Aiki Improv

I love our dojo.  I hadn’t trained in months except for a few sporadic classes here and there, but I was able to train the other night and am so glad I did.  It was improv night.  I saw the post for it on the dojo’s Facebook page and had no idea what to expect.  Vince Sensei had Michael Lewis, the instructor with our local theater improv company, Empire Improv, in  to guest teach.  It was awesome.  We did skits and drills that they do, and, I must say, it was very aiki.   I won’t go into detail about all of the drills we did, but there were a couple underlying principles I picked up from the class:

  • Listening – In improv, it doesn’t usually do you any good to think about what you’re going to say in advance because the effectiveness of the dialogue depends on the energy of your stage partnerin the moment.  You have to be fully listening, with your ears and intuition, for what your partner brings and use that energy to continue the scene.  If you’re in your own head thinking about what to say before the moment arises, it won’t mesh well with what’s going on in the moment and the energy will be thrown off.  I naturally tried to think about what to say a couple times and it froze the energy big time.  It worked out better if I was open to what my partner was giving me.  So very Aikido.
  • Always be moving forward – With the drills last night, I learned that once the energy stops, the scene’s shot.  You have to have such an empty mind to do this effectively because any thinking slows you down, and if you don’t say your line with the right timing, the energy drops and the scene’s done for.  If you are going to freeze, it must be intentional for emphasis.  You always have to be moving the scene forward and, in a way, saying yes to whatever comes up, no matter what.  Drawing back at all, freezing, or resisting is penalized with blank stares and a horrible stutter as you stammer out your line.  I know this by experience from last night.  Any hesitation is detrimental.  Again, so very Aikido.
Improv Aikido.  Brilliant idea by Vince Sensei, for sure.  Another great thing about the class was that my good friends Dan Messisco and Geoff Yudien stopped by on their way to Boulder, Co for a seminar.  Their first time training in Reno and they got to experience the hilarity.  The art of improv is definitely worth taking a look into for both Aikido and life off the mat.


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