Thursday, July 9, 2015

Baka waza

The other night in the dojo, during a breather between drills, I was sucking wind and leaning back to take a deep breath.  Another student next to me threw a mock punch at my exposed foot for no reason other than because it was silly.  I asked, "what was that?"  He answered, "stupid."  I called it "baka waza".

What's baka waza?  It literally means "foolish technique" and I use it to describe a silly or stupid technique - but in a light-hearted way, not to put anyone down.

I started thinking about this idea, baka waza, and realized what a powerful tool it is...

It takes *something* to break out of what's "proper" or what's "normal" and do something silly.  You have to be daring, and it takes a certain mental fortitude to try again when one thing doesn't work out.   Creativity comes into play here, too.  You can be silly in a myriad of ways, but it takes creativity to be purposeful about it.  Take a Matsuri solo - anyone can make funny faces, but what isn't being done?  What's silly but still fits the mood of the piece? 

Moderation makes baka waza truly potent, because if you're always going for the silly, the impact is lost.  Make moments happen and punctuate your solo maybe once or twice, but don't rely on baka waza to "save" a solo or think it's what makes a solo strong.  It's just one tool you can use.

Ok, so it's one thing to talk about how it's useful, but what the heck would baka waza be in a taiko solo?  You're not going to punch anyone in the foot...  Well, I'm not going to limit you by making a list of possible ideas, but I can share some of the things I've tried (and some I still do!):

- Jump away from the drum!
- Splat both bachi down on the drum and raise my hands away for a couple of seconds.
- Spinning jump kick (whoosh).
- Imitation of a Spartan with spear and shield from "300" using an uchiwa and bachi.
- Act like the stage is tilting to the left and right as I try to solo/like being on a ship.
- Pause in mid-move then smile at the audience before continuing.

Of course, there have been others that didn't work out - and a few that I've been told not to do again, heh.  And that's fine, because I've come away with way more things that were a lot of fun to do and helped elevate my solos with those moments.  Will I try things that don't work out in the future?  You betcha.  Am I worried about them?  Nope!  And you can't be worried about the ones you try that don't work out either.

Sometimes being foolish for a few seconds is so freeing, so empowering, because all the worry goes away and you are truly in the moment.  However, ff you plan too much in advance for a certain move, you can't truly be free (pressure) and it's harder to make it seem genuine.  So if you want to try baka waza, you should practice it at...well, practice, and see how things go!

What have you got to lose?  ...well, besides a little pride.  ;)

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