Thursday, December 17, 2015

Different types of ki

One of the things I've struggled with in my taiko "career" is ki.

While my physical and musical abilities have made great strides, I still have to actively work on my ki within SJT.  Just when I think I'm projecting enough, I see a video and wish I was exaggerating more so it would translate better to a viewer.  I know I'm feeling it, but it's not being seen as I feel it.  That's no one's fault but mine!  It comes now and then in the times when I'm supporting or playing percussion that I slip from where I should be at.

While ki is a word that can encompass so many things, I'm using it here to define the energy one generates.  Recently, I stepped back and came to a great realization that helps me feel better about my struggles: there are different types of ki.  A matsuri song is going to have a very different energy than an odaiko solo, right?  This wasn't a new ide to me, but I'd never really thought about it in context of my struggles before.

When I'm playing odaiko, even though you can't see my face, I am trying to make sure you can see the intention in my body in my stance, in every strike, no matter if I'm fresh or tired.  It's not something I think about as much as have trained myself to do.

When I solo, I'm "on" and feel like that's when my projection is a reflection of the joy I'm feeling in expressing myself.

This definitely isn't limited to taiko, either.  When I'm in the dojo, my intention is to hit hard/score/win/overwhelm.  My kiai are part of my technique, part of the movement I make.  My projection is focused like a laser through my target.

And there are still many other examples that you can find all over the place.  A hip-hop dancer has a very different energy than a ballet dancer, but one is still projecting and showing intention just as much as the other.  A clown in a 3-ring circus projects a very different energy from a heavy metal vocalist on stage or a chef giving a public demonstration to a studio audience.  And then there's something like butoh, a Japanese dance form that specializes in slow movements.  That's a very powerful, very different form of energy.

What all this helped me realize that I'm not "bad" at projecting ki, I just have trouble in some areas over others.  What can my strengths teach me about my weaknesses?  Maybe it's easier for me to generate a more intense energy than joyful, ok.  Maybe instead of trying to "be" joyful, I'll try to be intense and dial it back and see if that works better?  That's where I am now, aware that I have the tools but just need to figure out how to use them.

I hope this post gives you reason to look at your own ki, the variety you feel and project, and how to use your strengths to bolster the areas that need help!

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