Current Issue

International Journal of Martial Arts - Vol. 7

[ Article ]
International Journal of Martial ArtsVol. 7, No. 0, pp.36-47
Abbreviation: injoma
ISSN: 2287-8599 (Online)
Online publication date 25 Mar 2021
Received 20 Nov 2020 Accepted 12 Feb 2021

Three Exercises derived from Ankoku Butoh Training Practices to Develop a ‘Martial Presence’
Casual Academic Staff Dwayne Lawler Tutora
aNational Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), NSW, Australia (


This article discusses the potential benefits of the training practices of the Japanese psychophysical discipline of ankoku butoh in assisting practitioners of the martial arts to develop a ‘martial presence’. The exercises presented at the end of the article are derived from my PhD (Griffith University) research thesis: “De-domesticating the Actor: Applying ankoku butoh’s training process of de-domestication to develop presence in western actor training through experiences of awareness, discipline and energy”, which was chiefly concerned with the construction of a suite of exercises derived from ankoku butoh training practices to develop presence in actors. Beginning with an examination of the techniques and principles of ankoku butoh in relation to its training process of ‘de-domestication’ and its attendance to the elements of awareness, discipline, and energy, the article continues with a discussion of the ‘being present’ and ‘having presence’ states in acting and the martial arts, before concluding with three suggested training exercises specifically aimed at martial artists that may prove beneficial in developing a ‘martial presence’.

Keywords: martial arts, ankoku butoh, awareness, discipline, energy

1. Aristotle., & Ross, W. D. (1906). Aristotle de sensu and de memoria. Cambridge, UK: University Press.
2. Baird, B. (2012). Hijikata Tatsumi and butoh: Dancing in a pool of gray grits. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
3. Bertamiráns F.C. (2015, October 10). Bruce Lee philosophy [Video file]. Retrieved from
4. Camurri, N. & Zecca, C. (2015). Presence energy, the main goal of the actor's training. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, 5(2), 431-457.
5. Candelario, R. (2010) A manifesto for moving: Eiko & Koma's delicious movement workshops. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 1(1), 88-100. doi: 10.1080/19443920903432494
6. Csikszenthihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. NY: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.
7. Dare, S. J. (2013). From dojo to theatre: Karate as training for actor presence. Retrieved from
8. DojoTV. (2018, February 27, 2018). Martial Arts Stories #1 Phillip Zarrilli [Video file]. Retrieved from
9. Dresner, D. (2019). A life-coaching approach to screen acting. UK: Methuan Drama.
10. Florio, P. D., Leeman, L. (Director). (2014). Awake: The life of Yogananda [DVD]. USA: Alive Mind Cinema.
11. Fraleigh, S. & Nakamura, T. (2006). Hijikata Tatsumi and Ohno Kazuo. UK; New York: Routledge.
12. Fraleigh, S. (2010). Butoh: Metamorphic dance and global alchemy. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press.
13. Frank, A. (2006). Taijiquan and the search for the little old Chinese man. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
14. Fraser, P. (2014). Now and again: Strategies for truthful performance (Version 1). Monash University.
15. Frost, A., & Yarrow, R. (1990). Improvisation in drama, Theatre and performance: History, practice, theory 2nd edition. NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
16. Gamborg, C., Gremmen, B., Christiansen, S. B., & Sandoe, P. (2010). De-Domestication: Ethics at the intersection of landscape restoration and animal welfare. Environmental Values, 19, 1, 57-78. DOI: 10.3197/096327110X485383
17. Garner, S. (1993). "Still living flesh": Beckett, Merleau-Ponty, and the phenomenological body. Theatre Journal, 45(4), 443-460. doi:10.2307/3209015
18. Hann, T. N. (1995). Wokingu mediteishon - aruku meiso no hon [Waking meditation: the book of walking meditation]. Tokyo: Keiseisha.
19. Hodge, A. (Ed.). (2010). Actor Training (second edition). New York: Routledge.
20. Kurihara, N. (1996). The most remote thing in the universe: A critical analysis of Hijikata Tatsumi’s butoh dance (Unpublished doctoral thesis), New York: New York University.
21. McConachie, B., & Hart, F. E. (2006). Performance and cognition: Theatre studies and the cognitive turn. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
22. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945). Phenomenology of perception (C. Smith, 1962, Trans.). London and New York: Routledge.
23. Morishita, T. (2015). Hijikata Tatsumi’s notational butoh: An innovative method for butoh creation.Tokyo: Keio University Art Center.
24. Moya, P. (2014). Habit and Embodiment in Merleau-Ponty. Frontiers in HumanNeuroscience, 8(542). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00542.
25. Nihon Karate Do Shoto-kai (n.d.). Stances. Retrieved November 3, 2019, from
26. Parker, E. (2012). Inside Elvis. [Kindle version]. Kam IV, Inc. Retrieved from
27. Power, C. (2008). Presence in play: A critique of theories of presence in the theatre. New York: Rodopi.
28. Ravid, O. (2014). Presentness: Developing presence through psychophysical actor training (Doctoral thesis), York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Retrieved from
29. Riley, J. (1997). Chinese theatre and the actor in Performance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
30. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2006). Japanese Zen Buddhist Philosophy. Retrieved January 23, 2020 from
31. Sweeney, R. (2009). Transferring principles: The role of physical consciousness in butoh and its application within contemporary performance praxis. UK: Middlesex University. Retrieved from
32. Trenos, H. (2014). Creativity: The actor in performance. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Open.
33. Westbrook, A., & Ratti, O. (1974). Aikido and the dynamic sphere. Boston; Vermont; Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing.
34. Zarrilli, P. (2000). When the body becomes all eyes: Paradigms, practices and discourses of power in Kalarippayattu, a South Indian martial art. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.