Monday, December 26, 2011

Question Everything: Everything

Going to wind the year down with a blog about what I'm all about. I began the Question Everything line of posts to tackle specific subjects that were often taken for granted, but I wanted to get even more at the heart of my personality with this one.

As a black belt teaching groups of students unsupervised, I found I had to know the techniques I was teaching down to fine details. As a taiko player, I found in order to get past stagnation, I had to re-examine my motions. Some breakthroughs came about in the weirdest places, like watching reality TV shows that had nothing to do with either art. Other times, I would make some pretty interesting observations watching other people try things out.

So what I want to ask you in this post is, how do you do what it is you do?

Try looking at one of your songs, something you know how to play really well. How do you extend your arm before a strike? Is it ergonomic? Does it look straight (if it's supposed to be)? When you execute the strike, is your hara activated? Are you mostly using your arms and shoulders instead? Does the strike follow an efficient path? Before contact with the drum, is the bachi cocked back? Where on the drum did you hit?

And that's the easy stuff.

How much do your feet contribute to your strike? Are they simply holding you up or are they contributing to the generation of power? Are you breathing with the strike or holding it in? When you move your feet, where is your center? Are you moving your foot to the spot it needs to be or initiating the movement in your body first? Does the bachi in your hand have weight or is it simply an extension of your arm? If put into a pose once, how consistent can you replicate it? Where are the "smart points" of your muscle memory"?

There is a point where micro-analyzing your form will lead to confusion. "Analysis leads to paralysis," they say. As true at that may be, if you truly broke down all your fine movements and understood how you're doing them, then you'd be so much further along in your development than you were before.

How can you change for the better before you understand what you're doing now? Ask those questions of yourself and see where you grow from it.

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