Reflecting Practice in Demonstrations

This month many of us will have opportunities to participate in demonstrations. The Fall Arts Walk occurs on October 5th and our dojo will hold promotional demonstrations on October 12th.  Because of this, I want to share a couple of thoughts about what makes a good demonstration. 

First, those demonstrating their practice have to have a clear sense of what they’re demonstrating. This may sound funny but there are different aspects of our practice that can be highlighted in a demonstration. Technique, centeredness, calmness under pressure, moving in harmony with a partner, moving in harmony with a group of partners, reflecting the rhythm of the universe while moving in harmony with a bunch of partners. Ok, the last one’s a little aspirational but you should have the idea. 

Second, demonstrations typically elevate the connection between uke and nage. Similar to dancing, when people watch aikido it becomes obvious how well the two (maybe more) partners are connected with one another. 

Third, we can see a broader awareness of the space and timing. Working through demonstrations, it’s important to have awareness of the space, the people in the space, the area around the space, and the timing of the techniques and falls that you’re presenting. A big part of a demonstration is to let the people watching see what you’re doing. Big throws are exciting and engaging; complex joint locks are hard to see from across the room. 

Finally… Joy! Everyone wants to see you having a good time. 

 

By Nate Weed

Preparing

In my office, I keep an old page from a calendar designed by Olympia artist, Nikki McClure. It says “Prepare” and it contains the image of children playing capture the flag and a fox in some blackberry bushes.

In the martial arts, there is an ethos around preparing. We train to become better prepared to respond to conflict, crisis, amazing opportunities, or whatever comes down our path. Preparing isn’t always what we want to do, but Aikido allows us to approach it with positivity, curiosity, and playfulness. And, like the fox, we use every day and every event to become better able to respond, or some might say- more response- able.

Periodically, we also get the opportunity to demonstrate our preparedness. There can be many ways that we demonstrate our preparedness in our lives but the way we get to demonstrate our preparedness in the dojo is in the form of a promotional demonstration. This month, Aikido Olympia will be hosting promotional demonstrations for those members of our community who feel they are ready to show us that they have expanded their practice and are ready for additional “responsibility.”

Promotional demonstrations or “Testing”, will be on March 15th. We typically begin with a short whole dojo class (kids, adults, beginners, and instructors) at 5:30. After the class, we begin the demonstrations with our young people going first and ascending in rank, followed by adults with the same strategy. We encourage everyone to attend so they can be part of this experience and contribute their energy to the event. Family and friends are also welcome. Typically, we finish the evening with a “snack-luck” so that everyone can spend time together and unwind after they’ve demonstrated how much they’ve prepared.

By Nate Weed