Monday, February 13, 2017

Practice what you preach

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Some of you know what "Roy Drills" are.  Some of you have even actually experienced it, you lucky people you.  For those who don't, Roy Drills are a torture creation by Roy Hirabayashi, one of the founding members of SJT.

His idea was simple: follow the lead person in the center as they play a pattern, speeding up or slowing down, changing patterns when they do.  It sounds easy enough, but then do it on naname or tachiuchi (upstand).  Try not pacing yourself, playing earnestly.  And most importantly, don't stop!  Stopping = bad.

I've done it countless times over the years, since my first few months of taiko through just last week.  It's not as difficult as it used to be, so I like to sometimes go to the other side of the drum and play "left-handed".  That's a challenge.  Don tsuku, doro tsuku, don doko, all at fast speeds for long periods of time with the "weaker side" definitely pushes me.

So last week, doing these on the left side, during don doko, I could feel my left arm really getting stiff.  And I had to remember all the things I tell people when they're getting tight and stiff while playing taiko.  Don't use muscle.  Relax.  Use the body as much as possible.  Breathe.

And then, when it got tempting to back off and coast in order to save my arm from catching on fire, I remembered to set a good example, to hurt tomorrow, and just make it happen.  Not going to say I looked flawless by that point, but it was important to me to keep pushing because I keep telling others to do so - and because I want to get past where I am now in order to get better!

Anyways, that was just an example where I had to put my money where my mouth is (or bachi were, I suppose).  So now I ask you, think about all the advice you give, all the teaching you've done (either as a teacher or a peer), and ask yourself, do you do all of the things you tell other people to do?

Most of you are probably saying, "yes, of course I practice what I preach."  But do you really?  You may earnestly believe it, but when have you tested yourself?  When were you in a situation that pushed you to draw from the well of advice you give?  When did you last watch video of yourself and have OTHER people look for the things you tell them to do?  It can be scary, it can be humbling, but you know...if you want to get better, there's really no better way.


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