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September 4, 2010 8:57 PM   Subscribe

Badass Japanese Precision Walking Competition. Craziness starts at 1:45, and just gets better from there on.
posted by lazaruslong (69 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm afraid you're mistaken. The craziness starts at 0:00.
posted by ixohoxi at 9:08 PM on September 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Saw this yesterday on reddit. Maybe it's because I went to school at Texas A&M, but I didn't find it to be all that impressive. It was ok, but... they're not even playing instruments.
posted by smcameron at 9:16 PM on September 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


1:45 and a while past made me break out in a huge smile, but I didn't have the stamina to enjoy the whole performance.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 9:16 PM on September 4, 2010


Very cool. But no tubas.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:16 PM on September 4, 2010


So this is a marching band without the instruments?
posted by thewittyname at 9:16 PM on September 4, 2010


I'm amused but will not be impressed until I see them form a proper line at the grocery store.
posted by thorny at 9:21 PM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see your Texas A&M, and I raise you Florida A&M Marching 100.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:25 PM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm watching this with Philip Glass and having a transcendent experience.
posted by Dmenet at 9:31 PM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brings Magritte to my mind.
posted by clockzero at 9:32 PM on September 4, 2010


I'd be more impressed with a Japanese-Precision-Walking-In-A-Straight-Line-While-Watching-Where-You're-Going-And-Not-Walking-Into-Me-Competition or Japanese-Precision-It's-Common-Sense-Not-To-Read-A-Book-Play-DS-While-Walking-Through-Shinjuku-At-Rush-Hour-Competition.

I'll save being amazed / relieved for when these guys are doing this while watching TV on their phones, or on the street instead of in a gym.
posted by tbonicus at 9:38 PM on September 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe somebody who knows Japan pretty well can come in and answer but this seems really martial. As in precision walking = precision marching. Is this something that transitioned from the military to a civilian activity after WWII?
posted by thecjm at 9:43 PM on September 4, 2010


Squad! Camp it ... up!
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:43 PM on September 4, 2010


Impressive. Too bad they were marked down by the guest judge, an alumnus of the Ministry of Silly Walks.
posted by Dr. Zira at 9:44 PM on September 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


After spending most of my youth playing video games on my NES, I feel kind of emotionally confused knowing that the Japanese have raised their game in "ways to waste massive amounts of time accomplishing absolutely nothing of benefit to anyone."
But yeah, what tbonicus said: I'd be more impressed with a video of people actually being polite and apologizing after getting in someone's way or running into them because they REALLY NEED TO CATCH THEM ALL while crossing the street.
posted by GoingToShopping at 9:46 PM on September 4, 2010


Again, I think the craziness of the citizens of a country, today, is directly proportional to its involvement in the Great War (WWII).
posted by hal_c_on at 9:46 PM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was cool and all, but all I could think about was how badly I wanted them to bust out into a spinning swastika.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:48 PM on September 4, 2010


Kidding aside, is this choreographed or performed dynamically on the speaker's command?
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:49 PM on September 4, 2010


There were a few points at which the audience laughed at moments that didn't stand out to me. There must have been things that are expected in that kind of competition, but that this team altered, but without having seen this before it was kind of inexplicable.
posted by Forktine at 10:06 PM on September 4, 2010


The choreographer's rehearsed choreography is cued and signaled, with traffic control steered, adjusted, and regulated by the speakers numerous signals and commands.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:08 PM on September 4, 2010


I also came in here to say that the Texas A&M marching band stomps all over these guys. The arrogant and cultish fans in the stands A&M games need a good ass kicking, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:22 PM on September 4, 2010


Too much marching practice, not enough shooting practice.
posted by dibblda at 10:34 PM on September 4, 2010


What's the clicking noise when people clap?
posted by !Jim at 11:17 PM on September 4, 2010


Badass Japanese Precision Walking Competition
I understand what all those words mean, and I watched the video, yet I am still terribly, terribly confused.
posted by Gilbert at 11:23 PM on September 4, 2010


It would be cool if someone would combine precision walking with precision camerawork for once.

GET A TRIPOD, MORANS!
posted by Sys Rq at 11:25 PM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I second this question. What was that clicking sound?
posted by jaden at 11:53 PM on September 4, 2010


Japanese vuvuzela.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 PM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would love to be involved in something like this. You practice with precision inside a group. You're completely invisible unless you mess up. There must be a wonderful feeling of group cohesion when it all works out. Doing something well and doing it with people who are also good is a particularly joyous feeling. The fact that anyone can walk and learn to count their steps in this manner makes it all the more wonderful. Even people like me who are way to uncoordinated to play an instrument and walk, much less march in formation, can do this! Hell, I can see this being awesome with a group of people using wheelchairs or canes, even.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:03 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I watched the whole video but it never got to the part where they do the close order swanning about.
posted by chimaera at 12:20 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want to see them precisely mingling with the crowd at the afterparty.
posted by tmt at 12:41 AM on September 5, 2010


!Jim: "What's the clicking noise when people clap?"

Sounds like cameras. Possibly, people try to keep quiet during the performance, but when people are clapping, it's also ok to take pictures.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 12:45 AM on September 5, 2010


Looks like something that American K-12 students would profit from. Everyone here is bred to think they're so special and unique, when a really important part of who we are is part of a larger social entity. Activities like this help people to bond.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:04 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forget Texas A&M, and other universities. This is high school-level* marching band, minus the drum beats and flashy uniforms. Somewhat faster than we went, but decidedly simpler patterns, too.

* "high-shool-level"?
posted by IAmBroom at 1:10 AM on September 5, 2010


The laughing probably came from them doing things in a fairly over-serious manner that are very… middle-school? for lack of a better way to put it (these are college students performing here). Things like the way they sit down and the way they count the number of people in their rows, for example, remind people of being fourteen and are decidedly not things that adults do. Apparently these things are pretty common throughout Japan, though there seems, from what I've been able to find on YouTube, to be a tendency to be a little silly by being over the top. The silliness may, in fact, come from some sort of connection to the war, and a desire to sort of circumvent associations. It's hard to find a whole lot of information out there on these, though, because the word for it, 集団行動, is generally used to refer to a sociology phenomenon (group action) rather than these specific demonstrations, and these don't seem to particularly popular nationwide overall.

As for the clicking sounds, big crowd events in Japan tend to include noisemakers of some sort that people bring with them. Baseball games, for example, have these hollow hard plastic tubes that come in pairs, and people whack them together to make a sort of BLOONK noise. Could be something like that.
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:13 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


ASIMO tech demo.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:25 AM on September 5, 2010


Yeah, I still have very little idea what's going on here. Google Translate is never awesome with Japanese (well, it's as good as it can be, I guess) but beyond the title, which aptly enough seems to say "formation walking" or something like that, I don't get much.

One of the comments below the video in Japanese seems to say that the person saw this in their gymnasium as a student, and that DVDs of formation walking are used as a reference for children.

We Americans tend to have a pretty dull and obvious sense of irony, whereas others (the Italians, say) have refined it much more for their daily lives. However, there seem to be two opposite possibilities when it comes to Japanese irony, and it's difficult to choose one: they seem either to be so wrapped up in their sense of nobility and honor and correctness that they lack completely any sense of irony whatsoever – or else to have such a vast and profound ironic conception that it is beyond the ken of any other culture. And honestly, both of those options seem equally likely to me right now.
posted by koeselitz at 1:39 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh, the best comment there is:
デュシャンもびっくり!
... which is wittily hilarious even in bad Google translation.
posted by koeselitz at 1:47 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to laugh at you folks who think college marching bands are good examples of marching and maneuvering. For the best marching and playing units in the world, nothing comes close to world class drum and bugle corps. As proof, I submit to you highlights from the 2009 Drum Corps International World Championships.
posted by 300two8 at 2:40 AM on September 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pretty sure the trump card in this whole marching bands / drum corps / 'who's best at formations?' debate is the Arirang Mass Games, which are known for their uncanny creepiness but which still must be seen to be believed.
posted by koeselitz at 3:15 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's because I went to school at Texas A&M, but I didn't find it to be all that impressive.
I see your Texas A&M, and I raise you Florida A&M Marching 100.
Forget Texas A&M, and other universities. This is high school-level* marching band, minus the drum beats and flashy uniforms.
I submit to you highlights from the 2009 Drum Corps International World Championships.

Pssh, where's the backwards intersecting cross-over marching?
posted by Mike1024 at 3:36 AM on September 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


I want to know if this is something that was forced on students or voluntary. I am impressed with the precision and discipline involved but also terrified. Very military and dogmatic.
posted by Fizz at 4:32 AM on September 5, 2010


Yeah, North Korea and Japan have got a lot in common.
posted by dydecker at 4:34 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's the clicking noise when people clap?

I was wondering that too. I like the idea that everyone's sporting miniature, very rapidly clapping hands.
posted by lucidium at 4:46 AM on September 5, 2010


What's the clicking noise when people clap?

I think it's regular clapping, just a shitty recording.
posted by Mike1024 at 4:54 AM on September 5, 2010


What's the clicking noise when people clap?

If you look at the audience some of them seem to have some sort of rattle thing on the end of a stick they shake or hit against their palms. You can see it at about 2 and 4 mins
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:10 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Needs moar horses.
posted by drlith at 5:19 AM on September 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: I have no idea what "デュシャン" is, but apparently the commenter found it surprising?

...yeah, I tried entering "デュシャン" into Google. All I got were pages on Marcel Duchamp--マルセル・デュシャン. Maybe it's a sound effect. Or maybe it's a comparison between Duchamp's belief in intellectual interpretation and the absorbance of the superficially non-remarkable performance--"it's only walking, after all"--by the attending audience.

I doubt it, but that's probably more interesting than the actual explanation.
posted by KChasm at 5:29 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, North Korea and Japan have got a lot in common.

I'm not sure if you're being ironic or not. My concern is genuine though. It worries me when schools become militarized in this fashion. That's a lot of programmed thinking and walking.
posted by Fizz at 5:44 AM on September 5, 2010


. It worries me when schools become militarized in this fashion. That's a lot of programmed thinking and walking.

I'm being serious - i lived in Japan for a decade, and I've been to Korea, although South Korea not the North. It's a Confucius thing perhaps--people in North Asia just love joining a group that has a bunch of rules, and practising doing the same thing over and over again until its perfect. By rote learning. You see it with the mass games in North Korea, you see in the classrooms in Japan every day, you see it in Tai Chi in the park in China.

It's not surprising or controversial that countries so close together would share so much in common. Germany and the UK share basically everything fundamental in their culture in common too.

I also don't think there's anything particularly sinister about what they're doing--no more so than cheerleaders in the US. Like anything, By rote learning can be put to good use, like this video, or bad.
posted by dydecker at 6:26 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


give everyone ten foot spears, and you have state-of-the art 5th B.C. warfare, mediterranean style.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:33 AM on September 5, 2010


Anyone who studies Japanese culture learns early that conformity, in the sense of unity of thought, word and deed, is very highly valued and that group cohesion is paramount. But I never knew it could be so strikingly impressive. Like a well-executed battle.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 6:40 AM on September 5, 2010


My middle school P.E. teacher is screaming at them, "NO BLACK SOLED SHOES ON THE GYM FLOOR!!!1!!"
posted by RedEmma at 6:41 AM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's not surprising or controversial that countries so close together would share so much in common. Germany and the UK share basically everything fundamental in their culture in common too.

I also don't think there's anything particularly sinister about what they're doing--no more so than cheerleaders in the US. Like anything, By rote learning can be put to good use, like this video, or bad.


I grew up in a North American school system and so much of public school is about obeying rules and culturing children into adults who accept certain rules of society, so learning how to keep quiet, following rules, lining up, etc. That's not uncommon or surprising.

I personally always hated this growing up though. One reason why I love university, and while I recognize there are similar protocols and social conducts that operate in higher education, it's not nearly as rigid or formal as in elementary or junior high school.
posted by Fizz at 6:42 AM on September 5, 2010


Pssh, where's the backwards intersecting cross-over marching ?

I agree with you. Mike1024. Nothing I posted showed groups in ‘basic blocks’ marching backward diagonals and intersecting them. Blind drill moves like that are quite difficult and extraordinarily hard to do cleanly. My point in the earlier post was that while college marching bands might be impressive because their size or volume, their shows are not technically demanding in terms of music or drill. The main purpose of a college marching band is to provide entertainment for crowds at football games.

On the other hand, world class drum and bugle corps perform incredibly difficult shows that take literally thousands of hours to master. I don’t recall ever seeing a drum and bugle corps intersecting drill forms with backward diagonals, but they commonly march upwards of 200 beats per minute (forwards and backwards) while playing very demanding music. That’s not to take anything away from the Japanese drill team. They are very good at what they do, but they do not have to worry about playing musical instruments or handling various pieces of guard equipment. That’s a whole other level difficulty.
posted by 300two8 at 6:52 AM on September 5, 2010


This to me looked about as sinister as (and not all that different than) country line dancing. Just a lot more interesting.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:00 AM on September 5, 2010


FWIW, these kids are students of Japan Sports Science University (日本体育大学). I've done a bit of kendo there. They're pretty staunch. This formation marching is part of their curriculum and a long-standing tradition of the school (well before WW2). I believe they call it 'essassa' (えっさっさ), --I'm not exactly sure what this means.

This OP link is a more informal performance. Those of you who got a funny feeling in your sphincter about the whole militarism thing might be interested in watching some of this. :)

Students are selected from different disciplines and different year levels to represent the university for this performance. Being selected is a big deal for them.
posted by CardinalRichelieuHandPuppet at 7:50 AM on September 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thanks for the info cardinalrichelieuhandpuppet.
posted by Fizz at 7:56 AM on September 5, 2010


!Jim: "What's the clicking noise when people clap?"

They've all got little plastic clapper things. You know, like the one your uncle gave you as a kid and your parents never forgave him for it.
posted by joshwa at 8:05 AM on September 5, 2010


So this is a marching band without the instruments?

That's what makes it good.
posted by cmoj at 8:44 AM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


KChasm: “koeselitz: I have no idea what "デュシャン" is, but apparently the commenter found it surprising? ...yeah, I tried entering "デュシャン" into Google. All I got were pages on Marcel Duchamp--マルセル・デュシャン. Maybe it's a sound effect. Or maybe it's a comparison between Duchamp's belief in intellectual interpretation and the absorbance of the superficially non-remarkable performance--"it's only walking, after all"--by the attending audience. I doubt it, but that's probably more interesting than the actual explanation.”

Er – I was using Google Translate, which doesn't appear to be half bad at translating Japanese, at least considering the obstacles I can imagine there are.

Google Translate says it just means "Duchamp Surprised!" Which I found witty in a strange way. Straight lines and figures and all that.
posted by koeselitz at 10:56 AM on September 5, 2010


their shows are not technically demanding in terms of music or drill.

So I'm guessing you've never been in a marching band.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:58 AM on September 5, 2010


koeselitz: Thoroughly my bad, then. I thought you were expressing confusion, what with the "bad Google translation" and stuff.

...The fact that I tend to meet with gibberish whenever I try plugging Japanese into their translator probably influenced this interpretation!
posted by KChasm at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


what i want to know is, how do they keep time without music, especially when they make sudden changes is the tempo of their steps? that's gotta take some serious serious practice.
posted by Makwa at 11:14 AM on September 5, 2010


I love how civilized the clappers are. Each person's clapper is no louder than the next person's, so you neatly avoid the problems of "I'm a bigger fan than you because I'm shouting louder than you" douchery.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:22 AM on September 5, 2010


So I'm guessing you've never been in a marching band.

You have guessed incorrectly. I have been involved in pageantry arts activity - first as a member of a marching band, then a member of drum and bugle corps; then as a marching band visual instructor for almost 30 years.
posted by 300two8 at 11:35 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want that much applause next time I put on a coat.
posted by pemberkins at 12:11 PM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


No disrespect to the defenders of the honor and tradition of marching bands, but while I found OP's video amusing and my mind was even blown at a couple of places (specially the backwards intersecting cross-over marching), marching bands bore the living shit out of me. Maybe it's because this Japanese thing is kind of minimalistic and unpretentious, while marching bands are over the top and kitschy.

Or maybe is because I watched the movie "Drumline", and those are 90 minutes I'm never getting back again.
posted by falameufilho at 6:44 PM on September 5, 2010


Huh. It's like drill team, only with suits instead of horses.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:24 PM on September 5, 2010


I used to be on a precision skating team, which was similar except with girls and flouncier costumes. I never made the connection with precision being drill team like, but the skates and abba compilation music probably helped with that.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:15 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


We need a z-snap emoticon for comments like 300tw8's.
posted by griphus at 4:18 PM on September 6, 2010


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