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

2006 Tech Taido 10th Anniversary

Ten years isn’t an especially long time. It’s about long enough for a mere two billion tons of sediment to be eroded from the Grand Canyon – widening it just a few inches. Ten years ago, the internet was “new” (to most folks), mobile phones were exorbitant, and I knew everything there was worth knowing. At least some things never change.

Also ten years ago, Bryan finished high school and enrolled at Georgia Tech. As a result of my continuing need to be in charge of something, I conned him into helping me start a Taido class. Originally just an excuse to gratify my fragile ego, the class began to look more and more like a legitimate martial arts club when we came to notice certain students actually attempting to learn what Taido was all about. Some of those students are still with us.

Last night, many current students and a few has-beens came together to celebrate ten continuous years of Taido at Tech. We ate the famous Fossett BBQ (you can’t beat Buddy’s meat), drank the famous Guinness milkshakes, and had a famously good time hanging out and acting like family. There was some light speech-making and a couple of minor presentations, but this was not a “big event” kind of party – it was more of an excuse to say thank you to the people who have helped us keep this thing going just long enough to not look like a bunch of jackasses. It was also an excuse to gratify my fragile ego.

It was great seeing so many friends in one night. Kirk, Dee, and Edge showed. So did Mary and Liz. Mitsuaki, Brendan, and D-mag were able to come by, and so did a few other folks from the honbu dojo. We had a nice turnout, with new and old students (and their significant others) all drinking, joking, and watching old Taido videos together.

I did find myself missing a few folks who were unable to be there, particularly our “California branch” – Chris, Anthony, and Joshua. Uchida Sensei was unable to attend, though he did send along some very good sake. Chad was totally going to make it, like for real, but can’t exactly remember not knowing how he actually came to be unsure about why he wasn’t there. Oh well, I drank enough for all of them.

Of course, the natural instinct upon the demarcation of a period of time as a significant event is to speculate on the future. That is, assuming that everyone finally gets tired of rehashing, reminiscing, retelling, and rewriting the past. And so Bryan and I speculated, but didn’t make any announcements about our plan for world domination. Instead we gave those who inquired our own version of that famous, one-word advice about the future from “The Graduate” – and if you weren’t there, you missed it. But it was good. Really. Don’t you feel left out now?

Hokei Assignment

This year will mark the completion of ten continuous years of operation for the Taido club at Georgia Tech. We are the first group to have successfully administered a Taido program in the United States outside of the honbu dojo. We are also the only non-commercial Taido practice group in the country. This year, we will promote our first three black belts, as announced here.

Over the years, black belt tests in American Taido have come to be little more than a formality that occurs after a few years of training. While we aren’t suggesting that the physical black belt test is all that big a deal, Bryan and I have long thought that it should be the final step in a process of black belt candidacy that is at least somewhat transformative to the student. This process should require growth and demonstration of competence in the core areas of Taido practice and philosophy.

Since we see our club as an extended experiment in Taido practice and teaching, we decided long ago that when the time came for our students to test for shodan, we would do things a little differently than they are usually done. Bryan and I have been working for over a year now on a new method of testing students for black belt. I will be gradually releasing the details of our test process on this website as the students work towards their physical examination (date, TBA).

Upon learning of their candidacy for shodan, the three students were informed that they would be required to create a new and unique Taido hokei and write a paper defending it. Here are the guidelines I sent them in an e-mail earlier today:

Your Hokei

Create your own hokei based on the following criteria:

  1. Base your hokei on any one or two (no more) of Taido’s sotai (sen, un, hen, nen, ten). You may use other techniques, but focus on one or two types of movement.
  2. You may use a standard enbusen (layout) from an existing hokei or create a new one.
  3. Performance must last between 2 and 3 minutes in duration.
  4. Your hokei must fit in the space of a standard Taido court.
  5. You must return to genten.
  6. The use of new or interesting technique combinations is desirable.
  7. All strikes must have a clearly targeted opponent.
  8. You must prescribe breathing methods for your hokei.
  9. Your hokei must show understanding of the 10 hokei performance guidelines (ex. You need to have slow parts as well as fast, relaxed parts as well as tense).
  10. Your hokei must also demonstrate your understanding of the doko 5 kai for the sotai you chose.

Your Paper

You must also prepare a paper explaining the thinking that informs your hokei design. here the the paper guidelines:

  1. Successful papers will explain the decisions involved in creating a new routine and how you went about making them in a manner that demonstrates your understanding of Taido.
  2. You should be able to explain: how many opponents you are facing; why you chose certain techniques and combinations; why you breathe when and how you do; and any other pertinent information.
  3. Please do not describe your routine, we will see it for ourselves when you perform it.
  4. Papers will be as long as they need to be to explain the routine. A more straight-forward routine will require less explanation than one that uses a lot of complicated combinations.
  5. Please spell-check and try to follow grammatical conventions.
  6. Be consistent in your spelling of japanese words – it’s OK to be incorrect because you don’t speak Japanese, but please choose one spelling per word and stick with it.
  7. Format your paper in a manner that lends itself to easy evaluation. For example, eight pages about a routine built on hengi will make it difficult to reference your second ebigeri. Use section headings and typographic cues to direct navigation of your paper.
  8. Papers will be submitted to andy and bryan via e-mail in a word format no later than two weeks prior to your physical examination.
  9. Papers, along with our comments, will be posted on the website no later than one week prior to your physical examination.

Your creativity and ability to defend your decisions are the primary evaluation points for this assignment. Have fun.