Mugen Taiko Do - the Way of Mugen Taiko
Mugen Taiko-Do is the method of Taiko taught at the Mugen Taiko Dojo, developed by Mugenkyo over decades of learning, performing, teaching & touring.
Neil & Miyuki, the founding members of Mugenkyo, trained with Masaaki Kurumaya Sensei in Fukui, Japan, in 1992-1994, and the Mugen Taiko-Do method is largely based on his teachings. Kurumaya Sensei is recognised as the top master of the Fukui style, and we were greatly honoroured not just to train with him in Japan, but also for him to live and tour with Mugenkyo for two years in 1997-1999.
Since then, Neil & Miyuki have trained extensively with many different taiko masters in Japan, including Watanabe Sensei of Amanojaku, Tsumura Sensei of the Miyake style, Katsuji Kondo, the former frontman of Kodo, and Inoue Ichiro, founder of Wadaiko Ichiro.
We have also gained much, not just learning from, but also touring professionally with: Hiroshi Motofuji - previously the main instructor with Oedo Sukeroku, touring twice with Hanayui & members of Kodo - Chieko Kojima, Mitsue Kinjo, Yoko Fujimoto and Masaru Tsuji, and with Tokara members Art Lee and Yukari Ichise.
At the same time, the Mugen Taiko Dojo has hosted a myriad of workshops by guest teachers such as Kensaku Satou, Kodo members Eichi Saito and Eri Uchida, Odaiko champion Tiffany Tamaribuchi, and more.
All of these experiences have enabled us to learn the technique & methods of many styles of playing, and have influenced the development of Mugen Taiko-Do.
A large formative influence however is our own experience of touring professionally. During Mugenkyo's busiest touring periods, we were performing 6x full-length (2 hour) concert shows per week, for 6-8 weeks at a time, several times a year. Over the years we have developed a way of playing which transmits the most energy with the least strain on the body physically by focussing on body mechanics, using gravity, KI energy, and control of breath. There is also an emphasis on developing stagecraft, musicality and professional presentation.
Our teaching method has been honed over years teaching generations of players to join Mugenkyo's professional tours, nurturing talent, developing technique and performance skill. Every touring member of Mugenkyo at the Mugen Taiko Dojo has been through the Mugen Taiko-Do system.
Wadaiko －和太鼓 －is the Japanese name for the art-form of taiko drumming, meaning "Japanese drums"
Dojo －道場 －literally means "The Place of the Way": it is a training place where the discipline of Taiko-Do is practiced.
Taiko-Do －太鼓道 －means "The Way of Taiko": the philosophy, the training of the heart and mind as well as the actual technique of how to play. This includes the rules of etiquette, the attitude and the way of thinking which underlies the etiquette. Taiko-Do is a physical and mental training, and should also be accompanied by personality improvement, and mental and spiritual growth.
The path of Taiko-Do needs focus, hard work & discipline over a long period of time. It is not simply a matter of learning the rhythms and technique. It takes time, patience and constant practice both inside the Dojo and in one's own time. It is equally, if not more important to learn about the mental and spiritual aspects of Taiko-Do to become a good Taiko player in the long run.
Mugen Taiko-Do－ 無限太鼓道 －is the method of Taiko taught at the Mugen Taiko Dojo, and is just one of many different methods of playing & teaching taiko. There are a myriad different styles of playing in Japan and around the world, both as a traditional folk art and a constantly developing modern performing art, which has resulted in many different techniques and methods - part of the wonderful diversity of taiko.
The central concepts of "Mugen Taiko-Do" are:
KI - 氣 －energy or life-force, which must be harnessed for powerful playing
MU - 無 －empty mind, which allows for the channelling of KI
KOKORO - 心 －heart or spirit, which includes attitude and way of thinking
HIBIKI - 響 －not only means reverberation, HIBIKI also refers to the interconnectedness of all things and all relationships, and how ideas and teachings influence from one to another, in a continuous ripple of cause and effect.
Our name - MUGENKYO － 無限響 － means "limitless reverberation" and encompasses some of these concepts. MU is the same character as "no mind", and when put together with GEN means limitless. KYO is the same character as HIBIKI, just with a different pronunciation.
In this way, the name MUGENKYO expresses our belief that Taiko has no limitations, no musical or geographical boundaries, and its heartbeat reverberates endlessly around the world.