Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Contact Improvisation

In response to Cat's amazing post on dance and martial arts; movement and contact improvisation I'd like to share a video:

It's slow motion kendo illustrating how two bodies can interact with timing and power in relation to an opponent's body movement (intended and actual).

The music is beautiful but not the main feature I was 'struck' with here. Even though these men (this is the men's final) are a metre or more apart they feel each other's energy and movement impeccably. Check out Koiso's 'men' strike against Inage: like a wave rising up, feeling Inage not taking the bait and continuing on to 'men'.

Uchimura's kote on Teramoto is also sublime. Here he feels the air with his shinai, tempting Teramoto to raise which he does for a men strike. Uchimura then closes distance fast for kote.

I was taught in both kendo and Western Fencing to touch blades with your opponent in order to feel the energy, or indeed to fool your adversary into striking or parrying in a particular way. These guys seem to have extended that out and are doing a similar thing without even touching blades. They're simply using the air around the blades! This interaction is much more subtle than sticky hands but I think just as relevant as a form of 'contact improvisation' where two energies interact and work around each other.

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