How a Ventriloquist Helped with Systema Teaching

There is a story I read about 6 months ago that dramatically impacted the way I teach Systema.

In Texas, there was a ventriloquist who was starting out on his own, wanting to do this professionally. Why? I have no idea but that is his choice.

In any event, he booked his first gig at a local theater. Months were spent planning and getting his act as perfect as possible. He even created a new puppet for his act, taking a loan out so he could afford this. (I gather these things are expensive. They are made via 3D printers which take about 40-48 hours just for the printing to complete.)

Event day came and the budding ventriloquist was ready for the show. The 500 seat theater was clean, doors were opened and his act was as polished as it could be.

Drum roll.

The curtain opens and. . . . . . . . .

. . . . a total of one person came to the event. An 11-year-old boy. That’s it.

Here was the proverbial fork in the road. As The Clash once sang, “Should I stay or should I go?”

The boy was gracious, offering to leave since he was the only attendee. The ventriloquist would not hear of it.

Instead, he poured his heart and soul into his act and despite the meager audience size, gave an exemplary performance, leaving nothing on the table, so to speak.

The boy was thrilled.

The ventriloquist was rewarded.  Less than a year later, he was selling out shows in theaters with 2000 seat capacity.

When asked how he achieved this, he pointed back to that one day with that one boy and that one show.

When you give it all every single time, regardless of external circumstances, great things eventually find you. Just stick with it long enough, giving your utmost each and every time.

Once in a while, 2 or 3 people only will show up to class. After a decade-plus of teaching this amazing art, it can be disheartening . . . . if one allows it.

Just when I am ready to go down that road, I recall the ventriloquist and the lesson taught that day:

Give it your best or don’t even bother showing up.