Monday, October 17, 2011

Wasted motion

When I watch black belts train alongside lower belts, the biggest difference isn't in power or speed or even confidence, although all of those do apply. It's that the black belts tend to be more efficient.

When using the body, a black belt generally knows how to use their body to get from point A to point B with as little superfluous motion as possible. Someone still learning will add all sorts of needless motions, even miniscule ones.

Now, I'm not neglecting that a black belt will also have developed muscle that allows them greater speed, or that repetition of an action helps to do it faster with familiarity. There's just no denying that the more needless motion you whittle off, the faster, the stronger, and the more effective your techniques will be.

For those who have played taiko for at least a year or so, remember when you first played doro tsuku and it was hard to get your arms to be in the right place to ensure proper dynamics? And then in time, you streamlined the movements somewhat? This is exactly what I'm talking about.

So where am I going with this? Two points:

- "Flourish" often just hides bad technique.

I see a lot of players who add body shifts and arm flaps and bachi spins and twirls when they play who have weak striking, a bad sense of body awareness, or both. I want to take those people and make them play "still". No more movement than is necessarily to play the pattern. I want to isolate how much their extra motion hides their weak spots.

Perhaps some people do this on purpose, because they know they don't have the technique they should? It's possible, but still a waste.

- Don't wait for someone to tell you that you're wasting motion.

Look at your own technique. Does your bachi point back towards you on a basic strike? That just means you have to use extra energy to throw it forward. Are you finding your feet leave the ground when you push off? Whenever you're in the air, you're at the mercy of gravity and momentum. Maybe keeping contact will save you energy and time, and still allow you all the benefits you need.

When you think "I'm pretty efficient when I...", that's when you have to look at whatever it is again. I'm sure the lower belts think they're doing pretty good before they have a black belt point things out to them. And the black belts think THEY'RE doing pretty good before their teachers point things out to them.


I love adding my own flair to my motions, especially during a solo. There's a BIG difference, however, in adding extra flavor to a good dish versus throwing a bunch of extra spices on it because the meat is rancid. Food for thought!

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