Dealing With Hijackers

You know… I’m sure, that one of the most frustrating things as a teacher is trying to keep your class under control.

It only takes one little hijacker and before you know it you’re teaching at a circus, not a karate dojo.

I’m sure you know the feeling all too well – when your class is going great and then it happens. Litte Mister Attitude answers every question you ask with the complete OPPOSITE of what he knows to be the right answer, just to push your buttons…

Then other kids start to giggle and all hell breaks loose.

Since I’ve been using the Early Learning System, this happens 10 times less often than it used to, as kids really don’t WANT to mess around – they tend to take charge of their progress and are more focused. It usually only happens now when I have NEW kids attending class for the first time.

Anyway, if you do have a kid act up in class, you gotta “nip it in the bud” so to speak. Right there and then. If you let the first kid get away with ANYTHING, they’ll push you for more and then the whole class joins in until 1 of 2 things happen.

1) You completely lose it and yell like there’s no tomorrow. THE SHOCK FACTOR usually gets kids’ attention for the rest of the class, but the negatives associated with it far outweigh the immediate results you get.

In other words, bringing in FEAR and ANGER only generate more FEAR and ANGER in your class. They might behave out of fear, but this does little for the growth of your kids – and absolutely kills the growth of your club!

If your kids’ parents see you behave like that, you’re slitting your own throat. After all, you’re supposed to be the SENSEI – in their eyes a master of the martial arts. A person with patience, self control and a calm demeanor, right?

Why would a prospective parent join a club based on FEAR and ANGER? Do you think you’ll get many referrals operating from that perspective? If you do, guess what? The types of people you’ll attract will be the same way, and you’ll have an entire class of little demons to work with.

Been there, done that, not going back.

2) You persevere and be patient… again and again and again. You might tell them “One more time and I’ll….” – but if you never follow through on your promise, kids will call your bluff.


The result – loss of credibility and lack of control.

Do you ever get those parents call you and say “I’d like to put my kid in your class because he has disciplinary problems and I think martial arts will help.”?

Well, guess what?

The problems lie at home with parents often using one of the above 2 options to get kids to behave. No wonder they’re messing around in class, right?

Well, don’t despair – here’s my disciplinary procedure….

It’s taken me years to refine and stick to, and the funny thing is that it’s actually really simple. =)

It works great and goes hand in hand with the Early Learning System. As the ELS is about maintaining a positive approach, empowering your students to take charge of their own progress and rewarding them often for achieving their goals, the following acts as the STICK in the “carrot and the stick” equation (as we’ve already got the drive for continual improvement and achievement in place).

Are you ready?


First some definitions…

Dealing With Negative Behavior

Minor infringements include things like:

– talking when sensei is talking
– continuing an exercise after “yame”
– messing around with other kids
– disobedience
– bad attitude

Major infringements include things like:

– striking another student with intent to hurt
– physically or verbally abusing the sensei
– disrespecting the dojo

Use the following guide to deal with bad behavior for minor infringements. For major infringements – jump directly to #4 or #5.

1st infringement – warning (depending on the severity).
2nd infringement – timeout (set the number of minutes equal to the age of the child).
3rd infringement – demotion to white belt.
4th infringement – expulsion from class.
Repeated infringements – expulsion from club.

Now when I put this system in place all of a sudden there was CONSISTENCY! Kids new exactly what was next if they didn’t behave. There wasn’t any confusion.

I’ve tried negative physical punishment and a whole bunch of other stuff, but the above system works far better.

It’s hard and takes a lot of practice on your part, but when you make this commitment to your teaching system, you’ll find that your kids will transform from demons to angels.

– Jason

P.S. Please post your comments here! I want to hear YOUR stories and methods too.

What Are The Points For?

In my last post you might have picked up that I award my 4-7 year olds “points” for doing well in an activity, winning a game or just behaving well. When I tell people about the “points”, they ask “What are the points for?”

Well it’s not like a credit card membership program where they can be redeemed for prizes… And it’s not like they can actually do anything else with the points… They’re just “points”.

They have no value other than the value the kids give them. So for a class of 4-7 year olds, man, points are cool! You should see their faces when they get awarded points! They love it.

Points are awarded for effort or great results.

But here’s the thing…

If you decide to use my proprietary point system =) then you gotta do it in the right way.

You have to award a HUGE number of points for the kids to get excited. You can just say, “Great job David – here’s one point.”

It’s got to be something to blow their minds, but at the same time a number that they can comprehend. I found that 5,000 points is a good number, 10,000 if you have an activity and it’s the “final” round, or if you really want to get them excited go bigger.

Points are a great motivator for bad behavior too. If you have a kid who is goofing off in class, simply take 5,000 points away from them. Within about 5 seconds their behavior usually improves 10 fold.

Now here are some things you need to know about points.

Warning #1 – The larger the number, the more excited the kids get.

Warning #2 – Points are a double edged sword. Kids who don’t get points can get upset.

Warning #3 – Points don’t usually work for older kids or adults. =)

Use points in your next class and see how it well it works. Be enthusiastic when you give your points and you’ll see the energy in the room rise instantly.

– Jason

Blood Noses, Wobbly Teeth and Wet Pants

You know last night was one of the most challenging Pee Wee classes (ages 4-7) that I’ve taught in a while.

Here’s why…

First, I usually have an assistant or two to help out. Junior students make great assistants. They learn, you learn and the class learns. It’s a win-win-win.

Anyhow last night I had 14 yellow to blue belts in one of my Little Ninja classes – yes all aged between 5-7… and for the first time in a LONG time, no assistants.


Within the first 5 minutes of class I had:

one boy with a blood nose thanks to an accidental head butt
another two kids run into each other because they were not looking where they were going – the result – a bloody and wobbly tooth
2 kids arrive late of which one went on to wet his pants within the next 10 minutes

Two years ago, this would have freaked me out – I’m not sure that I would have coped all that well… I probably would have just curled up in the fetal position and cried…

For a few minutes it was a tornado of activity, but thanks to some experience, calm behavior and the class actually DOING WHAT I ASK THEM the rest of us got through it unscathed.

Now as I had to attend to the most pressing problem first (the blood nose) I had to leave the floor…

I know what you’re thinking – 13 kids left unattended for a couple of minutes equals a disaster. The room would be in worse shape than when I left right?


Thanks to the Early Learning System, my kids tend to behave a lot better than before I was using it. When I came back, sure they were talking quietly, but they hadn’t moved from their positions. I was proud of them and congratulated them for behaving so well.

I later had to leave the floor again to help with the child who wet his pants – oh man, where were my assistants?? – this time I employed a very useful game.

I said, “Ok, we’re going to play a game right now, it’s called ‘Quiet as a Mouse’. Remember you have to be as quiet as you can and the winner will get 5,000 points when I come back.”

Within 2 seconds my entire class sat down cross legged or in seiza and not a peep was heard. This allowed me to attend to the other problem, and when I returned, points were awarded.

Try this method for yourself whenever you have to leave class unattended for a minute – it works like a charm. =)

To your success!

– Jason