Refocussing with a Splash

Brrrriiiiinnnnngg! Brrrriiiiinnnnngg!

Somebody’s phone rings…

Honk! Honk!

A car drives by…

“Excuse me? Could I get some information?”, someone else asks.

Even the slightest distraction like another student whispering or a belt coming untied…

These and a hundred more things distract students during training.

One of my pet peeves (and I dare say one of yours too) is when students lose focus during kata practice.

Drives me frikken nuts!

But the good news is this happens a lot less than it used to… AND if you can relate to what I’m saying, I’ve got some things you can try to help refocus your students.

Rant Warning!

Let me interject for the briefest of moments. Is it just me or does there seem to be a disproportionate amount of ADHD these days? Sure, some kids seriously have a condition that needs attention. But then there’s this condition I like to call SYOB which is very similar to ADHD, but it doesn’t require medication or any special treatment.
SYOB – simply stands for Six Year Old Boy or Seven Year Old Boy. That’s it. They’re boys. They’re visual learners. They’re easily distracted. No medication required. Just need to be taught to correct their action and refocus. However, when combined with PPS (Poor Parenting Skills) SYOB is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. Perhaps you’ve seen it too?
– –  end of rant  – –

Back to the task at hand. Now where was I?

Oh, that’s right – distractions and how to refocus our students. So how do you do it?

Well, one option is you can YELL!

A well placed yell with an equally loud double clap every now and again causes a PATTERN INTERRUPT, which breaks the behavioral pattern of your student. Once you have their attention, simply and kindly remind them to concentrate, to look straight ahead and focus on what they’re supposed to be doing. Consistent yelling however is really a low level solution that causes long term negative issues. Use it sparingly (and without anger attached).

Another option is to HIT!

But you know, striking your students isn’t typically good for business. Again, it’s a low level solution that embeds negativity and resentment. Of course part of training requires body conditioning, but there’s a time and place for that. Striking your students across the knee with a stick doesn’t make them want to bend it further. Probably a good idea to steer clear of this one.

My favorite method is to CHALLENGE!

Yep. The concept is to challenge your students. Have them WANT to excel through various karate drills and exercises that promote this notion. One such exercise is to have students do their “line work” with a cup of water on their heads. Yes, real water, in a cup, on their heads.

Kata practice
Concentration is a must unless you want to get wet!

This exercise provides both positive and negative incentives. Positive incentive is to BEAT the challenge. Negative incentive is to avoid getting wet. Plus it’s fun. Just make sure you have a mop and towel handy. This is a lesson that has a BIG impact on your students. They’ll remember it. And because of that, you can always remind them to “focus like you did when you had the cup of water on your head”. Give it a try and see if it helps refocus your students.

And as for PPS, sorry but I can’t really help you. Remember, that’s why THOSE kids are in your program in the first place – to learn discipline and respect.


13 thoughts on “Refocussing with a Splash”

  1. Love the rant! Right on. Really like the cup of water idea…may be a bit messy, but you’re right – they’ll remember it and it becomes a quick reference point in future classes.


    • Hi Todd,

      “The rant” – ah, yes. You know sometimes you just got to get it off your chest.

      The cup of water idea IS messy, but well worth it IMO. I tried it with my youngest kids class on Tuesday night – let me tell you it got a lot wetter a whole lot quicker…

      Thanks for your feedback.


  2. Thank you for the refreshing idea of ‘water in a cup’. Its true what you say about the students relating to such things. Just last night, I was teaching them to do a kiba-dach stance(horse stance) and those knees just didn want to open up. I had one of those BIG fitness balls nearby and just placing it infront of them, they got the stance right. After every step, without touching the ball, I’d say to them ‘where’s the ball’ and straight away, those little legs will bend open to the perfect stance. Thank you for educating us teachers-we need it so much.

    • Thanks Leonora,

      Glad you liked the cup exercise. And I got to say I like your idea too. Anything you can use that makes a reference back to what you’re explaining, or through the use of analogies and visual aids, help tremendously.


  3. Hi Jason
    When we split them into groups with different sempai,s they want to focus on what the other group is doing. Loosing concentration in the process.

    This sounds like a good idea and will definitely use it.


    • Hi Themba,

      I hear you… that’s always a challenge when you split into groups. You might like to have the groups face opposite directions. I’ve found that helps.


  4. Hi, like the idea of water, but the thought of lot “wet” kids may not go down well with parents. Could replace water with beads so that if falls off – kid them have to pick-up!

    • Hi Clive,

      Thanks for your input.

      It’s been over 100f / 38C here for the last couple of weeks so it wasn’t an issue for my students. But of course if you live in a cold climate that might be an issue like you said.

      I’ll tell you now there won’t be an “if the cup falls” moment, rather a “when the cup falls” moment. At that stage you’re gonna have a billion beads all over the floor. It’s gonna be one heck of a chain reaction. One word comes to mind – pandemonium!

      Send me some photos!


  5. Hi Jason
    I think it’ll be a good exersice too and will try it out. Clive has got a point about 15 wet kids running around, and maybe I could start with beads and 10 push-ups if they loose it. Then they can “advance” to water. But the idea about challences instead of shouting is the point!

  6. How about a cup of fire in the colder climates? No water involved, and it will really get the attention of your students. Seriously, anything that focuses students and teaches a skill gets my vote.

  7. I’m trying this with my kids classes this week. We’re going outside into the cold UK September with cups of water on heads! I have warned parents in advance that there might be a few soggy clothes. Means they’ll just have to work harder to stay warm! I’ll be taking the camera with me too. I did have a go myself today (in the rain, so I got wet anyway!) – it is quite tricky at first!


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