Posted by: balladofyoko | November 15, 2008


I have been spending the last month or so coaching my dojo’s demo team. This is an outreach group that demonstrates aikido to places like schools, community centers, and conferences. Sensei had asked me if I would revive the team, as we haven’t had one in at least four years or so, back when I was participating as a blue belt.

We were invited to take part in a conference, so I had to act quickly. I sent out a message to selected members whom I thought would perform well in a demo setting, and asked if they were available. From those who responded, we got together, worked out a practice schedule, and I fleshed out a script of techniques that I thought would look interesting to the uninitiated. We practiced every week until the conference.

I was actually unable to go to the demo, as I had an unavoidable schedule conflict, but from all accounts, I heard it went well– the team performed smoothly, and the conference goers were impressed by our demonstration.

Sensei praised and thanked me for coaching the team. I said that the team put in the work. They’re a good bunch of people, and really easy to work with.

In advanced class the following week, I had the good fortune to practice with someone I haven’t practiced with in a very long while. We worked through a technique together, really tested each other’s weak points and learned a lot from each other. At the end of class, I told him that I enjoyed working with him, and that it was a real treat after not having practiced with him in so long. He felt the same way about our practice too. He also said that he felt I’ve improved a lot. I replied that I’ve learned so much from him, and from the other instructors. He said, “They had guided you, but you did all the work.”

And the circle goes on.


  1. Wow, what a nice experience to have!

  2. Hi Yoko,
    Our dojo recently did a demonstration also. It was at the de Young museum here in San Francisco in conjunction with an exhibit on Asian-American modern art, so Kokikai Aikido fit perfectly with the theme of the exhibit. We were part of a very full program and thus only had 10 minutes, including setting up and breaking down the mats. I debated long and hard about how we could most effectively use our time. In the end, I settled on a 2 minute speech briefly describing the history and philosophy of Kokikai (yes, definitely very brief!), followed by 8 people throwing for 30-60 secounds each, followed by me throwing everyone (one at a time) for about 2 minutes. I finished with 1 minute recruitment pitch while everyone else broke down the mats.
    There are photos and video of the demo here:

    I’m curious what your demo team typically does, how you find gigs and what you would suggest if for a 10 minute demo.

    Hope to see you at Winter Camp!

  3. Hi Robert! Good to hear from you! Thanks for sending the photos and videos of your demo– it sounds like you had an enthusiastic crowd!

    Our demo that I had described here was for 30 minutes, and we were solicited for a conference presentation– one of the aikidoists has a connection to the coordinator of that conference. I haven’t been actively looking for other opportunities to demonstrate aikido, though perhaps we should be. I’d be happy to send you a script of what we did at our demo if you like. It’s tailored to the participants’ strengths, mostly.


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