Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Little Taiko Time

Off to Chatham this morning with my friends, students and colleagues from the Kaigan Dojo. We've been invited to put on a demonstration at the Shinto Martial Arts School at the university and  Bill Parr will be bringing his Taiko drums and drummers along as well to add a little extra Japanese ambiance and excitement to the occasion.

It's one of those strange things about Thanet, that the island figures prominently in unusual aspects of martial arts, Tae Kwan Do, being a fine example, as well as the Quarterdeck at Cliftonville where I studied Judo as a boy. I can recall many many years ago when Karate and even Kung Fu, with a strange chap named 'Baron Omidi' made an appearance hard on the heels of Bruce Lee's classic film, 'Enter the Dragon.'

Taiko drumming is an unusual thing to find in our part of the world but Bill, who lives in Westgate, has been busy trailblazing the art, with performances all over the country and it's very impressive too! He's been running local courses for anyone who might be interested and you can find his contact details at Kensei Taiko, here.

If I were to hazard a guess, I might suspect that Thanet, quite possibly, has more martial artists competing in national teams than equivalent parts of the country. For a time, the famous Kendo master, O.Fuji, Sensei (pictured)  lived in Ramsgate.

The challenge we find these days, lies in finding students from a new generation, able to find the time from their work or studies, accept the tougher training discipline and swap the instant gratification of the X-Box, for something a little more demanding than the couch and stay the course.

Thirty years ago and more, I remember believing that with a couple of grades completed and capable of 'doing the splits', that I knew it all. Today, in contrast, I realise that long experience only shows how much more there is to learn.

PS.. Having returned home, here are a couple of photos of the afternoon. Great to see so many kids turn-up in the cold to take part.


Anonymous said...

That's a trip down memory lane. Omidi had an unfortunate experience in Thanet when a young miner attending his first lesson asked if he could test the Baron to see what he would be getting for his money. One rear naked choke and five seconds later and Baron Omidi was in nod nod land. So the young miners all walked out.

Then there was a bogus black belt who did time for indecent assault and allegedly emrged to become a valued member of Thanet Sports Council and an associate of Kent Adventure Training corps adult leadership.

And the various con men based at Deal Marines Barracks (Ju Jitsu and Ninjutsu).

One of these wrote in Combat and Black Belt magazines (Article called "Commandokwai" was one such offering). His fellow magazine contributor waxed lyrical on "Iado".

Another one claimed to have been a Lancashire Catch wrestler (The English wrestling sport from which the Japanese learned so many of their ju jitsu techniques) but it may be that he was pals with a catch wrestler and embellished his own wrestling education in order to define himself a 5th Dan black belt in ju jitsu.

These ju jitsu types seem to be at the top of the pyramid for those parting with money to advance up the coloured belt pyramid sales system that is too often martial arts !!

Amazing Bruce Lee sort of gave rise to a host of instant experts in UK ?

Then MMA came along and now every town has an instructor in submission wrestling and Brazilian ju jitsu ?

Have a good demo Simon.

Anonymous said...

This is the guy who wrote about Iado now some retrospective questioning ?

When I looked into this history a bit I found that the founder of the style of ju jitsu I was doing was all part of the snake oil salesmanship of the 70s too.

His CV usual form. Taught ju jitsu by an unnamed master who was serving in US Rangers in the 60s. Refined his skills (with the questionable ex catch wrestler) and opened his first dojo within a year !! Now 7th Dan doobie dabbie jiggery whack. In fact hobble together a few judo throws and groundwork with some catch wrestling locks, groundwork and strangles. (I like the Wigan Grobbitt neck crank) Sling in some boxing and karate and some staff work and nunchaku and call it the didgeree doo school of ju jitsu. Pay here .. twenty quid grading fees and study for years with mat fees and licence fees and two gradings per year fees. Seminar fees. When a fellow aged 62 with 40% lungs can knock out the world championship masters silver medallist in one punch.

And every school says their Sensei is the real deal. He inherited the honcho boncho rights to teach from a lineage going back to the dobbeyame prefecture in the dibble dabble dynasty.

There's the get out clauses too. "Muscle memory isn't trained yet" (To explain why the sensei's top student has just been flattened by a guy who wandered in off the street)

"You needed more training till the moves are instinctive" (To explain why sensei's lead disciple of the 3rd Dan was just mugged by a street urchin.)

"You don't really begin to learn till you a 6th Dan" (To con you to keep paying for all those gradings on the way to 6th Dan Status whilst Sensei hopes you haven't noticed he was a 6th Dan after one year of training when he set up his first dojo)

"I became the personal student of Master Protchymothy of the Mappa Institute and after years of dedication was authorized to be the only man to teach the master's techniques in Europe"

Been there done that and parted with a little money. The young miner, who strangled Omidi unconscious and wasted no money, had a lot more sense than most of us.