Demonstrating a technique on Jason.

A week or so ago, I posted “Tips on Being Uke“* which was well received. In that post, I offered tips for being a demonstration partner.

But, what about the other side of the coin? If you’re a new or inexperienced instructor,  you need to learn a few tips about demonstrating on a uke.

First, we need to address the purpose of demonstrating techniques on someone in front of a class.

Most readers would say “Duh! It’s so that he can demonstrate proper technique, step by step.” Yes, but there’s more to it.

On a deeper level, this is also an opportunity for demonstration partner to experience good technique. To demonstrate the effectiveness of a technique, the instructor may go full speed. Uke is getting hands-on experience that bystanders are not receiving.

If that uke is an experienced martial artist, he or she can assist others in executing the demonstrated technique correctly, thus potentially accelerating the students’ learning process.

Demonstrating a technique on a demonstration partner for the purpose of ego satisfaction or for abusive purposes is surely not for the purpose of “instruction.” I’ve seen a couple of instances of this. To say the least, I lost respect for the instructor. For the instructors, don’t go there. Ego driven demonstrations is a surefire way to lose respect and students.

That said, I offer you some tips for demonstrating a technique:

(1)  For the advanced techniques, pick someone whose skill level you trust.

(2) Pick someone with whom you wish to share knowledge.

(3) For techniques requiring falls, pick someone who can take a break fall.

(4) For uptempo demonstrations, pick someone who can rock and roll with you.

(5) Pull uke aside and practice a technique a couple of times in order to smooth out your presentation and to prep the uke for the upcoming demo.

(6) For basic techniques, use different ukes and rotate through them. This can instill camaraderie among the students. “Hey, I got to be a demo partner!”  An increase in skill and confidence often follows after being uke a number of times.

(7) Don’t pass up a chance to use uke from different martial arts backgrounds. Caveat: make sure that they are respectful and are truly there with “empty cups” and are interested in learning your art. That said, this can be a great way to see a technique from a different perspective. For example, one of my students, who is a black sash in Wing Chun, often offered me great insights from his art. “That movement was just like bong sao!

(8) As thanks to uke, I’ll often show uke a variation or two of the technique that I had just demonstrated.

(9) If, after a demonstration, uke has a question regarding the technique, answer the question. I often learn a thing or two when answering a question. You just never know!

(10) Lastly, if you’ve got a beginner in class, using them as uke for a basic technique is a great way of making them feel a part of the group!

Over to you, do you have any tips from your experience to add to this list?

Let’s hear your tips!

*For the purposes of this post and for clarity, “uke” means “receiver of a technique” and, in layman terms, means “demonstration partner.”

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One thought on “10 Tips To Avoid Killing Your Uke

  • March 9, 2015 at 11:57 am

    LOL, love the title 🙂 I’ve often thought Sensei chooses people to be uke depending on whatever he or they need. Now I know! Great info to file away for about ten years from now when I am Sensei 🙂


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