One more time and I’ll… One more time and I’ll… One more time and I’ll…

My daughter Olivia just turned 3 years old.

Usually my wife takes her to her swimming class once a week, but Olivia was sick a couple of weeks ago so I took her along for her “make up class”.

(And no it’s not some kind of aqua-cosmetic thing in case you were wondering).

Anyhow after class had finished last week we were in line at the front counter waiting to be served. There was a family in front of us who was taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R…

I’m usually a pretty patient person, but I could feel myself getting older by the second.

The reason they were taking so long was because the 4 year old daughter in front of us was running the show. The father stood to the side completely tuned out, inattentive and not present. The mother fussed and buzzed around the daughter with weak attempts to get her to hurry up and make her selection (she was having trouble choosing a sticker – critically important stuff you know!).

“Come on Tiffany, please choose which one you want”, begged the mother.

Out of the corner of Tiffany’s eye she smirked and deliberately picked up 3 stickers.

“I said one sticker Tiffany. Put the others back and choose one”, requested Tiffany’s mother again.

The daughter put them back, and now picked up 2 others and then decided to pick some more items from the baskets at the front of the counter.

“Tiffany, put those back right now and choose one sticker!”, said her mother with a little more urgency.

This time Tiffany completely ignored her and continued to do her own thing.

“Tiffany, people are waiting. Choose a sticker now. I’m going to count to three…”, warned the busy-bee mother.

Tiffany continued to ignore and explore.

“One…. Two…. Three…”

Tiffany still did her own thing.

“Tiffany choose a sticker RIGHT NOW!”,  her mother demanded with an elevated voice.

Still no response from Tiffany. She just picked up more items, put some back, and continued to shop at her own will.

“Please Tiffany, choose one sticker. There are people waiting. You need to choose one sticker. Choose a sticker right now Tiffany”, begged the mother while pseudo dad zoned out.

At this point I wondered if Tiffany was deaf. She continued to ignore her mother and do her own thing.

This whole process continued on for another couple of minutes, with plenty of “One more time and I’ll…” type warnings from her mother, however she never followed through.

Clearly Tiffany didn’t respect her parents or even acknowledge their presence. She knew they were there and she heard every word, but refused to comply. Clearly she hadn’t been taught to follow directions.

Finally the mother picked her up and Tiffany screamed like a banshee as she was carried from the premises.

Olivia looked at me and asked, “Why is that girl being naughty?”

The sad thing about this story is that there are sooo many kids without respect for their parents, teachers and in many martial arts schools, their sensei.

It’s important as teachers of our younger generation that we instill the foundations of respect in our students.

Start by enforcing rules and follow through on your warnings the first time. Avoid being a “One-more-time-and-I’ll” Sensei.

Secondly, never, ever, reward a child for attention-demanding behavior. Eg. Never coddle a child who is faking an injury, spontaneously crying in class, etc. Giving attention and coddling encourages more of the same. It only strengthens their belief that they should act poorly or cry for attention.

It’s important that we uphold the general belief of instilling respect and discipline. Goodness knows there are too many martial arts schools out there that are run like daycare centers without a hint of discipline or respect being learned.

Your thoughts? Post ’em below!

– Jason

Stick to the lines!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know I like to use all kinds of tools and ideas to help students learn karate…

From cups and coins, to belts and pads, and of course sticks. Yep, the stick is my favorite training tool. And no, not because I like to spar with them, but because a simple bo staff is a great tool to help with stances, transitions and posture.

Last week when I was teaching kata to some of my beginner students, they were having an extremely challenging time making their angles precise. So many times students THINK that just because they turn their head a certain direction, they are FACING that direction, but their actual stance, feet position and body alignment could be 20, 30 even 40 degrees off.

I’m sure you know what I mean… you too have had students with stances more twisted than a baked pretzels, and so unbalanced they look like they might be standing on tightropes.

I’ve tried to use visual references like lines on the floor to help them understand where their feet should go, and while this cures stance alignment issues, like a bad drug it has side effects. In this case students tend to look down during kata – not exactly what we want.

Introducing the bo staff, again.

Simply place the stick on the ground exactly where you want your students to step. Tell them one foot must be on the left of the stick, the other on the right. This is cool because they can keep their eyes focused forward but if they misstep they’ll know about it immediately.

For example, consider Tai Kyoku Shodan – a basic kata that is familiar to most styles (the standard “I” shape), where the first move is a block down in forward stance to your left, followed by a lunge punch. The third move is a step behind with a downward block followed by a lunge punch. The fifth move sees a block down at 90 degrees to your left followed by 3 lunge punches…. and so on.

Simply lay out some sticks as shown. Notice the sticks laid down in directions 1&7 are slightly offset to the sticks at directions 2&8. Also the stick at direction 4 is slightly offset to direction 5.


I’ll let you use your gray matter to figure that out… =)

Anyhow, once you have laid down the sticks as shown, have your troubled students practice the kata and encourage them to keep their eyes up. They’ll soon learn to step more carefully and align their stances more precisely, as stepping on the stick can be uncomfortable.

(Please note there is a potential danger here to roll an ankle so please supervise and assist as your student learns.)

And of course this isn’t limited to just simple kata, and you don’t have to put sticks down for the entire kata either. Instead, have students practice just one transition that they’re having difficulty with, before moving onto the next. That way in a class of 8 students all you need is 8 sticks, and not dozens of them.

Try it out and see how it helps with developing good stances, accurate transitions and alignment.

Until next time…

– Jason

P.S. Of course if you’d like more great karate drills and exercises, be sure to check out my complete list here.