Monday, December 3, 2012

20 Precepts, part 5 (Dojo training)

The founder of Shotokan karate, Gichin Funakoshi, created the “20 precepts of karate-do.”  This is a list of 20 different philosophies, some specific and others general.  For this series, I will be looking at the ones that can apply to taiko and taiko training. 

Today’s precept: Do not think that karate training is only in the dojo.

I’ve spoken to this in the past.  If you only think about taiko when you get to your studio/dojo/parking garage/whatever, you’re confining yourself to a stunted development.  I think it's rare for anyone who plays taiko to think this way, but I do see it in degrees.

To only think that you have to be at practice to practice is almost as bad.  There are so many opportunities to train for taiko OUTSIDE of taiko that most people aren’t aware of.  I’m going to list the ones I do:

-        Noting similarities and differences of kata to taiko during karate
-        Playing with my timing and my opponent’s timing during sparring (syncopation!)
-        Maintaining an intensity of ki that I can add to my repertoire on the stage.

-        Listening to non-taiko songs and imagining them redone as taiko pieces.
-        Always having paper and pen on hand to scribble down a rhythm or concept.
-        Scatting patterns to the cadence of my footsteps while walking.

-        Tapping along to a song in the car/at home.
o   To keep up with a fast tempo.
o   To understand a complex syncopation or odd meter.
o   To improve around a familiar rhythm/ji.
-        Pulling out the drum pads.
o   Improvising over a song.
o   Improvising over a metronome.
o   Drilling patterns over a metronome.

-        Watching videos (YouTube, DVDs) of other taiko groups
o   How do the groups that impress me strike/move/project/compose?
o   What are groups doing that I don't like and how can I learn from it?
-        Listening to other taiko pieces and “playing along” to learn different musical sensibilities.

There’s no set time when I might decide to do something, either.  If I have free time, I might pull out the pads.  If I’m brushing my teeth, I might start tapping out patterns with the free hand.  In the car, the steering wheel becomes a trap set.

Practice outside of practice is sometimes more valuable than what you do at practice.  It rewires your brain to be on the lookout for opportunities to improve and it makes you proactive about your growth instead of relying on anyone – or anywhere.  On top of all that, it’s fun!

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