I spent 3 days at the end of October learning about pro wrestling as part of the Breaking Kayfabe workshop organised by Jamie Lewis Hadley & Live Art Development Agency.
My other half is a wrestler, he has been for about 15 years I think, so I know a fair bit about it. Since meeting him and learning more about the world of wrestling I’ve come to see it as a form of theatre with definite links & connections to the work I do. Pushing the body and presenting pain to an audience, turning gestures into narrative & emotions. This all happens in the wrestling ring too.
The 3 days in which I learnt wrestling techniques, how to lock up, how to fall safely, how to move around the ring correctly were so much more physically and emotionally intense than I expected. I was terrified by falling backwards, really struggled with overriding my physical instincts to make sure I landed in the correct way, I was scared to keep going, to keep falling even when everything already hurt. I cried more than once.
But I also achieved more than I ever thought I would. I’ve never seen myself as a sporty, athletic person, I thought these acrobatic wrestling moves would be way beyond me.
I actually sat out on the second day as people were taught how to take a hip toss as I didn’t believe I could do it, but eventually, I realised that the only thing stopping me was my own fear and laziness. On the third day of the workshop, I pushed myself to try it, and I did it. More than once. With a huge, huge grin on my face. It’s an incredible feeling, similar what I experience when doing suspensions, I took control of myself physically and mentally. I realised I’m a lot tougher than I thought.
I was left battered and bruised – I failed to listen to instruction, went with instinct instead, and as a result have injured my knee. It’s going to take about a month to heal. I had a huge bruise on my back from hitting the ring posts incorrectly, or repeatedly, I don’t know which. Despite all this I’m elated, I feel stronger, I know my body better, I know I don’t deal well with pain I’m not in control of, and I now know that I can overcome that.
I learnt a hell of a lot more than just the wrestling moves.
This isn’t even mentioning the other people involved, the brilliant supportive teachers – Jamie, Greg, Garry & Phil, the other course participants – a mix of artists, dancers and actors, who all bought new perspectives into the ring, who kept the whole thing amazingly fun no matter how much we hurt and I don’t think I could have got through it without them all.
The strangest thing is, I woke up the day after the course had finished, struggled to get out of bed due to the massive aches in my neck, shoulders, knees, thighs, and really, really wished I could be doing it all over again.