Gentle Prowess Deliberations

Part of my ongoing artist residency at Grand Central Arts Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, CA, Gentle Prowess Deliberations is the third project in a series in which I incorporate judo principles and elements into art objects, installations, performances and social practice with my judo community. This project focuses on ju, or gentle, one of the core concepts of judo, and also grapples with the ongoing reality of violence, including the violence that has led to over six million people leaving my native country of Venezuela in recent years. How does one practice ju in a world shaped by oppressive violence?

While growing up in Venezuela, my judo teachers were intent on transmitting judo’s international sensibility as intertwined with its pacifist ethos, a key principle articulated by judo founder Jigoro Kano. Through these early experiences, I was able to begin the philosophical and rhetorical quest into what this might mean as one confronts a powerful opponent, institution or system.

For this project, I approach ju in several ways. I asked judo colleagues and teachers from two different dojos, Bunasawakai and Sawtelle, to characterize ju in their own words, and I incorporated their answers into aspects of the performance and installation. I am also weaving into the performance movements from a choreographed judo form that centers around ju, called ju-no-kata, performed here by US National champions Lee Pasteris and Frederick Dagdagan. In addition, I am also incorporating judo movements performed by two of my sensei, grand master Sensei Nori Bunasawa and Sensei Goya. In addition to these four highly ranked master judokas, I am also collaborating in the performance with dancer, choreographer and UCI professor Charlotte Griffin and art performer Christina Segovia. The performance will take place within the installation of art objects that I have created at Grand Central, and also includes field recordings from judo competitions at the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo as well from Nanka in the US, with live and processed sound in collaboration with musician Michael Dessen.

Performance dates:
Saturday, October 1st, 2022, 8pm
Saturday, December 10th, 2022, 7:30pm

Grand Central Arts Center (GCAC) in Santa Ana, CA

Sensei Bunasawa, 9th degree black and red belt, youngest 9th dan grand master in CA (Bunasawakai Dojo)
Sensei Goya, 3rd degree black belt Kodokan Judo
Lee Pasteris, 2nd degree black belt, (Sawtelle Dojo), US National champion, Ju-no-kata
Frederick Dagdagan, 3rd degree black belt, (Sawtelle Dojo), US National champion, Ju-no-kata
Mariángeles Soto-Díaz, brown belt (Bunasawakai Dojo)
Charlotte Griffin, dancer/choreographer
Christina Segovia, art performer
Michael Dessen, sound