History of Taido

The Taido | What is Taido | Taido Overview | History of Taido | Taido Philosophy | Taido as a Martial Art | The Five Teachings of Taido | From Karate to Taido | Taido Vocabulary | A Bird’s Eye View of Taido

Taido is a Japanese martial art created in 1965 by Seiken Shukumine (1925 – 2001). The word “Taido” can be translated as the way of the mind and body (or internal and external self).

Taido has its roots in traditional Okinawan Karate. Feeling that the martial arts particularly karate were not adapting to meet the needs of a changing world, Shukumine first developed a style of karate called Genseiryu around 1950.

Founding: Eventually, Shukumine became convinced that the limitations of karate lay in its two-dimensional nature. He considered how to adapt the martial arts to a three-dimensional world and introduced the new art as “Taido.” Taido’s techniques offered many innovations: the inclusion of spinning and twisting movements, gymnastic maneuvers, speedy and effective footwork, and a changing body angle.

Taido’s purpose was, and continues to be, the application of scientific methodology and traditional values to the evolution of the martial arts. The concepts that make Taido unique include three-dimensional movements, combination of defense and counter-attacks, application of scientific principles to body movement, outlined methods of creating new techniques, and emphasis on the practitioner’s relationship with society.

Towards the end of World War II, Seiken Shukumine Saiko Shihan (supreme instructor ) of the Gensei school, received secret orders to carry out a special forces style attack on an enemy ship off the coast of Okinawa. He thought long and hard about the most effective means of attack. The answer he came up with was based upon the gymnastic principles of turning, moving, changing, twisting and rolling. In this way he invented a technique which could be adapted to spatial movement in three dimensions.

Shukumine worked on these techniques of moving ( Ungi ), changing ( Hengi ), and tumbling ( Tengi ) first, in the mountains of Meiji Village in the Minami Kaifu Country area of Oita Prefecture….

…. and later on an uninhabited island belonging to Kunigami Nakushi village in Okinawa Prefecture….

He gave the first public demonstration of these techniques in Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture.

For the next ten years, while constructing and experimenting at more than 120 dojos around the Tokyo area – places such as universities, the Defence Forces, and corporate groups. Shukumine formulated the basic principles necessary to establish a new martial art.

With the final integration of the spiralling ( Sengi ) and twisting ( Nengi ) techniques, the new martial art was complete. Shukumine named it Taido – the way of the Body and the Mind.

By way of scientific elucidation of the five practical techniques of Taido, Shukumine formulated a fundamental theory based on the interdependent relationship between human existence, the structure of society, our attitude towards the universe, the self-evident “truth” which is the underpinning of every martial art, and the concept of perfect form.

The various elements of Doko ( principles of physical control ), Seigyo ( principles of combat ), Taiki ( principles of breathing ), Hokei ( body, form, mystery ) and Keiraku ( harmonisation of yin and yang ), and the different aspects of physiology, psychology and emotion were all brought together in the unified theory of Taido.

It has been said that in 1969 when film footage of Neil Armstrong in space and on the moon was sent back to earth and into people’s homes across the globe, Shukimine was watching. He saw, as did many, that gravity had almost no effect on Armstrong, that there was little resistance to his twisting and turning. Armstrong could change the axis of his body with ease. This gave Shukimine much inspiration and reinforced his beliefs in what he was trying to achieve with Taido, especially in the way of changing one’s body axis at any time and in any situation.

Since then, Taido has won many new enthusiasts and is currently practised in 12 foreign countries, including European countries, the United States and Australia. The first martial art to explore the possibilities of attack and defence by adjusting the body axis, Taido promises to evolve and develop to meet the challenge of the 21st century.

Five Principles of Taido:

  • Keep your mind as clear and calm as the polished surface of a mirror. This way you will see to the heart of things. Having the right state of mind will help you avoid confusion.
  • Be composed. Body and mind should be as one. Bear yourself correctly and you need never fear insult.
  • Invigorate your spirit from the source of energy deep in your abdomen. With the right spirit you will never fear combat.
  • In every action, follow the correct precepts you have been taught. By doing so you cannot act wrongly.
  • Be adaptable in your techniques and maintain freedom of physical movement. The right technique will prevent you from being dominated.

Five Types of Body Movements:

  • Sen – Vertical spinning movement
  • Un – Ascending and descending wave-like movement
  • Hen – Falling movement characterized by changing the body’s axis
  • Nen – Horizontal spinning movement
  • Ten – Rolling and tumbling movement

These movements are combined with punches, kicks, and other techniques. The last category, Ten, includes acrobatic movements, for instance back-flips, which makes Taido spectacular to watch. Taido has a special kind of foot-work, which is called unsoku, as well as non-stepping (acrobatic) locomotion, called unshin.