Interview: Hannes Kannisto

The Taido/Blog Interview is a set of eight questions that I’ve been asking for the past few months with the idea of highlighting a variety of perspectives from students and teachers around the world.

Welcome to the second Taido/Blog interview. Again, I’ve interviewed a Swede…

Taido Jissen Hannes
I first met Hannes at the 2006 European Championshiips

Hannes Kannisto is a good friend of mine, and I’ve enjoyed hanging out with him at various events and entertaining him and his wife when they visited Osaka. He’s a fellow beer-lover and father to a beautiful little girl. We’ve spent many hours discussing Taido and how to teach it, so I know you’ll enjoy reading his ideas below.

Who is this guy?

Hannes started training Taido in 1992 and began instructing 1994. After taking shodan in 2001 (“Yes, that’s a long time, 9 years”), he participated in 2003 European Championships (4th place in hokei), 2005 World Championships, and 2007 European Championships (dantai jissen gold).

He’s currently 4dan renshi, has judged various tournaments and started a new Taido dojo in Mölndal, Sweden, in 2010.

Taido/Blog Interview: Hannes Kannisto

What follows are my questions and Hannes’s responses via email. Enjoy.

1. What do you love most about Taido?

The thing I love most about Taido is that you’re never really done with it, there’s always room to improve, whether you are training for competition or just in general.

The best thing is when you get this kind of epiphany about how for example a technique really works, and suddenly a thing that was really hard is so easy!

2. What’s one way students can take advantage of this right now?

Hopefully, they can feel the joy I feel about Taido and training Taido. I hope that this makes it more fun to come to class and easier to enjoy Taido. In that case anybody will get better in their Taido.

3. What do you feel is the biggest problem facing Taido?

I feel that the spreading of Taido is very slow, mostly because unless you have a very high rank (officially 6 dan kyoshi) you’re not considered good enough to hold shinsa, even for beginners. In other, larger, martial arts the demand for rank of the shinsa holder is not as strict. For example, in a Swedish form of ju-jutsu a 2-kyu ju-jutsuka may hold shinsa for beginners (only), after getting a license (which includes taking a proper course on what to look for, how techniques should be done etc.).

I think a modification of the shinsa-system would be a good idea, to let more shinsas be held. This puts a higher demand on the educational system for shinsa-holders, though, and also a lot of work before such a system could be implemented. I think it would be worth it, but that’s just my opinion.

Another thing is the recruitment of beginners. There’s a lot of work to be done here, but most of the problem is fairly simple: lack of time. Most people that love Taido is most of the time very engaged within Taido organizations, both their own dojo, but also in national and sometimes international organizations. This takes a lot of time, and then there’s everything outside Taido (Yes, there’s actually a world outside Taido).

However, if we don’t recruit, we disappear, so it needs to be done.

4. What’s one thing students can do right now to make this better?

Students may not be able to do very much about the shinsa system, more than perhaps express their view (in a behaved way) for example to their national organizations. Bringing it up for discussions is always good though. In the recruitment issues on the other hand, everybody can help: bring your friends to class, participate in shows and competitions, put up posters and so on. This I think is the most important thing of all: if you want Taido to survive, you can do so much to help.

Sounds grave, but not really. It’s actually mostly fun!

5. What was one epiphany you’ve had in your training or general approach to Taido?

One epiphany (or maybe more of a relization) I’ve got over the years (I’ve actually got quite a few), is how to make efficient and fun Taido. When I started taido, almost 20 years ago, a lot of the training was focused on making the proper movements, exactly how to move the arms and legs and so on. This is of course important, so that you can perform your techniques with proper protection,timing and so on.

Unfortunately, as we trained so much on getting the details right, the movements became slow and because of that, uneffective. I think that, at least for younger and healthy students, speed needs to be stressed, otherwise it takes very long to be able to use Taido efficiently. Also, taigi-ichii (timing of the technique) is very important, both because it speeds up the technique and makes it so much stronger, with much less effort.

6. What are your personal goals for the next year in Taido?

The next year is focused on developing my dojo, recruiting new people to class and so on. For my personal training, I’m focusing on sei- and -mei hokeis, especially chisei and katsumei no hokei.

7. You began training 19 years ago. Where would you like to see Taido in 19 years from now?

In 2030, I hope Taido have grown slightly more than so far. I would like to see at least 5-10 more dojos in Sweden, and a few more in Finland, Denmark, and Norway too (and the rest of Europe too). I hope to see more active international Taido organizations, or more visibly active I should say. The flow of information is hopefully more visible. I hope that more people engage in the spreading of Taido, I hope I have the time myself.

I’ll still be around though, so Taido will still be around.

8. What message or advice do you have for Taido students?

Try to practice taido for as many different instructors as possible! Go to camps, seminars,competitions etc. Practice with as many different people as possible. You’ll meet lots of new friends, and you’ll have so much fun! In the mean time, you’ll also learn lots of new and fun stuff.

Thanks, Hannes.

I’ll have more interviews coming soon, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, if you have any comments or questions for Hannes, leave them below, and I’ll make sure he sees them. Thanks!

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