goes through Field's history, and his approach to teaching. Then, briefly, there's a move into the future, including the possibility of people learning via internet classes, with minimal actual contact with a teacher.

The documentary is a little dry in the telling, and it is very focused on this one particular style of Aikido, almost as though this is the one true version, with all others being inferior. Narrated by Field himself, who speaks authoritatively, but has a few oddities to his accent which sometimes grate, the visuals, in the first part at least, consist mainly of still photos that have been set up in a kind of slide show. Moving on, there is a rather lengthy interview with Robert Pascoe, and then a fair amount of footage of Aikido in action at the schools.

What it all boils down to is that this documentary is basically a selling tool for Field Aikido, and it comes off a little like an introductory video for a cult, but overall, I found it to be quite informative, and not a bad piece of work for what is effectively a one man show. The session I went to, which was the premiere of the doco at the Holy Trinity Anglican church, was introduced by Field himself, with a live demonstration of Aikido by instructors and students at all belt levels (white to black and beyond). Lastly, Field answered questions, though these were more about the schools than they were the documentary. For a free event on a Monday evening, I could have done a lot worse. Plus, Field congratulated the audience on getting out of their houses and experiencing something a little different, which made me feel special.

pearly gives this movie 5 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 20 Oct 2005

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