Thursday, May 10, 2012

Question Everything: Flexibility

Flexibility is a huge component in both San Jose Taiko and Shotokan karate.

If I'm not flexible, I can't open my thighs and knees to allow my feet to push off, drive my weight through my hara, turn my torso with said drive, and throw my arm into the strike.  Without flexibility, I can't drive my kick into a target without compromising balance and/or power.  Flexibility is huge in my arts.

Yet it's not something most taiko players think too much about - and do they need to?  Not necessarily, but like I do with everything else, I want my readers to at least think about it before making that decision.

If your group doesn't use a lot of movement, especially lower-body movement, you may not need all that much flexibility.  Lifting your arm up and striking down in time with sufficient power is a pretty potent tool all in itself.

Still, being able to stretch that arm up from your hips - from your legs - will make the resulting strike even faster, stronger, and more efficient.  You'll look bigger and you'll be able to play with less effort in the long run.

And for those who think about flexibility a lot, you have to do more than just will it to be.  It can come about through repetition of the range of motion you're trying to achieve, but you'll need to do more.  Stretch before, stretch after.  Make sure the supporting muscles for whatever area you're focusing on are strengthened as well.

Don't underestimate the power of being physically flexible, because that ability touches on a lot of different areas - the visuals, reducing the chance of injury, being more relaxed, making things easier, etc.  Even if you find you don't need to be more flexible, would it be so bad if you were?

P.S.: At the dojo, one of my nicknames is "gumby" partially because my shoulders are double-jointed.  This is not-so-useful in taiko, however.


  1. That photo at the top, it's disgusting :-D

    1. Absolutely! I can do something similar with my arms but I didn't want to show off, lol.