Kids and Karate

There’s a lot of stuff out there concerning kids and Martial Arts training. I’ve only recently started teaching my kids class, but I’m enjoying it more and more with time.

When I started I wanted to make sure that I didn’t teach them bad movement skills. Often with karate training people end up moving like robots, this is through overuse of three-step sparring and the like. The difference in movement efficiency when kids do that sort of training compared to when they run around freely in play is marked and frankly scary.

Why on earth would a teacher/coach/sensei want to replace movement efficiency with a vastly inferior model? I can see no reason. Please,  feel free to let me know via comment if anyone can.

One of my first aims was to shape inherent efficient movement skills into something martial. We ‘play’ Zombies and the ‘bashing game’. These are adaptions of adult drills that get the kids moving around one or more opponents. In simple terms they run around avoiding other kids. I give them tips and they improve. They love the drills, there’s some competition and a lot of fitness work. It’s a winner.

Another aim was to use similar ‘play’ methods to teach striking skills. I get them to throw a ball against the wall and then adapt the throwing technique into the striking technique. This is a method Steve Morris uses, and it is very effective. I also use it with adults, always with great success.

These kids can hit hard, no question about it. Oddly enough they enjoy this too, especially when I let them hit me! I always have them hitting pads and bags straight away, it can take a while for them to get used to the contact but they get there.

One outcome of this playful learning is that the lessons are noisy and a little anarchic. No straight lines, lots of belts falling off and then discarded, running around. That’s not to say that discipline goes out of the window, misbehaviour and silliness gets a visit to star jump corner (burpees with a star shaped jump). Increasing numbers of forfeit star jumps are then ‘awarded’.

The photo taken after yesterdays class with three young achievers illustrates the lack of emphasis on a tidy gi……..

young achievers

young achievers

2 thoughts on “Kids and Karate

  1. As a product of ‘Wooden Leg Syndrome’ training, you are well aware of the problems I am having just relearning how to move my feet! It makes me very cross because I can remember at my first grading that my sparring was much more in keeping with floating like a butterfly and ducking and weaving following the example of my boxing heroes. Within a few months I had lost all of that… and the children were all taught in the same way.

    Parents who take their kids to a karate class have very differing expectations. If you are lucky enough to have the ones who purely want them to be taught self defence, it’s easy. The problem is when the parents want you to use your one hour a week to instil a discipline that they are unable to achieve at home 😦

    I think the smiles in that photo speak volumes 🙂

  2. I currently take my 7 yr old son to a school where the emphasis is on linear movement and standing in line punching fresh air. There are parts of the class he enjoys as I can see it in his face but on the whole he is always fidgitting and messing with his belt, or staring off into space and yawning because it seems too much like hard work and he doesn’t want to stand there punching,kicking and blocking nothing.I can tell he is bored. I do bits at home with him and he loves pad work but gets fed up of daddy telling him to do it right rather than mess about.I’ve been observing him very closely and he lacks co-ordination, motivation and has poor attention span. I know I am too hard on him but I just want him to be the best that he can be and want to give him the encouragement and support to carry this on through his life without it looking like I’m living my dreams through him.He does need that kick up the backside at times to get him moving. I thought by starting him off in this school it might fire off an interest and there are flickers of enjoyment plus he loves to ‘scrap’ with his dad and uncles in general but on the whole, the style and approach doesn’t fit with his constant need to move about and ‘do things’ . I’ve now realised kids shouldn’t be made to stand in line as if they are in the army and have instructions barked at them and expect to respond with a loud ‘Hai’ at every little thing. You need to make things fun and I could be doing more harm than good by leaving him there…..but in saying that, is 7 years old too young to start a martial art anyway??

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