Taiko is very serious business!
Sushu and I went up to Emeryville (it's between Oakland and Berkley) for our first Taiko drumming lesson on Saturday.
The Emeryville Taiko Dojo is run like a martial arts dojo: it's VRY SRS BSNS. We take our shoes off, sit seiza, bow to the sensei, yell ONEGAI SHIMASU!, and so on. There are warm-up stretches and exercises. We have to do all these hand exercises and sit-ups and planks before we even pick up the bachi (drumsticks). That's right, sit-ups! For a drumming class! I think the idea is to have strong core muscles because the movements when playing the O-daiko (the biggest drums) are supposed to originate from the core muscles, much like throwing strong punches.
So, yeah, I pretty much felt right at home. It was so similar to Aikido that the fact that we were hitting drums rather than throwing people seemed like a minor, incidental difference.
One thing that threw me off was the fact that the greeting when entering the dojo is OHAYOU GOZAIMASU! and when leaving the dojo is OYASUMI NASAI! Which is a little weird because that means "good morning" and "good night". I don't think I'm going to get used to saying "Good night!" in the middle of the afternoon. Our sempai said that these are the traditional greetings in Japanese Taiko practice; I guess I'll take her word for it.