Posted tagged ‘Redwood Dojo’

Does your school do public demos?

April 6, 2011

I recently posted on my Facebook page – with pride, amazement, and a good bit of concern – that 53 students from my dojo would be participating in an upcoming demo at a local school. (The final number was 48 — ranging in age from 4-and-a-half to fifty-something — and the performance went fine, thank you.)

The post prompted my colleague Michael Hornback from Hero Academy in Florida to ask for more details about our dojo demos:

I’d love to hear what you do before, during, and after your demo… Who’s the audience? What’s your purpose for the demo? – that kind of thing.

Let me put those questions to all you instructors out there on the world wide web. Does your dojo put on public demonstrations? What are your goals for these demos, and how do you carry them out? Does it work? – for example, if recruitment is one of your goals, have your demos gained you some new students? What was it about the demo that drew them in?

As for Redwood Dojo, our demos are for the purposes of community spirit, dojo spirit, and student pride in accomplishment. We perform two or three times per year: at the annual school fair for the elementary school adjacent to the dojo (many of our members come from that school community); at the annual open house for the community center that houses our dojo; and, in a new tradition, we hold an annual in-house demo and party for dojo members, their families and friends.

Our demos are open to any member who wishes to participate, regardless of rank or ability; in other words, we don’t have an elite “demo team.” And there’s minimal rehearsal outside regular class time. To pull this off, we select drills and activities from each group’s regular training curriculum, and make sure each performer is doing things at which he or she can excel. Older kids, adults and teens can be more creative — if they take responsibility for their own preparation.

Based on who signs up to be in the demo, I impose a structure and order on the events. This has on occasion meant staying up late the night before writing names on vinyl spots to be placed on the floor to get the younger kids lined up! Teens and adults help with the kids’ demos, either playing a role in the performance or organizing them on or off stage, in addition to performing their own demos.

While recruitment has not been a major purpose for us, I do of course introduce the performance by talking about the history of our dojo, what we teach, and why it is valuable. At the community center open house, we pass out flyers, and make sure more flyers are available inside the center (that demo is outside in the park).

Recruitment is an area where we could stand to improve, so I look forward to hearing more about what the rest of you do. So let me repeat the questions:

Does your dojo do public demonstrations? When and where?

What are your purposes or goals? How do you achieve them?

Do you have any advice for the rest of us?

Please post!

Special Guest Drummer to Perform at Book-Signing Party & Demo

December 11, 2009

Oakland musician and Haitian drumming instructor Lee Hetelson has generously agreed to perform alongside Redwood Dojo’s kids at the party, demonstration and book-signing this Sunday, December 13th.

Don’t miss the fun! A detailed schedule of events has now been posted at the Redwood Dojo website. Come, bring friends and family, and get your books at a special holiday price. Both editions– The Cuong Nhu Training Manual for Kids, as well as The Kids’ Karate Workbook— will be available. This will also be a rare opportunity to get books signed by author, illustrator, and several of the children who posed for the pictures.

“Reward the Behavior You Want to See”

November 30, 2009

There’s an excellent blog I’ve been reading called Mokuren Dojo, with articles on judo, aikido, weapons training, and many other aspects of martial arts, as well as occasional pieces on teaching judo to children. I highly recommend it.

The author, Patrick Parker, was kind enough to send me a link to a post where he lists many of his articles on teaching kids. If, as I do, you teach a style that includes some matwork, you should definitely read this material. Even if your style is a pure kicking-punching art, you’ll still find concepts and approaches of value to any instructor.

Scanning down his list of articles I noticed one called “Reward the behavior you want to see.” Great, I thought, this will be a piece about a behavioral approach to teaching unpredictable or unruly kids; I look forward to his take on the subject. I clicked the link and what I found was even better than that: Instead of a theoretical piece of the kind (I have to admit) I would be more likely to write, it was an absolutely practical post about a specific training exercise and how he had modified it to get better results—better training—from the kids.

Instructors, I know you have all experienced this: a drill that works perfectly well with adults has completely unexpected results with kids. Or a training game that seems like a great idea turns out to favor the bigger kids (as in Mokuren’s example), and not necessarily the more skillful or harder working students. Or the drill just isn’t getting you where you want to go with the class. That’s when you have to get creative and change things up.

If you spend time at Redwood Dojo, you’ll probably hear me shout “New Rule!” after watching the kids work a drill for a few moments. Maybe I told them to kick the target with as much power as they could manage—and they’re doing it, but form and balance have gone out the window. “New Rule! You have to hit it twice before putting your foot down.” Or, “New Rule! You have to hit hard, then put your foot down without making a sound.”

Share some of your examples. How do you reward the behavior you want to see?