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Rodeo Clowns

May 31, 2006

I’m privileged to be on the adult demonstration team at J. K. Lee Black Belt Academy. We go to shopping malls and outdoor events – wherever large numbers of people are gathered – and do martial arts demonstrations in the hopes that it inspires people to find out more. But sometimes we have a different audience. Sometimes our audience is other martial artists. Those are what I have begun to call rodeo clown gigs.

Take this coming Saturday, for example. Black belts of all ranks (including those hoping to become black belts in the first place) are going to the Brookfield school for testing. It is a grueling day. It starts with 100 pushups and 100 sit-ups, proceeds with examination on the full J. K. Lee curriculum, and ends with the breaking of concrete blocks with your hand – all in front of a panel of master instructors from the area. As you can imagine it is a tense day for many, and watching talented martial artists strive for advancement can be very dramatic. That’s where we come in.

We’re not clowning around, telling jokes or chasing bulls away from fallen riders. It’s not comic relief or safety that we bring to the event. We’re performing martial arts like everyone else, but we’re not competing or being tested; we’re there to provide entertainment, warm up the audience and to lighten the mood.

I’m particularly excited about the new self-defense routines we’ve prepared this time. I get to attack Mrs. Cullen with a stick! Unfortunately, I end up getting the worst of it. Such is the nature of demonstrations – and of the formidable Mrs. Cullen. (Sometimes I wish I had one of those barrels to jump into.)

I’ll try to take some pictures of the black belt testing. It’s always amazing.

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