Middle Ranks

Dr. Seuss called it The Waiting Place, in Oh, the Places You Will Go! In Karate, we call it Blue Belt Blues. White Belts are Emotional and Excited. Yellow Belts are Arrogant. Blue Belts are Creative. They know that they are a little better than the cocky yellow belts, and yet, hopefully, we have humbled them […]

Inside Out vs. Outside In

What do I Want to Teach Today? Is the sign of a new, inexperienced or unenlightened teacher. It is the students who guide the master instructors and determine the content, not the whims and desires of the person at the front of the class. This is a tricky concept to convey to my martial arts […]

Authentic

When my son was finishing 4th grade he was assigned to a teacher who got married and switched districts over the summer. We waited, then we got the letter introducing us to his 5th grade teacher: Douglas Elder. I did what any self respecting mother would have done, I googled him, and this is what I […]

Behavior Management IV

Can you believe he is back? I was wrong; so wrong about my assumptions. He missed 2 weeks because of summer scheduling. He is doing SO WELL in class. He is listening to directions. He recalls expectations and responsibly does what he is supposed to do when he is supposed to do it. Do I […]

What is Bunkai?

Bunkai is an analysis; used to deconstruct the inner workings and to create a deeper understanding of Kata. What is Kata? Katas are complex. They involve blocks, strikes and kicks as well as proper stances and turns. They are choreographed and must be memorized. Each karate belt has certain katas that are part of the requirement of the […]

Always Praise Effort. Never Praise Ability.

Dr. Carol Dweck wrote, Mindset, and in it she outlines many examples of why building a culture based on effort is far superior to one based on ability. I used to tell the really gifted kids how great they were, but that creates a handicap they may never overcome. Just because a child learns forms […]

Hubris in the Dojo

Hubris is my second favorite word; the first is Curmudgeon. Mrs. O’Neal, my high school Ancient History teacher, introduced me to it many, many years ago. She taught, through the heroes in the Odyssey and the Iliad, that it is OK to be proud of your accomplishments, but not to the point of hubris. Such arrogance […]

Left Brain Logical / Right Brain Creative

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 […]

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

One of my simplest behavior management tricks is to count backwards. Sifu Chris Heinztman and Sifu David Chin came to Maine to teach us how to properly do Lion Dance. While they were here, we took everyone attending the workshop to Quaker Ridge. It is a beautiful local spot from which you can see the […]

Overcoming Obstacles

The ability to overcome obstacles is the key to recognizing your commitment. Did you quit karate because you didn’t like being barefoot? It is probably good that you did because you really wouldn’t have liked it when people started hitting you. Did you come back to karate after breaking a bone? Excellent. You are committed. […]