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Dance and Martial Arts
- Umesh Naidu, Bangalore

January 28, 2010

It has been nine years now; however long I journey, I realize it's a new discovery everyday, but I feel it started only in recent times. What began as a hobby and an unwinding exercise caught up with me as I grew up. I would swim, skate, play football, practice Taekwon-Do thrice a week and dance once a year. Craft making, drawing, writing poetry intrigued me and aroused my attention and I couldn't help but praise the beautiful things that began to inspire me.

Once Taekwon-Do became my inspiration I painted on a white cloth in Korean characters, the 'Tenets' of Taekwon-Do. My teacher's encouragement and appreciation stood by me then on. My journey in the world of arts had thus begun and I never had to look back.

With the practice of Taekwon-Do, the martial artist in me grew to understand several nuances of the art. Over a period, I understood that martial arts are marked by fluid acrobatic play, feints and extensive use of sweeps, kicks.


Moreover, I realized that it was vital to season one's body, to prepare the body for other movements, like in case of an attack; you may have to take a punch and not show any signs of pain. Your reflexes are required to develop into responses rather than unsystematic reactions. The combination of attacks and defence makes martial arts contain the perceived 'fluidity' and choreography.

Guarding front

Movement Dynamics became a second nature. Nritarutya's style of contemporary dance, inculcated the use of these dynamics. Hence for me, the way I moved with Nritarutya was not very different. My first dance with the team was on the theme 'Kaliyug,' a highly energetic piece. It was similar to practising a martial art and this was for music. I loved it and here I am today, dancing my way with the Team.

As one learns a war art form, one learns what patience is…discipline...something about time sense…a sense to deal with people and situations as time progresses. A developed intuition and curiosity into various other art forms remain as the added bonuses. When I applied these martial principles to dance, I understood movement in a very different way. It became a spiritual practice for me like practising a 'Tul' or a pattern. I instantly was engrossed in the music and sometimes would forget where or what I was doing; space or time did not matter to me.

Dance and martial arts together have helped me understand various aspects of other forms of arts, helped me understand other dancers, given me a way to deal with energies, to be friends with space and most importantly, to be responsible. Dance lets me dream and martial art lets me stay in the present. Sometimes even while it has been a little confusing for me, it has let me explore more and more. When you master something and you are performing on stage, you become one with the Dance. You truly begin to respect and love life!

I always had dreamt that I would be on stage - intuition works, you see. It is quite strange how it worked with me.

Umesh Naidu is Assc. Director of Bangalore based Nritarutya.

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