In the military drill world improvisation is called “Monkey Drill.” If you ask any Driller who has competed more than once they will probably admit that one of their routines was “Monkeyed,” meaning that they made it up on the spot as they were performing.
Angel Solis just finished the Texas Drill Competition (TXDC) and won with a Monkeyed routine. It was not 100% improvised, the sequence from start to report-in was the only thing he had programed. The rest was made up on the spot!
Maybe right now you are thinking, “If Solis can do it, then I don’t need to create a routine ever again and I can win all of the competitions I enter!” Not so fast. The majority of Drillers will not be able to do this because drill improv requires the following:
- A high level of comfort with your piece of equipment (sword/saber, rifle, etc.)
- A very wide vocabulary of moves/tricks
- The ability to not think and just create while moving- no hesitation
When I spoke with him, Angel said that as a young man, he could remember every detail of every day. He seemed to have a type of photographic memory, but only for a certain time; without regular use, some memories would fade. This is how he has the ability to constantly practice (he does put hours into practicing) and create a routine seemingly out of thin air. “When I drill, tell a story. I don’t know how, I just do.”
I do not recommend trying to emulate Angel on the Monkeying part, but the practice and telling a story- go for it.