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Raising the concentration level

First off, my apologies for the elapsed time since my last post…

Things have been a little crazy. In all honesty I’ve barely had time to write leading up to last month’s WEKAF Stickfighting World Championships – a lot of hours being eaten up right there…

And today I’m off to Australia for 10 days so there’ll be another break from posting here, but before I go I wanted to share with you a little exercise I did this week with my 5-7 year old class and then again with my adults. Surprisingly the little guys did this better!

If you teach kids you’ll know how challenging it can be for both you and them to hold their concentration when doing basics, especially line work (stepping forward/backward making basic technique). It gets repetitive. It gets boring. And with the level of ADHD out there these days, it’s even harder than ever for kids to focus while they step and punch.

One of the ways I get students to stop tilting their head down is to have them balance something on the top of their head as they step from stance to stance. A pad, a pillow or a paper cup work well. But this time I dared to try something that would for sure increase their concentration level. And for me I was wondering if I would regret my impulsive decision to have them attempt this…

This time I gave them the paper cup filled with water. I had my students line up at one side of the room and carefully placed the cup of water on their head and asked them to practice oi zuki (lunge punch/step over punch) very slowly and carefully from one side of the room to the other.

The rules were simple… make it across the room without spilling the water then step backwards making gedan barai (lower block) to the start position. You spill it – you get wet. You spill it – you wipe up the mess.

What followed was the highest level of concentration I’ve seen from my 5 year olds. Very carefully they moved back and across the room with more focus than a guided missile. And the joy on their faces after they successfully completed the task was priceless.

Later that night my adults tried the same exercise, and again the concentration level was raised. I guess spilling cold water down the back of your gi, having to clean it up or being the first to fail at the task was incentive enough for students to give their best.

This exercise was a huge success with only a couple of casualties from the cup o water concentration exercise!

Try it if you dare…

– Jason

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