Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Originally uploaded by tommrkr

The last 2 weeks, we've taken our class out of the dojang and to the local university dormitories. Our original goal seemed on track: go out to our target audiences.

Here's the thing, we hold classes at the university rec center. But is that necessarily the crowd we want? A lot of people who are going to the rec center are going with a specific purpose in mind: lifting weights, using the cardio machines, playing hoops, etc. How do we pull in that person who maybe isn't into the gym, but really has an interest in the martial arts? Over the years, I've noticed that martial artists tend to be introverted by nature, and may be harder to lure in.

So this idea was born. Instead of holding demos at the RPAC, why not go where the students already are on a daily basis - the dorms -- and bring what we have to offer to them?

We've done a few demos so far. One was well attended. The other, not so much. Unfortunately, we're limited by the dorms who want to do the marketing, drum up interest, etc. So, depending on the dorm, we could have either a very enthusiastic representative, or one who just throws up a single flyer by the elevator.

In doing demos over the years, I've experimented with a variety of formats until settling on what I currently use. I stay away from the flashy uniforms, choreographed scenes, and elaborate breaking demonstrations because we simply don't train that way. Someone who sees that sort of demo will probably expect a very different training environment than what we'd give them.

First off, I try to keep the demo moving. I'm quick with the commands, and very sharply kihap to keep everyone moving at their best speed. Downtime in a demo is death.

Second, everyone is involved, not just my "superstars." When I engage the audience, I repeatedly point out that our club is for everyone, and that the people in our demo range from 3 months experience to 10 years. The point, I say, is that everyone comes together in the interest of helping each other improve. My white belts get to demonstrate a basic form, followed by intermediate students and black belts. Hopefully, the audiences can see this gradual increase in ability and skill.

Finally, I do very little in the demos. I refrain from making it the "Tom Marker" show where I single handedly fight all the students, break flaming bricks or kick an apple off my partner's head. Instead, I want them to see me for my teaching ability and how I bring a group together successfully. My ability to kick my student's butts should be secondary. I want them to see that I'm passing talent on to the students rather than having a class full of groupies.

As we continue to refine our demo, I hope I can update you more on our success. Right now, I'm not looking for a lot of students, I'm looking for students who buy in our teamwork approach to martial arts and can see the benefits.
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