(it’s pronounced ‘kara-tay’)
Today I spent five hours stood outside the karate stall at the UCL Freshers’ Fair attempting to sell a centuries-old martial lifestyle to people completely disinterested in the practice, using nothing but a rapidly-dwindling supply of fliers and making jokes about people’s t-shirts (seriously, girl with the Bowling For Soup shirt, tell Jared I said ‘hi’).
Overall, I think the day was a success; there were plenty of people who came to the stall because they actually wanted to join the club, a few who signed up to the mailing list on a whim but seem up for a new thing, and loads of people with a tentative interest in martial arts, who came to life when I told them that the first few sessions would focus on self-defence, and would cater to participants of all abilities and experiences. Sure, I wasted a few fliers, literally throwing them at people in the hope that they would take them home and follow us on Twitter (@uclukarate for those interested), and my knees and voice are shot from peddling crap to people, and I never did pop over to American Football to help out there, but none of these things were the main part of my day; we set out to shout about fliers to people, and for the post part, we did it.
Obviously, it won’t count for much if we don’t get a strong group of new members for the coming year – not least because a society with fewer than 30 paying members has its union affiliation revoked and kinda stops existing – so in many ways the work starts here. Freshers’ Fair is important, but people who want to learn karate will come, regardless of how well or poorly you sell it to them, and a combination of peer pressure, how one feels on the day, and the existence of freebies all have big impacts on who joins what, all of which are beyond the control of most stall-holding footsoldiers. We need to engage with these new members, making them feel welcome in our club as friends and martial artists, and we’ll get awesome people, and well-qualified fighters, out of it at the end of the year.
Stage one of karate committeeing is complete, now just a million more to go.