New students will not join Taido unless they believe it will provide something they want. We need to show people that Taido training is fun and beneficial.
Even if they want to learn Taido, new students can’t join unless they find a dojo close to their homes. Therefore, in order to appeal to as many potential students as possible, we must attempt to offer Taido practice in as many locations and times as possible.
All Taido students should be continually involved in one of three projects. They follow in order of priority, and no project ever ends.
Project one: Every student in every existing dojo should be concerned with building the dojo. Perform demonstrations at every opportunity (festivals, holidays, weekends in the park, etc.). If you enjoy Taido, you will want to share it with your friends. Bring them to practice with you. Post flyers around your town.
Project two: When a dojo has at least 20 members, it’s time to start a new branch. Find a gym in the next town and start practicing. Divide the teaching duties among the black belts in the club. The highest ranking instructor will divide his time between the association’s various dojo. Once a dojo is established, return to Project one and build the membership.
Project three: When there are at least two dojo with around twenty members, it’s time to hold a competition. This can be an small, informal affair, but it is important. Students need practice competing, and it is a good chance to advertise to the community (see Project one).
Upon completing Project one, move to Project two. Upon completing Project two, return to Project one. This cycle never stops. When there are enough students in each dojo, move to Project three. Project three should contribute to Project one, which contributes to Project two. This makes Project three continually more exciting, and better at promoting Projects one and two.
This cycle is viral and has the potential for exponential growth.
Lots of people use this site as a resource for learning technical details and Taido theory. I think that’s spectacularly good, but there’s more to Taido than memorizing the gojokun and watching videos of hokei from some tournament five years ago. Sometimes even just training isn’t enough unless we keep a clear view of the big picture.
There’s a whole other side of Taido: the soul side.
I’ve collected some of my favorite articles about Taido’s soul – the stuff that makes Taido fun and worthwhile. Without the soul, this is just another hobby. Reading through these articles will get you thinking about what Taido really means to you.
Does thinking replace practice? No. But nor can practice replace thinking. To really get the most out of this Taido thing, you need to do both.
The Rest of Taido/Blog is about 50 pages worth of thinking that will enrich your practice. You’ll get a link to download it for free, immediately after you sign up via the form below.
Get it Now
You can right-click on the picture to the right and download it right now!
Less Talk, More Rock is the name of one of my favorite Propagandhi albums. If you don’t know Propagandhi, they are a fantastic, political punk band that makes great songs that make great sense. I learned of their existence form Joshua Gargus, a former Tech Taido student and all-around cool cat. The reason I bring this all up is because I think the martial arts world generally needs to do less talking and more rocking.
Of course, here I am, writing about not talking too much. Yes, that’s ironic, isn’t it? (and let’s go on and get one thing clear, while we’re at it – I can out-irony just about anyone you know. I was fluent in sarcasm before I could ride a bike. But I’ve changed my tone recently to a more earnest approach. For an excellent discussion of why Irony is a Dead Scene, check out brilliant writer David Foster Wallace [whose Infinite Jest is one of my five favorite books ever].)
OK, so where was I? Oh yeah – the inherent irony of this article. I’ll address that by differentiating two varieties of “talk.” There are countless dichotomies we could make in verbal communication (though all dualities are necessarily false), but I’m most interested in looking at our Taido talk in terms of constructive versus destructive.
I feel that martial artists spend a lot more time putting things down than we ought to. Typically, this is not done openly because we have to retain the illusion of being humble and respectful, as those are highly valued in martial arts circles. The trick then, is to appear as humble as possible in public while bashing our enemies “quietly” to a select few who will spread the message for us. This is the mechanism of martial arts politics – give a deep, respectful bow, then stab them in the back. Of course, there are much less-subtle forms of destructive talk, such as what we see on most internet discussion fora, but the Taido universe, small as it is, doesn’t allow people to get away with such tactics for too long. The covert attack is much more common amongst us.
Thankfully, I don’t see too too much of this in Taido, but it is certainly out there – and just in the form I described above. We are all very polite to each other in public, at big events and online. However, in smaller groups and private emails, we can count on comments like “but he doesn’t really understand what Taido’s all about,” or “but he can’t actually fight,” or “he doesn’t really deserve his rank,” etc. These are examples of communication that is designed to tear someone down. It’s destructive and negative, and it’s a giant waste of time. Even in Japan, land of humility and grace, I often hear Taido students and instructors making comments that can serve no purpose but to make somebody else look bad. Sadly, the speakers often have very little experience with the subjects of their comments.
On the other hand, there is constructive communication… Like Taido/Blog, Taido.net, and World Taido Forum. Yes, I talk a lot. I write a lot of articles, and some of them are quite long. I sure do spend a lot of time teaching for somebody with no official qualifications. But this website is about promoting Taido, building it up. I’m trying to encourage people to think about their practice and how to make it better. I’ll criticize things I think are wrong or lacking, but I’m not doing so in a negative manner – my criticisms of current doctrine are always accompanied by suggestions for improvement. There is a spirit of “honest participation” behind my writing on Taido/Blog.
I’m not just trying to make myself look good. Taido/Blog is not an advertisement for me or my dojo. It’s not a catalog of my achievements or a directory of services I am offering for a price. Taido/Blog is about making Taido better. Period.
In addition, I’m not “just” talking. I’m trying to get people to put their Taido to practice. In nearly every article, I exhort my readers to apply some thought process or specific drill in their next practice session. I also spend a good deal of time writing about applying Taido to real life issues, so we can be “doing” Taido, even when we are not at a Taido practice. This is what rocking is all about. Why do they rock so hard? Because they didn’t just rock sometimes – they are always rocking. Did Miles Davis stop being cool when he finished recording the Birth of the Cool? Hell, no. And he didn’t cheer up after Kind of Blue, either.
Taido/Blog is talk by nature, but it’s talk about rock. The likely outcome of the discussion that takes place between my readers and I is Taido that rocks harder.
When Shukumine Sensei died, there was a lot of controversy over who was in charge and how things were going to be done. In many ways, these issues have not been resolved (not to mention the many issues that were present while Shukumine was still around). Here’s my idea about how to solve all of these problems: less talk, more rock. Taido will take care of itself if we practice honestly and earnestly and apply our best ideas to our practice.
It doesn’t matter who is in charge of Taido, because the only real definition of Taido is that which occurs in practice and competition. Taido is what happens when Taidoka do what they do. I don’t have to wear my dogi to do Taido, and neither do you. It doesn’t matter who wins the tournaments – just ask the guys that win, and they’ll tell you. It doesn’t matter who practices where or for how long. The important part of Taido is how you apply Taido to what you do.
How much Taido have you done today? Did you rock as hard as you could, or did you just sing some karaoke and call it quits?
Shukumine wrote that a martial art should be judged by those who practice it. In Creative Intelligence and Self-Liberation, Ted Falconar writes that “the measure of a company’s worth is based on the collective motivation, brains, skill, and creativity of its employees.” The same could be said for the worth of a martial art. I believe that Taido is what is done by Taidoka, and our art will be judged on who we are and what we do.
If Taido is going to rock, we Taidoka need to spend more time rocking than we do talking, and when we do talk, we need to be talking about ways to rock harder.
Those posts really lay the groundwork for what’s to follow, so please read them to make sure that we’re all on the same page. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
A lot of Taido students and teachers are insane. At least by Einstein’s definition. I’ve often quoted his remark that
doing the same thing twice and expecting different results is definition of insanity.
I think that applies very well to our situation.
The stretching routine most Taido dojo use has been in service for a very long time. It has been taught in Japanese elementary schools for at least fifty years. The thing I notice is that very few Japanese schoolchildren have the kinds of physical abilities I aspire to. Neither do most Taido students.
If I want different results than what most people are getting, I can’t use the same methods they use. To do so would be insane. Many of us have been stretching this way for many years, and we haven’t gotten any more flexible lately.
I wrote that people who have been doing Taido for several years and don’t have fantastic flexibility are ridiculous. Let me be extremely clear about one thing: I include myself in that description.
You see, I recently came to the realization that I am less flexible right now than have been in my entire life. After 25 years of Taido practice, my physical freedom of movement is at its worst, and I’m not happy about it. In fact, it’s embarrassing and makes me feel like a hypocrite in front of my students.
For about a month, I tried to stretch more and stretch harder, but it just didn’t really make much of a difference. I took Einstein to heart and decided to look for a better method.
The Better Method
Actually, I didn’t have to look far. In fact, I’ve been recommending such a method on Taido/Blog for some time. It’s called Elastic Steel, which is a really cheesy name, but it worked really well for me in the past.
I mentioned before two problems with the standard stretching routine. Let me also throw out a third idea. Our usual stretching works on the principle of stretching the hell out of the body’s larger muscles. But what is the large muscles aren’t the problem?
The Central Nervous System allows stronger muscles to release more efficiently than smaller, weaker muscles. What if the thing keeping us stiff is weakness and imbalance in these smaller muscles? If that were the case, we’d get the best results from strengthening these muscles as well as stretching.
Elastic Steel is the best system I have seen for combining strength exercises with stretching in a logical manner that addresses the flexibility needs of martial artists. It was created by a dude named Paul Zaichik, who has some fantastic kicking skills himself. His videos on YouTube clearly demonstrate that he’s the real deal.
I found out about Elastic Steel when I was training in Yokohama a few years ago, and my flexibility and mobility began to improve rapidly. But then I got injured, and then I moved, and then…
Oh, yeah. You don’t want excuses any more than I do. Suffice it to say, I lost that flexibility, and now I plan to get it back.
I’m going to do the Elastic Steel course again. This will probably come as no surprise. Still, after reading this far, you may be asking what all this has to do with you.
I’ll tell you.
What All This Has To Do With You
I want you to do this with me. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to go out and buy Elastic Steel (you should buy it, but that’s not really the point here). Instead, I made this video of how I’m applying some of the principles and techniques in the course.
Of course, it wouldn’t be right for me to give away the entire course for free. I left out the “extended length conditioning” and a few advanced protocols. However, this is a good routine that any Taido student can integrate into their weekly routine and begin to see results.
I challenge you to warm up and do this routine (or something similar) three times a week for 20 minutes. Do this for a month and see how you feel.
I’ll be the excuses are already starting to form in your mind: “I’m already flexible enough.” “I don’t need to stretch all that much.” “I can just do a little more of what I’m already doing.” “I don’t need speed or power.”
Let go of that kind of thinking. It’s not making you more flexible, and it’s not making your Taido any better. Remember Einstein, and try changing your methods up for a month. If you don’t like the results, you can always switch back.
Fitting It In
Of course, it won’t be easy. You’ll have to find some way to fit all that extra stretching in.
You can try to work it into your practices. Show up early and do the light stretches before training. Then do the deep stretches later. Better yet, talk to your instructor about doing a one-month trial of some different stretching methods.
Or you can stretch at home on your off nights.
How you get it in isn’t my problem. I’m making this challenge, and I will judge you based on your results.
I’m trying to do the light stretches every morning (most mornings, anyway) and the full routine on my free afternoons. You can do whatever works for you. We’ll have to make a real commitment to see real improvement in our abilities.
I personally promise that you will see results from this program. I’m so certain that I’m offering a double money-back guarantee. Just return the unused portion of product, and… Seriously, just try it.
What have you got to lose? Excuses.
Let’s Get Going
There is no reason not to try this. There are excuses, but no reasons.
Honestly, what you’re doing now probably isn’t working for you. It probably stopped working years ago. When was the last time you noticed an increase in your flexibility or mobility? If it wasn’t recent, you need to take a hard look at your routine.
In the end, it just comes down to your choice. I can’t make you do this is you don’t want to. Just remember that, if you decide to keep doing the same things you’ve always done, you’re making Einstein cry. Whether or not you can live with that is up to you.
I’m always reading and learning. I follow about 80 blogs on a daily basis, and a lot of those deal with topics relating to martial arts. Recently, I got the idea that I should share some of the better posts I find with Taido/Blog readers.