The new year brings renewed energy and resolve to get fit, lose weight, or adopt healthier behaviors. Your friends at Nen Daiko would like to share ways we warm up before taiko practice.
We chose three exercises that give you both a physical and mental workout and hope that practicing these will help you stretch your mind and body.
This is an excellent full body stretching exercise. Imagine you are holding two cups of shoyu (that would be very messy if you spill!). The goal is to keep the “cups” upright at all times.
Lead with both hands, lean forward, bring your hands out and overhead while leaning back and keeping your palms upright, and then start again.
You should feel a good stretch all over (arms, legs, back, etc.). If you master this one, you can try it from each side as well.
(Challenge: Try this with cups filled with actual shoyu or water!)
Miyake Taiko, formally called “Miyake-jima Kamitsuki Mikoshi Daiko” is a traditional style from Miyake Island. The piece involves a specific style of movement from side to side.
To prepare for this style of playing, we do this exercise - think of a side lunge and move from left to right keeping your head at the same level.
The lower you can go (so your thighs are parallel to the ground), the more your quadriceps will feel it! The slow movement takes eight beats to one side and back to center, so that two rounds of eight counts will take care of each side.
For the faster movement, each beat is one side, so that is 16 counts (8 on the right, 8 on the left).
We typically go around the circle and have each person count to eight twice first for the slow movement, and then for the fast movement. If all 15 people are at practice, we do this one for a while!
(Challenge: Try to keep your thighs parallel to the ground)
Opposing Arm Swings
This is always a fun exercise to watch because you can see the thinking.
One way to describe it is to imagine a clock in a diagonal position from each outstretched arm. If you do an arm circle first, this might make some sense. Both arms will first go clockwise and then counterclockwise, then back to clockwise, then back to counter-clockwise.
It is also helpful if you bend your knees when both arms reach the down position.
(Challenge: Use a metronome and work up to a faster speed)