A note on: The first Respites - a claimant's day off: February 29th 2016

Respites is a carefully curated series of day-long gatherings, exploring ideas and activities about rest, pleasure, contentedness, critical thinking and creativity. It is aimed at being a generative and respectful series of engagements with people who need and deserve more respite than they receive.  Each Respite sees a group of specially selected people share their expertise in workshops and breakout sessions, covering everything from meditation to martial arts, from poetry to music, aiming to create a cohesive and generous experience for those who attend. Respites was curated by Ayesha Nathoo, Lynne Friedli and myself, and was supported by, and part of, the Hubbub group, in residence at Wellcome Collection. www.theenemiesproject.com/respites

The first Respites brought together people claiming benefits for a day of exploration, creativity and solidarity at the Hub at Wellcome Collection, where myself, Ayesha Nathoo and Lynne Friedli met, all being residents and where Respites, as a concept, was conceived. We spent many months developing the project, really trying to maintain the open, pragmatic and inviting aesthetic we had agreed upon from the first, and the extraordinary expertise and intelligence of both Lynne and Ayesha made me absolutely confident that the day itself would be a success. 

The day itself was structured with a series of workshops which those attending could drop into at their leisure. A careful balance was given to the contents of each, and how they sat around each other, taking the group from relaxation techniques to martial arts, which I had the pleasure to lead, into poetry, theatre and finishing with meditation. There was a sure sense of community from everyone involved, most having never met each other before, and a firm sense that the indirect aims of the project, to support without generalising everyone with their circumstance, to provoke and engage, without ever being heavy handed, created an environment of kindness and generosity. 

In due time attendees expressed their insights and frustrations at the situation they experienced but this was part of the day and it's achievements. Rather this was expressed when it was good for them and everyone else to do so, and otherwise, we were just all people, getting to know each other, sharing a beautiful lunch, talking a whole day through with physical and intellectual ideas and pursuits. It was really a lovely, intimate, careful experience for me, one I savoured and felt very pleased to be a part of, to have begun new connections with people and to learnt much in a short space of time.

the Being Human festival in the Hub at the Wellcome collection

I had a great time this past tuesday afternoon, nov 18th, in the new Hub space at the Wellcome Trust. http://www.wellcomecollection.org/what-we-do/residents They were hosting a drop in station with seven different interactive stations as part of the Being Human festival http://beinghumanfestival.org/ and I was invited to have a place, called Martial States of Rest, that was essentially a discursive exercise in things I'm interested in that connect the martial arts, my art projects and neuroscience, exploring in this conversation with visitors, alongside a few small demonstrations. It connects with my residency in the Hub, on and off, for the two years of the project, with an intensive period of residence January 2015 to March 2015. After this few hours, I cannot wait to be in this remarkable space and project for much of time come 2015. It is an amazing place filled with equally amazing people. (the picture here shows me throwing a rear naked choke on Jamie Wilkes, which was fun)


The atmosphere of energy and generosity really permeated through the day, I had a wonderful time exchanging ideas with the public, the fellow Hub participants and the Wellcome staff, really grappling with ideas around active states of rest under physical duress, whether neural pathways and behaviors of rest are effected by genetic predisposition, habitual training or active mindful engagement. The conversations were extremely wide ranging and intense, and in the midst I tried to tie this into my life's training in the martial arts, using the technique of the choke to express ideas around psychological / physiological states of relaxation and resistance, and the use of active states of rest in daily life. A really lovely day and a wonderful precursor to much of the work I hope to engage in with the Hub and the Wellcome Trust, all the stations were fascinating, covering issues around sleep, employment, voice, language and more. 

performing for Syndrome : staying in Liverpool

I had the chance to spend a near week in Liverpool developing a new piece for Nathan Jones intensely ambitious, Syndrome project {http://www.mercyonline.co.uk/who-we-are/what-we-are-up-to/article/introducing-syndrome}. I got to stay in Toxteth, near where a fair bit of my family is from, though I've never lived there, walk into the city everyday, actually take time to develop the work for a performance, always with the knowledge it may very well grow into something bigger in the future. It's the 4th visit to Liverpool I've made in the last few years to work with Nathan, each time in a different venue with a different work for a different program - EVP, the Biennial, Liverpool music week and Syndrome. http://www.syn-dro.me/

I found the city to be an inspiring place to visit, perhaps precisely because it isn't my home and in visiting I was able to really enjoy that which London doesn't have. Space, in human terms as much as anything, and a different energy to the art and the artists, one that is more communal I'd side, closer, more hands on. It is a thriving place to visit, a lot of ideas concentrated together. And the city itself was beautiful, the people pleasant and more muted than I'd remembered. If you've time there, it is easily filled, and I got to catch up with friends from the north west like Tom Jenks and the like. That richness, in human terms, was somewhat complimented by the stark reality of the beautiful surroundings of Toxteth that were fringed with so many abandoned properties. A great wealth or dearth that seems unreal when struggling to find space in London.
The work I produced, {http://www.syn-dro.me/portfolio/syndrome-2-1-choros/} the video of which will be available soon, is perhaps the most impactful martial arts based piece of performance art I've done, but feels so much owed to Nathan and Stefan and Jamie, those collaborators of mine, that I've yet to feel I own it. More I am part of it, I wore it. But always in our minds was the possibility of doing it again, and I have ambitions to create a program of performances and publications of my own that further my exploration of martial arts. This could be a breakthrough work in that regard.

And to Nathan's focus and erudition, and hospitality, again I am left feeling very proud to work with him so often and to be part of the impact he is having in a place that really needs him, not because of a lack, but because of the precise opposite - because of potential. Nathan is unflappable and driven and considerate at the same time, such rare qualities, and he's definitely a peer I draw much from.  http://alittlenathan.co.uk/

performing the striking of light & sound for Syndrome: Liverpool

http://www.syn-dro.me/syndrome-2-1-choros-21st-24th-august/ Such a privilege to work with Nathan Jones again on his remarkable Syndrome project in Liverpool, and creating a piece of work which will be one of the most innovative and intensive pieces of performance art that I've ever undertaken. Again it calls back to my martial arts practise, but this time, in collaboration with two remarkable technologists, the performance of shadow boxing, or kata, is in a light and sound receptive cell, a space in which every move I undertake is responded to, not only in colour and light, but in sound, both specific to the space into which I move and to the depth also. It is complex, better seen than explained, and I'm lucky to have a small residency with Syndrome with which to develop it before the big performance on Thursday August 21st, at 5.30pm at Kitchen 24. 

Syndrome 2.1: Choros // 21st – 24th AUGUST

A room-as-instrument devised by artist Jamie Gledhill with sound artist Stefan Kazassoglou, using an array of computers attached to X-box Kinect devices. This project brings together popularly available motion capture technology with 3D audio set up into a unique experiential and performative artwork.
The work will allow for the dynamics and speed of a users movement within the space form a live illustrative mapping on the walls, and for sound to be literally ‘thrown’ across the 3D space by a performer – and members of the public as active participators in their own performative moment with the work.
The CHOROS installation will be open for playing and viewing from 10 – 4pm on 22nd – 24th August. Entering the space, the movements of your limbs will be traced by light and sound across a 3D axis using projections and an ambisonic speaker array. Entry is free for all, and suitable for all ages.
A launch event will feature a brand new movement work by SJ Fowler in which he explores the ritual and violence of martial arts:
The Book of Five Rings by SJ FOWLER
The Book of Five Rings is an unforgettable exploration of physicality and martial spirituality through cutting edge avant garde theatre and performance. And while each Ring will be decidedly different, each a unique, responsive production to its subject, as a whole, they will form an unforgettable tale of a universal human expression, battle without violence, war without war.
no. 1: Pugilistica UK / US (western boxing)
A conceptual performance exploring the sport of Boxing. SJ Fowler takes the audience through a boxing workout with a different, shadow boxing with a complex, cutting edge technological rig, so that each movement has a responsive light and sound reaction. An exhausting, explosive performance of light and sound
The work will then be available to view from 21st – 24th August.
Booking recommended and encouraged for groups.

Syndrome season 2 for Mercy in Liverpool this August

Syndrome Season 2http://www.mercyonline.co.uk/who-we-are/what-we-are-up-to/article/syndrome-season-2 yeaaa, Im up for this going to Liverpool for a near week residency with the brand new amazing project from Mercy that is Syndrome going deeper in the realms of control under the watchful eagle eyes of Nathan Jones wherell Ill get to work with radical technologists and ideas people Jamie Gledhill  and Stefan Kazassoglouan who will help my create interactive space that responds visually and sonically to physical presence and movement in a similar way that a musical instrument responds to being played with, but in this case the instrument is my body, through the martial arts, voice and breath performance. Very good very good.

poem for Chris Weidman

whether legs parallel will sit closely with LEFT hook
that decent dip / switch rather 10th fight over the greatest
ever that has been known because it took you lightly & gladder stoked I AM
LEGITIMATE / not even needing
fucking wrestling to know you can be
too fucking relaxed AS the human tower builds LV
around a dirty bomb & I cannot bell the end
switched / won't back written by jeff lynne
& TOM PETTY on jersey new run in the heat
I find myself screaming AT A COMPUTER ON SUN
morning // off to celebrate haha. you are a artiste
beneath your hands-on-hips im-too-down-to-earth-to-be-outwardly-
-repelling-chris--facade THE WAR IN THE RING
not out A GOOD DAY FOR sipping laps of Wormwood Scrubs / I am sorry again, Im glad the experience was a pleasant one. Ive long since lost the thread of the place's obvious majesty. One day it will return to me and I will consider myself to have been blind.

bullshido v bushido

amazing interview with Sam Harris about martial arts & their relationship to atheism. it feels as though he is speaking directly to my interests http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/what-martial-arts-have-to-do-with-atheism/275273/ & a free pdf of amazing knife fighting manual Don Pentecost's book written from Folsam Prison http://www.academyofselfdefence.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Put-Em-Down-Take-Em-Out-Knife-Fighting-Pentecost-Don.pdf which is a lot different than this