Am I doing it right?

So I recently enrolled a new 10 year old boy in my junior program who’s done 6 months or so of MMA.

I spoke with his dad for quite a while on the phone, talking about their previous training (both father and son). Turns out the dad studied Shotokan years ago and though his son liked the MMA classes he was taking, he had recently become bored.

He was learning the same content over and over for the last few months. And as new kids joined the program, the students who had been there longer simply weren’t getting to learn any more new stuff.


(Common problem when you don’t have a ranking system and you don’t split your classes by rank.)

Anyway, the son is a great kid.

Pays attention.

Listens well.

And is open to corrections and loves learning.

In short, so far he’s a model student.

However, what surprised me was something his dad said to me on the phone after the second class.

“You know my son loves your class. He is really enjoying it and he loves it when you tell him when he’s doing it right. He told me that at the other school they never told him when he was doing it right, so he was never really sure….”

**** NEWSFLASH ***

Praise your students when they do well! It raises their self-esteem and confidence in their ability. When students FEEL they do well, they try harder. A simple “Nice job Nick!” or “That’s it Sarah, keep working hard!”, is all it takes.

If the only time you ever personally speak to a student is when you’re being critical, they’ll live in fear while in your dojo. Who wants to be called out in front of their peers for mistakes?

I sure as heck didn’t like that early on in my training.

How about you?

Remember as instructors our job is to not to “treat ’em mean and keep ’em keen”. It’s to empower our students to strive harder, to push further, and ultimately do better.

What do you tell your students when they excel?

12 thoughts on “Am I doing it right?”

  1. I always try and make sure my students leave the dojo feeling motivated and not devastated. Motivated students, give rise to confidant students and that leads to open minds and makes teaching easier.

  2. Hey Jason,
    Thanks again but I already ordered the 125 dynamic drills but my concern is that there is so much information that I don’t where to start so am asking how can I best use this book to get the best results, please tell me how, it’s a wealth of information I just want to get to know where to start from.
    Thanks Jason…

    • You’re welcome David.

      If you feel overwhelmed, just pick a drill or two to work on for your class. You don’t need to do it all at once.

      A good way is to decide what kind of class you want to teach… Then pick 2 drills from that section in the book and plug it in to your class.

      Hope this helps!


  3. Another great motivational tool is thanking and congratulating students after class within hearing range of their parents. They leave with a greater sense of pride. When you say, “You showed great focus today!”, that invariably kicks off a positive conversation between parent and child as their headed home. Thanks Jason!

  4. After teaching for many years Im sure I do this, but you can go automatic and its good to be reminded. I know I will be more mindful that my team and I are actually doing this and doing it well. Thanks for the kick. and I love the “motivated not devastated’ quote.

  5. You are right on the money with this. I myself use a praise correct praise method when correcting a student. Meaning I praise something they are doing right then correct them and have them do the correction then end with a praise for fixing whatever it was, even if it was a small correction. However I also make sure when they do something well, be it a simple push up or a tuff move of some kind, I give them praise. But only if they earned it.


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