Taido as a Martial Art

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 scientific martial art which has taken the essence of the traditional Japanese martial arts and transformed it into one which can meet the needs of a modern society. In both Japanese print and television media Taido has been recognised as a martial art having “philosophical depth” and “creativity”. It has been deemed as “the martial art of the 21st century”.

Dr. Seiken Shukumine, former Grand Master of the Japan Gensei school of karate, realised the shortcomings of the unscientific approach taken by other martial arts and decided to develop a new martial art that was both scientific and relevant in the context of the modern world.

For thirty years he underwent rigorous training and research in the theory of martial arts and based upon the results, in 1965 he created the three dimensional art which he called Taido.

Taido is not a martial art where punching or kicking techniques are executed along a one dimensional line. Rather Taido’s techniques are delivered by changing the body axis and balance.

It is also characterised by the use of elaborate footwork in changing the angle of attack and by the use of one’s entire body in the martial art.

Taido, moreover, is not simply a sport as many forms of karate have become, but alsoinvolves a special type of training which requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline in terms of spiritual concentration. The essence of Taido lies not in the techniques of the art itself but in the utilisation of the training acquired in Taido for the development and benefit of both self and society.

Taido’s techniques are designed with a dual purpose in mind. Not only are they used for one’s personal defence but they play an important role in keeping one’s internal organs healthy. Based upon the theories applied in the medical art of acupuncture, Taido has studied the effect of the angle of body movement upon the internal organs. This is realised, in part, through the Hokei, which are systemised routines of techniques and movements.

These improve the students’ offensive and defensive techniques while promoting the development of their health. Taido also encompasses, and emphasises strongly, the breathing techniques. This is indeed another unique aspect of Taido as compared to other martial arts.

Taido is based on five basic movements:

Sentai: SEN means “vertical rotation”, TAI means “the body”, and therefore SENTAI means “vertical rotation of the body”. SENTAI is a movement that is unique to Taido, other martial arts has vertical rotations as well, but none as well developed and efficient as Taido’s SENTAI. We use the movements in Taido to gain power in our techniques, SENTAI is one of the more powerful ones. There is a lot of technique in the SENTAI movement, I will not explain it further here. It is not possible to study Taido from a book, however, more technical information will be put into the practise guide for each grade as appropriate.

Untai: UN means “to move” and TAI means “the body”. UNTAI therefore means “to move the body”. When we try to describe UNTAI we think of the waves at the beach, as they hit the land with awesome power. An UNTAI movement is one where we use the body weight behind our technique, such as jumping kicks. Generally UNTAI techniques have up and down movements.

Hentai: HEN means “change of the body axis”, TAI means “the body”. HENTAI is also unique to Taido and, as with SENTAI, other martial arts have some techniques that remind us of HENTAI techniques, but they are not well developed. When visualising HENTAI we think of a see-saw movement or the movement of the clouds changing shape in the wind. In this category we can find some of the most powerful techniques in the whole world of martial arts, especially the very powerful “Hentai Ebi geri”.

Nentai: NEN means “horizontal rotation”, TAI means “the body”. When we think of NENTAI we visualise a very powerful water whirl, one that pulls down ships into the deep. In this category all sweeping and balance breaking techniques reside.

Tentai: TEN means “rolling”, TAI means “the body”. TENTAI is Taido’s gymnastic movements, where only your imagination sets the limits. We try to think of lightning when we think of TENTAI. Taido has proven that what many people think is only possible in film, actually works, if applied with timing, precision and speed.

With rigorous training we can efficiently combine gymnastic movements with kicks and punches to create attacking techniques but TENTAI can also work as a falling technique. However, the main purpose of TENTAI is to be able to move fast and accurate.

There are five different forms of competition in Taido:

Hokei: HOKEI is a pattern of movements and techniques, originally put together by theories of mental and physical health and as a practise for “free fight” without opponent. HOKEI is a very important part of Taido. HOKEI practise improves balance, power, and smoothness in techniques and is a very good physical and mental workout.

The first five HOKEI’s practised are based upon the five basic movements in Taido, Sen, Un, Hen, Nen and Ten. Later the HOKEI’s become more advanced in a sense that they concentrate on different initiative from the opponent and apply techniques to handle the situation. Taido also has breathing HOKEI’s, which are based upon the same principles as Tai Chi.

There are competitions in HOKEI, where two people perform their HOKEI at the same time and three judges decides who performed better.

Team Hokei: TEAM HOKEI is a form of competition where there are five people in a team doing the same Hokei, so that they all look like a mirror image of one another. The judges give points much like they do in figure skating and the team with highest point score wins.

Jissen: JISSEN is “free fight”. This is where we apply all our techniques against an opponent or opponents. The aim is to get an Ippon (full point), then you have won the match.

However, it is not very common that an Ippon is awarded by the judge with just one technique.
To get an Ippon from a single technique the technique has to be perfectly performed with full control, balance, precision and Kiai. It is far more common to be awarded a Wazaari (half point) or a Yoko (1/4 point), depending on the quality of the technique.

In JISSEN we need to have full control. Basically this means that if we perform any uncontrolled or dangerous techniques we will get a warning or disqualification depending on the level of the offence. We are not permitted to hit under the belt or on the spine. We do not compete in JISSEN to hurt each other, we compete to measure our skill against someone else and to build our confidence.

Team Jissen: TEAM JISSEN is simply a form of competition where a team of 3-5 people compete against another team of the same size. To win you need to win more matches than the other team.

Tenkai: TENKAI is the fanciest part of Taido and where Taido has won many admirers. This is a made up fight with one “hero” and five opponents. The TENKAI should be between 25-30 seconds, the “hero” should “eliminate” all five opponents in the last 5-8 seconds. The TENKAI is given points like they do in figure skating and the team with the most points win.