Exhibitions are major stepping stones when it comes to spreading the word about kendo and Japanese traditions in general. To take part in a kendo exhibition is a huge responsibility and it should not be taken lightly.
As a demonstrating kendoka you must face audience, sensei and teammates with the right mental and physical attitude. Check that uniform is properly tied and wears comfortably; check that bogu and shinai are in order, tie men and do firmly. Try to relax and calm your nerves, go through waza in your head or review program with your teammates if you find it soothing. Once you are in the open maintain full concentration on the action taking place. Remember, you are not at dojo so seek to perform at your peak level, with confidence. Become an excellent partner; stay alert and aware of your partner’s moves. Always use powerful kiai. Minor slip-ups during exhibition are guaranteed so don’t fret about them and continue onward until exhibition is over. Be cheerful and friendly before, during and after demonstration.
Finally, a good thing to have is a narrator with a microphone or loudspeaker that introduces the group to the audience, explains actions unfolding and delivers a brief description of kendo while kendoka change positions and put on bogu. It helps move things along and keeps audience motivated and interested.
To take part in a kendo exhibition is a great honor and an amazing experience. It doesn’t matter if your participation was less than stellar, surely there will be other opportunities to shine. What’s important is that you are learning to overcome your natural fears and you are showing character and commitment to kendo as an art and as a way of life.