by Jenifer Tull-Gauger
When I was around green belt, I went for the first time to participate in my dojo’s karate demo at a library. Since then, I have been a part of demonstrating with my dojo at neighborhood block parties, a pre-school and elementary schools, Mesquite High School, a NOVA tournament, Superstition Springs Mall, the Gilbert Days Parade and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. Last year, a few kids helped me demonstrate at the Gila River Recreation Center. (Thank you to those students who quickly filled the select few spots.)
Most demonstrations are open to everyone in the dojo who is willing and able to participate. I have seen how being a part of a demo team helps one’s own training. It is humbling because you notice how you could have done better, but it is confidence-building at the same time because there is always good feedback from the audience. It helps build your ability to use your skills and keep (relatively) calm when under pressure.
Last year a few of us demonstrated for a Japanese TV show in the Tokyo airport and in Okinawa, as well as for a group of martial artists at a seminar in Okinawa. When we were there, I saw that dojos are not at all plentiful. We learned that the popularity of this Okinawan martial art is waning in its birthplace. I have always known that demonstrating with dojo-mates helps promote my dojo (in addition to helping my own skills). But while in Okinawa, demonstrating traditional karate became serious business for me. I realized that showing people the living art of karate in an organized, disciplined fashion is an essential responsibility.
Good students recognize how they benefit from doing traditional Okinawan karate, and realize that others can benefit from it too. I go so far as to say it makes the world a better place, and the more people who do it, the better the world will be. Good karateka support their dojo in preserving this art by diligently training, participating and learning, and generally just supporting the dojo and instructors. They also promote their dojo and the martial arts traditions that created it. Taking part in demonstrations is a great way to do this.