It’s a staple of Westport’s July 4th fireworks: Little kids buy light sabers at the PAL booth, then run around Compo Beach pretending to be the Jedi, Sith and other Force-sensitives.
Greg Ruder goes light-years further.
You may have seen the 2002 Staples High School graduate this summer. He’s the guy fire spinning and flowing, up and down the shore.
Greg Ruder in action …
Greg returned to Westport 2 years ago, after 13 years in the Bay Area. He learned Bo Staff in his Kung Fu San Soo (ancient Chinese martial arts style) classes, and was trained by his sensei to help him teach self defense classes to people of all ages, especially high school students headed to college.
After 7 years, Greg earned a first degree black belt.
Kung fu was his foundation for learning body awareness and movement. He’d long been a dancer, watching jam bands, Phish and Dead incarnations.
His graceful motions have been described as “martial/hippie flow/spinning.”
Greg is largely self taught. His props include a staff, double staves and nunchucks — all with daytime, LED light and fire versions.
The LED props draw the most attention. Fire spinning is reserved for private places and sessions.
… and with his black belt certificate.
At the beach, he is swarmed by young kids and teenagers. “The lights, and the vibe it creates, breaks down barriers and helps facilitate an immediate connection,” he says.
They want to play with the lights. Parents ask if he teaches his techniques.
For a decade, this has been Greg’s hobby. He takes his props everywhere — walking his dog, running errands, going to work. He’s currently a server at Match Burger Lobster.
But he’s taking a step forward with his side gig — teaching youngsters and adults.
“It gets kids off their devices and into their bodies,” he says. “They learn how to move with control.”
For older people he offers meditation, breathing, qigong and yoga. All work symbiotically.
He can also teach self-defense, but wants to focus more on dance and fun. Greg enjoys helping people play with props, and move their bodies in new ways.
“Surrendering to the flow and allowing the mind to release control is the goal for achieving the flow state,” he says. “This is my meditation.” He works outdoors, and is searching for an indoor space.
He has already done a block party. He hopes to do bring his walk-around flow to weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties, corporate events and more — not as the main attraction, but as a fun, costumed addition.
He is very safe with his fire show, he assures potential clients.
(For more information, email email@example.com, or call 203-820-1122.)
(And, because there are always multiple Westport connections: Greg is friendly with 1996 Staples graduate Sean Von Stade. He’s the founder and co-owner of Flowtoys, the industry leader. They make the lights Greg uses, and staffs, wands and other equipment. Based in Emeryville, California, they host flow jams that Greg attended, with music and flow fellowship.)
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