Monday, February 23, 2015

Sometimes, I wish I was a white belt.

Despite the title, this is very much a post about taiko.

Every quarter, my dojo gets a new slew of beginning students.  Most don't stay past the one class, but even some of the people that leave try hard.  Beginners (white belts) tend not to know anything and so they do exactly what's told of them.  They don't have conflicting information or a dozen other concepts to worry about.

On the other hand, those who have been doing something for a while can easily forget the fundamentals because they've had so many other things to work on: "advanced" techniques and new forms.  The earlier techniques may suffer because they don't take the time to re-examine them.  I see this in karate and taiko alike, where things learned early on have been modified to make them easier to do - at the cost of effective technique.

For example, at the dojo, watching the basic front kick this week (the very first kick we teach), I saw that the white belts, while worse at balance/speed/power, are doing the technique "more correctly" overall than the intermediate and advanced belts.  They don't know any better; they haven't learned how to "cheat" the kick yet.

What about you, dear taiko player?  What did you learn early on that you might be modifying because it feels better?  Does "feeling better" make a better technique or are you cheating yourself?

Part of the reason a good martial artist or taiko player looks so skilled is because they worked at making something work that wasn't comfortable at first, and not modify a technique to suit their needs.  While there are exceptions with some truly talented individuals, these are few and far between.

Always, always, always revisit the basics - and be honest when you do!

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