Friday, 3 June 2011

Karate & Children = FUN

Karate is taught universally around the world. Anyone can do it. Whether you're young, old, healthy, unfit, different levels of ability as well as disability. But here I am going to focus on CHILDREN. The younger children are, the more fearless they are in wanting to try new things. Children are eager to learn and willing to try - making mistakes doesn't bother you when your young.

I believe that as long as the Sensei/Coach/Teacher praises and makes the lesson fun - the child will always come back for more! So by good practice we are retaining our club members! Children are impressionable, so we must demonstrate not only correct technique but the right attitude. In other words lead by example. So as an instructor we must train alongside our students at times and 'just do.' Throwing ourselves into the lesson, doing everything, being positive, teach serious points yet make the lesson FUN! This way the child will try to please their Sensei by trying to do everything that's been asked on them in the lesson.

The club atmosphere is something that can affect a child's experience and be a factor in whether or not they enjoy Karate. The key is to make sure all the children get along and try to avoid them forming cliques as this can lead to exclusion within the peer groups. So, for example, when doing partner work in your lesson make sure you vary who partners who. This way everyone trains together and can build up a rapport too!

Ideas!!! I'm not gonna lie... I like to "borrow" teaching ideas from my Sensei, other Senior instructors and Kohai's when I'm at my club or teaching in my schools. It's like me training on courses with various instructors. I take the pieces that fit me from each instructor and try to use it to influence and improve my Karate technique and thought process. Teaching is no different - try things out you have seen and discard what doesn't work. You need to be adaptable when you coach/teach so why not use the ideas you have gained?! Seems like a waste not too... you'll soon find out the few ways of teaching that grabs the attention and makes your students enthusiastic. Keep these but don't be afraid to try new things - you can always go back to the safe option of what you know is best to enthuse the children. LESSON DELIVERY is just as important as LESSON CONTENT! 

How you speak to children is very important e.g. your tone of voice. You need to apply certain ways of speaking when you want certain results. For example, a firm voice when you're "telling-off" - if you shout and talk down to them you will only lose your student's motivation and positivity. In my club I like to threaten my children... SHOCK! GASP! No, I joke, I don't really threaten them! I like to make light of their behaviour/lack of effort etc. with a cheeky comment like "if you don't do this I will tap you on the head" or "I'll ashi-berai to the floor" all whilst smiling and laughing with them. They know for sure that I wouldn't do this but motivates them.... so I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have to find a way of talking to children to get a positive result from them. Find out what key words, or ways or speaking has a positive impact on them. So in the way I described they get to have a laugh and joke with me, therefore, whilst they know they need to improve, they have fun! Also, demonstrations & repetitions must keep the attention of the students. Find different ways of showing the technique and ways of hiding the fact that they may be doing lots of repetition of certain techniques by turning basics into games for example.

This is a topic the interests and intrigues me a lot so expect further blogs related to this. Also, in the near future I will upload an interview I did in 2009 with Yutaka Koike Sensei (JKS 5th Dan). This interview was before I set up my club and covers Koike Sensei's philosophy on teaching children. If people didn't know, Koike Sensei is one of the best modern day instructors in the world and is a pleasure to train with. He makes Karate look easy! Take a look at for details on a course with Koike Sensei on the 19th June at the Haxby and Selby Shotokan Karate Clubs.


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