Posted tagged ‘children’s martial arts book’

Attendance Cards and Taking Responsibility

July 10, 2012

Lately I’ve been thinking about ways to get my young martial arts students to take more responsibility for themselves, for each other, for their training and their own progress. Of course I talk to them about these things, instruct them about doing so, urge them during class to be that kind of student. But words don’t always sink in; you just can’t assume they will get it. And this is doubly so with the younger kids.

There are always a few who seem born with the right attitude. They focus, they work hard; they practice with the intent to make progress.  These students are gems in the dojo; they would probably excel in any setting. Probably, too, their parents are reinforcing this ethos at home.

Then there are the students who attend class with enthusiasm, but when the hour ends, they drop it like a toy left in the middle of the floor and move on to the next activity. Come the next class, they don’t remember what they practiced. It’s as if they have to learn everything anew, every class. Some of these kids will happily tread water forever, if someone doesn’t come along to push or pull them toward their next rank. Yet they want that rank. They just don’t understand they have to earn it; they don’t get it that they aren’t earning it simply by showing up for class.

Practice with the intent to make progress. That’s what every student must learn to do, and what quite a few kids in my crowded younger-age classes have seemingly not been doing lately. So I did some thinking and decided, among other things, it was time once again to implement some form of Attendance Card/Test Card system to get them focused on what they need to do. I spent time on the recent holiday designing a new card to my liking, and more time over the weekend printing and cutting a set of color-coded, rank-specific cards. I’ll begin phasing in the new system today.

Mind you, I have used various forms of “test cards” and “rank checklists” over the years. These new cards combine familiar old components. But I’ve made an important mental shift. In the past, no matter how I might have described it, I was treating them as tools to help me keep track of all the kids, their attendance, and their progress toward rank. I was bearing full responsibility for tracking the students, then providing the necessary motivation as needed. The tools were helpful at times, but when I found they were more trouble than help, I dropped them, picking them up again only when I had a suitable (or troublesome) group in class.

This time around I realize the tools are for the students’ benefit, not mine. They are a visual representation of attendance and progress that can – and hopefully, will – begin to show even the youngest kids a connection between their own efforts and their progress toward rank. They’ll begin each class now, by getting & looking at their card, before bringing it to the instructor for use during class. It’s just one more component in an ongoing emphasis on taking responsibility for oneself.

I want to credit Kelly Muir’s attendance-card system, as described in her book Instructor Revolution, for sparking this mental shift for me. (Her student-run dojo is all about taking responsibility!) My review of her book can be found here

Instructors: What tools do you use to help kids learn to take responsibility for their training? Please post your thoughts and methods in the comments section.

Here’s a fictitious sample attendance card. The name and dates are made up, of course. A few things to note: The number of boxes in the attendance grid increases as rank increases (the first few levels have only 24 boxes). The number is higher than the minimum requirement for the rank. However, I’m not highlighting the minimum requirement, because it’s not important. Don’t focus on the minimum; rather, meet the minimum and keep training! On back, two levels of rank requirements are listed, and can be signed off by the instructor if desired.

Check Your Holiday Gift Guide!

November 13, 2011

We’re pleased to see The Kids Karate Workbook is now listed in the Century Martial Arts Catalog. It appears in their Holiday Gift Guide, too! As holiday season rushes toward us, keep in mind that a book makes a great gift on many levels. The Kids Karate Workbook helps kids love training (even more than they already do), promotes reading, and brings parents and kids together to discuss important topics like self defense (besides bringing them together to practice martial arts, which is a great family pursuit).

Click here for Century’s online catalog.

Or click here to order from Amazon.

Are You a Facebook Fan?

February 8, 2011

If you haven’t already found our facebook page and become a fan, you might want to have a look. We sometimes post interesting links and discussions that don’t appear here on this blog. Also, if you’re a fan on facebook, you can post links, make comments, ask questions, and start discussions on the topics that interest you. Go check it out! You can get there by clicking on the Facebook “badge” in the right-hand column of this blog, or by following this link to The Kids Karate Workbook Facebook Page.

Kids Karate Workbook featured on Karate Cafe podcast

November 26, 2010

The Karate Cafe podcast recently featured the Kids’ Karate Workbook and author Didi Goodman, in an hour-long interview about the book, how it came to be, and various topics related to teaching and training in martial arts.

Karate Cafe was founded five years ago to broadcast the kind of after-workout discussions martial arts enthusiasts love to have — talking about anything and everything martial arts, and continuing the conversation till all hours through an on-line forum.

For the recent podcast, Episode #66, co-hosts Gene Myers of Auburn, NY, and Paul Wilson of Dallas, TX, had read the book carefully, and both had plenty of good things to say about it. One thing both hosts remarked on is how the book is not style-specific, but succeeds in spanning many different kicking/punching arts, from taekwondo to various styles of karate. Gene is a yondan (fourth degree black belt) and instructor in Chibana-ha Shorin-ryu karate, and also studies Two-Circle Jujitsu and Hakutsuru (White Crane) Kenpo. Paul holds a yondan in Shoryin-ryu Kenshin Kan, and is founder and head instructor of White Rock Kenshin Kan. Paul has also studied Tai Chi, Wing Chun, Aikido, Jiu-Jutsu, and Escrima.

Gene noted that, in addition to being a great book for students and parents, The Kids Karate Workbook is also a useful guide for instructors who teach kids. He himself had used it to find new ways to explain things, and come up with new activities and training ideas. Both Gene and Paul remarked on the book’s straightforward style of explanation–clear enough for kids (without talking down to them), but also very readable for adults. They also praised the quality and clarity of Linda Nikaya’s illustrations (over 200 of them!) for conveying the techniques explained in the text.

To hear the full interview, visit http://www.karatecafe.com/ — click on ‘podcast’ and listen to Episode 66. And while you’re there, check out all the other good stuff on the Karate Cafe site!

Check out the Karate Cafe Podcast!

November 12, 2010

This coming Sunday, November 14th, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time, 8:30 Eastern, and everything in between, Kids’ Karate Workbook author Didi Goodman will be appearing on the Karate Cafe live podcast to discuss “Teaching Kids: Tips, Tricks and Traps.”

The Karate Cafe crew – Gene Myers of Auburn, NY; Paul Wilson of Dallas, TX; and Dan Williams of Lansing, MI – host regular online discussions of all things martial arts, and invites the public to join in. Check out their archives at the Karate Cafe website, and you’ll find friendly, wide-ranging conversations among true martial arts devotees – the kind of people (like us) who leave the dojo wanting to keep thinking, talking and trying things out till late into the night.

You are invited to join in the live podcast by phone, text or email this Sunday. Follow this link for details on getting connected. If you miss the live event, you can still tune in by visiting the Karate Cafe archives.

Celebrate Kids Who Train in Martial Arts

January 5, 2010

Updated January 14, 2010

photo by Linda Nikaya

Happy New Year, everyone!
Let this be the best year yet for your training.
May you build strength, stamina, discipline and focus.
May you feel the joy of good health and physical expression.
May you have more fun than ever, pursuing an art that provides such serious benefits in your life. Have some serious fun.

Let’s celebrate in pictures. Send me a great picture (or two) showing kids in action, training in martial arts. Include appropriate credits (your school and instructor, and the photographer’s name). We’ll add it to the photo gallery here on this site. Pass the word to anyone you know who teaches martial arts to kids– or who has kids who train in martial arts.

A few folks have already responded– I have some pictures from Germany as well as the U.S. Let’s get as many schools, styles, states, and countries on here as we can!

Send your photos to photos@kidskaratebook.com. I look forward to seeing and posting them!

Kids’ Karate Photo Gallery

December 17, 2009

You’re invited to view mommaratzi’s photo gallery from last Sunday’s demo/party/book-signing at Redwood Dojo. There are some great shots from the demos– kids of all ages, as well as teens and adults. Click here.

Do you have a fantastic photo of kids doing martial arts? Would you like to share it on this site? Let us know! Leave a comment below, or email didi@kidskaratebook.com.

Special Guest Drummer to Perform at Book-Signing Party & Demo

December 11, 2009

Oakland musician and Haitian drumming instructor Lee Hetelson has generously agreed to perform alongside Redwood Dojo’s kids at the party, demonstration and book-signing this Sunday, December 13th.

Don’t miss the fun! A detailed schedule of events has now been posted at the Redwood Dojo website. Come, bring friends and family, and get your books at a special holiday price. Both editions– The Cuong Nhu Training Manual for Kids, as well as The Kids’ Karate Workbook— will be available. This will also be a rare opportunity to get books signed by author, illustrator, and several of the children who posed for the pictures.

Book Signing and Party at Redwood Dojo!

December 3, 2009

If you live in Oakland or the San Francisco Bay Area, stop by Redwood Dojo on Sunday afternoon, December 13, for a book signing, celebration, and martial arts demonstration by students of all ages and ranks. The Kids’ Karate Workbook will be on sale at a special price, and you’ll be able to get it signed by the author, illustrator, and some of the kids who posed for the illustrations. More information, and the address, can be found on the Redwood Dojo website.

And by the way, the book got a review in the Orlando Examiner.com martial arts section. The review includes some sample pages, so you can see what the layout and illustrations are like. It’s worth a look!

A Book for Karate Moms and Dads, Kids of All Ages

October 15, 2009

When I tell people I’ve written a martial arts book for kids, often their first question is “What age group did you write for?” The publisher has categorized the book for ages 9 to 12; however, I have a much different view of the matter.
Front Cover
I believe kids of all ages can benefit from the book. It has over 200 illustrations, and these can be enjoyed– and even, if you like, colored in– by younger readers who aren’t yet ready for the sentences and vocabulary.

More importantly for the younger kids (age 5 & up), their parents can benefit from helping them read the book. In fact one of the main reasons I began the project was that parents of younger students asked time and again for such a book– something that would help them understand what their children were learning, so they could be supportive of their practice at home. They wanted a book they could enjoy together with their children while learning about martial arts.

The more parents know about their children’s training, the better they can support it. I think most instructors would agree with that. Parental support is a key factor in success. Parents shouldn’t try to take the place of the instructor, but they should try to understand what the instructor wants from the student. Then they can be supportive in appropriate ways.

And what does the instructor want from the student? Instructors want kids and parents to know that karate and taekwondo are fun, but they’re also serious. They require commitment, dedication, exactness, and an ongoing desire to improve. The great thing is that these are all “attitudes for success” that will help kids in many areas of life.

Commitment, dedication, seriousness– those are big words for 5-year-olds. But they’re important lessons kids start on as soon as they start school. And they are at the heart of martial arts. So if a child is old enough to be in a martial arts class, they’re old enough to begin learning about those ideas (in age-appropriate terms, of course!).

I’ve never gone wrong by taking kids seriously and letting them aim high. In all the years (more than twenty) I’ve been teaching ages 5 & up, I’ve avoided talking down to my youngest students. Sure we have fun, we sometimes laugh, and the youngest go at a different pace from the older kids. But we are all learning the same lessons, and working on the same material– the material of martial arts. Martial arts is an individual pursuit where every student, regardless of age, must proceed at his or her own pace.

I’ve written my book in the same way, as a handbook for all ages that doesn’t talk down to anyone. Students must use it at their own speed and in their own way– with the help of instructors, the help of their parents, and when they’re old enough, on their own.

Click here to buy from Amazon, or ask for the book at your local bookstore:
The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists