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Watching A Demonstration

When you are in the dojo, the sensei will often stop and demonstrate a technique. At such moments, you must be exceptionally aware.

First, you must be ready to run up and act as the uke (attacker) if the sensei calls you. The sensei might call your name, point to you, extend his hand toward you, look at you, or even just think of you! You must be ready to respond. It is very bad form for the sensei to have to try to get your attention because you are not paying attention or talking to another student. If this had been a real attack, you would have been hit! You must be ready at all times. Being the uke helps to train you for real life situations.

The students who watch the demonstration must also be very aware. The sensei might ask one of them to act as a second uke. Again, there must be no hesitation or delay.

In addition, the students who watch the demonstration must be aware in case the uke is thrown or pushed. An inattentive student might get knocked down or injured.

Students should even be prepared to catch the uke if needed.

The students should stand a safe distance from the sensei when he demonstrates a technique. This is for safety reasons. The students should only go closer if the sensei requests it so that they can better see the technique.

The proper distance to observe a demonstration depends on the nature of the technique being shown. If the uke will be thrown, he must be given sufficient room to safely roll and stand up.

If the sensei is demonstating a technique with a weapon, the students must stand back farther. This is especially true with respect to longer weapons (such as a bo, yari, naginata, nunti bo, or eku), chained weapons (such as a kusarigama), or bladed weapons. The students should stand back farther than the weapon can reach, plus an additional safety margin. Weapons occassionally break, are dropped, or are accidentally thrown. Weapons should be carefully examined before each use.

When you watch a demonstration, you should be ready to be called upon, and make sure to stand back an appropriate distance. Seniors should make sure that juniors observe this.


Charles C. Goodin