Demos – Going Solo

Performing a demo by yourself is never easy, but there are few strategies you can employ to pull off a good show and gain some students. Remember, the goal is first to get new students and second to build your name.

Let’s use the example of a middle school demo where you have 15 minutes to entertain the kids and, hopefully, pick up some students. This example will work in principle with just about any age group or scenario.

It’s always good to open with a bang. When you are a solo act that might be something as easy as a suspended break where you hold the board with one hand and punch or chop it with the other. You can tell the kids at the end you will do some more board breaking and will need their help to set a new board breaking record.

Then, introduce yourself and tell them that the secret to that break was in the combination of speed and focus, which is part of what you teach along with self-defense.

Ask the crowd if they saw the videotape of the girl, Carlie, being abducted by a man in Sarasota. Tell them that the abduction was caught on tape and this is what happened. Demonstrate how he grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her to the car where he killed her.

Tell the kids how that could have been prevented. Then, if possible, bring up a volunteer to help be a target for you. This could be the PE teacher or anyone about your size.

  • Recognize
  • Avoid
  • Defend

Recognize a strange man is approaching. Discuss the use of distance as a defense and how distance is always the best defense.

Avoiding could be turning and running away puts so much distance between you and the attacker he can’t reach you so he can’t hurt you. But, the real avoidance is not to be alone in places where you can be attacked.

Defending against this could be a wrist escape, a groin kick and running away screaming.

KEY POINT: At this point, it’s always helpful to tell a story of how one of your students, who is about the same age as these kids but goes to a different school, had a similar situation, but she was able to escape with what you taught her.

Demonstrate some simple escapes and strikes on your volunteer (rehearse this in advance).

Tell the kids that you want to teach them these techniques so that what happened to Carlie doesn’t happen to them, but the school won’t allow you teach them during this demo. So, you have set up a free class for them THAT night and THE NEXT night. All they have to do is call to reserve a spot (if the school will let you, have them write their name and number on a sheet of paper and drop it into a box after the demo). Tell the kids their parents have to be there. (Always make sure the decision makers see the intro classes)

Tell them that the best way to get their parents to bring them to the class is to say, “Mom, do you remember that girl in Sarasota, FL who was kidnapped? They showed the video on TV? We had a guy today who teaches kids how to keep that from happening to them. It’s a free class tonight at 6pm and I’d like to go. Would that be OK?”

Take some questions and then tell them it’s time for you to try to set a new school board breaking record. You are going to break as many boards as possible in 30-seconds. Say the record is 10 (or any number you know you can beat).

Tell them they have to be the judge and counter. The ground can’t break the board you have to.

You want to create excitement and anticipation with this, so tell the kids they have to count real loud to help you get “psyched up” to do this. Tell them that once you start, you are not going to stop. Have a little fun and at the same time, let them know this is not easy by saying:

“No matter how much it looks like it hurts, you have to keep counting.

No matter how much blood you see, you have to keep counting.

Even if every bone in my hand turns to mush, you have to keep counting.”

Have the PE coach be the official timer.

Tell them to make sure this is going to work, you have to hear them count first (this is actually part rehearsal, part energy builder). Say, “Every time I clap my hands I want to hear you yell the number! Ready!” Clap-One! Clap-Two!   Clap-Three! (This is important so they will actually count loud during the board breaking)

Then, with a little “psych up” start say, “OK. Here we go. Timer ready? Counters ready? When say go, start the timer. Ready GO!” Then start grabbing boards with one hand and chopping and punching them as fast as you can with the other.

When it’s done, whatever the number, turn and bow and yell, “YES! That ‘s the power of focus. That’s the power of confidence. That’s the power of the martial arts and I want to teach it to you. Remember, drop your name in the box and tell your parents you want to take that class tonight. Thank you!”

Bow out.