Upright

Time for a taiko update!

Some of my classmates take video during class, and upon studying last week’s clips I noticed I was leaning forward while playing.

The desired body position is to keep your upper body upright, so I worked on this Tuesday. I felt tall and strong! Sensei seemed pleased, and a couple classmates commented on the improvement.

The problem with tweaking little things when you’re a beginner is you use up all your bandwidth on the thing you’re tweaking. I spent the class thinking about upper body and moving my arms from the shoulder. As I tired, bachi placement got sloppy, and toward the end of class I struck the end of my left ring finger, hard.

I’ve struck my hands and fingers before. It’s not fun.

This strike was REALLY not fun. It throbbed, and blood started oozing from the cuticle.

Swinging your arms when your finger is bleeding only leads to more bleeding, so I stopped playing for the night. In a way, it was good, because I got to hang out in the back and really focus on the patterns we were learning.

That night, I woke up to a throbbing swollen fingertip. In my sleepy state, I wondered if my finger would explode.

It’s a lot better today, just internally bloody looking. The top of the finger where I struck it is tender, but I’m able to grasp things with it now without too much discomfort.

I have a correction to make regarding the stance being like “shooting a puck” from my post a couple weeks back. Yes, there’s a weight shift, but it’s not nearly as pronounced as when shooting a puck. And, of course, you don’t lean your body into it.

Taiko

I have been remiss in updating you on all my activities.

With my Tuesdays free of hockey, I finally had a chance to start taking taiko lessons. Starting this February, I’ve been banging on drums for two hours every Tuesday night.

But it’s so much more. Taiko combines my love of rhythm, technique, athleticism, and teamwork.

Every week has been a learning experience. Every week I’ve seen improvement.

I literally have a list of things to work on and keep in mind when I drum. I realized I needed to write it down, so why not here? I did that for hockey, and I found it incredibly useful.

So here goes, my chu-daiko* to the left list:

Stance (it’s kind of like shooting a puck)
– legs wide
– get low
– shift weight to the right on the don upswing
– shift weight back to the left before don strike
– don’t lift up on the weight shift back to the left

Arms
– don is a hard hit, but it comes from the momentum of the weight shift
– the don upswing comes from the shoulders, not elbows or wrists
– raise the bachi in a smooth motion, don’t stab at the air
– bend elbows on the downswing
– imagine throwing the bachi at the drum head on the don
– even fast dokos don’t use the wrists
– wrists not too open, not too closed (still trying to get this right, no idea how to explain it here)
– don’t flail, every swing is controlled

General
– don’t bounce to keep time, even if you really like bouncing
– don’t lean forward when striking

I feel like I forgot some things, but I’ll remember on Tuesday. Now that I have a place to write this down, I’ll probably start posting more.

I also have a list of aches and pains and minor injuries. Remember when I started playing hockey and had the dumbest injuries from things like holding the stick? I have the dumbest injuries from swinging the bachi: tennis elbow, achy wrists, and blisters, blisters, blisters.

I trust I’ll have arms and hands of steel by the end of the year.

* Chu-daiko is the medium sized drum, and we’re currently learning how to play it primarily from the side.