A thought occurred to me recently in regards to artistic expression. I was re-watching clips of UFC 83: Serra vs. St. Pierre II, which for those of you who don’t know, was Matt Serra’s first defense of his welterweight championship; and Georges St. Pierre’s first attempt to get it back since losing it to Matt during UFC 69.
Georges won, becoming the undisputed UFC welterweight champion of the world, but I realized something different as I was watching these clips of what has become the fight of the century for me, as a die-hard GSP, as we call him, fan. As I watched both men trade blows and GSP work his arsenal of takedown and submission methods, it seemed like artistic expression to me, like poetry in motion.
This way of thinking was a new one for me, because even with my family background and my own interest in martial arts, I had never once thought of it as being a form of expression. It had always been regarded by me as a form of exercise as well as self defense, but not as a way of revealing your thoughts and feelings.
As I watched GSP move from standing up with Matt to taking him down and attempting an armbar, he was displaying his thought process and strategy to the world. Inadvertently, he was also revealing the respect he had for Matt in his stand up game as well as being a fighter in general.
In older martial arts movies that I grew up on, such as Jet Li’s Wong Fei Hong series, the fluidity in their movements weaves a story about their thoughts and their self expressions in the moves that they choose to make during that particular time in response their opponent.
Aside from martial arts, however, there is art in the way someone slides a bow across a group of strings, as I watched a violinist busking in the street just today. The control that he had in how much of his self expression he wanted to reveal, the execution in the notes he chose to play, were all a part of the poetry that exists in movement.
There are movements that we would never consider to be poetic, and yet to me, seem to tell a story. I saw two teens once, young men, who usually would be loud and boisterous on public transit, curiously silent. Instead, the pair of friends were signing to each other and laughing silently at what the other was saying. The intricate way in which their hands moved was almost like a dance. Watching them, it proved the belief that the majority of communication does not come from your verbalized words.
They were different in the way they expressed themselves, with their hands flying from symbol to symbol, but they showed me why there’s art in the everyday, why even common movements can be looked at as poetry.
Seeing a performer leap and reach out across a stage is not simply dance to me, but the expression of an emotion, a story and an experience strong enough to knock you off your feet and hit you like a ton of bricks.
To be able to view a powerful, soul-invoking performance of someone dancing on stage is like feeling alive for the first time; allowing yourself to truly feel and be enveloped in the emotion of the dance as though it was your life.
Movement is not simply for money or for everyday common occurrences. There is poetry and emotion in watching a mother fly kites with her daughter, two friends stop and chat over coffee. Every movement creates a picture and that picture in turn, invokes emotion.
Even in the midst of blood, sweat, tears, injury and the threat of defeat, there is poetry and emotion that is ingrained in the lives of all mixed martial arts fighters. Even though there is the promise of violence of varying degrees, to see the intricate webs of strategy and thought spun out in the Octagon, and thrill of victory is poetic motion.
The art in the everyday lies all around us, it’s simply a matter of noticing those around you. And perhaps, allow your mind to open to poetry and art of all forms and possibilities.