Synchronized precision walking as a sport

The videos show students at the Nippon Sport Science University demonstrating “shuudan koudou,” which translates as “collective action.”

If you don’t have time to watch the entire videos, go to 1.35 minutes in the top video to see two columns of students quick-march backwards through each other.

Despite everything, it’s an amazing world we live in.

Hat tip to

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2 Responses to “Synchronized precision walking as a sport”

  1. David Markham Says:

    Thanks Phil. I enjoyed watching and didn’t know about synchronized walking as a sport.


  2. Benjamin David Steele Says:

    It has all the excitement of a marching band. But without the music and football.

    In Keeping Together in Time, William H. McNeill calls it “muscular bonding”. There are many other examples of it such as military drills and there are related examples such as choral singing. Something similar might be the dance manias of the Middle Ages. Dancing used to play a larger role in Christianity. My great grandfather grew up in a Shaker village and they were famous for their synchronized dances. They made so much sound that their stomping could be heard miles away.

    It is a fascinating phenomenon and I’d connect it to the bicameral mind — notice how important the voice calling out is to this synchronized walking, similar to that of marching armies. This is one way to explain why the early Bronze Age civilizations could accomplish great tasks (e.g., building pyramids) with little hierarchy or infrastructure, no standing armies or police forces, no written laws or legal system, etc. They surely had methods to create collective mentalities for collective action.

    Julian Jaynes makes an interesting point. Schizophrenics often are near tireless in their activity. He speculates this has to do with weak egoic boundaries in that maintaining Jaynesian consciousness require immense energy, leaving the modern person in a near constant state of fatigue, maybe why we require mindless entertainment such as tv in order to seek rest. The higher energy and stamina of the bicameral mind could be why they were able to do such amazing physical feats as seen with their building projects that today would require our most powerful cranes.

    This might be the more normal state of humanity. We long to lose ourselves in the group. This is what makes authoritarianism continually re-appear, no matter how often it leads to horrific ends. Authoritarianism, according to Jaynes, is what we get with the suppression of the bicameral mind. Collective mindsets no longer come naturally to us and so they have to be enforced through violence or else drilled into us through training.

    This is why modern people require so much more education and indoctrination to become good members of society, something that would have come naturally to ancient humans. The once ecstatic nature of group identity and activity has become tightly controlled in the modern world. But it occasionally breaks out in the form of carnival-like protests and sometimes revolutions.

    This collective origin of the human mind could extend into other features of our nature. Music doesn’t only involve dancing. Many traditional societies have or had musical languages, along with whistle languages and hum languages. A few also had drum languages. Some have theorized that music is the origin of language or that they co-arose as musical-language.


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