Scrapbook page 58


In 2011 I did a bunch of little diagrams of aikido things (attacks, techniques, artefacts) for an explanatory leaflet that my local aikido club (Sotenjuku, in the UK) gives to new members after their first class. I put them out on the web under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike licence so other aikido clubs could use them for their own material.

One reason for this is because there’s a well-known (in the aikido world) book called “Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere” which contains hundreds of simple yet exquisite illustrations by Oscar Ratti. Since the book was published in 1973, his fabulous but presumably copyrighted illustrations turn up — without attribution — on aikido websites and in aikido club logos, printed and digitised and even embroidered, all over the world. They are beautiful, they are ubiquitous, and they are almost never attributed to him. It’s not my fight but I’ve always felt disappointed at the readiness of aikido people to plunder Ratti’s work without giving him any credit (and aikido people are supposed to be all artistic and sensitive, right?) so although my tiny collection of undeniably inferior diagrams neither captures the movement nor the aesthetics of aikido like Ratti’s drawings do, by putting it out there I have offered a legitimate alternative to aikido clubs who feel bad about plundering Ratti’s work. I am amused and touched when I see them turn up “in the wild”. Available at