How Good is Good Enough?
Back in May, at a symposium on teaching kids organized by Madeline Crouse of Satori Dojo in Pennsylvania, many instructors raised the question,
How do you judge the quality of a child’s technique? How good is good enough to promote a child to the next rank?
Implicit was the understanding that young kids can’t meet the standards we apply to adults. Not even our best child-students can be expected to perform like adults.
Heidi Goldstein of Concorde Martial Arts in New York writes,
It seems we all get stuck on the “how good is good enough” question. It would be great to hear from other instructors on this issue. People say things like, “When he can do a good lower block;” or, “When her forward stance looks OK.” What does that mean? We need to define these terms so they are measurable in some way.
In my own experience I’ve noticed a principle at work that’s akin to the old adage, “Work expands to fill the allotted time.” It goes:
Perfectionism expands to make any step impossible to reach.
When we try to get young kids to learn the amount of material we expect from adults, we find they can’t do it—or it takes them many, many times as long. But when we break the material into smaller bits—manageable steps—the next thing we notice is that many of them can’t perform those steps to what we thought were reasonable standards.
So… What standards can we reasonably apply?
Tanner Critz of Unity Martial Arts in Arkansas writes:
I have a list of principles that go into making techniques good. My goal for kids at lower ranks is that they can show a certain number of those principles, and then the number needs to increase but not in any particular order. This allows kids to advance in different ways towards the same goal. The principles on the list, though, are far from standardized. I’d love to know what other people would put on their list (even if they don’t do it this way).
We’d love to know what Tanner puts on his list, too, and I bet he’ll tell us if we get a good discussion going here.
Ricki Kay of Fairwood Martial Arts in Washington writes:
I look for whether kids can consistently do the technique without any prompting from the instructor, and with about 50% good form. The forward stance may not look like a black belt doing it, but they have the basic form. At the lower ranks and ages, I look at their consistency in showing their knowledge of the technique. Do they do a middle block when asked, or do they just put their hand out?
Instructors: Please join the discussion, and forward this link to your colleagues so they too can tell us, How do you decide when a child’s technique is good enough to move him or her to the next rank?
Tags: cuong nhu, how to teach kids, karate for kids, karate kids, martial arts for kids, martial arts instructor, Ricki Kay, taekwondo for kids, taekwondo kids, tanner critz, teaching martial arts, young martial artistYou can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.