Sunday, October 12, 2014

Demo Daze

Today's Demo by Hidden Sword Martial Arts at Celebrate Roanoke could have, theoretically, been a disaster.

You see, we've never done a demo like this before.  Sure, we had one a year or two ago but that was a very small crowd.  This was our first REAL demo, in front of our community, and honestly, it had us all on edge.

The largest collection of badassery our town has ever seen.

As fun and useful as what we do is, it's not exactly the flashiest thing to watch.  There is a reason that the toothpick bo twirlers and sword catchers and other kinds of "trickers" have an audience.  It looks really, really cool.

Cool looking? Yep.  Bullshit?  Oh yeah.

Self defense oriented martial arts don't look as cool as they really are to people who aren't martial artists.  I mean, they don't show the reality of self defense in movies or on TV for a reason - to the untrained eye, it's really boring.

The temptation is, of course, to "flash up" and make our stuff look cool but completely unrealistic.  Frankly, that's just not how we roll.

We ended up pulling together an overview of some of the flashier stuff we do (weapons) with the practical and easy to explain (basics, self defense moves).

The thing is... we never actually ran through the thirty-minute demo all the way through, from beginning to end, until demo day.

Yep - we'd never done the whole thing until it was show time!

When you're not a flashy demo school, figuring out what to do and how much to do of it is difficult. We had limited demo team practice time over a period of a little over a month.  Most of it was spent trying different things, cutting things, adding things... it took a whole lot of work to figure this out, more time than many other schools may have needed.

We didn't get a final shape of the demo until last weekend.  And we were tweaking up until yesterday morning.

And you know what?

It went really, really well.

No big mistakes, the whole thing went very smoothly, and the audience was engaged and applauded in all the right places.  Here's just a few shots from the day - I'm sure that we'll be posting a lot more (and better) pictures at Hidden Sword Martial Arts main web page, and on the Facebook page, too, here.

Anna and Em perform Baston Anyo Isa with training bolos.

Kate and Kimberly perform Nunchaku Ni.

Master Mark and Lisa demonstrate Bo combatives.
Isaiah regrets attacking Kate with a stick, while Bryce waits his turn.

If you get the impression that we're a weapons-heavy school, well, we are, but honestly, much of the coolest empty hand stuff is hard to demo, especially since we couldn't bring our mats and do takedowns.  Sure, we did kata, but those pictures are kind of boring for you, so I won't share them here.

We actually did the demo twice (morning and afternoon), and in the first one in the morning, one of our white oak bos broke during the combative kobudo weapons portion of the demo (the picture with Master Mark and Lisa above captures the moment, although it's hard to see).  It was actually pretty funny!

We honor this fallen soldier.
But what was most important, is that the kids had a lot of fun, we got to show off what we do (and we did it very well), we got some interest in our school from the crowd... it was just everything you'd want a demo to be. especially when it's your first real one.

We had a good time...

... watching our closer, which is Kate hurting Isaiah with the "Date Defense".

I'm inordinately proud of our school today.  It was stressful and difficult to get here, but we did it, and it went off about as well as anybody could have hoped for!  Our kids and parents are awesome.

Does your school do demos? Got any great stories? Any tips on how to put them together? I'd love to know!