Poll Results: Which Technique is the Most Fun?

This poll ended up running a little longer than I had planned, but the cool side benefit is that it gave more people time to vote and share their opinions.

Let’s Make Taido Fun

I think Taido is crazy fun to do, and I don’t seem to be the only one. At the seminar for rainbow belts prior to the recent World Taido Championships, I helped Saito and Tanaka Sensei give a presentation on how to enjoy learning Taido. The central point, of course, was that Taido is something we do for both ourselves and society, and that we can get a lot more out of it by making it fun.

In that seminar, we tried several ways to put a little bit more interest into training kamae and unsoku – things that may get tedious after a while unless we use some creativity.

There are lots of ways to make training fun, but one of my favorites is to boil down the basic sen, un, hen, nen, and ten movements to fundamental motor patterns and drill them that way. At my dojo in Osaka as well as at recent trainings I gave for students at Kobe Gakuin and Kitasato Universities, I’ve shown students various ways to get more creative with their kihon training by approaching the movement as separate from technique.

Fun is Relative

One thing I always notice when I do these training is that some people like certain movements more than others. Some people like to spin, and others like to jump. Some people seem to enjoy unsoku, while others will do almost anything to avoid stepping sideways.

This is also true of various types of practice. Young men tend to think that jissen is the most fun method of training Taido. Most female college students seem to prefer hokei. Then there are some that love constructing tenkai. I know plenty of people in Japan that enjoy the team events more than then individual ones – especially dantai jissen.

The point being that everyone has a different idea of fun.

Results

If we’re trying to find ways to have fun training Taido, it’s a good idea to know which techniques people enjoy doing. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Hentai – 41% of total votes
  2. Sentai – 39%
  3. Tentai – 38%
  4. Nentai – 27%
  5. Untai – 21%

There were a total of 56 votes in this poll, and each one cast two votes for their favorite techniques to practice. Hen, sen, and ten were pretty even with 23, 22, and 21 votes, respectively. My picks, nen and un, were considerably less popular with with only 15 and 12 votes each.

So what does that mean?

Well, it’s hard to say. I’m not surprised that nengi isn’t very popular, as it’s the technique of which most students know the fewest variations. I am somewhat surprised that ungi isn’t considered more fun – maybe because jump training is so tiring? I had expected tengi and sengi t be popular, but I would never have guessed that so many people would think hengi is fun.

Sure, hengi is cool. It’s interesting. It’s the most popular technique in jissen. But I don’t really see it as a fun movement. Maybe I’m missing something…

Moving Forward

While you’re here, don’t forget to vote in the new poll: What kind of Taido videos would you like to see more of on YouTube?

If you have a suggestion for an answer that isn’t included, let me know, and I’ll post it.

Thanks.

Poll Results: How Flexible Are You?

Overall, the consensus is,

I can move pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement.

It looks like most Taidoka are pretty comfortable with their current levels of flexibility, but recognize that they could benefit from more (or more effective) stretching. Here’s how the results for each response broke down:

How Flexible Are You?

  • 52% – I can move pretty well, but there’s always room for improvement.
  • 33% – I can touch my toes, but that’s about it.
  • 11% – Full splits, baby.
  • 4% – I can’t see or touch my toes.

This is about what I had expected.

52% of those who responded are pretty mobile. We can do most of our techniques without difficulty. We can get around the court pretty quickly and almost always get our legs in the general direction they need to go in order to kick. That’s good, but we can do better.

33% say they can touch their toes, but this is where their contortionist tricks end. That’s too bad, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. With consistent stretching, these people can be moving faster and stronger within a couple of months.

4% can’t see or touch their toes. Hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere, right? Seriously, most people don’t begin Taido already having the ability to do all the movements. that’s why we train. Hang in there and work on your flexibility, and I promise everything else in Taido will start to open up for you as well.

11% report being able to do a full split. This may actually be a little high. I know for a fact that the number of Japanese Taidoka who can do a full split is less than 10%. This has historically been the case in America as well, though things could have changed over the past couple of years. What about you guys in Australia and Europe? Can one in ten students really do a full split? If so, you’re doing something right. Keep it up!

For the rest of us, there’s nothing that says we have to be content with our current abilities. If we were, there would be nothing to train for anyway. In other articles, I’ve given you some ideas for increasing flexibility for Taido. Let’s put that knowledge to good use.

new poll: what kind of practice is most important to you?

lately, i’ve been thinking a lot about what relative proportion of various training types and methods to use to create an optimal platform for skill development in the class at georgia tech. as usual, i have sixty-ish variables going around in my head about what to do when for what students. i’ve had the benefit of being exposed to a lot of different styles of practicing taido, and i’ve spent considerable time learning and developing a pretty large repertoire of training methods. sometimes, these things can be a great advantage to me as an instructor, but sometimes i feel as if i have too many options and not enough guides for choosing among them.

so, i thought i’d post a poll.

most martial arts train students using a variety of methods. in taido, the obvious two are hokei and jissen. i’m curious as to which kinds of practice people value the most in their own training.

shukumine taught that jissen and hokei were both equally important components in a taidoka’s development. through proper hokei practice (using imagined opponents and paying attention to the ten hokei performance guidelines), students can develop timing, distance, and speed in addition to good form. these skills are put to the test in jissen by forcing us to improvise creatively and react to the movements of a partner.

i know some instructors who have extended this logic to conclude that each tournament competition (including tenkai, team jissen, and group hokei) is of equal value, though i find it hard to agree that team events offer much training value to individuals until they have already reached a certain level of skill. the technical limitations imposed in team jissen can be helpful training for less-experienced students. however, i tend to feel that students need to build some basics before attempting to work in such a complicated, multi-partner environment as we see in tenkai or dantai hokei.

karate has the three ks: kihon, kata, and kumite. basic punches, kicks, and blocks are drilled until the practitioner can do them perfectly without thought. kata are supposed to hold the “secrets” of the techniques, and students are required to learn various possible applications from each kata movement. kumite is “free fighting,” in which karateka are allowed to make use of whatever weapons and strategies they can personally employ within the ruleset.

on the other side of the spectrum, many mixed martial arts schools follow in the line of thought made famous by bruce lee that martial arts forms and routines are utterly useless. they make the claim that fighting against the air in solo drills offers zero translation to fighting a live opponent. i’ve heard kata referred to as “dead forms” by some who feel that the only valuable kind of training is that in which students face “live” resistance.

this attitude can also be seen in bjj schools that pair students against a partner from day one. solo work is reserved for conditioning and fitness. even some more “traditional” martial arts tend to value their combative components much more highly than their form practice. one notable example is judo (arguably a sport), which includes forms, but emphasizes working against resistance in daily training. another is kendo, training for which only rarely has students hitting anything other than a partner. even basic strike practice is performed against another armored student, the theory being that all students need to get used to hitting and being hit.

personally, i have a hard time saying that any one kind of practice is necessarily more important than another – they all have the potential to add great value to students’ development. however, i can see that perhaps some modes of training will hold greater value for various students at particular stages in their taido education. in some cases, it may have to do more with personality than with any other factor.

whatever, your criteria for choosing, try to figure out which of these training methods you personally feel is the most important to you right now. we’ll see what everyone thinks in a couple of weeks… thanks.

poll results: how much do you practice?

ok, so this poll ran for quite a while since i was on a hiatus of sorts. we had 31 respondants, and i have to admit that i am surprised by the results.

  • only three people practice less than three hours each week.
  • thirteen people practice between three and five hours.
  • twelve people practice between five and ten hours.
  • three hardcore taidoka practice over ten hours each week.

so the vast majority of those responding to this poll practice somewhere between three and ten hours every week – that’s fantastic. i had expected most folks for practice less than that. though i had assumed that the three to five hour group would be the largest (and this turned out to be the case), i was very surprised to see that so many students are practicing in excess of five hours a week.

i couldn’t be happier about that, especially since my schedule has prevented me from getting in more than five hours in a single week for the past month. with any luck, my work schedules will even out soon and allow me to get on a steady taido routine again. one thing that will help out will be the addition of a two-hour sunday review session we’ll be adding to the docket at gerogia tech in january, bringing the total available instruction hours each week to five. this should be a big help to students who are attempting to balance consistant practice with demanding academic schedules (for those who don’t know, georgia tech is a brutally difficult school).

i’m not sure about the rest of the world, but it appears to me that two or three classes a week is the standard for american taidoka, with each class at the main dojo lasting about 45 minutes. when i was in japan, my dojo trained twice a week too, but each session lasted from two to three hours. i’m curious how much training time is available to students in other countries.

poll results: why are you practicing taido now?

out of 22 total responses:

  • 1 practices to prepare for the eventuality of physical aggression,
  • 14 practice because they enjoy the challenge of technical achievement,
  • 7 practice for development or maintenance of improved physical condition/health, and
  • 1 practices for interaction with friends.

61% of all respondents say they practice taido because they enjoy challenging themselves. 30% practice for physical health. those are both good goals, and i had assumed that they would receive the majority of the votes. both responses show that many students are practicing for some measure of self-improvement or personal development. in light of recent trends in the self-defense industry, i find that heartening.

oddly, i realized after posting this poll that i couldn’t choose any one response over the others. i consider them all to be very important. though i practice in order to continue pushing my own development as an athlete, a teacher, and a human in general, taido is also a place for me to be with close friends. though i’m not planning on putting myself in a situation what requires physical aggression, i do like to feel that i can keep myself safe under various circumstances.

i guess, as long as taido is helping me to grow in one way or another, i’m getting something out of my investment in time and effort.

thanks to everyone who voted. please also post a response in the new poll: how much do you practice?