XVR27's Improv Interviews - Dawn E. Emanuele - Martial Arts & Confidence

Whose Improv Is It Anyway? : Original On-The-Spot Satire

An Interview With Dawn E. Emanuele

Martial Arts & Confidence

ChivalRuss: Alright - martial arts. Tell me about this.

Dawn E. Emanuele: Well, it goes back to the fact that I'm really super-shy and when I was nine, that summer, I was outside with my cousins and some neighborhood boys were causing some problems and my mom was sick of me getting picked on. And I always got picked on in class; this is true. I was always so quiet. And I was small; because of where my birthday falls, I ended up being a year older than everyone else because I didn't quite make the cut-off date. But I was still usually one of the four or five smallest children in the class. That and that it wasn't until fifth grade that they found out, "Hey, there's an actual reason why she's in the fifth grade and can't spell her middle name 'Elizabeth' or 'Milwaukee' or 'Wisconsin' or the street she lives on, let alone the word 'street', and she's at a first grade spelling level". Meanwhile, my reading comprehension was at twelfth grade and my logic was, like, eleventh or twelfth grade. Everything else put me at a higher grade level. Everything did. Even math skills put me at a higher grade than what I was supposed to be, except for the spelling. So, it didn't really lend itself to me being very confident. And I got into a kind of skirmish with the kids and my mom was sick of it and took me to a martial arts school and I went to the same school from the age of nine until about the age of sixteen or seventeen until it got to the point where it was easier for me to say that I was in it to actually go. Y'know, it was one of those where I'd start to not go. Although, I would like to get back into it because it was a definite anger release. Not that I'm a violent person, but...

ChivalRuss: ...but everybody has anger.

Dawn E. Emanuele: Yeah, I realized even about six months to a year after being out of it that I was angry all the time. And yeah, you could look at it and say I'm a teenage girl, but... y'know. And I was really pretty good at it. I was not shy when it came to sparring. Umm... I would walk up to people, kids who had just gotten their green belts - the belts that they had to reach before they started sparring - and I would get right in their face and I'd look at them and I'd go, "More fresh meat." I'd nod, then I'd turn and walk away. And I had some of the boys so intimidated that even during a testing where we're not supposed to be physically harming each other and just going back and forth and demonstrating things, that I would... they'd be terrified to have to spar against me because I would stretch, my mom made me stretch before class, in addition to everything else because at ten I developed tendinitis in both knees, so I was growing too fast. Yes, I'm only 5'3" now, but I was still somehow managing to grow too fast at this point and not stretching my tendons enough. So I had to really do that and because of that, my mom's got a couple of pictures of me kicking men in the head. I was very god at sparring and even the men would be nice to me because I looked a lot younger than I even was and they didn't want to hurt me until I punched them in the chest and then, "OK, we're gonna spar like we're actually sparring."

ChivalRuss: What martial art was it?

Dawn E. Emanuele: Tae Kwon Do. It was the same school that I went to... the American Tae Kwon Do Association, also known as the ATA. It was a very good school. I was very comfortable and very safe there. I had four cousins that also went to that same school.

ChivalRuss: Is Tae Kwon Do more ground based? Offensive or defensive? Throwing?

Dawn E. Emanuele: No, it's not throwing, it's more hands and feet. It's a lot about control. We were taught to use control to learn things before we were aloud to spar against each other. And then we had to get to almost a black belt before we were aloud to break boards because they didn't want us to hurt ourselves, but rather to give us an outlet to express our power. And the white belt is like the clean slate, like you have no knowledge and you're still learning. The black belt is a combination of all the colors, so by the time you get to the black belt, you should be knowledgeable in everything below it. So that's why it would take a while to progress to it.

ChivalRuss: How high did you get?

Dawn E. Emanuele: I got to a first degree black belt decided. Recommended, in my school, was where you had up to six months to test to become a decided. Recommended was like a 'you just sort of got it' and then in decided was 'you have it and it cannot be taken away from you' unless you, y'know, maliciously went out and broke someone's leg. Then they'd just be like, "You know, you might not deserve this." But it helped me with so much and it taught me so much over the years - respect and definitely, if I ever have children even in my care, they will be taking some kind of self-defense classes. I'm not going to pressure them that they have to take them, it gave me confidence in defending myself, knowing that I could stand up for things and if something came down to it, that I would at least have a chance and not have to worry. So that started pulling me out of my shell too. That, and going into the ComedySportz, and the theater, they were all happening right after each other, things became very natural. And with acting, the only time I'm nervous is before I get up on stage. And once I'm on there, I love it. As long as I know my lines, I'm fine. And with ComedySportz, there were no set lines, y'know. You just... on the fly, pull it out of your brain, throw it against the wall, watch it splat, and hope everyone laughs. Which I just thought of right now.

ChivalRuss: The last question on the topic. Off the top of your head, how much do you think you remember and how effective do you think you could be?

Dawn E. Emanuele: Well, as far as my speed goes, I'm probably not fast. But I was in it for so long, even though it's been about ten years since I quit, my boyfriend - Joel Talacko - he and I have been together for seven years and before the recent car accident that we were in, him and I would actually spar together. And he's from a completely different school of thought - he learned from an ex-cop and a creepy military man that is half blind. So, you know, he learned a lot dirtier street-fighting where I learned very clean 'you could only hit above the belt below the neck or anywhere on the head', but on the chest, it was just the chest - no back, no side... it was very controlled. But fighting against Joel, it was pretty much anything goes. And with him, neither one of us are ticklish, so we will have pressure point fights...

ChivalRuss: Do you have any stunt suggestions based on your martial arts experience; did you want to just throw something in?

Dawn E. Emanuele: Uhh...

ChivalRuss: Basic, y'know? Not if they're doing anything complex. For example, how might they want to set up the stage to prepare for basic impromptu stunt effects like falling?

Dawn E. Emanuele: Well, make sure people don't have anything they can trip over. Big exaggerated movements are good, but try to be aware of your surroundings. Uh, there was one time where girl kind of flung her arms and ended up knocking another girl kind of off the stage and, unfortunately, she was one of those girls that doesn't handle pain real well. But, because she's an actress, she tried to suck it up and she just doesn't handle pain real well. So she's in a scene where she's supposed to be funny and this girl has tears welling up in her eyes. Sometimes, things are just unavoidable. So, I don't know if you can really...

ChivalRuss: If you're on the stage, watch for the edge.

Dawn E. Emanuele: Yeah. Yeah.

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