Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ACL Gender and Geometry

A new study about ACL injuries.

From Science Daily:
Much orthopaedic research has been devoted to determining why women are far more susceptible to knee ligament injuries than men. According to a new study, the answer may lie in geometry -- the length and shape of a patient's knee bone -- more than gender

The study found that most of the women (those who had ACL injuries and those who did not) and only the ACL-injured men shared a common geometry on the outside of their knee joint: The upper part of their shin bone at the joint (tibial plateau) was much shorter and more rounded. This may help to explain why women have an ACL injury rate that is two-to-five times greater than that of men.

Friday, February 24, 2012

General or Specific?

As a kyu rank, I remember being in a class of 15-20 people. The class instructor was leading the group through drills, kata and basics. He would often pause and offer pointers to the class. The instructor would tell the group to “check your stance”, “bend your knees” or “fix your hand position”. After each suggestion, students would check their technique and make corrections as needed. This pattern went on for a few minutes until he stopped the group.

The class instructor announced he would no longer make general comments to the class rather he would make specific comments to individuals.

His explanation...

Not all the students were checking their techniques.
Students in the correct position were making faulty corrections.
Students in the incorrect position were not making corrections.
Blanket statements were taking up a lot of class time.

The reaction from the class was divided. Some students did not like being singled out and felt “picked on”. I was included in the other group of students who appreciated the corrections.

It has been seventeen years but I still remember the class and the lesson learned. As a class instructor, I prefer to offer specific comments to individuals. The suggestions and corrections are offered as an opportunity to help students learn and improve.

What is your experience? General or specific?

A big welcome to the new followers of this blog! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

You Can't Make Someone...

From the "Draft" folder dated May 2010:


A teacher can present information, give examples, share stories, discuss concerns, make corrections and answer questions. Students can learn by seeing and hearing, reflecting, practicing, repeating, analyzing, visualizing, in pieces or in chunks.

My own experience is from being a student, a parent and a karate instructor. As a student, I feel learning is my responsibility. I need to pay attention, receive the information, ask questions, practice. As a parent, I need to teach by example, listen, correct and guide. As a karate instructor I need to demonstrate, explain and guide.

Take for example my experience learning the kama kata. I struggled with this weapon. I could never flip the kama in my hand the correct way. My movement was slow and deliberate while other practitioners were quick and fluid. My kama would chop through the air rather than slice. I decided the kama were not for me...and that was all there was to it. When we would practice kama in class or at a seminar, it was as if my learning ability shut off like a switch. I wasn't receiving the information or benefiting from the practice because of my decision. A few years later, I made practicing kama a priority. I started to see some improvement.

Have you ever worked with a student or training partner and went over and over a technique? You tried everything: demonstrating, explanation, repetition, application, breaking it down in small parts, referencing and drills. After many attempts, the student did not learn the technique. Time passes and a different instructor successfully teaches the student the same technique.

How does this happen? What made the difference? I believe the student was ready/open to learning the technique.  Thoughts?

Update on kama:  I am still working on it!  :) 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Big Class / Small Class

Our dojo opened in 1995.  The building was a bar/restaurant which we converted into a house/dojo. The very first class had two students. Through the years, class sizes have varied from 1 person to 20+.   When class size reached space capacity, we split up the kyu ranks and added more classes.  If class size was too small, we consolidated the classes.   The student population has varied over the last 16 years due to economics, trends, fads and interest. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to a large class and a small class. 

Large Class - Advantages
1. A lot of energy.
2. Good for certain training drills.
3. Variety of training partners available.

Large Class - Disadvantages
1. Reduced space on training floor.
2. May limit teaching opportunities.  For example, it is difficult to teach long range weapons due to space constraints.
3.  Limited individual instruction.

Small Class - Advantages
1. Opportunity to work on material specific to each student.
2. One-on-one instruction.

Small Class - Disadvantages
1. Limited partner work.
2. Some students prefer a larger class setting.

As a class instructor/student, do you prefer big classes or small classes?  What do you see as the advantages/disadvantages?