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Seeking Zanshin: Blood, Sweat, Tears & Aikikai Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 02-24-2005 10:53 PM
One small gal + a dojo full of big guys = tons o' fun
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 270 (Private: 12)
Comments: 195
Views: 840,361

One of your Favorites! In General Mostly Armless Entry Tools Rate This Entry
  #128 New 05-05-2004 09:42 AM
Those of you who've read the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy series will get the pun (and not just the double entendre).

A couple of interesting experiences to note on this very-oddly strung together theme:

On Monday, we did an evasion form of Randori whereby we weren't allowed to use our hands or arms to deflect attacks (in this case, Shomenuchi) but had to avoid getting hit anyway. Needless to say, due to the speed of attacks (since you're not throwing, there's hardly a pause in between them) it was very easy to get cornered by two ukes and we all found it quite difficult --- even Sensei got hit a couple of times during one round. I guess even monkey's fall from trees...

My first round wasn't so bad, but the second was rather miserable --- my ukes were both newbies and weren't realistically following through on their strikes with their whole bodies/centres (which would have made it easier to evade) so I ended up pathetically running around the mats as they chased me. It's amazing how much of a difference one little atemi for distraction can make! But enough excuses. The big challenge for me was in the time I had to make by waiting for one uke to strike, the other would cut off my best (widest) route of evasion, resulting in my having to squeeze through between them. Next time, I really ought to practice evading sideways at an acute angle to my ukes more, la Sensei-style.

Last night, I took a (long-awaited) beginner's workshop in Japanese Taiko drumming given by a local performing group, Fubuki Daiko. I've always loved the sound of the "thunder drums", and from what I already knew of the art, I was sure that it would be an excellent complement to my Aikido training. I wasn't mistaken. Many of the basic principles completely cohered with what I had learned on the mats --- the importance of stance, keeping awareness of your centre, using your hips, Ki, Kiai, and even down to the way you grip your drumsticks (very bokken-like). The style of teaching was also very much in the martial tradition, and not only was it nice to already know some of the language and traditions (counting in Japanese, sitting in Seiza, and bowing in and out of the dojo) I found myself in the one place off the mats where I could say, "Hai Sensei" without someone looking at me funny.

Another really awesome thing about this (aside from the really cool sound of the drums) is that whereas with Bokken work, you can't really follow through with your strikes to see the pragmatic end result of your great extension or form (unless you actually take a katana and go running amok slicing people in "Kill Bill" fashion --- or maybe not...Uma didn't exactly have the greatest swordmanship; but I digress) with Taiko, you can hear the result of your Ki (or lack thereof, in my case) in the sound that the drum makes. Just as if you had a live blade and had the dynamics of proper cutting form correct, you would most likely slice through someone quite smoothly (or so I hear), I'm taking a wild --- yet educated --- stab in the dark (sorry) in thinking that proper form in Taiko drumming would result in stronger and better quality sound from your drum. I have a female acquaintance in a Taiko student performance group who's told me that though she's smaller, she can drum louder than most of the guys, and that it has nothing to do with strength. Now, where have I heard this concept before?

The one principle that I applied without being told to (my bad! ) was paying close attention to Kokyu, and exhaling on each exertion of a long/hard strike (not much time to do this during the shorter ones --- heck, you'd hyperventilate!). [We'll see if I'm jumping the gun and being overly cocky in this assumption --- I've signed up for the weekly beginner classes and will start them next Friday.] The possible downside is that I'm so used to doing this (not only from Aikido but from the past: boxing, lifting weights and playing badminton, etc.) that if they have a completely different style of breathing, I'm definitely screwed!

I overheard a fair amount of other students at the end of class complaining of sore arms, to which I could not personally relate to but only chuckle, "that's because you're using too much arm strength!" Naturally, despite this oh-so sage wisdom of mine (and not having sore arms afterwards), I still did get the advice from one of the Taiko Senseis to use my hips more. When she said that, I could just envision Sensei Jon crossing his arms and nodding in stern approval of this correcton.
Views: 2589 | Comments: 2

RSS Feed 2 Responses to "Mostly Armless"
#2 05-09-2004 08:59 AM
jducusin Says:
From what I was told, Taiko is mainly an oral tradition, and so songs comprised of words using onomatopoeia are passed down and learned by being sung as opposed to using sheet music --- during the beginner's workshop, we learned a song using combinations of "dom"s (long, hard notes), "suku"s (soft notes), and "kara"s (strikes to the rim of the drum). And yes, it is a good workout (though nothing in comparison to a certain dojo I know of ) --- we do a nice long series of very martial stretches to warm up, and as I mentioned, there's also the great opportunity to practice keeping your centre rooted and extending Ki. You can contact Hiroshi or Naomi at info@fubuki.ca if you're interested in joining --- I believe you have to take the beginner's workshop/orientation first before you can join in with the regular beginner's class.
#1 05-07-2004 03:13 PM
Kelly Allen Says:
Do they use sheet music of any kind? After studying music theory with my son for the past 4 years I wonder if it would come in handy. I'll bet it's still a pretty darn good work out. I am sorely missing my Aikido.

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