Wadaiko Tateuchi Basics 3 – The DON

How to hit DON and KON (arm and hand coordination)

DON is the most important point in Wadaiko

Wadaiko begins with with DON and ends with DON.

All rhythm and techniques are linked from there.

It’s a very important point.


Firstly, the posture and the standing position.Then, the flexibility of the palm and the bachi manipulation.

Adding the taiko mechanics in the initial stage, can help to power up the motive power to the highest and add the leverage function of the arm, producing the vibration “DON!!”


We are going to explain how to hit the DON this time.


Depending of the instructor, the way of thinking and policy may differ, so if you fell like the explanation in this article is different of your instructor, please follow him/her.


The “taiko uchi” is characterized by hitting it in the best way, with power, flexibility, posture, speed and techniques, after researches and more researches.


How can we produce the ideal DON sound?


When hitting by power only, even making a big sound, the taiko doesn’t vibrate properly.


In baseball, to make a home-run it’s necessary to get the picture to hit the ball just in the adequate time with the center of the bat.


It’s the same for the taiko.


In order to make a good vibration an important point is to get the picture to hit the taiko with the center of the bachi, in the accurate place, just in the adequate time.


For that,


1. The basic posture form

After getting a good posture,

getting able to produce the highest kinetic energy with the minimum force in the bachi.

2. The bachi manipulation

is important.


And the usage of the body for doing a full swing.

Let’s make the bachi trajectory steady even when the whole body is moving.


For that, is important to understand the target ideal sound and the center.

Without the goal, it’s very difficult to achieve the destination.


The goal is the “DON!!”


At the beginning let’s try to hit the parts of the taiko and understand how differently their sounds are.


Even for the face (kawa), the sound varies depending of the location.


The picture is colored in the face (kawa). (As a reference only)

The dark red part 

is the center of the face(kawa) of the taiko and also the core of it.

Hitting here can produce a big DON sound with no extra overtunes and contact sounds.

It’s good to hit the core for making untiringly sound of a small sequence

or also for making a big DON!! as an accent of a composed rhytm.

In its surrounding, there’s the red part

The sound produced here is the most similar to the DON sound and it’s made by the sound of the taiko’s face(kawa) oscillation when hitting.

When it comes to the orange part, the sound gets confined and it becomes more to BAN BAN than DON, having a bit of noise mixed.

Often when the sound doesn’t echo very well is because the movement is losing the focus in the bachi trajectory and it’s hitting that orange part of the taiko.

The white part is near the edge and the vibration is almost null, making the sound PEN PEN.

It’s used when making extremely small sounds.

White→OrangeRedDeep red

That’s the crescent order from a small sound to the loudest one.

It’s also used as an expression or effect of something that is very far away is getting closer little by little.

It can be used as a special rendition like below

Hit while sticking the bachi to the taiko, making a sound like a bell.

Hit strongly with one bachi, while sticking the other one to the taiko, making a sound like SUBIBIBI. That’s used as a sound effect for lightning.

The trick for the DON is

avoid the orange and the white area

and put the red and deep red area in target.

The first goal is the 100% Home-run hit rate.

After being able to hit 10 times consecutively in the deep red area, it may be good to challenge to hit the other parts and expand the sound variety.

The center of the taiko Hit a specific area

After having your goal,

the next is the bachi trajectory.

例えばFor example,

going to Shinagawa Sta. in Tokyo

using the Yamanote Line

it doesn’t matter if you use the inner track or the outer track

It’ll arrive your destination.


That’s the same for arriving to the destination of the center of the taiko.






Hassou(Inner track) Gyaku Hassou (Outer track)

In order to get to the destination anytime you want,

it’s necessary that both bachi and arm are consistent

in the direction and the goal.


For example, for the goal to achieve a certain destination

there’s a driver, a conductor and a passenger

if all of them have a different goal, it’s very difficult to accomplish it.


The passenger wants to go to Shinagawa, but he ends up going to Tamachi, Tokyo, Shinjuku… or even far away like Tabata.


The role is like below.

The Japanese trains are very certain in the time

and they won’t delay unless there’s

a trouble caused by the passengers

and will arrive the destination with safety.


Here we are going to explain the positions of the elbow, arm and bachi, using the train as reference.

Arm: The driver

Speed and dynamic

Elbow: The conductor

Support for the driver

The arm gives the order for the dynamic, speed and momentum, which has a support from the elbow, deciding the direction.

The fist is going to carry the bachi, which are the passengers, to the destination, but in order to make them feel comfortable, it’s important not to give so much pressure by filling it in the congestion.

The point is not gripping it so strongly and maintain relax while gripping it.


②The Bachi Manipulation

For arriving the destination

the passenger(bachi) can’t be selfish.


In order to not let the bachi get selfish and take a action by itself, the arm, the elbow and the fist have to coordinate and control it all together.

Fist: :The train, going to carry the passengers safety and comfortably.
Bachi: The passengers

They are being led by the driver

The direction should be consistent to the center of the taiko.

Direction of the elbow

A lot of people have their elbows going sideways,

so when they hit the taiko, the elbow is horizontal positioned to the face of taiko.

We need to correct it to the direction which it’s advancing forward.


Direction of the fist

How is the direction for the fist, after all?

Hand tendon◎ Back of hand Palm


We have now the goal and the route.

So next is the speed and the work.


How fast and productive can we achieve the goal?

And how much work can we produce?


I’ve said it previously here, but

in order to make a lot of work at once

is important to move the arm from the shoulder joint.


A train with six rolling stocks can carry the passengers with more productivity than a train with only one.


Using just the tip of the hand can’t produce so much power,

like hitting from the arm joint in the shoulder, which will make a big energy and work.

And the speed。


The thing with most important in the kinetic energy is the speed.


It’s just a simple calculation from the high school physics, but

when the speed get double, the kinetic energy doesn’t get the double, but the square.

A train at 50km/h

and a bullet train at 200 km/h

have a difference of kinetic energy by 16 times.

Comparing a speed of 10 km/h and 100 km/h

the kinetic energy is 100 times bigger.

In order to produce the speed effectively,

the key is in the flexibility movement in the bachi manipulation.


And the sound also varies from the mass of the object.

That’s why is important choosing wisely your bachi.


For the adequate movement we use the law of the lever and the law of inertia.

①Rising the arm

Triceps (back of the upper arm)

The elbow should be faced to the taiko’s face.

 ②Bachi rotation(Detailed at “Bachi manipulation” article)

③Holding it firmly Movement = Sound

・from 15 to 20 cm to the taiko’s face.

・the bachi inclination is 45 degrees.

・the wrist is straight. (hitting by the bone)

Both fists must have the same height


Bad example

so low

so high

Verifying in a slow-motion video may be the fastest way for understanding the position, until both fists get gathered.

Let’s try the left also

・Hitting alternately

The opposite fist is the standard.

DON is the first step of learning the Wadaiko.

It’s a simple instrument that can make sound just by hitting it,

but in the beginning is very difficult to control the sound properly.

BUT when you get able to do the correct DON!!!

it’ll just brush away the bad things and the worries.

You’ll surely feel very good.

Please give it a try. 😉


Japanese drum teaching material series,to be continues.coming soon!!

No1~NO4 wadaiko-trivia/

No5 wadaiko-tateuchi-basics-1-the-posture/

No6 wadaiko-tateuchi-basics-2-the-bachi-manipulation

No7 wadaiko-tateuchi-basics-3-the-don

No8~No10【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Posture

NO11~14 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Basics Rhythms 


NO19~23【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Edge Hit short

NO24~31 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】BIG&small sound

NO32~34 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】rest

NO35~38 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】accent

NO39~43 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Combine rhythm

NO44~47 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Bouncing rhythm

NO48~53 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】 three beats

NO54~59 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】 three beats Edge Hit

NO60~63 【Wadaiko Tateuchi】Upside down procedure

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