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efreak said in December 19th, 2004 at 9:34 pm

I know I’m just a green belt, but since I’m an adult, I’ve been told I have the right to correct the acting up kids in class. Well, I’m tired of that, and more often than not, the kids just look at you with a smirk on their face (or a Gawd-I-can’t-believe-you-said-that look in the case of one of the repeat offenders), and keep doing what they’re doing to get into trouble. Then they go over to another part of the room and try their hand out on another set of adults. It hasn’t been the usual kids who are bad now; it’s a new crop that’s testing their limits, and feeling they can get away with it. When I’ve corrected them three times in class, I just stop, because I’m becoming part of the disturbance. It breaks my heart to see a good kid come in there and try hard for a while, then start acting up because they realize the ones who misbehave get the most attention.

I got on my soapbox the other night and said that my plan would be to make any kid who messes up behaviorally in class sit out that entire class and do nothing. That way, they’re not in the way of the people who want to practice. If they say stuff/act all goofy on the sidelines, who cares-don’t pay attention. But at least they’d pay for their actions. and their parents would have to pay as well– roughly $30 a month for their kid to sit on the sidelines because they’re too much of a screwup to have respect or listen to Sensei.

I KNOW I lack the compassion of a parent right now, since I’ve never been in that situation. Both Senseis are parents, and I think they have an inside scoop that I don’t. I guess instead of lashing out at the kids, I really want to learn how to deal with them effectively so I don’t go crazy, and no one gets hurt.

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vanirtjones said in December 19th, 2004 at 10:15 pm

DISCLAIMER: I hope everyone reading this (i.e. πŸ™‚ ) knows we’re just throwing ideas around, but I would just like to make it clear we are not attempting to mutiny or take the reins in any fashion. We’re just venting, talking about it, and possibly deciding what to ask for. Nobody here wants to be the nail sticking up. God I love the adrenaline associated with blogging sometimes. πŸ™‚

I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of kids in the dojo. Some are just spazzy but just need a little direction. Some try very hard because they’re perfectionists. Some really don’t want to be there but their parents seem to think we can give them some discipline when they won’t do it at home.

One underlying fact that I think we’re missing is that kids, as a whole, generally act like idiots. Mostly because they are kids. I do not, however, remember being like some of the kids we see today. It could be that I grew up a little nerd. But I think it was mostly that I truly feared the consequences of my actions if I did something wrong, and that is not something kids today have. I understand that kids are supposed to be kids, and they might not be completely on task 100% of the time. Where I draw the line is (most importantly) when safety is paramount. I also feel it necessary to step in when them just being a kid starts disrupting class for other people. Especially when the rest of the kids join in. When that happens, the quality of everyone’s training suffers, and I think that is something we as instructors need to address somehow. Yes, they’re annoying. But I’m trying to keep it in perspective with the goals we have as instructors (and sempai, for that matter).

I’m not exactly sure if I’m on with this, but what seperates a good karate student from a bad one is comprised in one thing, and one thing only: RESPECT. And unfortunately, that’s something that needs to be earned. Just because you’re wearing a black belt around your waist doesn’t mean a thing: they’re surrounded by authority figures all day every day. They can ignore you if they feel like it, and several of our students do. So you have to win their respect. And you have several tools at your disposal. One is fear. I don’t mean that in the “do what you’re told or meet mr. knuckles” sense, which I don’t believe in. Mostly because I think it’s wrong, but also because the kids know you’re not going to hurt them. Most know you’d get sued. But I think consequences for messing up should be well-known and enforced with an iron fist. Kids are amazing at working the system. One thing that I’ve heard reflected from several students (and that I agree with to a certain extent) is that they find it kind of offensive that the “bad” kids are still getting promoted in rank. They’ll goof on in class incessantly and then when they go to take the test, it’s like they channel Bruce Lee and they really pull out all the stops. But we always say to them, “it’s not the test, it’s your performance in class all the time” and when they pass after goofing off all that time it seems like we’re being hypocrites. More importantly, it seems like efforts of the ones who worked hard went for nothing, as they could have done nothing and still passed. And even with junior ranking, that doesn’t sit too well with me.

Anyway. The other way to get their respect is to gain their respect in a positive way. Somehow, you have to gain their interest and make them think what you’re showing them is worth something. And as you all are well aware, that is unbelievably hard. But even kids with short attention spans will sometimes park in front of the playstation for hours at a time because they like it. It’s just a matter of keeping them on track.

(the actual kids’ class discussion in the next comment… I exceeded the comment length. πŸ™‚ )

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vanirtjones said in December 19th, 2004 at 10:16 pm

All that being said, the concept of a kids’ only class is an interesting one. I too am conflicted on it for several reasons.

On the pro-kids-class side, having the kids all by themselves would probably improve the quality of the first class by quite a bit. Let’s face it, having a couple attention-hogging loudmouths who aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be and maybe getting hurt during sparring isn’t a good thing for anyone. Themselves, the other students, or the instructors who have to deal with them. It would make things easier if they were seperated.

However, in a class that’s all kids, they won’t learn how to defend against an adult. Or probably against anybody who’s not their size. Or maybe even cover anything even remotely resembling self-defense, especially if it’s just count count count count turn count count count count turn like certain people do it. They won’t get the benefit of learning by training with people more advanced than them like you and I got. It’s different than just being in a class under a black belt. They won’t be right beside you doing the same thing you are better than you, or be right there ready to tickle your ribs if you let your guard down. They won’t know how to act in the adult class because they won’t ever be in the adult class.

I like the concept of a reward system where they get to train with the adults if they’re working hard. That solves a lot of the problems of them not dealing with adults or more advanced. But karate has always been about working together as a team/family and pulling each other up (sometimes kicking and screaming) and for some reason the concept of having a class full of the “scum” of the class doesn’t sit well with me. In addition to them almost assuredly never learning anything, I think there might be some stigmata associated with being in that class. Then again, if things go the way I think you intend for them to, those who show effort (as opposed to those who do well) would be allowed into the adult class. I think that would be a way out of that trap, although we would have to be careful how we told the ones that had to stay in the kids’ class why they were in it (i.e. “you always mess up, you suck, and you’ll always stay here”). It strikes me as a special ed class for the behaviorally disordered or a really bad peewee football coach thing.

As much as I hate to admit it, because teaching the difficult kids really sucks sometimes, I think we need to keep in mind what is best for our students and suck it up. I don’t know what is best for our students yet, but as long as we wear the mantle of instructors, we have to keep that above our own personal training (most of the time). It would almost certainly be easier to shove them off into their own room where we only had to deal with them occasionally, but how much good does that do them? I suppose one could argue that it does the rest of the class who doesn’t have to deal with them some good, and I can’t say I disagree. But it still strikes me as somewhat wrong.

Bottom line: I have no idea. πŸ™‚ But I do think we need to come up with a plan and have all of us stick to it.

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vanirtjones said in December 19th, 2004 at 10:54 pm

I’ve just been informed by Sarah that “stigmata” and “stigma” are two very different words. πŸ™‚

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dante8 said in December 20th, 2004 at 9:10 am

One of the things that have been pointed out to me by several different people is the whole concept of the youth rank. I think you will be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t understand the fact that kids are kids, and that they’re going to be spastic and act up and be kids. That’s a given.

While it’s a great concept to give them their own set of requirements, I’ve heard from many that it somewhat erodes the amount of pride they can have in their rank when the “troublemakers” end up ahead of them in line somehow.

I hate to cite the Mothership Factor, but over in Macomb they do seperate youth and adult classes and it goes over quite well. They also do occassionally invite promising youth over to the adult class and it is a great motivator for the kids that remain in the youth class. While I don’t condone charging $250 for three months, I still think in this limited case it was working for them.

For this I have absolutely no ideas on how to resolve it. I just thought it should be known that those feelings are circulating around.

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shotobushi said in December 20th, 2004 at 10:42 am

I guess my only question is…why are you all making this out to be a “problem”? or in other words, why create a problem that only exsists in your minds? If the kids are bothering you or others this much then you are easily distracted and not concentrating on your on progress, which is the same thing I would tell any colored belt who viewed this things as problems. I tried a kids class at the Riverplex and found parents didnt want to just sit and watch the kids, they wanted to train with them because it looked like fun. But leave JR. to run the halls while they took an adults only class? Look around in the dojo and you’ll notice we have a ton of parent/child combos all training shoulder to shoulder, on “equal ground”. Those few (i.e. 2) kids you see as distractions I see as opprotunities for those around them to test their patience and concentration. But this is only my take on things and I’m rather tired right now, so if I didn’t address the issue correctly or thoroughly enough feel free to bring it up with Sensei Brewer. As always he has the final say.

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dante8 said in December 20th, 2004 at 11:51 am

I think the reason it’s coming across as frustration right now is that a minority of the children are causing a majority of the distraction and we’re just looking for options.

It’s not really just the Big Two anymore, we’ve got a new crop of kids that are looking up to them as red belts and trying to act like they’re acting… I can think of a yellow belt example of this right now.

In the end this isn’t something that’s going to impede my own personal training but I know that there are colored belts that are at least annoyed, at most somewhat upset about this.

I think relaying the point that it can be viewed as an opportunity is a good idea, I hadn’t really thought about it that way before. I just thought since this is perceived as a problem to several people, it was our jobs as black belts to address it in order to make the path easier for those that are seriously trying to learn. In the end it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just something I wanted to get discussed.

Maybe we can reinstitute Shinai Time for those kids that continue to act up, that might be fun. πŸ™‚

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krftsman said in December 20th, 2004 at 1:32 pm

Reading this whole thread just reinforces why, when I go out on my own, I will never teach anyone under the age of 13. Period. And if the ones I do teach act up, they’ll be gone. Period.

As for the “if they are bothering you, it’s your own fault” comment…

That’s a big, stinky load of manure! That’s like saying that hostage aren’t a problem in a bank robbery, or that civilians aren’t causing a problem for troops fighting in Falluja. They are a problem, and a very real one. Now I don’t agree with dante8 and vanirtjones’ in some aspects, but I also agree with them in others.

Times I agree with shotobushi:

If a kid is not doing his pushups == no problem for me
If a kid is just standing there while I’m stretching == no problem for me
If a kid wants to pick his nose and eat the boogers after digging in his ass with that same finger while staring at the ceiling during class == no problem for me

Times I agree with d8 and vtj:

If I’m practicing kata and some kid is running around in circles, screaming at the top of his lungs and, literally, bouncing off of me while his mother is standing there saying, ineffectually and apathetically, “bobby, stop running… bobby, stop yelling… bobby stop that or the senseis will punish you.” == major fucking problem!
If I’m trying to listen to a lecture by Sensei, and little bobby is dancing around singing the mama song, “mama mama dada dada mommy mommy daddy daddy goo goo gah gah”, and I can’t hear the lecture == major fucking problem!

I guess, that’s the difference as I see it.

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vanirtjones said in December 20th, 2004 at 2:13 pm

(Just because your comment had an air of “this is my final say on the topic” to it (and because openly disagreeing with my seniors makes me really nervous πŸ™‚ ), I just wanted to make another disclaimer. These are just my (extended) thoughts on this, and I don’t want anybody to think I’m getting uppity. If you think we’re crossing any lines we shouldn’t, a simple “shaddap you overanalyzing goobers” will shut me up. My nose already hurts enough for one week. πŸ™‚ )

One thing I haven’t quite got yet is how much slack to give someone just because they’re a kid. I always thought there were things you did and did not do in the dojo, and those applied to everyone.

I think my primary source of frustration is in that we don’t really have a clearly defined idea of what it’s OK for the kids to do and what isn’t. We also don’t have a set of guidelines as to what should be done if they do something they shouldn’t. Those two things are tools that I think would make our job as instructors much easier.

I also think that the main reason that Josh and I have our collective panties in a bunch is that we are idealists, and we’ve been teaching the same idealistic stuff that we were taught and still believe in (“karate students have to hold themselves up to a higher standard than regular people”), the kids aren’t buying it, and we don’t know where to go from here. We also probably watched way too much He-Man as children.

I am curious as to whether there is a real problem with people being disrupted in class or if it’s all in our heads, though. I don’t feel the disruptive kids hinder my training, but I do wonder about the colored belts. I’m serious about karate and never plan on quitting even if I get frustrated, but what about some adult colored belt with really low self-esteem who’s having a tough time as it is without any unneccesary distraction? Isn’t it our job as instructors to address the situation?

This kind of crap is what keeps me up at night. πŸ™‚

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exp626 said in December 20th, 2004 at 4:32 pm

I’m not going to sugar-coat this, because I don’t feel I should have to.

Some of the kids are a big distraction. There are a few who genuinely try and want to do this, but those who are just in it for the attention are really becoming an annoyance.

Most people have been badgering me, asking when I’m going to start training again. Mostly, I just put them off with a “oh, work is busy” kind of excuse. The real reason, which I spent several nights pondering, stems from those distractions for two specific reasons.

Reason #1: They imped my ability to learn. I already have a short attention span. It’s something that I’ve come to realize in the past year, and it’s a difficult thing to work around, especially when I’m really trying to focus on something. When those kids start horsing around, not trying, playing around, I lose track of what I’m doing because I find myself watching them. When I can’t concentrate on what I’m doing because I’m constantly distracted by what they are doing, I cannot learn. I enjoyed karate because it was a great way to relieve stress; these inhibiting factors only make it more stressful for me.

Reason #2 (the reason most significant to me): My work is worth less because those not trying are achieving the same results. The guys have hinted at it, but mostly because I’ve mentioned it to them. I feel like my red belt is worth less because another student (we all know who I mean) achieved a red belt apparently without the same amount of effort. I don’t care about junior ranks. No one (as far as I’m aware) has ever explained them to any of the lower colored belts; so, in essence, they do not exist. I, as an adult, am the same rank as that kid. Now, I may not be a perfect example of a red belt, but I worked for what I was awarded. I did not see that student work for what he was awarded.

I expect that some will argue that karate is a journey of individual improvement and that because I have not tried to work past these roadblocks, I do not truly understand the spirit of karate. I agree, to a certain extent… Karate should not be about giving up in the face of adversity. But it should be about equality and respect, and the lack thereof is what I protest.

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