Friday, May 22, 2009


Hi there!

Well, I just realized I tried too many new things this week, which may have resulted in an overall failure. But, I won't fail to bring you something, so my apologies.
I got a new camera. I was very very excited because it has audio capabilities. But, I failed to configure the sound in a way so you can actually hear what I'm saying. Then, after dealing with the technical difficulties, and running out of recording time, I watched the videos and immediately heard my teacher's criticism in my head: KATAI! You're too stiff--relax!
So, bear with me this week and I'll try to figure it out by next time.
Also, this is my first time teaching katsugi okedo in any form. So, please please ask questions if something's not clear. Alright, here goes...
Focus: Form, Speed
Watch For:
1. When you strike with the right hand, initiate from the elbow. When you strike with the left, initiate from the wrist.
2. Keep your weight a bit forward; I think of it as 65-70% forward.

Okay, let's start first with how to place your feet. Your heels should be in line with one another, right foot points forward and left angles outward. Mine are about 4 inches apart from one another.

The drum is going to rest on your left thigh. You'll notice in the photo below that the center of the drum lines up with my belly button and the drum is angled up only just enough so I can barely see the head by looking directly down.

The grip for each hand is completely different. The right hand is nearly like making a fist and sticking the bachi right in the middle. For the left hand, the bachi sits between the middle and ring fingers. Your actual grip is between the pointer finger and the thumb (further illustrated in the video).

Here's an example of ready position. The left bachi rests with its tip at the center of the drum, while the right is just next to it. Each stick is angled in toward the head of the drum, not parallel to it. Note that the left elbow stays tucked in to the body somewhat, while the right arm is rounded, out to the side.

Now, let's hit the drum! Think of it this way: right hand is rounded, left hand is linear. What I mean is that the right arm swoops around away from the body before striking, and the left arm moves in line with the drum in an upward motion, coming down with a relaxed wrist.

And, finally, today's drill. This drill is meant to help you increase speed when striking the drum. If you think about it, if you bring your arm slowly toward the drum your sound will be much weaker than if you strike quickly. By following a small hit with a big hit, you're forced to bring your arm quickly off the drum and back down in order to stay on tempo. This will help your body learn how to make big sounds on your katsugi drum.
Here's the pattern:

tsu don tsu don tsu don tsu don

You'll strike twice with the right, twice with the left, twice with the right, twice with the left, and repeat!

It's difficult to get a balance between the left and right hand with katsugi, so listen carefully to your sound and aim for evenness in volume, particularly with the louder hits.


If you've played katsugi before, then try alternating the basic pattern in this drill and really focus on keeping good form, while increasing the speed of the drill. (i.e., slightly increase your metronome pace daily)

tsu don tsu don
don tsu don tsu
tsu don tsu don
don tsu don tsu



  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Some comments/alternative ways to look at your technique...

    It looks like your right arm is slightly bent. This means you're using some muscle to keep it bent, albeit it ever so slight. You might want to try angling/wearing the okedo lower so that your arm can be straight but relaxed, and let the hand/wrist do most of the work.

    For larger motions, it really doesn't matter as much, but if you're playing ji (don tsuku, etc.) for a while, staying relaxed and using yoru hand/wrist alone can make it just a smidge easier.

    There's also two main schools of striking with the right hand: there's the "default", or like you would with a stationary taiko with the regular grip (along the V that your thumb and index finger make.) The other is the "doorknob" grip, which is simply turning your wrist towards the okedo without tilting the hand at all. I'll use whichever's convenient at the time, but it's good to see how they affect your sound and playing style.

    With the left hand, when playing the right head, if you purposefully point the bachi up before you bring it down to strike, you're doing what I warn people of in my Wrists workshop - you're making your wrist have to flick forward and adding to its job. If you go with a more relaxed strike, keeping the bachi pointed down then *whip* it to the head, it'll still go through that same motion, but you're not forcing it to do so; it's reacting to your speed and snap and not adding extra work for your hand.

    I'd be curious if any of those comments make things easier or harder for you!