Are You Good Enough to Teach?

Andrew posted about one of the classic sticky issues in the “martial arts industry”:

Random question: how important do you think it is for a teacher to be as good or better than his/her students when teaching them something? I don’t have any students per se, but I do try to help people out when I see them making the same mistakes I do. Sometimes I feel somewhat like a hypocrite telling someone to do something that I am not able to do myself.

On the flip side, I have a hard time taking instruction from someone who can’t do what they’re telling me to, or who does it really crappy (I’m not including older people of course). I am more than willing to concede that it is just my arrogance that produces this attitude and most of the time I try to glean whatever good advice is there to be had, but I honestly feel like I will always need someone better than me to instruct me. Now, this has not been a problem thus far since all the instructors I’ve had at Tech can rather effortlessly outdo me in pretty much anything they instruct me on – I like that, it keeps me humble and gives me something to work towards.

Let me ask the same thing a different way. How good do you have to be at doing taido in order to competently instruct it? Knowing the theory behind stuff is all good and needed, but theory did nothing for me last night trying to learn hangetsu ate – I didn’t really get it until I saw Bryan do it.

I know there’s no real measuring stick as to how “good” someone is at doing taido, but hopefully you get the idea of what I’m asking, even if I’m not expressing it as clearly as I would like.

I have reposted my reply as a comment below… – Andy.

How I Teach Beginners

“I’m a professional educator.” That’s what teachers say when they want to sound like experts.

I don’t know if I’m really an expert – there are a lot of variables involved depending on how you define the roles of teacher, instructor, and coach. I’ve played each role in a variety of academic and sports environments, and I’m always learning and refining my approach.

In this article, I’m going to give a brief outline of my current approach to teaching new adult students in Taido.

First Lesson with a New Student

A few days ago, a new student came to our dojo. She’s a relatively fit-looking 30-something with no martial arts experience.

The Diagnostic Warm-Up

The practice started off with the usual warm-up routine and went into some unsoku and basics. I stayed with the new girl and helped her as she followed along. I showed her the basic footwork for So, In, Ka, and Gen. Then I gave her pointers on trying the kihongi and broke down difficult moves into steps. Nothing out of the ordinary, but all this time, I was watching her movements, breathing, and facial expressions to evaluate her abilities and needs. All of this took about ten minutes.

Where To Begin

Now, I could have done a lot of different things at this point. Many instructors in Japan will start new students with unsoku. I think that’s a good way to confuse people. Most students already know how to walk, and they tend to think unsoku looks like walking in a pattern. Of course, we know that unsoku is special and important, but the first lesson is not the time to sell a student on that idea. First, we need to sell them on joining our class.

Kamae is another popular starting point. It’s very important, but really boring. Everyone will have plenty of time to practice kamae. We don’t need to drive it into the ground on the first night.

So what did I start with? Hokei.

I took senin as my basis to teach the her fundamentals of kamae and sengi. If she joins the class, she’ll be working on senin for a few months while she also learns unsoku and gets comfortable with kamae and the kihongi. Hokei includes all the basic elements of Taido training, and it has a flow to it that prevents boredom from repetition.

I know teaching a hokei may seem like an odd place to start for a new student, but I think it’s a really good way to let the student get an idea of what Taido practice entails. It also lets me test out their abilities in terms of physical skill and mental flexibility.

We can focus in on some details and leave others fuzzy. We can drill one or two parts or work the whole routine. We can work on fundamentals like balance, line, eye direction, kamae, and breathing. There are a lot of options.

Why Not Start From the Basics?

My teacher always started new students with punches from fudodachi. The idea was to master the most basic technique first. When I started teaching on my own, I found that everyone already thinks they know how to punch. People join martial arts classes to learn how to kick, so I started off with maegeri. Same basic principle. I still believe that teaching form the basics is important.

But I now use a different definition of “basic.”

What is “Basic”?

When most instructors talk about basics, they mean basic techniques – punches, straight kicks, stances. To me, the basics of martial art are fundamental to technique; they’re the principles and abilities on which good technique rests. Balance, body mechanics, posture, timing, spatial awareness. These are the true basics which students need to master in order to be effective and efficient.

You can teach these basics from almost any technical starting point, but you have to teach them. Many instructors seem to assume that students will learn these things magically if they just do enough repetitions of the techniques and hokei. However, a quick look at all but the few “talented” students reveals that this doesn’t happen. Indeed many black belts in Taido have terrible fundamentals; I know quite a few who can do bakuchu but can’t kick hard at all. I know even more who rotate on their heels in sentai.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming that I exemplify mastery of these fundamentals. In fact, one of the reasons I insist on teaching them explicitly is that my own teachers gave me very little practical instruction in them. Sure, sometimes they would say “watch your balance,” but they very rarely gave me any advice about how to develop that.

Most black belts find themselves telling students to “punch harder.” When was the last time you saw someone explaining precisely to a student how this is done?

Hokei is Basic

The thing about teaching basics that they require a lot of time to master and polish. If you begin by teaching straight punches, your students will get bored long before they begin to improve their body dynamics. Of course, you also lower the standard of performance and allow students to move on to the next technique without refining the first. This keeps students interested, but teaches them little more than mimicry.

Hokei includes all the fundamental qualities of martial art. It includes every aspect of Taido: kamae, unsoku, technique, breathing, line… It’s all in there.

It’s easy to tell students that we have five kinds of techniques and unsoku and unshin and etc., but that doesn’t make sense to people who haven’t already invested some time with Taido. I want new people to begin developing a feel for Taido ASAP. Hokei is the most efficient way to give that to new students.

How to Teach Hokei to Beginners

Here’s a run-down of how I approached teaching senin no hokei to the new student a few nights ago.

The Overview

First, we walked through the entire routine together a couple of times with me giving very little technical detail. I had already determined that she could imitate my movements without too much trouble. Her balance was good enough to do sentai without falling over. She wasn’t so out of shape that a hokei would challenge her endurance at walk-through pace.


She managed to keep up well enough, so we went to the next level. I showed her how to do gedan kamae properly from seiza. Only one side is necessary for the hokei, so that’s all we practiced. I corrected her hands and back foot position while she memorized the movement. After five or six times, we did the hokei again. This time, I pointed out every gedan and ejidachi and we corrected each one. I gave slightly more detail on the foot and hip position as we went along and continually reminded her about her back foot and pulled-back punch.

Then we did the same thing with chudan kamae. This time, we did both sides. I didn’t get too detailed about the positioning of the lower body. Instead, I focused on getting her hands in the right place. The hands are the most confusing for new students and also the easiest to fix. Everything from the waist down will take months to master, so I just let it go for now.


Walking through the hokei again, we corrected each kamae as we came to it. By this time, she was showing signs of starting to memorize the routine, so I stopped moving with her and switched to verbal instruction so I could watch her better. I looked mostly at her eye movements and places where she held her breath. Of course, I was also checking her overall movement, but she was starting to get the hang of it..

Course Correction

The mistake a lot of new students make on sentai is stepping the wrong direction – to the front side of the body instead of behind. I began to stand close to her while correcting her kamae, so when she stepped into the sengi, she had no choice but to step behind. She internalized that habit and didn’t make any more mistakes on that.

Ebigeri was the other big challenge. Like a lot of new students, she would try to kick with the front leg. I broke the movement down: turn, kick with the foot you are looking at, step back, and turn again. Since ebigeri isn’t the most important part of this hokei, I didn’t take it out of the routine. I just slowed her down a bit when it was time for the ebi. After a few tries, she got this too.

Adding Details

Finally, we came to technique. Up until this point, we were just stepping and spinning as we went through the hokei. I wanted her to work on a proper sentai, but doing too much sengi on the first night can be a good way to make sure students never come back. Sentai kills your thighs, and people don’t like being too sore to walk. I don’t want new students to think that Taido is too hard for them, so I avoid torching their muscles.

We had already gone through the routine several times, and I could tell that she wanted to make her sentai correct. We didn’t have a lot of time left, so I wasn’t worried about doing too many repetitions. I reviewed gendan (this time both sides) and chudan kamae again for a couple of minutes, and then we went on to senin nukite – the main technique of senin no hokei.

I broke down the steps with the front hand leading the eyes and step. From there, I connected the head turn with the second nukite. These two joined in the turn. Then the front hand again strikes to the front. Very simple, 1-2-3 explanation – it’s all that was required.

Bringing It All Together

In the last few minutes, we put those technical details back into the routine. I let her try to work from memory as much as possible and gave her reminders when she needed them. As she did the techniques, I continued to give her pointers and correct any mistakes.

By the end of an hour, a first-time student was doing a not-bad senin hokei with very little help from me. Not bad.

This last run through the hokei served to integrate all the details she had learned into a cohesive whole. What’s more, she could see how all the things she had practiced that night worked together in synergy. That synergy is Taido.

But What if She Forgets the Whole Thing?

I couldn’t care less if this student comes back in a couple of weeks and can’t remember the hokei. She will remember the habits I ingrained in her movement. She will learn the techniques and hokei again quickly and easily next time. She’ll be able to join in the warm-up and practice without feeling confused about why she’s doing what she’s doing. In short, she’ll be ready to learn Taido faster and better than if I had just made her do a hundred punches or kicks or lots of unsoku or kamae.

The Only Best Way

This method proved successful in this instance (and in others), but it might not be the best way to teach every student. The evaluation process is maybe the most important part of making this style of instruction work – if you don’t watch the student closely and tailor your feedback to their personal needs, they won’t get nearly as much out of it. It will be like telling to memorize some long routine they don’t understand.

Providing context is extremely important to making sure the students grasps the content. The content is the technique or routine being practice. In this case, the context is the basics – the fundamentals that make Taido work.

There’s no one best way to teach every student, but the most successful methods will focus on providing context to the individual movements from the first lesson.

How to Practice

there is an outlined method for practicing taido movements. i have also spent a good deal of time researching various training and practice methods as well as general educational theory. using the standard method as a framework, i have made additions and adjustments that i think are applicable to most skill acquisition scenarios we are likely to encounter in taido practice.

There is an outlined method for practicing Taido movements. I have also spent a good deal of time researching various training and practice methods as well as general educational theory. Using the standard method as a framework, I have made additions and adjustments that I think are applicable to most skill acquisition scenarios we are likely to encounter in Taido practice.

There are two sets of five steps we need to consider: one is for generally learning the movement and the other is for practicing it. The first process is applied consecutively through each stage of the second, giving us five levels of iteration of the same five-step process. We’ll discuss this process first because it’s the part most likely to be taken for granted or forgotten.

The 5 Steps

  1. See the movement
  2. Understand the general theory of the movement
  3. Attempt the movement with as little help as possible
  4. Gradually add more details and parts until you are performing the entire movement correctly
  5. Reintegrate the theory into the physical motion of the movement

By completing each of these steps, we can be sure to convey a thorough understanding of the movement.

See the Movement

Oddly enough, the first step is the most commonly omitted, though it is also the most obviously necessary. We have to know what is expected of us. Most people are extremely visually oriented in their perceptions of the world. We are used to understanding things through visual interactions with television. We have to see the movement before we can attempt to replicate it. It also helps if we can feel it. If we get the feeling of spinning before we even try to do sentai, we will understand what we need to do much more easily.

Think About It

After we have grasped what the movement looks and feels like, we can understand the general idea a lot more readily. Once we have experienced the movement, it is time to try and figure out what the movement is for and how to get started. We can do this by simply taking a moment or two to think about and discuss some very base-level concepts about what we need to do. That’s all it really takes, but if we can grok the concept of motion well enough at this point, we’ll be able to skip a few ego-damaging screw-ups that can prove discouraging with difficult movements.

Give It a Shot

Next is the part that i’ve been trying to get instructors to try for years: let the student try. If we adequately show and explain the movement (as in the two previous steps) most students will be able to learn faster if they actually just try it. This means don’t start learning sentai by turning the front foot or setting up the hands (because nobody actually executes a sentai this way). The best way to learn sentai is to start spinning. That’s what sentai is anyway. If we get the spin, we can add the other components, but what’s really tough is taking a sentai from five discrete steps and trying to speed it up and spin when the time comes. Every student should have a chance to try every movement with a minimum of coaching before they are bogged down with steps and details.

Work the Details

Once we feel the movement, we can move on to the part we are all comfortable with. We take the movement and break it into as many tiny parts as possible: easily digestible, bite-sized pieces that won’t tax the attention span. This is the time to take everything out of context and focus on the mechanics of the skill. First, we hit the major divisions, then add in the intermediate steps and details. If the movement has multiple parts, we work on them separately at first. Then we put them back together as a whole. This technique works especially well for children. However, if we rely solely on techniques for teaching children, we will have students who perform like children. At this step we must remember to repeatedly engage our students’ big, adult brains by having them place each new part back into the big picture and repeat step two – just try it. Steps two and three work in an iterative loop until the student is performing the proper mechanics.


Now that we’ve taken the student through all the bare-minimum steps to be able to do a fair skill, we’re done, right? Time to move on to the next technique. That may be what we’re used to doing, but it’s far from optimal. We have to finish. Americans never finish anything. If you doubt this, really think about it for a few minutes. Make a list of projects you thought about starting in the past month and then check off how many of them you have finished. You will probably abort this thought experiment before you reach a sound conclusion (therefore, you will not have finished it, which is the point I was attempting to demonstrate).

Before we’re ready to move up to the next level of practice, we have to reintegrate the theory into our understanding of the movement. Earlier, we thought about it to help get the feeling, but feeling is not enough. We must also know and understand. Psychologists call this closure, among other things. In business, it’s the follow-up call. In an argument, it’s the synthesis. The only discipline that isn’t aware how important it is to finish one thing before moving on to another is education.

And before you even say it, yes, I know that we never “finish” learning. But we have to complete one step before we can go on to the next. Try to remember reading some really dull book in school. If you are an american, anything early American Lit will do. After spending 2 weeks struggling through The Federalist Papers, you probably still didn’t have the slightest clue what the big deal about Hamilton was, or why he was so opposed to having competing currencies. Why? The concepts are simple, and the exposition is clear. The reason you couldn’t formulate a thesis is that you kept reading on before you understood the part you had just finished. When you read words you didn’t understand, you skipped over them instead of taking one minute to look them up. When you didn’t understand one sentence, you assumed it would be explained in the next. You didn’t finish.

It is important in Taido that we finish one aspect of learning a skill before we try to move it to the next level. A student who doesn’t understand how to initiate sentai by moving the hips and hands together is going to have a hell of a time trying to do sentai while moving out of unsoku. Let’s take this opportunity while we have it to reiterate the theory we discussed earlier. This time, we can add some detail, and the student will be able to understand even better now that he has a little more experience.

We have tools for teaching theory. Primarily, we can use the doko5kai. If we consistently combine theoretical study with physical practice, we will more readily see the similarities between movements. This will result in being able to learn advanced movements more easily. Sentai shajo is simple if we understand how sentai works and how hentai works. If we just know what sentai and shajo look like, putting them together will be a lot more difficult. Students who understand that sentai descends into the spin will readily connect that to the lever action of hentai. With this understanding, Taido makes sense.

So, that’s five steps. It’s really a pretty simple process, but if we don’t consciously apply it every time, we will fall into bad habits and our skills will suffer. We must get around to working through all five steps, every time, with every student. Then we can do them again at the next level.

5 Stages to Mastery

There are five stages to the practice of each movement. This is the system that my instructor used to take us through in kishi kai. Each movement has to go through each stage to be complete. What’s more, by taking a movements through each stage, we often come up with interesting new variations. In fact, it’s also the exact method for making new movements. The stages are –

  1. 1-dimensional practice
  2. 2-dimensional practice
  3. 3-dimensional practice
  4. 4-dimensional practice
  5. Synthesis/Mutation

1-d Practice

The first stage of practice is what Uchida called “point-practice.” For consistency, I will refer to it as one-dimensional practice. This includes practicing the movement in one place (from kamae) and focussing on form and posture. The major goals here are to develop accuracy, speed, and power, in that order. We go through each of the five steps outlined above until we can perform the movement satisfactorily from a static position. Unfortunately, we often stop here, and it’s common that many black belts have never taken but a few of their basic techniques beyond one-dimensional practice. For proof, ask any black belt to do unsoku happo in jodan kamae. Most of them cannot.

2-d Practice

The second stage is two-dimensional (also referred to as line) practice. This is where we begin to deploy the movement in various directions and from all three kamae. Variants such as ni no ashi, ushiro, and gyaku are included here as well. The practice goals mirror those of stage one: accuracy, then speed and power. Each variation should be practiced through the entire five step process described earlier if they are to be effective, but this can take as little as five minutes start-to-finish for movements we know well. For example, learning sentai enpi, sentai shutto, sentai gyaku joate, etc takes very little time so long as sentaizuki was practiced properly in the first place. Every movement has variations that should be practiced. Those who learn quickly can learn more variations.

3-d Practice

Stage three is three-dimensional. Now we move out of the static plane and begin executing movements in all six directions. This includes variations like tobi and tobikomi, but more-interestingly, we are now using unsoku and unshin. We still need to look at developing accuracy, speed, and power through the five steps, but we’re also trying to move around. At this point, becomes valuable to imagine an opponent at various ranges and positions, though it isn’t necessary that he move around too much yet. This is still not application practice; it is technical skill development. Students need to practice adjusting their skills for direction and distance. Otherwise, they will be mystified when their well-practiced techniques are consistently ineffective.

4-d Practice

Next is four-dimensional (x,y,z/time) practice, which is what real Taido actually looks like. Now we are executing movements directly out of unsoku and unshin as well as other movements, often against a real or imagined opponent. The key here is spontaneous transition between movements and the newly-included time dimension. Practice moving smoothly between movements and unsoku. The most common practice methods for this level of movement are jissen and kobo, but don’t neglect other types of practice. Combinations with unsoku/unshin can be practiced through all five steps with or without a partner. Again, let me reiterate: the transition is the critical element of this stage of practice – for now, just trust me on this one.


The final level of each movement is the synthesis or mutation into a complete, or even new skill. Very few students ever get any of their movements to this level. Even our best black belt competitors only have a few. This is the level at which the movement is effortlessly usable at any time and from any position. The motion will be natural because the student has fully grasped the theory and internalized the feeling of every motion connected with the movement. This is often referred to as mastery. We need to get all of our movements to this level. At this point, actual form practice is seldom necessary, and the movement often mutates into previously unexpected forms. This is how new movements evolve.

The key to remember is that each of the five levels or stages of practice goes through each of the five steps for learning movements. This reiterates and reintegrates physical practice, instructor feedback, and theory at each stage of practice.

In Use

This method is probably similar to the natural way Taido instructors teach their students when they think about it. The problem is that we don’t always give things the consideration our students deserve. Try incorporating this method on a conscious level in your teaching and training. Remembering to finish each step along the way to master of each skill will help you remain focussed and effective in your practice.

In the future, I will be making a big deal out of ways to teach that work better for students than the traditional martial arts methods. For now, just give this a shot, and then you will have a better feel for whether or not my later suggestions are worth your effort to try.

Kobo Drills for Jissen

In Japan, Kobo is not a practice method – they are a testing requirement. Nobody here practices kobo with the intention of improving their skills or building their technical base for jissen. Instead, most students spend a portion of the two or three practices preceding their exam to memorize the required kobo and perform it well enough to pass. What a waste.

Kobo means “offense and defense,” and it can be a good way to train attacking and defending in jissen. It can also be used as a kind of mental conditioning to rewire a few of the less productive habits some students tend to develop in jissen.

The posts linked below do not constitute a course in jissen. They are presented as tools for troubleshooting and improving various aspects of your jissen game. None of them are necessary, but all of them are useful.

The Drill Articles

So… Um, those are the drills

Well, not all of them, of course, but these are some of the more versatile ones. Even if you totally disagree with my logic (or my humor), please try these drills out and take from them what you can.

I would also love to hear about any drills you create or ideas you have. So please, enjoy and feel free to comment below.

The Bottom Line

Practice is specific, but life is unpredictable. Working a variety of drills with a variety of partners is the best way to adequately prepare yourself for the challenges you may face.

Is Taido Too Difficult To Be Popular?

In America, there are basically just two types of martial arts schools: big ones that make money and small ones that don’t. There are a lot of stereotypes regarding which extreme is better, but as with all flat generalizations, the reality is not so simple. In converse to the prevailing trend, there exist very large dojo that produce fantastic martial artists. There are also small clubs that accomplish very little.

My point is that the size of a dojo has little to do with its quality – whether in commercial martial arts schools or not-for-profit groups. The overall quality of a school and its students will always come down to the instructor.

Playing the Percentages

Every club wants to be successful, and every club defines success in a somewhat different fashion. Most instructors have an idea in their heads of an ideal number of students and level of achievement these students reach. Some instructors want to have a huge club. Some only want to teach a small number of dedicated students. Some instructors push their students to grade to higher and higher levels as often as possible. Others may leave it up to each individual.

No matter how many students we teach, a certain percentage will quit; a certain percentage will lack the motivation to rise above mediocrity; a certain percentage will become outwardly identifiable as great. If there were some objective measure of Taido greatness, I could probably show that student achievement follows some sort of bell curve.

Assuming this is true, only 20% of all Taido students would ever get “good.” The remaining 80% would either quit or just hang around indefinitely with no real improvement.

The law of averages suggests that our chances of reaching whatever numerical goals we set for ourselves increases directly proportionally to the number of students who join the class. In order to increase the number of great students, most instructors tend to assume that they need to teach more students. This assumption is based on the idea that the average percentage of students that have the capacity to become great is not going to change much. As a result, instructors focus on becoming popular in hopes of attracting those few great students.

To me, it makes more sense to work on altering the percentages.

Making Taido “Accessible”

In general, a reduction in standards for the purpose of inflating the perceived rate of achievement is called “dumbing down.” A major reason to dumb down your instruction and play up your numbers is economical. Assuming that certain special students will become great regardless of how poorly they are taught (these people are called naturals, and they are rare but not nonexistent), in a large enough sample, there will always be a few people in the dojo that really kick ass. This will inspire new folks to sign up in the hopes that they can reach the same level, but without quality instruction, it’s not going to happen. Some of these students will stick it out indefinitely, and others will quit, making way for new entries.

In a commercial setting, all of them pay. Having two hundred people pay tuition for one year is more lucrative than having 20 people pay tuition for ten years. The income derived from the initial sample is the same, but after a year, the larger dojo repeats the process. Working for numbers increases a dojo’s finances simply because more people are paying.

I believe that there should be no dumbing-down of Taido. Though Taido itself has the potential to be for everyone (e.g. popular), it won’t necessarily be the case that every dojo will suit every potential student. When I lived in Gunma, I traveled four hours each way to go to a dojo I liked. There are different ways to teach, and class atmosphere/personality is as much a factor for most students as the art they practice. Some people won’t be interested in the type of practice at a particular dojo, and some people may not be at an appropriate stage in their development to benefit from Taido.

How to Improve: Do Better

Doing good Taido is priority one for me. Since Taido is complicated and difficult, students will have to develop their capacities for complication and difficulty. As an instructor, I feel that it’s my responsibility to teach them how to do this. This doesn’t mean that I have to teach less Taido; it means that I have to teach Taido better.

There are advantages and disadvantages to growing a club. The advantage of larger numbers of students is… numerical. More students means more training partners and greater financial ability to provide a quality training environment. The disadvantages are logistical. It can be difficult to handle the administrivia with a large group of students, and there are times when students may not get enough individual attention. Especially in a situation where most students are beginners, it can be a real challenge for instructors to teach the basics accurately while also challenging the more-advanced students. This has been a challenge for me in the past when I was teaching almost solo.

We sometimes tend to think of smaller groups as having more “soul” and larger groups as sell-outs. Reversing the perspective, larger groups appear successful and smaller ones give the impression of being unprofessional, unreliable, and flaky. These are stereotypes that rest on long-standing traditions from a wide range of our experiences. They stem from heuristic polarities such as scarcity/abundance, quality/quantity, morality/popularity, etc. Most people learn from society that it is necessary to make a choice between their desires (thinking big) and their values (thinking right).

We can achieve both. I see no reason that a club cannot have a large enough number of students to benefit from the variety and strength that numbers afford, without losing the individual attention and quality we associate with smaller classes. As I mentioned above, it’s all a matter of percentages. Dumbing down results from assuming the percentage of students achieving greatness is fixed; We can realize the same output by increasing our success rate. In other words, we must change our percentages.

Doing so will always come back to this: we have to teach better. If we never change our methods – never grow or adapt – our success rate will remain constant, and the only way to ensure the success of more students will be to increase the total number of students. This also increases the number of failures, but you won’t see any dojo advertising that only 20 percent of their students ever moved beyond white belt.

Optimizing Taido Instruction

By teaching better and managing better, we can change these percentages. I don’t have the answers for this. We have to experiment within our own dojo to find the solutions that will work in our own situations. This is called “optimizing.” Every student and every dojo faces their own challenges, so no one cookie cutter curriculum or management style is going to work for all of them.

This is the challenge of a manager and instructor. By finding better ways to teach things that are complicated, we can make difficult concepts accessible to more students. Some students get certain aspects of Taido better than others. Georgia Tech is one of the best engineering schools in the world, so when I taught there, I never had to explain that unsoku controls the spacial relationship with the opponent. But scientifically-minded students have a hard time improvising, so we had to use a lot of games and drills to teach jissen.

By finding better ways to manage resources such as training time, space, equpment, and instructors, we can get the most benefit out of whatever numbers of students and instructors happen to be members of our clubs. Taido training has to include skill practice, physical development, and applied strategy, but no one class has to do everything. There’s no law that says everyone in a club has to be practicing the same things. We can cycle people through various types of training in ways that give everyone the best chance to improve.

The key is working towards what Bucky Fuller called “ephemeralization,” or doing more with less. The active agent of ephemeralization is synergy. From an organizational perspective, synergy manifests as collaboration; from a training perspective, it’s achieved by intelligent balancing (and cycling) of methods. Building a structure that supports these functions should be a continual project for Taido instructors.

Taido will always be hard, but it gets easier when it’s done correctly. The better we get at applying Taido to itself, the less we will find ourselves struggling with traditional debates like quality/quantity. Taido is all about oblique strategies to problem solving (hengi, anyone?). It’s going to take a little bit of mental-unsoku practice, but we can use our practice to discover solutions – it’s really only a matter of trying new things in the dojo and using what works.