Thursday, September 27, 2012


Back about...15 or so years ago, I was tinkering around with different martial art styles.  I had spent a good seven-ish years learning Shotokan karate, a year studying Capoeira, a year in Tae Kwon Do, and a class here and there in other arts.

I wanted to learn a breadth of techniques, hoping to gain a wide repertoire of ideas and possibilities.  I didn't think it would make me an awesome martial artist, but I thought it would be a good way to get better overall.  But it's been the 14 years in karate that has given me the foundation to do the crazy stuff I wanted to do when I was younger!

Now this brings me to taiko (of course). 

The flashier stuff can be a lot of fun to practice.  These are things like playing as fast as possible, as many notes as you can cram in, bachi twirls and flips, or even crossovers on the slung okedo.  But I find that I can hear and see the difference between the person who practices the fancy stuff more vs. the person who practices their basics more.

The person who focuses on the basics may not be able to pull off something fancy at first, but if they have the foundations of techniques, it will be a lot easier for them to figure things out.  The person that practices with the fancy stuff might be good at one of those things, but they'll have to practice each one separately and one won't necessarily help another.

It's not that you can't or shouldn't practice some of the fancy things, in order to push your skills.  Just take note of what you do when presented with free practice time.  Do you play a simple pattern or work on a ji?  Do you go all-out like your hands are full of angry bees?  Do you feel like you have to impress people around you?

I like playing something like don tsuku for a long time on okedo or even a straight beat on odaiko.  There's something satisfying with feeling the notes fit in the pocket, the striking even and true.  And from there if I want to do crossovers or have angry-bee hands, I use the same feeling that I had when working on the basics.  In other words, it carries over like a template of sorts.

It's not just even fancy stuff that a solid foundation will help with.  Good foundations make learning a new way of playing so much easier and you wind up working on the details instead.  It doesn't matter if it's odaiko or percussion, the more grounded you are in the basics, the more things relate.

Okay, enough lecture; my point has been made.  Tricks are junk food, foundations are vegetables.  Eat your veggies!  :D

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