Your words have impact…

Love him or hate him, Sensei John Kreese from the “Karate Kid” became famous in pop-culture.

On entering the dojo Daniel-san hears Kreese ask his class:

“Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

“Pain does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

“Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

Sensei John Kreese warning Miyagi Sensei back in 1984’s movie “The Karate Kid”

What you say in your classes has an impact on your students. It affects their mindset, their performance and ultimately the way they feel about karate. That affects morale and your student retention.

Kreese used negative reinforcement to instill fear into his students and then ironically stated that “Fear doesn’t exist in this dojo”. Contradictory, wouldn’t you agree? No wonder his students were angry and confused just like him.

(Yes, I realize it was a movie… but when you teach you’ve got to remember, “Monkey see, monkey do”.)

I do my best to keep it positive, to motivate and teach responsibility and accountability to my students. Here are a baker’s dozen of my “sensei-isms” I use regularly to engage my classes. Feel free to use them in your dojo…

  1. “I want to see results, not hear excuses!”
  2. “The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in this dojo!”
  3. “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”
  4. “Is this the world’s slowest punch competition?”
  5. “My grandma can kick faster than you, let’s go!”
  6. “Bad guys don’t take days off, so neither can you.”
  7. “Get your butt down! You look like Mt. Fuji!” (when doing pushups)
  8. “Whose belt is it? Yours or your mom’s? You are responsible for your belt, not her.” (when kids forget their belt)
  9. “You want to win? You’ve got to work harder and do more than the other guy”
  10. “Repetition is the mother of skill” – Tony Robbins
  11. “Stop blocking with your head! Keep your hands up!’
  12. I can only teach you so much… YOU need to do the work.”
  13. “I told you guys already… listen to me and you’ll live longer.”

What are some of the Sensei-isms you use in your dojo? Post ’em below.


18 thoughts on “Your words have impact…”

  1. Bones and muscle will eventually fail you. Technique will get better over your whole life.

    …more like this, good!

    Relax….karate technique comes from natural body motion.

    From Hanshi Iha:
    Elbows in, just enough, eat good cookies

  2. – Attitude is everything! Positive attitude gets you positive results!

    – Just like School, the Dojo is for learning, “Practice” is your Homework.. Do you homework to get good grades, Practice your Karte to get good skill.

    – If you want to be a champion, you must train like one! LET’S GO!

    – Through Practice COMES DISCOVERY, the Journey of Karate is YOURS to make! YOU have to power to to be the best, Don’t let anyone tell you you are not Good enough!

    -Believe in yourself! You can Do it! I Believe in you too!

    I have a few many I have said and many I can’t remember… mostly all of them are at the spur of the moment…

    I love the post above.. Oss..

  3. You must be horrible before you are bad, you must be bad before you can be OK, you must be OK before you are good, you must be good before you are great. Each step comes from practice.

    • I would rather say like my sensei: “practice makes permanent”. If you think you have a perfect technique, you have nothing left to strive for. When the movement-pattern in your technique have become permanent, THEN you can train your hole life to refine it in terms of speed and power. Of course, you can say to children that their technique/kata is perfect at their level/kyu (if that’s the fact), that’s good motivation.

  4. I will give it all I’ve got to be the best that I can be as a son or daughter, a student in school, a martial artist. I am United and I will except nothing less of myself.

    This is the creed that my youth class says in the beginning and end of class.

  5. Not mine, but one of my Sensei’s: “You can do anything for one minute!” Another one, same Sensei: “If you have the presence of mind to ask my permission to faint, you won’t faint!” A personal favourite from Hanshi “A karateka is always aware of his or her surroundings,” especially relevant when someone managed to knock something off the shelf in the waiting room with a bo.

    I seem to say “Eyes forward! Focus!” quite a bit in my classes, and also “Karate is about learning to control your body”. I suppose I should also add “mind” to that. Thank you for your list.

  6. “That’s a horse stance? It looks like you’re straddling a chicken” or “Your horse is sadly undernourished”.

    “Why are you kicking so low? Are you defending yourself against squirrels?”

    When students are striking too far above their heads: “If your opponent is that big, you may just want to just curl up in a ball and hope they don’t eat your spleen”.

  7. When we would block too far out from our body, reaching far out. “If someone’s punch requires you to block that far out what should you do? Laugh at them, then reach out and show them how to land a punch.”

  8. “Harder… It’s a strike , NOT a suggestion ”

    “Look at your target, you cannot hit what you don’t see.”
    (After a misplaced Kiai)… “Hang on, you little overachiever, it’s coming up”


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