Taido Holiday Wish List 2007

Last year, I composed a sort of Christmas list for Taido. It’s been an eventful year, and some of the things on that list became reality. One of the really awesome things about Taido is that it’s always changing, and I’m pretty excited that most of these changes appear to be happening for the better.

I have a lot of dreams for the next year in Taido. Before I start listing off every conceivable wish I could have for Taido over the next year, I’ll review the items I posted in last year’s list. Here they are:

2006 List Recap

  1. American-flag print, satin karate uniform – Nope! But I did get an awesome Gameness grappling gi this summer. I guess that’ll have to do for now.
  2. A DVD reference video of every hokei in Taido – Nope! But YouTube posting by Taidoka has really taken off over the last year, and I believe that this si going to have some really good impacts as more students see how Taido is trained in other dojo and other countries.
  3. A video of Ohashi winning jissen at the All-Japan tournament – Check! DVD graciously provided by Yasu Kato.
  4. Some better documentation of Saiko Shihan’s life – Nope!
  5. An English translation of Taido Gairon – Nope!
  6. A translation of Shin Karatedo Kyohan – Nope!
  7. A better floor at Tech – Check! The new floor is not perfect, but I think it’s an improvement. For some reason, nobody thought to order any kind of non-slip material to lie between the mats and the polished wood floor. This is easily corrected if a few folks will just get together and order few meters of it.
  8. A better uniform supplier – Nope!
  9. More students at Tech – Check! There are lots of new beginners at Tech right now, and I hope they stick with it. We have more black belts than ever now, and there is a lot of potential for Tech Taido to really take off. It’ll be interesting to see where things go if the club holds up over the next year. I’m really optimistic about this.
  10. And a partridge in a pear tree – Actually, I don’t think I ever really wanted that anyway.

So some of those things are going to roll over onto this year’s list. I’ve also discovered a few other things I’d like to see happening in the Taido world. Here’s some additions to the wish list for this year:

2007 Taido Holiday Wish List

  • Better jissen rules. I just came back from visiting Japan and watching the all-J tournament. There were a few guys trying some really cool stuff, but a lot of the jissen I saw was just weak. There were a lot of cheap tactics in play too. I’m not sure how the rules could be altered to make players spar cleanly, but after this tourney, any expectation I have of competitors fighting fairly is gone. I really hope the judges get their act together and start giving more warnings before the WC.
  • Better hokei rules. Nakano and all the other guys winning hokei tournaments are not bad guys. They practice really hard, and they have an almost robotic precision in addition to amazing gymnastic skills. But watching hokei at the all-Japan bored me. Wow, Nakano did a full twist. But his punches were weak, some of his kicks were off target, and I got tired of all the dramatic pauses between every section. How about this: instead of giving so many extra points for flipping around like ninja in a bad action movie, let’s require some power. And maybe set a time limit.
  • Better evaluation methods. At the World Taido meetings in Holland, Tanaka and others were talking about coming up with new and better training methods to move Taido forward. Personally, I don’t think it will work. The reason is that the current training methods are a response to the current tournament rules and shinsa evaluation methods. Everyone knows that the best way to pass a class is to study the items that will be on the test. Right now, students practice the things they need to pass rank and win tournaments. No more, no less. If we want to move Taido forward, we need to start with how we define quality.
  • And that’s it. If we want Taido to continue to improve, we have to change the way we award rankings and officiate competitions. The more I think about what Taido needs most in order to be taken seriously in the martial arts world and become the major force it deserves to be, the more convinced I am that we need to take a hard look at what we consider good Taido.

    Is it enough to have awesome unshin if you can’t hit worth a damn? If you prevent your opponent from making gentai, does his attack hurt you any less? Is wrapping your legs around an opponent when you’re already on the ground going to have any chance of being an effective nengi? Of course not, and everyone knows that these things won’t work in real life, but they’re good enough for winning tournaments.

    I guess I kind of got on a rant there, but if I could wish for one thing to change in Taido before the next WC, it would be this very fundamental issue. How we define quality in Taido is the single most important thing upon which we must focus. In Japan, that definition is increasingly decided as Taido slides down the slope from budo to sport. I hope the next year can see the balance begin to tip in the other direction.

    4 thoughts on “Taido Holiday Wish List 2007”

    1. Andy,

      After reading your ‘wish list’ for Taido, I have two questions:

      1. Do you feel that Taido isn’t taken seriously in the world of martial arts. If so, for what reasons?

      2. What do you think should / could change to bring about better respect for Taido? Would Georgia Tech Taido (yes, I’m a new guy over there) be a good place to experiment with new testing standards?

      Thanks!

    2. Mickey:

      Thanks for the note – it’s good to hear from you, and I hope all is well with all my Viking friends in Sweden. It’s always nice to know that I’m not the only one who thinks we can do a better job with the way we teach and practice Taido. Try to stay warm…

      Eric:

      One of the great things Bryan and I discovered about teaching at Tech is that the students there tend to ask difficult questions. I’ll do my best to give you an answer, but be forewarned that this is a very broad topic.

      I think that Taido is not taken seriously as a Budo. Articulating why is a little difficult, but let’s just say that I know a lot of people practicing various martial arts, and most of them do not understand Taido. They think it is interesting to watch and respect the difficulty of the technique, but they see little practical application to the things that most people associate with Budo: fighting and self-defense.

      I believe that Taido can be applicable to these venues, but not in the form in which it is usually practiced, which is very much like a sport in most of the world. And in America, Taido is very much like any other family martial arts” school (Tech being the notable exception). That’s not to say that either one is bad or wrong – but neither approach does much to emphasize the things that make Taido so special – especially to people who are not Taido students.

      The thing is, we don’t have to sell Taido to Taidoka. Students have already decided. The people we need to be trying to impress are those who don’t already practice Taido. These people need to see what we are really all about. But instead, we show them fancy routines filled with impractical techniques. That’s not going to win very much support.

      How can we get more respect? Not giving black belts (let alone second and third degree black belts) to people who can’t perform the movements would be a step in the right direction. Changing the competition rules to reflect more emphasis on martialism rather than on sport would be a big move. Making videos available online that showcase Taido’s applications to real situations instead of only posting tenkai, bad jissen, and tentai no hokei clips would help improve our perception among non-practitioners. Honestly, the best thing we can all do is to remember during practices that Taido was designed to be a martial art, not simply a sophisticated game of tag / style of dancing.

      Do I think Tech is a good place to experiment? Yes. But Mr. Uchida disagrees with me, and that is one of the mitigating factors in my absence from training lately. Historically, Tech has been very experimental, and we’ve seen good results. But Uchida sees Tech as a “satellite,” meaning that Taido lives in Norcross, so any experiments better produce results that look exactly like the students there (mostly children and parents). I think university Taido should look different from family Taido, but the honbu specializes in a certain style of training, and Tech is required to follow suit, despite this being far from optimal.

      Anyway, good luck in your practice (and on your exams). Thanks for the questions. I hope we can have a chance to discuss Taido in person in the near future.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *