Removing Boredom from Basic Repetitions

You know as well as I that student boredom is the number one reason for students to quit karate. As karate instructors we have the responsibility to keep our students motivated, focused and working hard. However some students would rather watch paint dry than do basic reps.

BORING!

dojoSo how do you keep your class interested and still get them to do basic repetitions with the passion they once had?

It’s easy… just involve them in the learning process.

I’ll say that again just in case you missed it.

Involve them in the learning process.

This keeps them ENGAGED and INTERESTED and keeps BOREDOM on lock-down.

For example, instead of simply having your class do 20 lunge punches, followed by 20 front kicks, and then 20 back kicks, ask for your students’ involvement.

Here’s what a typical day at my dojo might sound like during the basic repetition portion of class.

“Who can name one hand technique?”, I ask.

“Oi-zuki!”, shouts one student. (That’s Japanese for lunge punch)

“Ok, great”, I say, “Who can give me another technique. This time with the legs?”

“Mawashi geri!”, shouts another. (Roundhouse kick)

“Perfect. Ok so here’s our new combination technique. First you make oi-zuki then immediately make mawashi geri off the rear leg. Ready! Ichi… Ni…. San…”

Once my class is done with the first set of 10 reps for this new combination, we switch sides and repeat. Then it’s on to the next one.

“Ok, next combination… Joseph – name a technique.”

“Mae geri”, he answers.

“Thank you. Someone else?”

“Uraken”, says Tommy.

“Ready, step forward into your fighting stance, kamae-te!”, I shout.

“Mae-geri / uraken combination on my count…. Ichi… Ni… San…”

This is a great way for you to have your students do their basic reps every class but with a twist. They never know exactly what the combination will be, so that keeps them focused and interested. It’s also a great cognitive karate exercise because they are challenged mentally to put together combinations they may never have practiced or thought about before.

You can scale up the difficulty of this exercise in the following ways:

  • increase the number of techniques per combination
  • make the combinations only hand techniques, only leg techniques, or combination hand-leg techniques
  • restrict the techniques to only one side of the body
  • etc

Your class will always be challenged no matter the skill level or experience.

What other ways can you think of to modify this exercise?

Your feedback and comments are always welcome.

Force Your Students to Chamber Their Kicks…

karate drill for chambering your leg correctly
I tell my students – “You kick the bo and you get 2 things – a sore foot and 20 push ups. Make sure you chamber your leg properly!”

Here’s a simple karate drill to force your students to chamber their legs correctly for kicking.

This works great for front kick, round kick, side kick, back kick, hook kick… any kick that requires the knee high and the leg compressed. This in turn creates faster, more powerful kicks.

And who doesn’t want that?

All you need is a bo and 2 kick shields.

Just have your student pair up and lay the bo across the pads as shown. Have one student be the target and stand in the “pod” while the other will work for 60 seconds making combination techniques.

All kicks will need to be chambered properly otherwise the bo will be disrupted from it’s position. Have your students work 3 sets of 60 seconds each, alternating each time.

Have fun!

– Jason

 

 

The star of the show…

“Waaaa-taaaah!”

“Hey karate-man!! whaaaaa!”

The class walked by and while most smiled and waved, a couple of  young boys made karate chops in the air while simultaneously running their mouths.

What the hell? Was I being heckled by 4th graders? You bet I was…

Part of me wanted to walk over and break the kid’s elbow. Then in my best Austrian accent drop a cool Arnold Swarzzenegger-style one-liner, “Better catch up to your class…. chop chop!”

whaaataaah

My inner-adult however decided that might not be the best action, and so I chose to ignore the hecklers and smile at the friendlies.

Incidentally when did it become okay to be disrespectful to adults?

Oh wait, yep… I can’t pretend I never did it, but I tell you the day I got chased down by some older teenagers, one of who gave me a well placed uppercut to the solar plexus, fixed my attitude problem.

So anyway, back to my story….

I was invited to a career day at an elementary school along with some firefighters, paramedics, air force mechanics and wait for it – a UFC referee. (Super nice guy, but am I missing something here or do all kids from kinder to 4th grade watch the UFC?). We were invited to talk to the kids about the importance of hard work, continued education and commitment.

For 3 hours I did the same 15 minute presentation to each group, explaining to them what it takes to follow your dreams, how you should endeavor to be a good person, always do your best and learn something new every day. I intertwined the presentation with some basic karate exercises and techniques to keep the classes engaged and learning. For the most part it went nicely and the students responded well.

So after 8 classes and a couple of hours, guess who arrived?

Yep, you got it. My hecklers.

Oh, this was gonna be fun!

So I begin and I ask the class a few questions to which one of my 10 year old hecklers bucks the system – he disagrees with EVERYTHING I say (as expected). He’s got it in his head that he knows it all and has life all figured out.

Excellent.

I mean, who doesn’t at 10 years old?

So anyway I continue my class and Mr Interuptus interjects again. So at that point I ask for a volunteer – several hands shoot up, but not his… but of course I choose him. (Heh, heh, heh!)

I reach over and take his baseball cap off of his head (his security blanket) at which point he becomes compliant. He doesn’t want to be the volunteer but he’s not going to back down either.

“What’s your name?”, I ask.

“Alex. Well, Alexander”, he says sheepishly.

“Ok, thanks Alexander”

I ask Alex to bow as I bow to him, and he gives me a nod of his head. I pause and explain that respect begins with doing your bow properly, etc, and finally he executes a nice bow. Aha… we’re getting somewhere.

I say to the class, “Give Alex a clap!”.

The class cheers. Alex smiles bashfully.

“Now Alex is going to show the rest of you guys how to do a PERFECT pushup!”, I announce.

Alex’s eyes widen and he swallows hard.

Think about the psychology here – he’s been called out to perform, but doesn’t really want to, but doesn’t want to back down either. Seems like a good time to step up to the plate and show the class what he’s made of…

Alex drops and gives me 10 perfect push ups. Man, this kid is an over-achiever… could make a black belt one day with the right training. I congratulate him and tell him he did an AWESOME job!

We bow and I ask the class to give Alex a round of applause. He again smiles bashfully and I return his hat.

Alex is now on cloud 9.

The naughty kid just became the star of the show. At the same time he learned a little about respect and got a much needed self-esteem boost.

If you ever have disruptive students, this concept is key to unlocking their good behavior. Instead of coming down on them and lecturing them on what they SHOULD do, which they hear countless times a day, flip everything on it’s head and make them the star of the show. It’s amazing how well this works.

Pretty soon your disruptive students will become role models for the rest of your class.