We will give our first demonstration as a club on Sunday, September 16 between 2 and 3 PM. We were invited to do so as part of the 50th Annual Pennridge Gallery of the Arts, an art exhibition and crafts festival held on Main Street in Sellersville. Our demo will take place in the Key Bank parking lot across Main Street from our dojo. The event happens rain or shine; however we would not perform if rain happened either during our setup or the demonstration itself, because puzzle mats turn into slip ‘n’ slides when wet.

Back in the 1980s when I was first learning karate (and perhaps still among some “old school” masters), it was common to hear that it’s unseemly to demonstrate our secret art to outsiders. This comes from the stories of karate having been taught only in private in 19th-century Okinawa. In the era of uncountable books, DVDs, and YouTube channels about the techniques of the martial arts, that concern is outdated. Our club does not claim to have any secret techniques. (Besides the Shuto Karate “death touch.” I could tell you what it is, but then…)

A couple of months ago, I was wondering how our school could attract more people to try out some classes. I asked myself, What would Gichin Funakoshi do in this situation? The answer was immediately obvious, and it’s what he did do: he took karate to the public. So we have been building a permanent “demo team” and look for other opportunities to show off our moves.

Developing and practicing for the demonstration has been enjoyable. It brings a new awareness to your training when you have to think about the best way to express it to a crowd of strangers, most of whom, you can assume, know very little about Shotokan or karate in general. And you have to exhibit the value of what you do in a visually exciting way.

What we plan to show is the discipline, order, precision, and power of our line drills; the athletic skill and martial spirit of our kata performances, and the practical use of our techniques in self-protection scenarios.

With a dash of humor thrown in. There’s such a thing as taking yourselves too seriously.