new poll: what kind of practice is most important to you?

lately, i’ve been thinking a lot about what relative proportion of various training types and methods to use to create an optimal platform for skill development in the class at georgia tech. as usual, i have sixty-ish variables going around in my head about what to do when for what students. i’ve had the benefit of being exposed to a lot of different styles of practicing taido, and i’ve spent considerable time learning and developing a pretty large repertoire of training methods. sometimes, these things can be a great advantage to me as an instructor, but sometimes i feel as if i have too many options and not enough guides for choosing among them.

so, i thought i’d post a poll.

most martial arts train students using a variety of methods. in taido, the obvious two are hokei and jissen. i’m curious as to which kinds of practice people value the most in their own training.

shukumine taught that jissen and hokei were both equally important components in a taidoka’s development. through proper hokei practice (using imagined opponents and paying attention to the ten hokei performance guidelines), students can develop timing, distance, and speed in addition to good form. these skills are put to the test in jissen by forcing us to improvise creatively and react to the movements of a partner.

i know some instructors who have extended this logic to conclude that each tournament competition (including tenkai, team jissen, and group hokei) is of equal value, though i find it hard to agree that team events offer much training value to individuals until they have already reached a certain level of skill. the technical limitations imposed in team jissen can be helpful training for less-experienced students. however, i tend to feel that students need to build some basics before attempting to work in such a complicated, multi-partner environment as we see in tenkai or dantai hokei.

karate has the three ks: kihon, kata, and kumite. basic punches, kicks, and blocks are drilled until the practitioner can do them perfectly without thought. kata are supposed to hold the “secrets” of the techniques, and students are required to learn various possible applications from each kata movement. kumite is “free fighting,” in which karateka are allowed to make use of whatever weapons and strategies they can personally employ within the ruleset.

on the other side of the spectrum, many mixed martial arts schools follow in the line of thought made famous by bruce lee that martial arts forms and routines are utterly useless. they make the claim that fighting against the air in solo drills offers zero translation to fighting a live opponent. i’ve heard kata referred to as “dead forms” by some who feel that the only valuable kind of training is that in which students face “live” resistance.

this attitude can also be seen in bjj schools that pair students against a partner from day one. solo work is reserved for conditioning and fitness. even some more “traditional” martial arts tend to value their combative components much more highly than their form practice. one notable example is judo (arguably a sport), which includes forms, but emphasizes working against resistance in daily training. another is kendo, training for which only rarely has students hitting anything other than a partner. even basic strike practice is performed against another armored student, the theory being that all students need to get used to hitting and being hit.

personally, i have a hard time saying that any one kind of practice is necessarily more important than another – they all have the potential to add great value to students’ development. however, i can see that perhaps some modes of training will hold greater value for various students at particular stages in their taido education. in some cases, it may have to do more with personality than with any other factor.

whatever, your criteria for choosing, try to figure out which of these training methods you personally feel is the most important to you right now. we’ll see what everyone thinks in a couple of weeks… thanks.

poll results: how much do you practice?

ok, so this poll ran for quite a while since i was on a hiatus of sorts. we had 31 respondants, and i have to admit that i am surprised by the results.

  • only three people practice less than three hours each week.
  • thirteen people practice between three and five hours.
  • twelve people practice between five and ten hours.
  • three hardcore taidoka practice over ten hours each week.

so the vast majority of those responding to this poll practice somewhere between three and ten hours every week – that’s fantastic. i had expected most folks for practice less than that. though i had assumed that the three to five hour group would be the largest (and this turned out to be the case), i was very surprised to see that so many students are practicing in excess of five hours a week.

i couldn’t be happier about that, especially since my schedule has prevented me from getting in more than five hours in a single week for the past month. with any luck, my work schedules will even out soon and allow me to get on a steady taido routine again. one thing that will help out will be the addition of a two-hour sunday review session we’ll be adding to the docket at gerogia tech in january, bringing the total available instruction hours each week to five. this should be a big help to students who are attempting to balance consistant practice with demanding academic schedules (for those who don’t know, georgia tech is a brutally difficult school).

i’m not sure about the rest of the world, but it appears to me that two or three classes a week is the standard for american taidoka, with each class at the main dojo lasting about 45 minutes. when i was in japan, my dojo trained twice a week too, but each session lasted from two to three hours. i’m curious how much training time is available to students in other countries.

US Taido History

i have included is the verifiable official histories of taido groups representing the lineage of my taido group up to 1984. from 1984 onward, the events and descriptions listed constitute my personal observations.

This timeline represents the verifiable history of Taido in the US to the best of my knowledge. I was a member of US Taido from 1984 until 2006. I now train and teach as a member of Japan Taido.

My personal history and that of the Georgia Tech Taido Club have been moved to separate posts.

1925

  • Seiken Shukumine is born in Okinawa.

1932

  • Shukumine begins learning Ko-Ryu under Anko Sadoyama.

1937

  • Shukumine begins studying Shuri-Te under Sokko Kishimoto as well as Kendo.

1940-1944

  • Shukumine enters the marine division of the kamikaze corps during World War Two. He begins to develop strategies for moving in three dimensions and sets a Japanese military high jump record which reputedly remains unchallenged.

1945

  • After surviving the war, Shukumine returns to Okinawa, finding his home destroyed. He retreats to and island to meditate and train. Shukumine adapts the techniques he learned in his youth to be effective in a 3-dimensional space.

1948

  • Shukumine begins teaching his martial art in Shizuoka.

1950

  • Shukumine enters a nationally televised Karate exhibition. 135 pound Shukumine breaks 34 roofing tiles and demonstrates a flying eight-kick combination.
  • Mitsunobu Uchida is born in Shizuoka.

1953

  • Shukumine creates the Gensei Ryu school and begins teaching at universities and the Tachikawa military base.

1956

  • Shukumine is awarded 8dan Kyoshi title by the Dai Nippon Butoku Karate Association.

1962

  • Shukumine completes the taigi (basic Taido techniques), consisting of un, sen, hen, nen, and ten movements inspired by natural phenomena.

1963

  • Shukumine theorizes the basic principles of Taido as taiki (breathing), doko (movement), and seigyo (strategy).

1964

  • Shukumine publishes Shin Karate Do Kyohan which describes the techniques and tactics of karate, to which he refers as “koryu”.

1965

  • Shukumine formalizes the theory and techniques of Taido into a unified system and founds the Japan Taido Association.
  • Uchida begins his study of Shotokan karate.

1968

  • Uchida enters Tokyo’s International College of Commerce and begins studying Taido.

1970

  • Uchida receives a scholarship to Williamette University in Salem, Oregon.

1972

  • Uchida moves to Dana College in Omaha, Nebraska where he teaches Taido as a credited elective.

1973

  • Uchida graduates from Dana College with a degree in sociology. He returns to Japan to earn a degree in economics and train under Shukumine.

1975

  • Uchida opens the first US Taido honbu dojo on Buford Highway in Atlanta, Georgia and founds the US Taido Association. His first student is Jerry Johnson.

1977

  • Shukumine visits Atlanta and promotes Uchida to fifth degree black belt.

1979

  • US Taido sends its first team to compete in Japan.

1981

  • The first annual Taido summer camp is held in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

1982

  • Shukumine visits Atlanta for the 4th of July demonstration at Stone Mountain Park.

1983

  • Shukumine founds the World Taido Federation.

1984

  • US Taido sends its second team to Japan.

1986

  • US Taido hosts an international championship.

1987

  • US Taido moves to a new location in Norcross, Georgia.

1989

  • US Taido sends its third team to Japan.

1991

  • Tatsuyuki Negishi moves to Atlanta to teach Taido.

1993

  • US Taido sends its fourth team to Japan for the first world championships, including its first children’s team.

1994

  • Shukumine visits Atlanta to attend summer camp and promotes Uchida to seventh degree black belt.

1995

  • US Taido moves to a new location in Norcross.

1996

  • Negishi returns to Japan.
  • Masayuki Hiyoshi arrives to replace Negishi.
  • US Taido hosts the Sun Data international Taido championship. .
  • Andy Fossett and Bryan Sparks found the Georgia Tech Taido club.

1997

  • US Taido sends a team to Finland for the 2nd world championships.
  • Tom DeVenny opens US Taido’s “first branch school” in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

1998

  • US Taido sends its fifth team to Japan.

2000

  • Hiyoshi returns to Japan.
  • US Taido 25th anniversary celebration.

2001

  • US Taido sends its sixth team to Japan. They attend the third world Taido championship in Okinawa.
  • Shukumine dies.

2002

  • US Taido championship.

2005

  • US Taido 30th anniversary celebration and tournament. About 75 Taido students and instructors visit from Japan.
  • The fourth world Taido championships are held in Sweden. US Taido does not send a team.

2006

  • Taido performs a demonstration for Japan Fest at Stone Mountain Park.
  • The Georgia Tech Taido club celebrates its 10th anniversary.

US Taido Dojo Information

there currently exist three authorized training locations in the united states taido association. i have provided some some basic information below:

There currently exist three training locations in the United States Taido Association. I have provided some some basic information below:

US Taido Honbu Dojo – US headquarters

Head instructor – Mitsunobu “Mits” Uchida – 7dan president, US Taido Association also

  • Mitsuaki Uchida – 5dan
  • Brendan Dumont – 4dan

URL –¬†www.taidokarate.com

Phone – 770.242.6406

The primary training center in the US is located in Norcross, Georgia. Classes are offered six days a week, with several classes each day for children and adults.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida Dojo

Head instructor – Tom DeVenny – 5dan

Phone – 954.763.9188

This “first branch location” was founded in 1997.

Georgia Tech Taido Club

Head instructor – Bryan Sparks – 3dan

URL – Campus Recreation Center – Course Info

Since 1996, GT Taido have built a reputation for high quality students – a reputation solidified at the US Taido 30th anniversary championships wherein every single competitor from our dojo won at least one medal. Classes are held twice a week.