The best dojos cultivate organized chaos.
As a teacher I love it when the kids in my classes follow the rules, my rules.
But I am such a rule breaker. I hate rules.
I secretly think the kids who are best at bending the rules to their whims will go farther than the ones who wait to be told what to do and when to do it.
I am clearly biased in my tangential thinking, but my job is to help both the left brain logical AND the right brain creative students.
What do those kids and adults look like?
Left brain logical: thrives on following the rules, loves kata and gets irritated when the plan is messed up.
Right brain creative: looks for the loopholes, loves to spar and can adapt to new situations more easily.
Martial arts training is great for both groups!
Kids who love routine will look forward to the predictability of a class, enjoy practicing basics and forms over and over again, and will conquer check lists quickly and easily.
The rule breakers are instinctual and fast thinking, they will enjoy the freedom associated with fighting. It is not, necessarily, that they are mean. They are just happy that you have finally stopped telling them what to do and they can think for themselves.
A balanced classroom uses various teaching methods, allows time for organized activities AND for chaos.
My method is that I start each class predictably with stretching and basics. I typically have a theme that runs through the class and almost always end with games or sparring to allow everyone to smile, have fun and apply what they have learned.
Empowerment is not doing what you are told.
Empowerment is being able to choose appropriate action in the midst of difficulty and stress.