The importance of Teaching Strategies and understanding Learning Styles when teaching Martial Arts to children Shotokan Karate By Lester J C Membe 3rd Dan (4th Dan Grading Thesis) Introduction Teaching is a profession that can yield something amazing when the right ideas and beliefs are implemented in the classroom in this case in a dojo. To teach children, Shotokan Karate has to be understood to ensure that it becomes manageable and effective. Having the knowledge of a subject or being the best in a sport does not automatically entail that that is the complete requirement or criteria to becoming a good teacher.

Subject knowledge or being the best in the sport is an added bonus, though subject knowledge is essential. Types of students Children Children have the most energy and enthusiasm for the arts we teach. At the same time they are a huge challenge in teaching the finer points of the techniques in Shotokan Karate. Teaching children takes a very deferent approach than that of teaching older students. Before going any further in this paper “children” are defined as aged between 5 and 12 years old.

During this time children expand their horizons from a family environment to one that incorporates the world around them. Moods change, friends change, and limits are pushed. This is one of the key times for growth. As a Martial Arts instructor we are helping shape the way student will interact mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. Teaching Shotokan Karate Since many martial arts traditions already included references to moral values such as honesty and integrity, Shotokan Karate instructors should be more than willing to emphasize such concepts in the children’s classes.

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In time, this could help children develop character and learn positive values. Because of this, learning to enjoy teaching children requires a simple paradigm shift for diehard Shotokan Karate instructors. When going to teach children, these facts should be considered: • The majority of children who enter a martial arts program will be incapable of developing any real skill until they are much older. • Even so, though they aren’t learning the whole art, martial arts training is a great tool for helping children grow up to become happy, well-adjusted, productive citizens. When Shotokan Karate instructors change their expectations regarding teaching outcomes; when working with children it becomes much easier to teach. The purpose of teaching is not to teach students how to memorize facts or moments, or how to know all the techniques. The purpose of teaching lies in getting students to truly understand the concepts and techniques being taught in this case in the dojo. As a teacher, one must know what to teach in the classroom. It is vital that Shotokan Karate instructors have a solid understanding of the techniques being taught and also an understanding of the problems encountered when learning the techniques.

There is a need to be aware of how to effectively teach Shotokan Karate techniques to children. There are many strategies available to use when doing so. No one strategy fits all the content needed to teach. Different strategies should be incorporated when teaching children. To be able to teach children class, the Shotokan Karate instructor will need to understand something about child development, and structure the classes in such a way as to compliment and reinforce this. Child development has four main aspects, and these are as follows:          Physical –         Intellectual –         Emotional –         Social Shotokan Karate instructors must keep the individual student in mind while teaching. Typically in the past instructing in Shotokan Karate involved trying to fit everyone into the same mould. With this approach, students especially children are bound to achieve less than their potential while others are likely to quit in despair. This type of teaching may be good for those who happen to fit the mold.

We balance Karate training with fun physical and mental activities that include: • teaching Shotokan Karate-do skills and techniques • showing students the path to improve daily no matter how small the improvement • Physical and mental exercises (meditation, coordination skills, focus, etc. ) • emphasizing character growth, courtesy, honor, self-respect, obedience, pride, humility and respect to others • personal safety and awareness as self-defense • Training safety. Children don’t hit each other.

Contact is restricted and limited under Instructor guidance and supervision. • Teaching Karate as a competitive sport. Children will be trained and able to compete in local and regional tournaments. And, above all, FUN for everybody involved! Positive Reinforcement Positive reinforcement is a long held approach to children. It is praising a child for what was done right. Positive Reinforcement is often used with Specific Positive feedback, or addressing a technique or a part of one that was preformed properly.

After praising, you address any other areas that may still need improvement. Clear communication is the key when critiquing technique. It is also important to understand that what you intend to say and what is heard by a student are two different things. This is especially the case when you have many students. Shotokan Instructors should try this approach: 1. Start every comment with something that was done well. 2. Correct the problem with a challenge 3. End with encouragement Teaching Strategies

In Shotokan Karate many of our movement include both Gross and Fine Motor skills. The large motion of a kick uses gross motor movement; while the precision to strike a small target consistently is fine motor skills, and eye to foot coordination. To develop these skills it is often helpful to break them down into parts for the child to practice. One of the best times to do this is during warm up. Inclusion of gross motor skill and fine motor skills will improve a child’s ability to use both together in class later. Examples of great exercises for children include:

Bear walks, monkey jump/ cartwheels, donkey kicks, crab walks, grass hoppers and more. These exercises can be used at the beginning of a class to get the energy level up and prepare for stretching. All of these exercises use large muscle groups and gross motor skills. Use these instead of running prior to class or mix the two. It is important to note that different exercises use different sets of muscles, so mixing it up improves over all muscle tone and ability. Fine Motor skills are a little harder to nail down. These movements involve much smaller exercises.

Exercises that work particularly well in Shotokan Karate involve hitting small points during an exercise. Filling Balloons with air and have students throw them to each other, or fill them with helium and anchor them, one if front of each student. For striking the slower movement of the balloon will teach them to track a target that is moving. When creating a lesson for children, having a games session at the end of class as a teaching tool is a good aid. Games often time include critical thinking skills, gross and fine motor skills, as well as coordination, tracking and team work.

Games come in many varieties, and often can be done with equipment you already have. A few examples are dojo hockey using focus mitts and feet or blockers to play hockey, or playing horse stance freeze tag the “foot game” where students are divided in to teams, hand placed behind backs, and each team seeks to eliminate the other by stepping gently on the others toes (not using the heel). The last team still in wins! These games take between 5-10 minutes and not only increase satisfaction of the child or children, but increase specific skills. Conclusion

For any Shotokan Karate instructor to be effective they must learn to be a facilitator in their dojo. As a facilitator, they will guide their students through the techniques in order to assist the students in their own discoveries. Teachers or instructors must always remember that all students are capable of learning, and all students have something to contribute to the dojo environment. Defining teaching as facilitating learning implies that while considerations of knowledge transfer are no doubt important, they are valuable only in relation to the quality of learning that they trigger.

If the teaching activities do not result in learning, there has been no teaching. Likewise, if the learning is lacking in quality, the teaching is unsuccessful to that extent. Finally, there are modes other than that of knowledge transfer which can play a more effective role in the triggering of learning. Hence, an excellent Shotokan Karate instructor needs to go beyond excellent instructing of Shotokan karate techniques or excellent knowledge dissemination.

When you strive and work to become a good Shotokan Karate instructor and to create a good class, the four core qualities are essential: knowledge, the skills to convey that knowledge, the ability to make the material you are teaching interesting and relevant, and a deep-seated respect for the student. Without these four qualities, good teaching will not exist. A good Shotokan Karate instructor starts with a firm knowledge of Shotokan Karate, and builds on that with a clarity and understanding designed to help children easily learn and try and master the techniques as they grow into adulthood.

The best Shotokan Karate instructors then go one step further. Because good Shotokan Karate instructors are interested in Shotokan Karate or martial arts in general, they make the class interesting and relevant to the students. Knowledge is worthless unless it is delivered to the children in a form they can understand. But the effort expended making the techniques understandable is wasted if the children are asleep when it is delivered, or if the children can see no point in learning the techniques. References: Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B. Sc — Martial Arts Ezine ggamartialarts. com Martial Arts Article by Jaimie Lee-Barron (BL3)

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