Easy Way to Correct Karate Stances

So it’s been a busy month… my daughter turned 6, Uncle Sam wanted his share on April 15 and we also ventured to Las Vegas for the US Open and Junior International Cup.

In addition to that I’ve been really busy putting together (at your request) a special video training to help you get more students, which should be finalized later this month barring any further interruptions.

Anyhow, with all this commotion I’ve barely had time to scratch, let alone put together anything for the blog. But as my duty to you is to provide you with helpful content to make your teaching life easier, I wanted to share with you a quick photo I took last week in one of my junior classes.

I mentioned this some time back, but I thought a visual would help get the point across. You and I both know how challenging it can be sometimes to get students to stand properly. And the less experienced or younger the student, the more difficult it is to communicate the simple geometry involved. I’m a big believer in using training tools to help achieve results. One simple tool I use a lot is a bo.

This photo taken during a novice class. The bo helps students learn correct stance width. (Now we just gotta get the length correct!)
This photo taken during a novice class while doing some basic reps. The bo helps students learn correct stance width. Now we just gotta get the length correct, plus all the other finer points, but at least the width is taken care of!

As you can see each student has a bo laying on the floor, with their feet either side. This helps them avoid the narrow/side-on stance and forces them to have better posture. I do this with my classes every now and again when I see they need a reminder. From their forward position I’ll have my students practice basic kicks and punches, moving forward and backward.

Of course students are careful to avoid standing on the bo. The only challenge using this method is to have your students look forward (and not at the floor) while doing their repetitions. Other than that it’s a great way to help your novice grades with their basics.

There are tons of other ways to use the bo to help with stances and posture – for example you might require the front knee is bent over the toes, in which case you can randomly check a student’s stance by holding the bo vertically.

Or during kata practice to help with transitions to new directions, you might lay the bo on the floor to help students identify the next direction more precisely.

What other ways can you use a bo to help your students learn?

Creating Community Goodwill Through Charity

I often get asked, “How do I get more students?”

There are a ton of ways which I’m not going to go into today.


That would be an entire book by itself (and in fact one that I’m writing currently).

However, I do want to share with you one way I stumbled across last week to create exposure and goodwill in your community through charity. And this in my opinion is key to establishing a great community reputation and ultimately new students over the long term.

It’s simple and everyone wins. Your charity wins because they get paid. Your dojo wins because it creates a tighter group of students, families get involved and talk about it, etc. It’s also a great way to create community exposure through newspaper articles and social media.

Simply do a fundraiser, kick-a-thon, spar-a-thon, break-a-thon  or a whatever-a-thon at your dojo. Have your students get involved and then give away the raised funds to charity. You can donate all of the money or part of it. You might keep 50% for dojo upgrades for example and donate the rest. Or you might simply set a goal of donating $1000 to charity. Whatever feels right for you.

(In fact a friend of mine created a wildly successful fundraiser in which he raised and donated $14,000 this year alone! How awesome is that?)

Then simply go to the charity and tell them you want to make a donation. Notice I said “go to” and not “call”. There is a reason for that.

1795967_10152031925172076_1831520668_oOlivia and I with Ellen Bilney, director of development at AFV.

When I walked into Animal Friends of the Valleys (the local animal shelter) last week and told them I would like to donate $700 they welcomed me with open arms. The director of development came to greet me and my daughter and asked if we would like a tour of their premises. Of course I said yes. For 40 minutes Ellen showed Olivia and I AFV’s operation. It was impressive and we learned a lot.

I asked if it would be ok if we took a photo (to show the parents involved in the fundraiser we actually donated the money). Ellen said of course and offered immediately to post it online if I would simply email it to her.

So I did and within a couple of hours we were all over AFV’s Facebook page with loads of likes and comments from local people thanking and blessing me for our contribution. Wow. That was unexpected!

My intent was never one of self-promotion. It was simply one of charity. The byproduct of this action was community exposure and the creation of goodwill and reinforcement of a great reputation for my dojo in our community. And I’ll take that every day of the week.

This is something you can do to help the local charity of your choice and simultaneously create exposure for your dojo too…