Tonight I performed a martial arts demonstration in front of some 100-150 people. Alone. As a bit of background, I’ve studied Tang Soo Do for about 12 years. Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial arts style over 2,000 years old, and is closely related to Tae Kwon Do. I study under Grand Master Young Ui Min at Min’s Karate in Camp Hill, PA. My mother runs a preschool karate class called Mini Dragons which my sisters and I help teach. My father doesn’t do karate because he says, “I have you girls to protect me.”
This wasn’t my first demonstration. I’ve been a member of the Min’s Karate Demonstration Team for about 6 years. You can see one of our more recent videos HERE, although the end is cut off because the camera battery died. Being a demo team member has given me plenty of experience, and I’ve been on stage alone before. However, each time I was on stage, I had the rest of the demo team nearby, providing support.
Tonight was my first demonstration alone. We had an International Dinner at the college where I’m studying abroad, McDaniel Europe Budapest Campus. The dinner involved food from the different countries and a talent show. Two days ago, I finally decided to sign up for the talent show portion, and wound up with the opening act spot. BreAnna nearly fell out of her chair, laughing, when I told her.
So, at 6pm this evening I arrived ready to go, full of adrenaline and nerves. They were soon tamed as the minutes plodded by and there was no announcement for the talent show. I couldn’t do more than nibble at the multitude of available foods because my stomach was a mess. I tried inconspicuously stretching in a corner, but the room was extremely crowded and I didn’t want to draw attention (yet). Finally, close to 7pm, they announced that we had 5 minutes. I’d been ready to perform since I got myself dressed in sweats at 5:00. I was very nervous, but I had chosen two forms that I am very familiar with, so I wasn’t overly worried.
I stood in front of a room full of people talking about who knows what. So, I started yelling my introduction, and they started quieting down. Trust me, I can shout over people if need be. After I introduced myself and gave an introduction to my performance I began my first form.
I started going through the form’s motions, and moving across the floor towards the multitudes staring at me. There was a lot of chatter, which annoyed me because I’m used to people being relatively quiet during a performance. When I was a few feet from the audience, I threw my kick and kiyaped. Surprise! Everyone began freaking out. There was a lot of laughter and so many eyebrows dancing across the room that I turned and screwed the form up.
I was so shocked by the audience’s reaction that I did the wrong step. This is unusual because I generally don’t have trouble during a performance. The misstep didn’t worry me, and I improvised to get back on track (although it reduced the amount of room I could move in). I returned to the correct form, and continued, expecting the noise to die down, but it continued and each time I screamed there was shocked laughter. The talking never stopped, in fact they began to talk louder, so I began to increase the volume of my keyap. I finally completed the first form and bowed to a wave of applause. The positive reception felt amazing, but I wasn’t finished yet.
Since I didn’t want to take up too much time I had to shout over the chatter to bring the students’ attention back to my act. I gave a brief explanation about using everyday items as replacements for the weapons that we’re trained to wield. The point of this was to clarify why I was using a fork for a knife form. Mainly it was because the person who I talked to about the demonstration wasn’t comfortable with the idea of me using a butter knife. So, I compromised and used a fork, promising not to kill anyone.
As I started my form there was still a large amount of chattering, and as I keyaped, once again, people were startled. Across the room from me, people flinched. Maybe they weren’t expecting the intensity or concentration I displayed. I don’t claim to be amazing at martial arts, I’m pretty average, but perhaps there were people who hadn’t seen a demonstration. Maybe to them, I was a kick-ass black belt stepping out of the movies into real life (maybe I’m dreaming). I know the room held people from all around the world, Spain, Iran, Germany, China, Norway, Israel, Japan, etc. I don’t know how popular martial arts is in other countries, or exactly what the students were expecting when I announced I was doing karate. Martial arts is often viewed as a male sport, and I’m a small female. My appearance isn’t intimidating, until I start doing karate.
The talking, however was still annoying, and didn’t just color my act, it continued into other acts. Most of the audience was polite during the performances, but the few people that were talking really bothered me. It particularly annoyed me when they were talking during music acts. A student played Bach on his violin, and people were talking! It was a group of guys in the back of the room who were being rude, and inconsiderate. If they were so bored, they should have just left. There wasn’t a moment of solely violin music, for every second there was an unwanted vocal accompaniment. I felt bad for the guy. If I was unnerved by the constant chatter through my performance, which in normal performances evokes some surprise and laughter, then how did he feel, playing his violin and hearing people talk?
Overall, I very much enjoyed the talent show. I had fun demonstrating Tang Soo Do as a representative of Min’s Karate and a representative of the U.S. The acts that followed me were amazing, except a slapped-together, albeit funny version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” It was funny solely because it was uncoordinated and the guys weren’t serious about it. The final act was my favorite. A group of guys, I believe from Spain, put together a brilliant and funny act. They used black sheets to make it seem as though there were three midgets dancing on a table. Two people made up one midget. The front person became the midget’s head and chest. He used his arms as legs with shoes on his hands. The back person slid his arms through the front person’s sweater to give the midget arms and hands. The black sheets prevented us from seeing the back person, effectively completing the illusion of three midgets dancing on a table. Then, they went through a selection of songs, moving and dancing about. It was hilarious and very well coordinated, particularly since the midgets could slow-motion jump or float at will.