Monday, March 2, 2015

Grip strength

How strong are your hands?  And what are strong hands, exactly?  Grip strength is a big part of good technique that I rarely hear taiko players talking about - or working on!

You can have strength enough to crush walnuts, but is that really what you want to accomplish with a bachi in your hand?  Nah, of course not.  It's not that simple.

It's much more about control over the strength you do have and being able to have dynamic strength - the ability to pulse your grip fast enough and *just* enough to keep your bachi from moving too much.  By this definition, it's a lot more about dexterity than strength.  But sometimes you DO need strength, because even if you're fast enough to squeeze, if you have nothing to squeeze with, it's not very effective.

You can certainly train grip strength by simply playing more, but that goes for any taiko skill.  What can you do aside from that?

There are a lot of grip-strengthers on the market, from squeeze balls to those Eagle Claw devices.  I like the gyro-balls myself because they also work your wrists.

Another thing you can do that can develop a more explosive grip is grab a weight from the top down, like a claw machine, lift it up quickly while letting go, then grabbing it as quickly as possible.  Gripping the side of a dumbbell (where it's thickest) is harder than the middle, especially if the sides are big.  You have to actually let go of it to make this effective, and careful that you don't try something too heavy or slam your hand down against the weight.

Or you know, you can always do fingertip pushups, because those are pretty easy, right?  Right.

Unlike a lot of weight training, you can do some of this work nearly anywhere.  Get a squish ball and have it at your desk, in your car, in the bathroom, etc.  Really useful for your weaker hand!

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