Demo Team: The Deepest Commitment to Tae Kwon-Do
I don’t expect all of my students to be as deeply committed to Tae Kwon-Do as I am.
I am realistic about the fact that my students try their hands at a number of different things, simultaneously. Particularly when it comes to other athletic pursuits.
But there are those students out there who are as deeply committed. They eat, sleep, and breathe Tae Kwon-Do. It’s their “thing,” and they see other sports or activities almost as a distraction.
Those students are who our “Pil-Sung” Demo Team is for.
The Demo Team is composed of the best of the best at our school. And at our school, where the general student is already fantastic, that’s really saying something.
“Demo Team” is short for Demonstration Team. They exhibit a variety of Tae Kwon-Do techniques including traditional forms, self-defense, board breaking, weapons, musical forms, and sparring exercises, all at the highest level imaginable. They perform at venues of all sizes, all over the country, and have access to some of the oldest training techniques in Tae Kwon-Do that regular students do not. So, they are not just the best of the best at our school, but they are among the best in the world as well.
Demo Team is one of a number of teams available for the above-average student to stay engaged and challenge themselves at a higher level. Black Belt Club is for students willing to commit to doing the work necessary to achieve Black Belt. Master’s Club builds upon that commitment. Our Junior Leaders and D.E.L.T.A teams (Dedicated, Enthusiastic, Loyal Teaching Associates) are designed to develop leadership skills, as well as good instructors.
The Demo Team is at the pinnacle of the groups we have. Every member of the Demo Team is deeply committed to Tae Kwon-Do, but not all committed students will have what it takes to join the Demo Team.
We don’t hold auditions or tryouts for the Demo Team. Membership is by invitation and selection only. We watch students; their progress, their attitude, their technique, their respect for the Dojang, what they are doing with their free time or downtime, how they push themselves to improve without any outside help. When we identify a special student ticking all of these boxes (and more), only then do we extend an invitation to join the Demo Team.
I have found that the more outstanding the student, the more they need to keep themselves engaged. Let’s say that Student A is at the top of their class, the best in the school. True, there will always be someone coming up behind them that challenges them. But for the elite student, this isn’t enough. These are people who constantly set goals, then achieve them. The Demo team is perfect for someone like this.
The Demo Team offers these elite students a chance to be leaders as well, because the Demo Team chooses what they demonstrate, and they develop their own performances.
I don’t guide the Demo Team. I like to stay hands-off. The most I will do is take the coordinators, Sabanim Sharratt and Sabanim Costello aside, and I’ll say “you need to get them moving on something like this,” and leave it at that. Sometimes, though, even the Sabanims are reluctant to push the Demo Team too hard.
I have heard people say that the Demo Team makes the school look good, like they’re an advertising tool or something. I can see that, but if I go out and do a demonstration at a high school, I’m actually not really advertising our school, I’m advertising every Tae Kwon-Do school in the area. Most kids don’t remember our name. If they are excited and inspired by the demonstration, they will likely just look for the closest school to them.
The Demo Team can sometimes have negative consequences, though. A lot of people get asked to be on the Demo Team and they want to do it, they think they’re committed, but they don’t actually know what commitment is.
Demo Team provides them the opportunity to develop that whole new level of commitment. But that means they can’t miss any practices. They can’t miss a single performance. They have to consistently go above-and-beyond what a normal student would want to do.
Unfortunately, I have lost a few students over the years because of it. They couldn’t hack it on the Demo Team and were taken off of it. Being stripped of that honor made them feel like a failure. They never recovered from it, and they gave up.
Another negative effect of the Demo Team is that it can cause resentment in students who feel like they deserve to be selected and never are. When we have these difficult conversations with angry students, it inevitably turns out that even though they’re working hard, they’re simply not putting in the time, effort, or commitment that the Demo Team demands.
The Demo Team does help with student retention, though. During yellow stripe tests, we will have them do a performance because we want to show people what they can be capable of, no matter how they feel right now.
Because, very often, the students on my Demo Team were not my best students when they first started out.
And that is the fundamental thing that sets a Demo Team member apart: They are not defined by their natural ability, they are defined by how hard they work.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!