poll: how much do you practice?

time for a new poll.

this time around, i’m interested in how many hours you practice taido in a typical week. don’t tell me how many practice sessions you attend – i know various dojo have sessions ranging from 45 minutes to 3 hours – just tell me the average time.

also, please include only the time you spend working on taido – general conditioning and other martial arts do not count. however, individual taido practice does count for those people who also practice outside the dojo.

thanks for your responses.

poll: why do you practice taido?

i’m willing to bet that most of us have more than one reason for practicing taido. in fact, i personally have been doing taido so long that i have a really hard time imagining what life would be like without it – identifying my reasons to practice are like defending my decision to eat chicken or listing the benefits of drinking water everyday. however, let’s be simplistic here, and for the sake of trend-spotting, attempt to isolate our biggest current reasons for practicing taido.

this poll isn’t asking why you started taido or what benefits you think you may eventually achieve through continued practice. i’m interested in finding out why you are doing taido right now – what benefit do you receive that prevents you from skipping practices and watching tv? ideally, these should be immediate benefits (ie, not “because someday maybe i can kick ass like bruce”).

in my mind there are three big reasons for practicing a martial art. they are:

  • to learn how to defend oneself from a violent attack
  • to exercise their bodies for improved health
  • for social interaction or as a hobby

i’ve extrapolated these three main objectives to short-term benefits in my poll choices. of course, there may be others. if you find that none of these these three covers your own reasons, comment below, and i’ll add a new category to the poll.

poll results: what’s your favorite technique?

well, i’ve given it a little time, just in case there was a surprise turnover, but things have panned out just as i expected – hengi is the number one favorite taido technique.

41 people cast their votes in my poll about favorite taido techniques, and the results are not even close – 16 votes for hengi over 9 votes for tengi in second place. my favorite movement, nengi, scored only 5 votes, even with sengi (5) and ungi (6).

so why is hengi so popular? i have a few ideas. actually, several people told me that they expected tengi to win (despite not voting for it themselves) because i had mentioned the movement that is the most fun to perform. that seemed valid. after all, tengi is a lot of fun and a lot of flash – nobody can deny that bakuchugeri is cool, but it’s damn-near unusable. i think the fun-factor of tengi accounts for second-place status, but most people are just not good enough at using tengi to call it their favorite.

the thing about hentai is that it’s the archetypical taido technique. nothing looks more like taido than hengi. if taido is defined by the change of body axis in order to defend and attack simultaneously, then hengi is on the money. kicks like shajogeri, senjogeri, and especially ebigeri are quintessentially taido-esque. back in the early days, when shukumine would enter his taido students in karate tournaments, ebigeri earned the nickname taidogeri because taido white belts were using it like a magic bullet to defeat much more experienced karateka.

come to think of it, anytime i’m asked to tell people what taido is all about, i talk about unsoku and tengi, but i demonstrate ebigeri. it’s as if taido theory has these amazing infinite possibilities, but for practical application, hengi are the simple, elegant, and brutal all-purpose tools we reach for first. hengi are the sledgehammers of taido – super-efficient at doing what they do (incidentally also working on the principles of leverage and displaced center of mass) without superfluous ornament or extra “features”.

anyway, thank you to all who participated in the poll – even those who think jumping around and spinning all the time is fun. by all means, please also vote in the new poll: why do you practice taido?

old poll, new poll

well, it’s been a month or so since i posted the warm-up poll in the right sidebar of this site. unfortunately, there were not so many responses, but i’m guessing that this is because some people were not aware of the poll to begin with. at any rate, i’m going to try again with a brand spanking new poll and see i can make it a little more popular.

first, let’s look at what (little) the first poll may be able to tell us.

the first poll

the question was “how do you warm up?” – out of 12 responses,

  • 5 warm up by light calisthenics and static stretching
  • 4 warm up by dynamic stretching and joint mobility exercises
  • 1 warms up by relaxation and breathing exercises
  • 2 don’t warm up

obviously, most of the respondents (small sample as we are) are warming up by doing some jogging, arm circles, and et cetera, then sitting down on the floor and trying to touch their toes. i’m going to go out on a limb and guess that these people are american taido students. i say this because this is the traditional japanese warm-up that uchida sensei has used forever. other american instructors use this method because it’s “the way we’ve always done it”. we also do this warm-up in japan, but i doubt many japanese students are reading this site and responding to my poll.

no matter where the respondents reside, i don’t believe that this is a productive warm-up for taido practice. i’ll get in to details in an article sometime before long, but let me warn you now that static stretching prior to dynamic movements is known to increase the risk of muscle strains other movement injuries. for starters, i’ll refer you to the stretching faq written by brad appleton. i’ve also included this document on my links page along with other useful resources.

the joint-mobility-exercise-and-dynamic-stretch camp is where i (and a few others) currently fall. this warm-up paradigm was developed out of cold war sports performance research in in russia and other socialist nations. i’m guessing that i am the only american in taido who warms up this way (and i can tell you that nobody does in japan either). currently, most physical performance coaches seem to be advocating this kind of routine for the sorts of movements and abilities demanded by taido practice.

apparently, only one person warms up with the relax-and-breathe method. this doesn’t surprise me, and probably a few of you thought it was included as a joke-option. i have used progressive relaxation and an abbreviated tai chi routine as my primary warm-up in the past with quite good results. it’s not the best when you are actively attempting to improve your physical capabilities, but it is an excellent way to teach your body to trigger performance preparedness in a short time. provided, that is, that you already have the requisite strength and flexibility for your desired activities. specifically, this method is perfect for performance/competition events where you either don’t have the luxury of a full warm-up or must be in a state of physical readiness for an extended period of time.

and whoever isn’t warming up at all – you’re very bad boys or girls.

i’ll be getting on writing an article about warm-ups, asap, but in the meantime, feel free to comment on your own warm-up choices below.

the new poll

tell me what taido technique you enjoy doing the most. i don’t care what you’re best at, what you think is coolest, what’s the most difficult, or which one makes all the young girls cry. what i’m interested in finding out is which type of movement you find the most fun. what feels good to you physically (we’ll be using the taido definition of “hentai” for this one)?

pick one and let me know. i’ll give this poll a couple of weeks or so to run.