AikiWeb Poll for the week of March 3, 2002:
How effective do you think public demonstrations are in attracting new students into aikido?
In my experience aikido demonstrations are only somewhat effective in attracting new students.
First of all, demonstrations easily atract those only interesseted in watching but with no intent to train at all. The only way these people contribute to getting new students is in being a source of "word of mouth" advertising.
Second, almost all people are not trained in seeing and understanding the things going on in the demonstration. This, together with an often found preconceptions about martial arts, makes them easily believe that aikido is nothing more than a soft bunnylike dance ritual. It was nothing like the bonecrushing and bloodspilling fighting they expected. Furthermore the cooperative and friendly way of training and practising is in their eyes suspicius. These problems almost all disappear once they joined (at least) one class.
Third, one might wonder whether the people that come to the demonstration are actually the people you want as students.
Just some thoughts.
If I was organizing a demo, I would make it interesting to a casual observer.
For example I would create some kind of pseudo-soap-opera with some guy being mugged, like a mini-piece of a Seagal film.
Then I'd make sure that the guy can go total Seagal on his ukes and that those particular ukes can take it.
Let the fun begin !
A demo should be flashy. It's NOT A CLASS.
You're not EDUCATING anyone.
I have a videoclip of some Polish Aikido demo where they start with katate-tori tenkan and repeat it 4 times.
What a way to attract attention !
What's next, an Aikido demo starting with breathing exercises ?
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