Thursday, May 21, 2009

What Are the Elements of a Great Karate Class?

Did you ever walk out the dojo door and think, "Wow, that was a great class"?

I have said that on many occasions for different reasons. It could be a result of an excellent instructor, training partners or topic. Perhaps during the class you made a "ah ha moment". It may have been an independent workout...just you and space to train.

A few weeks ago, I left the dojo and said, "That was a great class." It was a two hour class on augment blocks. It doesn't sound like it would be a great class...but it was. Two hours discussing one technique in depth. The class worked on the different levels of augment blocks. We spent at least a half an hour on the prep. We examined the augment block in context to the sequence it appears in kata. We discussed how the augment block can be used as a simultaneous block and strike, a lock, a break or two strikes.

In your opinion, what are the elements of a great karate class? An example?


Narda said...

Hands on. The classes that have lots of 'hands on'. Kata, drills, and lots of talk don't do it for me. A late starter, and the type of individual that was too much mental, I've spent the greater part of my life 'seperated' from the physical...from how my body works.

'Feeeeeeling' how to perform armbars, how to drag a larger body down, re-learning how to grasp, or use two hands dynamically...I often feel like the proverbial 'bull in a china shop'.

For example, last night's class was heavy into performing an armbar bunkai from a kata. It was a learning 'ah-ha' that connected my body, my mind, kata and bunkai...and I left the class 'high'.

Michele said...

Narda: Thanks for your example. I like when I leave the dojo excited about the class. A great class is a huge motivator.

Hack Shaft said...

A great class for me is one where I come out smiling, dripping, and nearly out of breath.

What makes me smile most often is anything I finally "get," be it a particular movement, memorizing a new form, or going point-for-point in a sparring match with higher belt students.

Anonymous said...

A great karate class leaves all non-karate things outside the training floor.

It is when you look in the mirror and you notice your moves are starting to look like you instructor's moves.

It is the when one of your students does an individual kata and walks off the floor with a great look of achivement, satisfaction and confidence.

It is when you start with a headache and leave feeling light as a feather.

It is paying respect to all that came before you and preserved and passed on the tradition.

Felicia said...

A good class for me is one where I get an opportunity to work the physical, mental and spiritual elements of the art. I love to hear what the instructors have to say, but too much talk loses me really quickly. Instructors (me included) really need to listen as much as they talk.

Practical applications are important, too - especially when the relative size/strength of the karateka are taken into account. I'm 6'2" and 150lbs; what works for me won't necessarily be the same thing that works for my 5'2" 100 lbs. training partner or my 5'9", 200lbs training partner, either. Show, don't just tell...

As you said, Michele, a great class is a huge motivator...

Michele said...

Hack Shaft: Thanks for the examples.

Anonymous: Thank you. I have often started class with a headache and by the end of a class it was gone.

Felicia: Thank you for visiting my blog. Excellent point..."instructors really need to listen as much as they talk." I like a class with a good balance of explanation, drills/kata and application.