Monday, June 9, 2014

Accuracy and precision

Where are you hitting the drum?

If you said "on the head", you're not wrong, but the head is such a big target!  Are you hitting dead center?  Inches away?  Between center and edge?  Near the edge?  Are you hitting different points on the drum every time you strike?

It might not seem like a big difference at first.  You can still make a nice loud sound even if you hit a spot that's 2 inches one way or the other, right?

In karate, we have three basic target areas.  Jodan (upper), chudan (middle), and gedan (lower).  We use those terms for the beginners to know where to stick their fists when they punch.  But after a few months, we start telling them to think of a specific point when they punch, not just "head" or "torso".  A punch directly to the solar plexus can cause serious damage, but hit two inches higher and you just get breastplate - which can hurt, but have far, far less impact on a person.

This is where accuracy and precision come into play.  If I hit someone with a punch consistently but messily around the "sweet spot", then I have good accuracyIf I hit a small target area consistently, then I have good precision, even if it's not the spot I'm trying to hit.  What I want is to have both.

In taiko, it's easy to hear some repetitive patterns (straight beat, dongo) sound very uneven when notes are hitting different locations on the drum head.  If you're drilling on a drum, it can be easy to literally look down and make your bachi hit the same spots.  But when you're playing a song and  thinking about sequence, ki, your solo, proper form, etc., are you sure that your striking is precise?

As we strive to become better taiko players - better artists - we need to find those little things that get overlooked and bring them up along with the big ones.  Accuracy and precision are two of those "little things" that definitely deserve a look!

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