Nobody likes a boring class. Whether its a college course, drivers ed, or martial arts for that matter, staying engaged is hard in a boring class. This is compounded when it comes to teaching kids. Their minds are already prone to wandering in the day to day activities. Focusing on training one task for an extend amount of time is one of the most difficult hurdles of martial arts teaching. So how do you overcome this problem without subjecting your art to then demon of distraction? We will cover a few ways to do that here in this article Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged.
Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged
In my previous article “Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care” I cover some ways to make sure your children understand that you care about them. That is one of the most important things when it comes to their focus. For a student to stay focused on you they must have one of two things: fear or respect. Fear may give you short term results but can hurt their learning in the long run. My previous article helps address how to help cultivate that respect from the day to day of teaching a class.
Once that respect has been set in place your students will be much more keen on listening to you. However, this must be constantly worked on and reinforced. It is much easier to be a bit harder on your new student and then wain off of that. If you do not establish that line of mutual respect first then it will be very hard to make that up later.
One is the Alpha and one is the Beta. As their instructor, you are the Alpha. This must be established from day one. If the child at any point feels as though they have become the Alpha then you will struggle to maintain their respect.
Mixing things up
Now that we have gone over the base of relationships, lets get into an applicable drill.One of the tactics we employ at the Sifu Och Wing Chun Afterschool and Summer Camp kids martial art classes is called Cycling. We cycle the same techniques over and over again through different drills. As an example, if you are teaching your kids a Tan Sao Punch you could mix it up 3 different ways.
First, have your kids practice the technique in the mirror. They will focus on shifting their weight properly as well as punching the same target every time they strike. Within that drill you shift their focus from their punches, to their weight, to their Tan hand. This allows you to continue drilling but gives them different focus points. By changing the focus points you have again “cycled” the drill within it self.
Second, have your kids use focus mitts to build power. Blasting through the mitt with as much power as possible. Again, cycling through different focus points to help them fully develop their technique can help their mind stay engaged.Whether it’s making sure they are striking with the correct portion of their fist or they are engaging their hips fully. Changing things small things helps keep things engaging.
Thirdly, applying that technique within a combo against an attack. If you throw a combo into the mix it not only keeps it engaging but also allows gives perspective. When they see the big picture it helps them understand why they are working on the that individual technique.
By cycling through these drills in a class we are able to accomplish two things. We are able to keep the kids engaged by not repeating the same drill for too long. But at the same time they are able to work on their focus within that drill because they are given those different focus points. As far as the actual time, that balance must be experimented with and adjust based on your kids. You will have to gage the class to accomplish this.