Teaching Karate Part 2

Part II, Areas of philosophical adaption to teaching karate

The next way an instructor can become a better Sensei would be to get someone, anyone to promote him to 8th Dan. No actually that will not make anyone a better teacher. But learning how to create a climate of Mastery might do the trick. Here is one path to Mastery, this presented to the US Olympic Coaches for the USSA at the Center of Excellence in 2012. See if these tenants do not fit nicely with karate.

No one continues an activity in which they gain little competence. Every student must have success. Avoid the old myth that the struggle is good for. Teach so the students gain competence, and point it out when they do.
SMART Goal Set
S specific, exactly what you want, who, where, when why, why we have written belt requirements. We need to establish a broader curriculum
M measurable, you must be able to track or measure progress
A action-oriented, describe a result
R realistic and relevant
T time based, done by when, or timed exercise with karate
Control and Choice
It is only control and choice that gives a feeling of being in charge of our lives
Optimism – expectancy
Learning karate can be frustrating, we must build in a feeling of you can do this.  This is where SMART goals come in. Kata is a good example; kids want to keep learning the next one because they believe they are gaining competence. Kata’s are easy to keep track so they are measurable goals. Kumite is more abstract, so we need drills for kumite to measure our progress.
FLOW, after the seminar at the Center of Excellence I had a discussion with one of the coaches and we added Flow.

The mental state in which a person is fully immersed and feeling energized focus. Completely focused motivation. Allow the students to participate in an activity in which they do not struggle. Make certain every class has a drill “I can do” make certain in every class every student has some success.
The concept of being in the zone during an athletic performance fits within Csíkszentmihályi's description of the flow experience, and theories and applications of being in the zone and its relationship with athletic competitive advantage are topics studied in the field of sport psychology.
Timothy Gallwey's influential works on the "inner game" of sports such as golf and tennis described the mental coaching and attitudes required to "get in the zone" and fully internalize mastery of the sport.

Roy Palmer suggests that "being in the zone" may also influence movement patterns as better integration of the conscious and subconscious reflex functions improves coordination. Many athletes describe the effortless nature of their performance while achieving personal bests.
MMA champion and Karate master Lyoto Machida uses meditation techniques before fights to attain mushin, a concept that, by his description, is in all respects equal to flow.

The Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, who during qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix explained: "I was already on pole, [...] and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my teammate with the same car. And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel."
When challenges and skills are simultaneously above average, a broadly positive experience emerges.
Also vital to the flow state is a sense of control, which nevertheless seems simultaneously effortless and masterful. Control and concentration manifest with a transcendence of normal awareness; one aspect of this transcendence is the loss of self-consciousness.
Role Models
The kids /students copy everything we do. Including behavior, personal dress and manners. We know that athletes that are internally motivated stay in the game longer and continually improve. So how do we change from external focus to internal focus. We follow some of the suggestions Carol Dweck made in the amazing book, “Mindset.”

Target Effort, control progress
Reinforce success; point out when they succeed in their effort
Use Merit and truth, when a kid does something incorrect tells them. Do not say that is good enough
Internalize control give a person a sense of control, you give instruction and then step back. Often we see over coaching you tell them so much what to do that they do not how to perform on their own
Optimism = Strategy can you give a ten-year-old a strategy, yes, tell them you are a rocket.
Quick Clear instructions, be sure to be quick and clear, and do not coach too much. Kids do not want to hear all this theory. Tell them simple things, “head up” look forward. Catch them being good or doing it well
Use Fading strategy, give a suggestion and then fade away

Allow small choices, allow a bit of choice in what they do, this gives them competence and independence that is part of their primary drives.

One last thought on this subject, “The task of education is to reach young people to find pleasure in the right things.” Plato

to be continued with Part III, physiological windows of opportunity

Doug Jepperson
USA Karate Technical Committee
Park City Karate
Living at 6,500 feet above the sea.

Doug headshot


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