Recently, I had the pleasure of modelling for a local life drawing class run by Come to Life in Croydon, South London. This wasn’t an ordinary life drawing class, because both Laura (who invited me to model with her) and I posed in our gis for the class to draw us in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu positions. In our gis, the class were able to focus on the folds and contortions of our uniform, as well as the dynamic positions we held.
Unfortunately, Laura and I were pretty unwell on the night, but it was a great experience to have people draw us in our martial arts clothing. We did a few different poses, including an armbar, a morote seoi nage throw and a few guard passes. In the second half of the class, I posed in my rashguard, which included triangling a pillow for half an hour (I admittedly dozed off at this point, the position was surprisingly comfortable!). Throughout, Brazilian rap and hip hop boomed in the studio, setting both the pace and the tone of the class.
Perhaps the most exciting part of being a part of this class was seeing everyone’s sketches of Laura and I. It was moving to see something that is an art in its own right (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu), be translated into another person’s artistic expression on paper. Anything that has physical expression, including martial arts and combat sport, can be seen as a form of art.
There is definitely something special about drawing the human form as it is performing a martial art. Not just in how the physical body is depicted as it enacts the techniques of a martial art, but also in how the artist interprets the ‘intent’ carried by the martial artist on paper. Specifically, ’martial intent’, which I would describe as the will of power and the transfer of energy by martial artists through their body into physical strikes or motions. I wonder how that kind of dynamic intent can be translated on paper?
Whilst this time Laura and I were in static poses for this particular class, I would love to be the subject of study (and the art student behind the easel!) in a class that looks to sketch martial artists in action.