Taido Info & Directory Links

not only taido links – useful links

Taido Information

World Taido Federation Homepage

Being official, it continues to suffer from lack of meaningful content.

American Taido – National Organization Homepage

News and info on training and events in the US.

As we recently re-established an official Taido presence, this site is still new, but over time it will grow to include a complete dojo directory, info on licensed instructors, official tournaments and seminars, and other information that US-based students will find helpful.

Manjigeri’s page

There’s no English content, but random clicking will avail you of tons of videos of various techniques and hokei. With some lucky surfing, you can treat yourself to the soothing sounds of Mr. Manji’s kiai as well as the infamous Taido song. This is one of the oldest Taido pages on the ‘net and a direct inspiration for Taido/Blog.

YouTube

There’s a good number of Taido videos on YouTube, so make sure you check them out.

Dojo Websites

Yokohama Dojo

This is Negishi’s dojo where I practiced and taught Taido from 2003 to 2006. There isn’t any English content, but there are lots of photo updates on the blog. The people in Yokohama will always be a part of some of my greatest Taido memories.

Taido Associations and Dojo Directories

Australia

Denmark

England

Finland

France

Japan

The Netherlands

Portugal

Sweden

United States

Training and Health Links

“The Stretching FAQ”

Brad Appleton has done all the digging and research for you. Here is the information you should digest regarding improving your flexibility. Any instructor without a base level of education with regards to training methods is negligent at the very least. If you do not understand the information that Appleton has compiled here, you have no business giving anyone instruction in sports conditioning.

GMB Fitness

This is a shameless plug for my own company’s products – because they kick serious ass. We do a variety of things, but the ones that should most interest Taido folks are our stretching and gymnastic strength training courses. My team and I coach thousands of athletes, law enforcement officers, martial artists, and regular people all over the world, so if you need help with your training, get in touch. We can help you perform the way you wish you could.

Shooting Dice

I sometimes play a game with dice – I call it “the random new technique game”, and I’m going to outline it here so you can experiment with similar ideas.

Using a random modifier such as a die or a deck of cards is nothing new, and I’ve heard lots of stories about different versions used for workouts and games in sports training situations. Here’s one such example:

I used to do a workout with a friend in which we would split a card deck into two halves and deal exercises to each other. Hearts were push-ups, clubs were sit-ups, diamonds were squats, and spades were chin-ups. The number of the card told us how many to perform. It was always fun watching his facial expressions when I would save all my kings for last…

One interesting aspect of Taido is the unsoku, sotai, seiho, kimegi, gentai framework to the techniques. It gives a somewhat modular quality to technical composition and suggests that there are many more possible combinations than those frequently taught in classes.

I actually first learned about modular systems when I was studying about old, analog music synthesizers and was struck by the convention for these musical instruments to be described using flowcharts. The components of many old synths can be arranged in various orders with varying degrees of feedback to create new and interesting sounds.

A few days later, I was flipping through some Taido notes and noticed that the technique process was also a flowchart. I decided to try Taido technique as a modular process and see if I could find some new and interesting techniques. After a few hours of experimenting, I had made several pages of notes. I decided that I needed a neater way to list all the possibilities I had found, so I made up a simple chart. Eventually, I started rolling a die to choose values randomly from each column, and “the random new technique game” was born.

Play the Game

My original version of this dice game began with rolling a die several times:

roll 1:

1/2=unsoku, 3/4=unshin, 5/6=both

roll 2a:

1=so/in, 2=ka/gen, 3=ko/ten, 4=tsui/tai, 5=henka, 6=hengen (roll again, even/odd to choose)

roll 2b:

1=zenten (handspring), 2=koten, 3=shazenten, 4=bakuten, 5=sokuten (sokuchu), 6=bakuchu

roll 3:

1=sen, 2=un, 3=hen, 4=nen, 5=ten, 6=2nd unsoku/unshin (back to roll 1)

roll 4:

1=jun, 2=gyaku, 3=ushiro, 4=tobi/tobikomi, 5=2noashi, 6=fukuteki

roll 5:

1=punch, 2=strike, 3=kick, 4=takedown/throw, 5=grab/joint, 6=2nd sotai (back to roll 4)

To play the game, you simply roll once for each variable, and the number tells you what value to insert. For instance, I may roll 3, 2, 6, 4, 4, 3, 4 (since the third roll called for another unshin, I had to roll seven times). According to the chart above, that means “koten, bakuten, tentai ushiro takedown/throw”. Now my job is to figure out a way to move which matches that description. The simplest application in this instance would probably be koten, bakuten dogarami.

I once rolled 1, 1, 3, 5, 1, 6, 4, 4, 3 – unsoku, so/in (in), tentai, jun, 2nd sotai, nentai, tobi, kick. Combining the ten/nen inspired my favorite personal dice-game creation so far: a tobi jun nentai keri from in-soku; it looks sort of like a cross between a 90-degree hangetsu and sokuchu and seems to come out of nowhere when I use it in jissen.

Sometimes, I roll a combination that I have practiced before. Sometimes I roll a combination that seems impossible. Every roll teaches me something new about taido, and as a result, my thinking about taido technique is incredibly fluid. Though my body can’t always keep up, my brain never gets “stuck” for creative inspiration in technique creation. Playing games like this with taido gives me an infinite pool of possible combinations with which to challenge my imagination and technical ability.

Anyway, give it a shot. Come up with your own variations. I’d love to hear about other random modifiers people have used for creative taido practices. Dave in Australia told me a few days ago that they had used cards to randomize their jissen practice by drawing cards to decide which techniques to use for offense/defense, etc. That’s a good idea that I plan to try sometime.

I’d especially love to hear if anyone comes up with usable shingi by this method. Try it, and let me know what you think.

A Software Version?

A couple of years ago, I asked a student who is a programmer to design a simple random technique generator based on my dice game. I gave him a request that would allow for the following variables:

  1. unsoku, unshin, or some combination
  2. optional initial sotai for movement
  3. direction – front, back, jun, gyaku
  4. optional jump, dive, slide, or step
  5. sotai for technique (condition of body during weapon deployment)
  6. weapon – specific punch or kick

My goal was to account for any combination o unsoku/unshin, any single or combined sotai, any direction, any use of seiho, and any strike/kick/other weapon – unsoku, sotai, seiho, kimegi, gentai (and possible iterations) – in an algorithm that could use some sort of serial logic to pull values from a database of movements. Unfortunately, the iterations make the algorithm pretty complex, and my student never got around to finishing the project.

Appeal

If anyone out there can create such a program (and it really shouldn’t be too very hard), I will compensate you for the price of one beer for your troubles. I would love to have such a program executed as a php code that could be run on this site – available freely to taido students around the world. As my primary goal with this website is to inspire creative and critical thinking for continued development and evolution of taido, I can think of very few things that would be more fitting for me to host than a random movement-technique inspiration machine.

So, programmers, get to work! Seriously, I’ll be your best friend if you can make this for me, and i’m good for that beer money too.

Update: See comments for programs submitted by Juha. – thanks, Juha.

Re-update: The tech-gen was completed and integrated into the sidebar for several months, but I lost my edits when I changed Taido/Blog’s cosmetics without backing up first. Anyway, the links to Juha’s version are a good starting point – give them a go.

Andy Fossett – Taido History

I didn’t include this information here for a long time, because I didn’t feel it was relevant. However, we each make Taido our own, and some people have asked me for more details about my background and experience. Perhaps this will clarify some things.

Below, I’ve listed a year-by-year account of some noteworthy events in my Taido career and some other major life events. In some cases, I’ve stuck to the facts, and in others, I’ve added additional commentary.

The Timeline

1977

  • I was born on 24 June in Atlanta. Every patient in the hospital was miraculously cured.

1984

  • My father and I began practicing Taido on 4 October.

1986

  • I competed in the US Taido international championships.

1987

  • I was chosen as a founding member of the first Top Gun class and was elected as an officer in that class.
    • Top Gun was originally included not only advanced application practice, but Taido theory as well.

1990

  • I became the first student under 18 years of age to be admitted to the Kishi Kai.
    • Kishi Kai, at that time, was a class for adult brown and black belt students. Training included theory, application, and detailed practice of hokei.

1992

  • Along with Carlos Martinez Jr. and Eddie Perez, I became the third person under 18 years to be awarded a Taido black belt in America.

1993

  • I competed in the first Taido world championships and international friendship tournament in Japan.
    • This was my first trip abroad.
    • Training for the tournament was administered by John Okochi who had become my mentor in Taido.
    • All of us who went to Japan on this trip (about 25 people, including children and parents) got a clear picture of how different Taido was in the rest of the world compared to what we had been taught.

1994

  • I was voted to be the intermediate (teen) class president.
    • Along with Negishi Sensei, I was also responsible for running the trainings for these classes.

1995

  • I accepted a scholarship to study physics at Georgia Tech.

1996

  • I assisted in operations of the international Taido friendship games.
  • Mitsuaki Uchida and I became the first people under 20 to be awarded 2dan in America.
  • Bryan Sparks and I founded the Georgia Tech Taido club.

1998

  • I traveled solo to Japan, visiting dojo in Yokohama, Fuji, and Hirosaki over a period of two months.
  • I began studying Literature and Sociology at Georgia State University.

1999

  • I traveled again to Japan, this time for three months.

2000

  • I judged the US Taido 25th anniversary championships.
  • I was awarded 3dan.
  • I began practicing basic T’ai Chi.

2002

  • I began studying yoga.
  • I helped organize and was a main judge at the US national championships.
  • I was awarded 4dan.

2003

  • I graduated from college and relocated to Japan to teach English.
  • I joined Negishi Sensei at the Yokohama Taido dojo.

2005

  • I competed in several tournaments around the Tokyo area.
  • I visited Atlanta to assist operations of the US Taido 30th anniversary tournament.
    • 100% of my students from Georgia Tech won medals in at  least one tournament event.
  • Taido/Blog was born.
  • I began practicing CST (Circular Strength Training) training methods.

2006

  • I traveled to Australia for the second Asia Pacific Games.
    • I placed second in “Taido no Hokei” (creative hokei) and third in team jissen.
  • I visited US Taido summer camp to see my first students test for black belt (Shelley Matthews, Bolot Kerimbaev, and Laura Sparks).
  • I competed in several tournaments in Tokyo and Kanagawa.
    • I placed in a couple of team jissen events and won a nengi award.
  • I returned to the US.

2007

  • I began training in Kaikudo Karate and Gracie Barra Jiu Jutsu.
  • I traveled to Holland for the European Taido championships and international friendship games.
  • I began writing occasional articles for the Finnish Taido Kamae magazine.

2008

  • I moved back to Japan and joined both Taido dojo in Osaka.
  • I began training in Judo.
  • I attended various training camps and seminars.
  • I competed in the 18th all-Japan workers’ championships.
    • Placed third in -mei hokei division – the youngest person to do so.
  • I competed in the 42nd all-Japan championships.

2009

  • I got married and started a new business, doing freelance web design.
  • I was awarded 5dan Renshi.
  • I lead the training at a seminar for students at Kobe Gakuin University, who went on to give their best performance in several years at the all-Japan university championships.
  • I assisted with a training camp for the Finnish National Team in Tottori.
  • I assisted with preparations and execution of the World Taido Championships.
  • I broke my arm in the International Friendship Games.
  • I received certification as a Circular Strength Training (CST) Instructor.

2010

  • I judged the first Australian Taido national championships in Sydney.
    • Kaneko and I taught a series of Taido seminars over the two days.
  • I founded GMB Fitness to teach athletic movement and agility for adult physical education.
  • I relocated to Honolulu, Hawaii.

2011

  • GMB raised over $15,000 for the relief efforts after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake a tsunami devastated northern Japan, affecting hundreds of Taido students.
  • I began training in Parkour.

2013

  • I visited Sweden for the first time, training in Gothenburg with the Swedish and Australian teams.
  • I attended the Taido seminars in Helsinki prior to the world championships.

2015

  • I taught and assisted with the European championships in Sweden.

2017

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.

Kangeiko

Growing up in Uchida Sensei’s dojo, kangeiko was always one of my favorite Taido traditions. Everybody came to kangeiko, even if they couldn’t make it to practice very often during the rest of the year. It was always like a family reunion. And the workout was HARD.

We always started at 6am, and the floor would be freezing. We started by warming up thoroughly and running through all of the fundamentals. Lots of punches, lots of kicks. Then we’d practice each of the Taido kihongi and, after that, hokei. Despite the cold, everybody managed to get up a good sweat by the end of it.

Then we would all line up and, one at a time, sit with Sensei and exchange New Year’s greetings: “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu. Kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu.” Then we’d drink sake (if you were under 21, it was “just a little…”) and clean the dojo.

I hear that American Taido kangeiko is a much different affair now. That’s cool. Things change, and nothing is so perfect it can’t be improved.

I don’t know much about the traditions of Taido dojo in other countries. Do you do kangeiko in Europe? How about Australia?

In this article, I’m going to give a little background on what kangeiko is, where it comes from, and how it’s practiced in Japan.

Kangeiko History

According to “ancient tradition,” kangeiko is held early on a Saturday morning in January. All students (even those who are unable to practice often) congregate at the dojo for the ostensible purpose of beginning the year with good spirit in training. Everyone works out, and the focus is on kihon – the basis of fancier skills.

Following the practice, the students greet their teachers and wish them a happy new year (“akemashite omedetou gozaimasu“) and ask the favor of continued tutelage in the new year (“kotoshimo yoroshiku onegai shimasu“). The deal is sealed with a Japanese handshake – bowing and drinking sake.

Then, everyone participates in the osoji – big cleaning. Students and instructors take pride in maintaining their practice space and equipment. And then there’s breakfast and more drinking.

That’s the kangeiko I remember.

Meaning and Origins

Kangeiko is a Japanese word made up of three characters and means “cold training.” Why would one want to train in the cold? The concept is a type of toughness training – forcing oneself to perform under difficult or even painful conditions. In theory, this strengthens the “fighting spirit” by helping us find our true limits and quieting the inner-weakling that keeps telling us to give up.

This idea of subjecting oneself to harsh treatment in order to strengthen the resolve owes to the influence of Buddhism (in Japan, anyway). Ascetic monks would choose the coldest days of the year to set an example and demonstrate their piety. Apparently, some dedicated samurai borrowed the practice and began subjecting themselves to intense training on these days as well. It eventually became a tradition in Sumo.

Judo adopted the practice, and as a result, most modern Japanese martial arts have some sort of kangeiko tradition. In Japan, many professional sports teams hold a sort of kangeiko, and even some large corporations have “kangeiko” for their executives.

Kangeiko’s Importance as a Martial Arts Tradition

In general, kangeiko has a reputation in the martial arts of being a serious challenge. There are all sorts of stories from “the old days” about extremely tough (and often stupid and dangerous)kinds of training that various dojo have put themselves through in the name of strengthening their spirits.

Martial artists love telling stories about how tough things used to be. My father summed up the tendency nicely: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” These stories are often more romantic than realistic, but I think they serve a purpose. I look at these “legends” like a challenge – not necessarily to dive into a sub-zero lake and do 10000 punches in my frozen uniform – but to occasionally engage in practices that bring me closer to my limits.

Which is really the whole point. You don’t have to do fifty hokei in your underwear on the coldest day of the year. But as martial artists, we do have to push ourselves to overcome stress. Since this can be uncomfortable, many groups ritualize the challenge as a tradition.

Kangeiko is just a tradition. It’s serves the same purpose that other traditions do: reinforce group identity and group values. Severe training is also worthwhile, but it’s not necessarily the most vital part of kangeiko.

Two Kinds of Kangeiko

There are basically two schools of thought on what kinds of things kangeiko should entail: the hard core GUTS! school and the more austere and subdued school.

GUTS!

“Guts” type training is what we usually associate with “tough guy” schools. An example of a hard core kangeiko might start at 5am with 1000 punches and 1000 kicks before moving on to work routines and sparring. Maybe it would also include a few hundred push-ups and sit-ups.

Of course, all of this is done in an unheated dojo, which is almost the same as doing it outside. Traditional Japanese architecture doesn’t include much in the way of insulation. Martial arts dojo tend to have as much window as they do wall, and though we may use fans during the summer, finding a heater is extremely rare.

Some schools actually do train outside – running a few kilometers or even training techniques on the frozen ground. Just this past week, I saw a news report about a karate dojo in Osaka that waded into the harbor and did some punches in the freezing water.

Apparently, only a couple of them suffered from hypothermia. That was probably because it was a publicity stunt, and the students were only in the water long enough for the camera crews to capture the event. Of course, it the old days, they would have stayed in for longer…

The content of “guts” type training is less important than the intensity. The idea is to push ourselves until we don’t think we can go any further, and then to go further. Your muscles say “no,” but your mind commands “yes.” Through pain and exhaustion, you find that your true limits lay well outside your usual comfort zone.

Doing this kind of training sucks. But it’s great.

Pushing past our perceived boundaries builds mental toughness. It’s great for reminding ourselves just what we’re capable of (as opposed to what we enjoy). The body can’t handle this kind of thing too often, but doing it a few times a year can help push us to the next level mentally.

A hard core kangeiko is guaranteed to “make a man out of you,” unless you’re a woman.

In dojo that have an extremely intense kangeiko, students sometimes have to rest and recover for up to a week or even longer before returning to training. If training injures you, it’s no longer training – it’s punishment. Forcing your body to the breaking point is not “guts,” it’s stupid.

Balancing challenge with insanity is the art of this kind of training.

Another Approach

A lot of dojo aren’t so much concerned with being tough. They practice for sport and recreation. Dojo with a lot of older adults and children aren’t going to convince many students to show up for a physically intense workout. Instead, they follow a more subdued approach.

Just as with the hard core dojo, most “normal” dojo will focus their training on basics. They may do a certain number of repetitions of each kihongi, but the pace is usually relatively slow. Usually, few words are spoken, and each student is left to consider how to perform each repetition better than the one before it. This can sometimes go on for quite a while.

Even without breaks, this kind of training is not going to make anyone pass out or vomit. The physical intensity is low. but it’s not easy. In fact, it can be just as intense mentally as the hard core style is physically. It’s just a different kind of intensity.

The objective is to practice with total concentration. Instead of diving into freezing water, you’re trying to submerge yourself in each technique. The challenge is to get inside the technique, and that’s something you can only do with a lot of effort and repetition.

The first few repetitions may be kind of rough as you get warmed up. Then you’ll fall into your typical habits for the next few. Doing the same technique eventually starts to get boring, so you start trying to move faster and stronger. As you tire, you’ll begin to shift your emphasis to clean, efficient movement. After doing fifty or so in a row, you notice that your last repetition was far better than the first.

Training like this helps refine your technique and calm your mind. After working through a variety of techniques in such a manner, you’ll find that you feel very calm and relaxed. Though you’ve probably been sweating profusely, you won’t feel very tired.

This state of ease is the perfect time to reflect on your progress and goals for the next few months of training. You may take time to consider the 5jokun or otherwise think about what Taido is to you and what you hope to get out of it.

This is a more personal kind of training, even though it’s performed as a group. Each student is responsible for managing their own intensity and focus. The results are often similar to the more-extreme style of training: it can help push you into the next level mentally. It’s a different way of reaching for the same goal.

Taido Kangeiko

Of course, since kangeiko is an “ancient martial arts tradition,” it’s an important part of the spirit of a dojo. In fact, it’s such an important part of Taido tradition, that most clubs in Japan don’t do it. Some do, but it’s definitely not the norm.

Those dojo that do have a kangeiko tend to follow the second blueprint. A few university clubs may do killer workouts, but most dojo will do less extreme training and work on increasing the mental intensity.

None of the dojo I’ve been a member of in Japan have had a formal kangeiko. Instead, we just resume training in the new year as usual. But several Japanese clubs have posted blogs about their kangeiko training this year, and none of them went swimming in their dogi…

What’s Your Kangeiko Like?

By this time, many of you have already had a kangeiko at your dojo. Maybe it was similar to one of the patterns I discussed above, or maybe it was something totally different.

The most important thing you can get out of kangeiko is to give it your best and start off the new year of training with a positive attitude. Beyond that, take it as a chance to push yourself to the next level by challenging your body or your mind with more intensity than usual. Being outside your comfort zone will help you grow as a martial artist.

If you’ve had any interesting kangeiko experiences you’d like to share, please post them in the comments.