Podcast 23: Joe Thambu Sensei special 2017 Aikido Shudokan Annual Demo interview edited excerpt
Mar 13, 2017
MO: The Aikido Shudokan Annual Demonstration is the biggest event for the dojo each year and yet many of the students may not fully understand or appreciate the role of the demonstration in relation to the dojo. Can you tell us a bit about your thinking behind the demonstration, what it’s all about, its purpose, its role for the students?
JTS: The demonstration itself is very much a family event. So, if you think about Christmas… then it’s all well and good to talk about family values but then not wanting to turn up for Christmas dinner with the family… it’s kind of pointless, isn’t it? So, you’ve got to be part of the family, you’ve got to take part in the events that make the family a community, you gotta take part in and put in if you want to be part of that family.
It should be something that you want to do because you want to represent your teacher, your dojo, and you want to represent yourself. This is your chance to speak for your art. This is your chance to speak for your dojo. And it says something about how much you value your art, how much you value the opinions of your teacher. If you want to promote your art, if you want to speak for your art, if you want to show the product that your teacher has produced, then step up, do the demonstration.
Teachers know what you want and what you can do, and the teacher will set you challenges through the form of a particular demonstration, they will make you do things that you didn’t think was possible. You have to 1) trust your teacher, 2) trust yourself, 3) believe in your art. If you can do those three things then the demonstration becomes a formality, almost. It’s training for it that leads you up to everything. It’s not the demonstration per se, it’s what the demonstration helps you achieve and what you can do and how you’ve improved and what you are afterwards.
I think the dojo should be, or is, a microcosm of the community. So, for me a successful demonstration is to get children to come up and do a demonstration, teenagers, young adults, people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s… for me, that’s a microcosm of a community… to see men, women, children, of all ages, all walks of life, doing a demonstration. That’s what I want. So, my challenge to everyone listening to this is, “What are you doing for your art? What are you doing for your teacher?”
So, if you wanna be part of… you want to put in to the demo, you want to show how much it means to you, train hard. Train hard, come in on the day, help out, put in, and that’s all I want. And I would be the happiest person if people did that. Nothing more, nothing more.
In the words of Takeno Sensei, when you do a Yoshinkan Aikido demonstration, every time you step on the mat to do something, you’re representing Shioda Gozo Kancho, or now, you’re representing the spirit of Shioda Gozo Kancho. So, everyone, bear that in mind. It is essential that when you step on the mat you understand who you’re representing, and you’re representing one of the legends, one of the giants of Aikido. That is our legacy, live up to that legacy.