Georgia Tech Taido Club

Profile

Head instructor – Bryan Sparks – 3dan
also

  • Laura Sparks – shodan
  • Shelley Matthews – shodan
  • Bolot Kerimbaev – shodan

URL – defunct

Phone – nope

Schedule – Course info page @ GT Campus Recreation Center

History

1984

  • Andy Fossett begins practicing Taido.

1986

  • Bryan Sparks begins practicing Taido.

1992

  • Andy tests for black belt.

1993

  • Bryan tests for black belt.
  • US Taido sends its fourth team to Japan for the first world championships, including its first children’s team. The delegation includes Andy and Bryan as the two youngest competitors in the adult division. They make many Taido friends from various countries.

1995

  • Andy and Bryan begin experimenting with new Techniques and practice methods outside of the honbu dojo on a weekly basis. None of their training partners from that period will ever look at stairs the same way again.

1996

  • US Taido hosts the Sun Data international Taido championship. Andy tests for 2dan. Andy decides that his Japanese is not nearly good enough.
  • Andy and Bryan found the Georgia Tech Taido club, and not much else happens. Their first student is Jacob Langseth, and some others come and go as well. It is during these first few months that the traditions and conventions of the club originally come to be.

1998

  • Andy takes his first solo trip to Japan, living and practicing in Yokohama with Negishi Sensei, in Hirosaki with Sekiba Sensei, and in Fuji with Akiyama Sensei, where he picks tea and meets a few girls.
  • Tech Taido finally makes it to US Taido’s annual summer camp. Five students attend, including the now-legendary Kirk, a mysterious figure of whom many have heard, but few have actually seen.

1999

  • Andy returns to Japan for three months. Again, he visits Negishi, Akiyama, and Sekiba.
  • Bryan tests for 2dan at summer camp.
  • The beginning of Andy’s “dark period.”
  • Laura Bardey and Shelley Matthews enter the club at Tech.

2000

  • Bolot Kerimbaev joins Tech Taido.
  • Bryan graduates from Tech and moves to Colorado Springs for work. He buys a house and a kegerator.
  • Chris Healy transfers to Tech and helps Andy hold things together in Bryan’s absence.
  • US Taido 25th anniversary celebration. Andy tests for 3dan.

2002

  • Bryan makes his return debut at summer camp to the surprise of the entire club. There is much rejoicing, and Guinness flows.
  • Andy and Bryan make a week-long visit to Ft. Lauderdale to help out at Tom DeVenny’s dojo and demonstrate advanced techniques.
  • It’s about this time that Andy emerges from his three-year funk.
  • US Taido championship. Tech students perform well, but alas do not win any events. Andy is awarded 4dan.

2003

  • US Taido summer camp. Chad Gilmartin tests for 2dan. Andy belatedly demonstrates for 4dan.
  • Andy moves to Japan to teach English. He begins practicing regularly with Negishi in Yokohama.
  • Chad enters the Tech club as a freshman.

2004

  • Andy visits from Japan and attends classes at Tech and the honbu dojo.
  • The Georgia Tech Taido Wiki makes its cyber-debut.
  • Chris visits Negishi and Andy in Japan. They have a good time and learn the hard way that Samsonite doesn’t necessarily resist vomit stains.
  • US Taido summer camp. Bryan tests for 3dan.
  • Corey Myers and Mary Gezo enter the club as freshmen.
  • Mary tests for black belt.
  • The Georgia Tech Taido Wiki causes its first controversy and is subsequently limited to password access only.

2005

  • Corey tests for 2dan.
  • US Taido 30th anniversary celebration and tournament. Andy visits from Japan along with about 75 Japanese Taido students and instructors, including Negishi, Akiyama, and Sekiba. 100% of the competitors from Georgia Tech place in at least one event with several gold and silver medals.
  • Georgia Tech Taido finally gets a new public web page. The internal site is updated as well.
  • Taido/Blog is quietly established.

2006

  • Chris returns to Atlanta to finish his Master of Science at Georgia Tech. He then moves to California and buys a Ducati.
  • Bolot, Laura, and Shelley test for black belt.
  • Andy visits for US Taido summer camp.
  • Andy finishes his contract in Japan and returns stateside.
  • Taido performs a demonstration for Japan Fest at Stone Mountain Park.
  • The GT Taido Wiki vanishes into the void.
  • Bryan and Laura are married.
  • The Georgia Tech Taido club celebrates its 10th anniversary.

2007

  • Andy visits Holland to compete in the World Taido International Friendship Games.

2008

  • Andy moves back to Japan and begins training in Osaka.

2006 Tokaido Regional Meet

This past weekend, I participated in the first ever Tokaido Regional Meet, and I had a great time (but I’m almost always having a great time). This tournament very much resembled the 2nd Kanagawa Meet I wrote about in February in a number of ways. First, it was held in the same location – the Tokai University Budokan. Second, the competitors, judges, staff, and spectators looked suspiciously similar. In fact, it was almost the same competition all over again.

The Back-Story

To explain how this happens, I should mention a few things to which I alluded in my report on the Kanagawa meet. Specifically, it comes down to the fact that Honshu (the largest island in Japan, and coincidentally the one on which all but a handful of Taido clubs are located) is small and mountainous. The result of Honshu’s geography is that there are several distinct regions (each with its own subculture) in close proximity. Tohoku, Kanto, Kansai, etc each have their own Japanese dialects and ways of thinking. However, they are all crammed together on a piece of land about the size of California.

People who do Taido for longer than a few years are bound to run into the same folks again and again. They develop bonds through shared Taido experience as well as their unique geographical quirks of Japaneseness. In Taido’s short forty years, families have developed, and since most Japanese people don’t stray very far from their hometowns, these families remain extremely integral. This is very apparent in the group of Taido associations around Shizuoka and Kanagawa.

The godfather of this Taido-mob is Norio Akiyama, whom I first met when I was a tike in 1986. Akiyama Sensei is one of Uchida Sensei’s best Taido friends, and he’s the reason that Negishi came to live with us in Atlanta for five years. In my travels to Japan, I have spent a lot of time with Akiyama, staying at his house for almost a month one time. He’s a great Taido geek. I was telling someone last week that, if I were able to choose someone to be my uncle, Akiyama Sensei would be my top pick.

Anyway, in addition to owning the dojo in Fuji (where I visit to play and teach on a pretty regular basis), Akiyama Sensei is responsible for teaching lots of really cool Taido instructors. His Taido family includes Negishi and our whole Yokohama crew, Kato Sensei’s group in Shimizu, and Tokai University (where Negishi, Kato, and Fukunaga went to school), as well as his own dojo, which has produced a number of really strong Taidoka.

It was Kato Sensei who managed the operations of the Tokaido taikai, though Akiyama was “tournament president,” which basically means that he authorized decisions and signed the certificates. This event was a little bigger than the Kanagawa meet turned out, possibly because everyone is getting geared up now that tournament season has started, but everything ran very smoothly and I think we all had fun.

The Tournament

I felt like crap Sunday morning, so I decided to skip the hokei division. You just can’t fake a good hokei performance by doing some things better than others or favoring one side of some techniques over others. Actually, this is a large part of the genius of Taido’s hokei as a training tool as revealed by the high point deduction for failing to return to gentai.

Since Nakano has pretty much maxed out the technical level of the -tai hokei as they stand, it’s hard to be blown away by most of the hokei one sees at local competitions. Though I couldn’t have done any better, I was hoping to be more excited about the hokei part of this event than I was. The women’s hokei division was a lot better, with Yokohama dojo members taking first and third place.

Yokohama also did really well in tenkai (2nd and 3rd) and won the team jissen. Chiba and Takatsuna took 2nd and 3rd in men’s jissen, and Takatsuna also got 3rd in hokei, despite an injury which forced him to compete only with hentai.

I also did pretty well myself, though I narrowly missed getting a heavy thing placed around my neck at the end of the day. I won my first two rounds of jissen, despite my back and ankle feeling all out-of-whack. My first opponent was pretty strong, but I saw everything he threw coming from a mile away. Despite his size and power advantage, I didn’t have too much trouble strategizing my way into his weak points. Essentially, I fronted an aggressive game, then trapped him by appearing to go on the defensive. Big guys in Japan love the chance to attack, so he fell for it easily.

In my second round, my opponent was faster, but small and not very confident. I gave up a yuko for some really wimpy kick, but totally dominated the rest of the match. At one point I forced him out of bounds by sheer intimidation. After that, I just kept hitting him with better timing than he was fast enough to work around. He tried to get in some quick counters, but a half-assed shuto just doesn’t hold up when you are taking a hangetsu straight to the chest, so I won. But damn, was I worn out.

My third match was against Takatsuna from Yokohama. We were both tired and nursing injuries, so we agreed beforehand to have fun and let whoever found the cleanest openings win. I think Kato Sensei wanted to give me a warning for laughing a couple of times, but he could see that it was useless in a match where two friends are just playing with each other. In the end, I lost, but I wasn’t disappointed.

Perhaps I would have tried a little harder had I known that I was one match away from the finals. Takatsuna’s next match was against Chiba, who was also injured and worn down by that point. Chiba and I tend to stalemate, with one of us sometimes catching a lucky shot for the win. I’ve also sparred a lot with Fujita from Fuji, who took first. All of the judges were telling me that, based on the level and type of jissen I was playing that day, there was a very good chance for me to win if I hadn’t run out of energy. Oh well. I don’t enter tourney’s to win; I play for fun, so I was happy either way.

Reunions

While I was changing into my dogi prior to the competitions, some woman I’ve never met before came up to me, very excited to introduce me to somebody – a Taido student from England. When I got a closer look at him, I realized, we had met before. It was Josh Macabaugh. Though he had shaved off the dreads I remembered from his visit to our dojo last year, we recognized each other and chatted a bit. It was nice to see him again. He’ s (I think) interning in Shimizu for a few months and practicing with Kato Sensei while he’s there.

I was also happy to get to hang out with Okawa Sensei a bit too. Okawa is a crazy guy, and I first met him during American Taido’s 30th anniversary celebration last year, when Chad and I taught him how to do the robot. He was pretty excited to see me, and gave me some (really excellent) advice about my jissen. He had been the assistant judge for my matches and gave me the low-down on ways I can work on actually getting points for all the strikes and kicks I land on my opponents (which is always incredibly disproportionate to the score I receive). Then he made his wife take pictures of me with his students.

What?

At the end of the tournament, we all lined up for awards. Our team had a good number of certificates, medals, and trophies sitting around, and we were pretty stoked. Akiyama Sensei likes to innovate, so the judges decided awards for the best sen, un, hen, nen, and ten. Much to my surprise, I was picked to share the nengi-sho with Sano (whose nenin hokei is really, really good). I think I was chosen because I took all of my scores for nentai attacks (hitting one guy with at least 5 hangestu in one match). It may have also had something to do with the fact that I think Okawa Sensei really wanted me to win something at my last tournament in Japan.

At any rate, I was surprised with a fancy certificate for “best nengi,” which is really funny to me, since I’ve always considered nengi my weakest technique.

My Last Tourney in Japan

This was it. Last chance. I think that was a good note on which to end my Japanese tournament experience. Not having many tournaments in America (and being one of the only qualified judges when we do), it was really cool getting to compete with so many different people. I’ve enjoyed making friends and sharing ideas with all of them. This being a “family” event, it was a super-friendly time to participate in my final competition of my stay in Japan.

The Official Party

After the clean-up, we had the official toasting and pouring-drinks-fo-each-other celebratory “party”. Everyone met everyone they didn’t already know, and we ate like pigs. Fumi (the head instructor at Fuji and one of my long-time friends) was getting pictures with everyone, just in case they became famous. Oe got sloppy and then emotional. After a while, he was crying and giving everyone especially heartfelt handshakes and hugs. I swear, I thought he would never let go of my hand, but he’s a really great guy, so you can’t help but share the sentiment, even when he goes a little overboard. Each dojo made speeches, and Josh and I (the foreigners) also had to make some comments. And then we ate like pigs again.

Now this is a first: I don’t know how it happened – especially at a Taido function, where such things are usually well provided-for, but we somehow managed to drink all the beer. It may not sound like such a big deal, but we were less than half of the way through the scheduled roster and suddenly, there was no more. We asked the staff for more, and they told us that it was gone. We had finished it all. Oe and I were trying to convince the hall manager to go to the store and buy more, but it just was not to be. We spent the next hour scavenging abandoned glasses and bottles and selfishly guarding anything alcoholic we could find. How can you pour a drink for the guy who kicked you in the face if there are no drinks to pour? It was a serious deficit.

Logistical issues aside, we all got so have some really good talks about the day’s events and our plans for the future (even if we were a little more lucid than usual). It probably sounds a little silly that I make such a big deal out of the post-event drinking parties, but you would be absolutely stunned how many important decisions get made at such affairs. Invitations are granted, friendships are begun, advice is received (and quite often acted on later), questions are answered candidly, teams are formed, and whole other tournaments are planned (I’ll tell you more about that one later…). The get-together is every bit as important a part of the tournament than the actual competitive games are.

Now, let’s all go drink more!

So after drinking the entire house, the Yokohama dojo made a collective decision that we needed more. Wait, I don’t want to make it sound like we’re a bunch of alcoholics. Isn’t it only alcoholics that need a drink? Well, in that case, we decided that there was beer and sake remaining in the Tokai Uni area, and that was it waiting to be drunk by someone. In other words, there were drinks that needed us. That’s better, isn’t it?

We toasted our first-time champion, Tanaka, and tried to get Miho and Nakajo to hook up . We talked and laughed (and Oe got a ride home early, so nobody was crying) and ate greasy izakaya food. It was pretty-damn fun, and we all managed to get home at a semi-resonable hour.

Best of all, I was able to take Monday off of work, so instead of making the long ride back to Gunma, I spent the night at Negishi’s house and slept in.

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.

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.

Building International Community

As I mentioned in my top 11 article, one of my favorite aspects of my Taido experience has been the opportunity to participate as a member of an international community. There are people all over the world that share my passion for Taido, and I’ve really enjoyed meeting so many of them. There are plenty of others whom I have not yet had a chance to meet, but I hope to get around to it.

The Taido World Tour

One of my goals for the next few years is to visit every country where people are practicing Taido. So far, I’ve trained in America, Japan, Australia, Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. That leaves Denmark, France, Portugal, and England. I hope to make it to all of these places at least once before I turn 45.

My reason for wanting to do this is to learn more about how Taido is practiced and what kind of people practice it. The more I can learn about the people who do Taido and the practices in which they engage, the better I can understand what Taido actually is and, more importantly, where it’s going. It’ll give me a chance to influence this evolution as well.

Taking Personal Action

In the past, we have left the international connections to organizational ties between the lead instructors. In terms of community-building, I think this approach has mostly failed. It seems that the real friendships we develop with Taidoka from other countries almost happens in spite of organizational intervention, rather than because of it.

Open-Door Policy

In my vision of Taido’s future, all Taido dojo and groups will welcome any Taido student from anywhere, without regard to what rank that person holds from what organization or dojo. I think we should open our doors and accept all Taido students to share their experiences with us. In return, we will can give them the benefit of our own ideas. This should be a free exchange, and it should not be limited to instructors or tournament champions.

I think most dojo are fairly open to visitors, especially from other countries. We can also be open personally to receive Taido guests. If someone visits your dojo, why not invite them out to eat or have a drink? Training together is fun, but getting to know that student as a person is much more rewarding. It can be a great experience for both parties to share their thoughts and culture. Even if the visiting student doesn’t speak your language well, it can be a lot of fun to try and communicate.

The Other Side of the Coin

Being open for visitors is great, but it’s only half the battle. We also need to actively encourage our students to visit other dojo. We need to give students incentive to travel to other Taido countries and bring back their experiences. This benefits everyone in a school.

For example, if a student in your dojo travels to another country and learns a different way to do a certain technique, he has expanded his own skills. If he comes back and shares what he learned with other students, they can benefit too. It’s not that any one way is better than another, but every variation has the potential to teach us more about Taido.

Make sure to ask your dojomates about their Taido experiences abroad. You can learn a lot from their stories. It also helps to build excitement about travel and international Taido friendship, which encourages everyone to get out and experience more.

I Love Politics!

Part of the problem may be that we have some negative political history between various Taido organizations. Some of these problems go back to (and I am not even slightly exaggerating here) thirty-year-old rivalries between former college classmates that are now instructors. I don’t see any good reason that this should have any effect on students in Taido. I feel that we should value the desire of students to create connections and friendships with students in other schools and other countries. The better we promote this kind of connection, the more we can be sure of better and more widespread Taido in the future.

Global / Local

We have an international network of Taido organizations. Let’s leverage that network to create an international community of individual Taido students. We are all practicing the same art, even if we practice it in different ways and for different reasons. This variety is rich with opportunity for the future of Taido. We have much to learn from each other if we can get together.

This is already happening on a small scale with certain individuals. I know that several Japanese Taidoka taught at dojo in France and Australia. A few instructors are known to travel whenever they have the opportunity. However, I’d like to make this international community accessible to all Taido students on a wider scale. This need not be limited to instructors or even large dojo.

Chances are, someone in your dojo has some contacts in another country. Seek them out and ask for advice. Make the effort to invite students from other dojo to visit and practice with you. Then make sure to go see them too.

Making Contact

Since moving to Japan, I have been able to cement stronger friendships with Japanese Taidoka than I had in the past. These are not just connections through my instructor – they are personal relationships built through shared practice and discussion. I’ve also made friends with several of the students in Australia and in Europe.

Through this website, I have made contact with Taidoka from everywhere in the world, and they mostly seem very cool. I want to visit all of these people at their home dojo, and I plan to invite each of them to my own.

You don’t have to relocate or start a website to make friends in Taido. Visit the Australian Taido Forum and introduce yourself. Start a discussion or ask a question. Everyone will be excited to get to know you.

Also, keep up to date with tournaments and training camps. Besides the World Championships, we have regular International Friendship Games, European Championships, Australia’s Asia Pacific Games, and American International Tournaments. Clubs in Europe often host training camps – get in touch and ask if you can attend. American Taido summer camp is a great event for anyone who wants to visit the US and hang out at the beach.

Make a plan to attend a Taido event in another country. You will not regret it. The first step is to get in touch. Send an email and introduce yourself. Then ask about any events during the next few months. It really is just that simple.

The Invitation

I previously posted an open invitation to all Taidoka to visit my dojo at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, USA. In 2007 and 2008, we hosted visitors from India and Japan.

I will repeat that invitation now for any Taido practitioner who is interested in visiting Osaka. Osaka is a very different Japan from Tokyo, and Taido here is less tournament oriented. I will make a commitment to provide lodging, practice, and plenty of hanging out to any Taido student who can make it to Osaka. I’m pretty sure that other dojo members would offer to host visitors as well.

The Challenge

I challenge every Taido club worldwide to take this step toward a creating real community of Taido students. Lots of clubs are doing this, and the benefits are very tangible.

American Taido has had Japanese guest instructors for periods of up to five years. Maya Tabata spent a good bit of time in America and France. Masa Ohashi is back and forth between Japan and Australia constantly, it seems. Now there are a handful of French Taidoka living in Japan. I know there is fairly frequent exchange between the major dojo in EuTai. Lots of us from various countries have come to live in Japan for extended periods. Every time a Taido student practices at a foreign dojo, for one night or for a few years, everyone learns something.

Simple arrangements will do more for the future of international Taido than all the political nice-talk in the world and also allow the World Taido Federation to devote their official energies to developing Taido, supporting instructors, and creating educational materials.

Indeed, if individual students take the initiative to build their own community, the instructors can better focus on teaching, and the organizations can better focus on organizing. Perhaps then, instead of wasting time and money with marginal legal issues, Taido Honin can actually begin working to spread Taido. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Let’s all take the initiative together for creating an international community of Taido students. Get in touch, make friends, and meet up.