"Is it real?" "Do you really swallow swords?" "It's a fake sword right?"
Yes, I Swallow Swords.
Here’s the Point!
by Joshua Routh
The audience is seated, the stage lights up, everyone is prepared and yet not entirely sure what to expect.
There I am, standing on the stage, wearing a sport coat over an unusually colorful shirt, poised and focused, a sword in my hand.
I position my body, raising the hilt high, I bring the sword to my lips.
It is at this point an audience member might exclaim, “Don’t do it!”
There is very real tension in these moments. Tension that I soon break when I look into the audience and say, “I had a desperate need for attention as a child.”
It usually isn’t until much later in my presentations that I actually swallow a sword. It isn’t until after content is relayed and all present have gotten to know one another a bit better, that we arrive at that grand crescendo.
My talks and performances are not designed to gross the audience out. Rather, I aim to amaze, inspire, and most of all, connect with the audience.
When I swallow a sword, my goal is to create a captivating blend of danger and humor, embodying a metaphor for the struggles we all face and the connection we seek.
Out of over 7 billion people on this planet, I am one of only a hundred, a prestigious and rarified group who perform this ancient, unique, and fascinating art form.
I have taken this act to various platforms worldwide, including the famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It is an honor to demonstrate my artistry and commitment to a craft that dates back to India 4,000 years ago. Yes, you read that right, sword swallowing is a four millennia-old practice, making it one of the most enduring forms of performance art.
Like holding a handstand, sword swallowing is an act that is seemingly impossible to most, but to a select few, it comes naturally. Not everyone’s body is designed for it.
Not every body is set up to accommodate a blade sliding past the heart, nudging vital organs aside. Mine is. It’s a testament to the astonishing adaptability and resilience of the human body. But even more so, it speaks to the mental fortitude of the small group individuals that can call themselves ‘Professional Sword Swallowers’ .
To swallow a sword, you must master a game of mind over matter, gaining control over involuntary bodily functions. It takes patience, training, and an iron will to suppress the natural urge to gag, to breathe, to panic. This act, one of simultaneous surrender and control, serves as a unique metaphor for our shared human experience. We all encounter moments in life where we must push past our fears, swallowing down our trepidation, to face the challenges ahead.
Just as the sword swallower connects with his instrument, aligning it perfectly with his body, we all seek connection and engagement in our lives. The connection that I make with my audience goes beyond the physicality of the performance. It is an empathic link, reflecting our struggles, our triumphs, and our humanity.
When the audience is watching me swallow a sword, they can’t help but feel the pulse of connection, the shared gasp of wonder, and a collective empathetic response. It’s more than a mere performance; it’s a vivid depiction of our shared human experience.
In an era where we’re often more disconnected than ever, my goal is that these performances remind us of the importance of our connection to one another. And so, while sword swallowing is an act of individual bravery, it also stands as a powerful metaphor for the engagement we seek and the relationships we build.
So next time you see me swallow a sword, remember the point is not to shock you but to show you the true depth of human engagement. It’s an art form rooted in our shared history, a testament to our collective strength, and a symbol of the power of connection. And that is the true artistry of sword swallowing.
Until I see you from the stage, I hope you live, as we Sword Swallowers say in greeting and in passing, “To the hilt!”