Our taiko instructors said something that struck me, this weekend.
A few of the students had stayed after our annual Shinnenkai celebration, and we were encouraged to hit odaiko. Most of us have never had much practice in the style, some of us have close to no technical knowledge of it either.
At some point, our instructor said something that I can summarize as: "Technique is not important, you need to hit from the heart, to give everything."
I didn't answer. I let him teach what he was trying to teach at that moment. But my gut reaction was to think: "I disagree."
To me, technique is an enabler, for two very important reasons.
First, it allows you to push without hurting yourself. Hitting hard without proper technique is the surest and safest way to end up with an injury. And anyone who's played taiko for any length of time knows how frustrating injuries are and how long they take to heal. Take care of your body. Learn and apply the technique. (I'm not there yet.)
Second, proper technique allows you to expand less energy for the same result, and get better sound at the same time. Proper technique ensures you hit the right way, with the proper force, with the right angle, at the right spot on the drum. And then, when your technique is good enough, you get that snap and speed that allows you to get the sound you want - and to sustain it for a longer time. (Guess what? I'm not there yet!)
So, technique vs heart? I think you need both. Technique without heart is cold and mechanical. Heart without technique is dangerous and messy.
They go hand in hand, and they make each other shine.