Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Cautionary Tale - Demostrations

I am sharing this article with you as a cautionary tale.



Breaking and performing what are ‘stunts’ has a long history within the martial arts of many countries. Often for public show.



In our practice, mostly within the dojo, it is not one we have focused on.


But a skilled performance shows skills developed and can play to a crowd at the same time.


Let me talk about breaking first.


You are breaking something that can be broken. For example no one tries breaking plywood.


Back in 1976 when I moved away from Salisbury, I could not find Isshinryu in Scranton, Pa. The most prevalent art there was Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. One of the practices they used was incorporating breaking into their testing program. Most were simple breaks and I never had any difficulty with them.


Then we hosted a tournament, one with breaking divisions at every belt level. As I was a red belt. It was expected we all compete in Kata, breaking and fighting.


All of the other red belts were using flying side kick breaks. Now I was never  built for flying kicks and was going to use other breaking techniques.


The day of the competition all of the other red belts learned the hard way, flying kicks which work well in a quiet school setting, are much different in competition, with noise and in public. As it turned out all of those students, who could do great aerial kicks missed their breaks. I doing a three board front kick break followed by a back side kick through two boards, didn’t miss, and as a result took first place.


But this isn’t about my success. Rather there is often much more required for success.


I can recall many breaking divisions in those years at tournaments. Incorrect breaks sould injue you. As a rule, one should only get one chance. If it dosen’t break, whatever the reason, their try should be over.


At one of those tournaments a brown belt was doing a multiple break of cinder caps, using spacers, allowing space between the cinder caps. As it turned out the cinder caps didn’t break, but the judges allowed him to continue. He tried again, and again, and kept failing. With blood streaming down his forehead, the judges finally realized he would keep going with damage to himself. So they finally called him off. In retrospect, he was focused into trying, amd the judges didn’t call him off soon enough.


Now let’s focus on ‘stunts’ which there are many varieties. These are acts that are not commonly found in arts, perhaps, but appeal to the crowd. The problem is that they may go wrong. While I have many examples, some worse than this article, it alone is sufficient to make the point.


It things go wrong:

1.     The performer could be injured,

2.     The assistants could be injured.

3.     The audience could be injured.

4.     All of the above could occur.


Of course the promoter when allowing these events, should have foreseen the risks involved. But sometimes the desire to allow a show clouds judgment.


I suggest judgment be considered before allowing these events to proceed.

I do not know the individuals mentioned in this article, and am not making judgment on their actions, but offering this as a cautionary tale for the instructors in my program.

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