never fight a clown...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

humility, humour & hope

In previous blogs I have made references to my 'Emptiness Compass.' Which utilises a set of coupled words to form my process driven approach to movement for actors. Over the past 20 years or so three other words have continued to take meaning and purpose in my process: humility, humour and hope. So much so I use them as a bi-line for my academy. 

Why do I use these words at Combat Circus? The words have always been in my verbal lexicon. But over these years the relationship between them and the order with which I use them has become clearer for me. They are designed in that order as a mantra of sorts.

Humility is a great platform from which to start any activity or class. The warm up can be a great place to defrag from the day. To empty the mind and see the people before you as equals. To warm up before the work in a place of peace and tranquillity. To drop the personal baggage at the door. To aid the process of seeing the work about to be presented to yourself from a lack of judgement. 

Humour is always a fantastic way to see oneself. The class content before the student is always designed to  be challenging. To challenge the sense of self and the physical abilities one thinks  they may have or abilities they didn’t know they had. To see ones failures in activities as gifts not obstacles. To give over to the process. To take oneself lightly. 

Hope is the natural progression then in this context. To grow from humility and humour and see that there is hope in the work and the greater world before oneself. Hope in the approach to the work. Hope in the ability to  push through any difficulties that one may have with the work. Hope that the work will engage in the greater journey for the student.

From hope we can pass onto humility again and thus the cycle begins again.

Thursday, June 7, 2018


In a previous blog (link) I made mention of the word 'Harmony' coupled with 'Empathy' in the context of my Emptiness Compass.

I'd like to extend my thinking a little more on what this word means for me and more importantly the how and why I promote it as way of guiding actors to a deeper understanding of self, others and environment.

The image of a butterfly moving against the wind comes to mind. The butterfly isn't fighting the breeze but yet is moving forward. Or a sail boat working in sync with the cross breeze and yet moving forward. The harnessing of energy for a greater good.

Aikido use the a great word - blending and sometimes; musubi - a form of unity. Great ways to conceptualise what is needed from a task at hand being explored when both Uke (attacker) and Nage (the one exploring the technique) need to harmonise to ensure the task will breed a successful application and understanding of a technique.

The Uke must attack with truth. It is the only way for Nage to truly get a grasp on what is to be explored. A careful act of listening on both parties especially the Nage who is utilising subtlety and responsiveness. The sensitivity required will allow Nage to responds according to any slight variations of the attack and thus be listening to the moment. 

This approach to training always struck me as a possible useful tool for actors to explore the physical world of their craft. I think harmony as a noun is a tricky way to visualise what I’m referring to. However when used as a verb; to harmonise. I think then it can be an action word and thus a stronger word for actors to enact in their work.

By generating exercises that promote
a collective focus both actors must work in harmony to get results. By generating exercises that facilitate a feeder and a receiver (Uke & Nage), it enlists an honesty and drives actors away from performing martial arts but rather asks of them to explore the truth of a technique and be present. Not to over play any one moment over another and to truly honour the value of a specific movement.

Put simply: to guide actors to focus on the other.