Posted tagged ‘karate kids’ book’

Martial Arts Values in Everyday Life

February 14, 2011

I came upon this discussion topic in an unusual setting: a book fair dedicated to hand-made, hand-printed editions. I had not expected martial arts to come up as a topic, but in a conversation with one of the book artists, I learned she had a young nephew back east who was studying martial arts. What she liked best about his dojo, she told me, was that the children were asked to keep a journal in which they were to relate what they learned at the dojo to other parts of their lives, and also keep a record of their acts of community service.

What a great idea (I thought); and it spurs me to ask all of you:

What do you do in your dojo to help students see the connection between martial arts values, good citizenship, and everyday life?

I think we all talk from time to time about these connections, and aim for our students to understand that martial arts is a way of life. But what are some ways to go beyond the occasional lecture? Do you use regular discussions? Homework? Words of the month? Organized community service? Tell us how you approach it at your school.

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 — 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.

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 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!

Martial Arts Attitude for Kids

September 20, 2009

Here’s a book that’s in print, available, and affordable: Kris Wilder’s The Way of Martial Arts for Kids: Getting the Most Out of Your Training. The cover says “78 tips on being a better martial artist,” and that’s pretty much what it is. The “tips” are brief, easy-to-read treatments of training-related topics, most of them less than a page long. TheWayForKidsThey’re written in plain language and first-person terms that a young reader can appreciate. Some are personal stories from the writer’s life that work their way back to martial arts values. Some are practical, some philosophical, many are funny—covering everything from keeping one’s feet clean and nails trimmed, to maintaining the right attitude and mindset both in and out of the dojo.

What I like best about this book is that it addresses all the pet peeves of an instructor who works with kids. My associates and I had many laughs recognizing our own students’ foibles and excuses. Mr. Wilder clearly speaks from experience, not just theory. In the tip called “Pay attention or miss out,” he calculates how much training is lost by making faces in the mirror for one minute per class over the course of a year, or spending three minutes in the restroom every class. I read this to a group of my students; the kids all laughed, and one of them resolved not to go to the restroom during class anymore.

It’s a good book and I’d say, when you go to buy my book😉 if you can afford a little extra, put this one in the cart, too!

Here’s a link to Kris Wilder’s blog, where he writes similar brief, often humorous musings on martial arts-related topics–but keep in mind the blog is for adults, not kids.

Other Good Books for Kids (and Their Parents)

September 16, 2009

While waiting for my book to be released, I thought I’d tell you about some other good martial arts books for young people. But I’ve kind of struck out on my first two choices: It turns out they’re both currently out of print. Still—publishers sometimes revive a book if there’s a demand, so let me go ahead and tell you about the first of them.

EmptyHandBook2The Empty Hand: A Karate Word Book, by Rui Umezawa, is truly one of my favorites. It’s an attractive paperback with beautiful woodcut illustrations and large brushstroke kanji (Chinese ideograms) for the most important vocabulary and concepts of traditional martial arts. It’s exactly what the title says: a book of words. Each word or concept is given a one-page essay. There are twenty-eight—from What is karate? to What is rei? (respect). The author uses plain, straightforward language, and succeeds in making subtle Asian concepts quite understandable to Westerners. He also looks at how the modern kanji evolved from ancient symbols—giving insight into how the words came to have their meanings. In the course of this he conveys not just the vocabulary, but the deeper philosophical underpinnings of martial arts practice.

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction (and anyone who knows me will see in the very first sentence why I love this author!):

When it comes right down to it, there should not be much talking during karate practice. Most times, you should simply go to class, work up a good sweat, then go home. While you are in class, you should listen carefully to your teacher and do as you are told. This is more or less what it means to study karate.

Nonetheless, there are times when instructions and explanations must be given verbally, and many schools choose to retain the original Japanese terms to refer to things relating to karate. Often students who have just started karate find the use of Japanese bewildering. This is a shame, because many Japanese karate terms have profound meanings, and being aware of their meaning can greatly increase your understanding of karate, especially if you keep them in mind during practice.

In martial arts summer camp this year, we copied some of the kanji from this book to make personal ink-stamps. This got us talking about the meanings of the words, and I hope it inspired a few of the kids to go back and read the book.

As I said, this book is out of print and hard to get. If you follow the link to Amazon you can have a look inside, but you’re probably not going to want to buy a used copy for $50! (The 1998 cover price is $9.95.) Still, if enough of you add it to your wish lists, or perhaps contact the publisher (Weatherhill, which is now part of Shambhala), perhaps we can get them to consider reissuing it.


Do you have a favorite martial arts book for kids? Post us a note.

A Martial Arts Training Manual for Kids

September 12, 2009

The release date is still a month away, but we can’t wait to start telling everyone about our book. We know lots of kids are going to have fun with it, and we know a lot of parents are going to love having a handbook about what their children are learning in class. So I’m going to start right in with some FAQs:

What is this book? After many years of requests from students, parents, and fellow instructors who couldn’t find what they wanted in the bookstores, Sensei Didi Goodman, with the help of photographer-illustrator Linda Nikaya and great team of young students, has created a useful, practical martial arts training manual for kids: The Kids’ Karate Workbook: A Take-Home Training Guide for Young Martial Artists. It was written with karate and taekwondo students in mind, and has information that any martial artist will appreciate.

What’s in it? Lots of good stuff:
· Tips to improve technique.
· Puzzles and games that reinforce knowledge.
· Fun ideas for practicing at home.
· Self-defense guidelines for kids and parents to discuss.
· Lots of extras, like a guide to the uniform and belt; martial arts etiquette and behavior; martial arts physics; and more.
· More than 200 illustrations.
· All the essentials for getting from first-day beginner to intermediate rank levels, and beyond.

What makes it different from other available books?
· This book is a companion, not an overview. Where most kids’ karate books offer an introduction to training and a quick look at a few techniques, our book presents a structured curriculum very much like what a young student will encounter over many months of training. Instead of being quickly read and set aside, the book will accompany young students on their martial arts journey, offering tips and reminders along the way.
· It’s interactive. Readers are invited to fill in the blanks, write in the margins, complete puzzles and generally get fully engaged in learning.
· It’s compatible with many different martial arts styles. Instead of teaching about a single tradition, it guides young students in finding out about whatever school or style they happen to belong to, and provides information about a broad range of styles.

The book says ‘karate,’ but I take taekwondo (or another style). Do I need a different book? All martial arts have a lot in common. Karate and taekwondo have very many techniques that are alike. We purposely focused on ideas and techniques that many different styles of karate and taekwondo hold in common. But we understand that different schools, and even different teachers within the same school, do things differently from one another. We acknowledge more than one way of doing things, and give more than one name for the techniques. We leave lots of room for different approaches in the book, and there’s room in the margins to write whatever your teacher wants you to know!

Will the book make me a better martial artist, or maybe help me test for my next rank sooner? Only practice can make you better. Only practice, with excellent attendance, will get you to your next test. But the book can help you practice; plus, it’s fun.

Can I use this book instead of coming to class? No; martial arts cannot be learned from a book. You need help and input from an instructor who can see how you are doing. But the book can remind you of things your instructor wants you to improve–especially if you use it along with your instructor’s advice.

What’s going to be on this blog? We’d love to use this space to provide “extras” to go along with the book–things we had to leave out, for example, or information that you, our readers, wish we had included. We’d also like to publish your feedback about the book, and hear about your ideas and experiences as martial artists. Let us know what you have to say!