Modernizing the Martial Arts, Part 1

Modernizing the Martial Arts, Part 1

Before the Gracies came along and turned the Martial Art world on it’s ear (often literally with a two leg take down and a side mount), the operative word was “Tradition”.   There was a whole lot of arguing over what styles were best, but in the end an overwhelmingly large percentage of schools functioned in similar, almost identical fashions.

“Traditional Schools” taught in the traditional way, using traditional techniques handed down from generation to generation with the goal of producing future masters who would continue those traditions.


I kid. I kid…

That’s a lot of Traditions!

For the most part, the tradition is good.  Part of the allure of martial arts is the esoteric, the exotic, the foreign “traditions” of the country from which it came.  We wear garb that is from a different tradition than our own, we train with weapons and skills different from our personal backgrounds, and we learn philosophies and concepts from far away places.

But sometime in the past, Martial Art Traditions became rigid structure, and philosophies become dogma.  This is a very, very bad thing if you expect to teach the modern student.  It is self defeating if your students have special needs.

One World Karate is committed to modernizing the Martial Art classroom.  In this series of blog posts, we will describe what we are aiming for and how we aim to do it. 

This is part one:

Our first step is throwing out – in it’s entirety – the traditional system of classroom punishments. 

In the traditional Martial Arts school, uniformity is king.  Part of the claim towards “discipline” in the martial arts is the ability to get students to adopt a rigid code of classroom conduct by enforcing punitive, often draconian, measures.

The typical consequence to almost any infraction is physical labor or painful exercises designed to wear down the student and get them to adhere to the rules through a healthy dose of fear.  Often, shame plays a roll in the process whereby students are made to feel as if they are letting all the other students down by their behavior.

Can you imagine telling an ADHD child to go do 100 pushups while the rest of the class waits for him all because he couldn’t stand  COMPLETELY still at attention?!?!?  Go ahead and try to punish a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder and watch your whole class go down in flames.

Pushups as punishment?!?!

I’ve seen it happen – all in the name of “traditional discipline”.

Well guess what?  We have about 20 years of studies now that prove this is utterly stupid!

One World Karate will NEVER engage in punitive actions such as that.  They serve no purpose and accomplish nothing useful.  1WK will always utilize variants of the “Praise, Correct, Praise” philosophy of corrections.  And SO SHOULD EVERY OTHER SCHOOL.

Behavior modification will always be done with an eye towards making the student feel successful rather than shamed.

This is not to say that One World Karate will attempt to be a “happy, shiny, wonderland of love” – far from it.  There will exist a set of classroom rights, duties and privileges for all students and they will be enforced.  But the enforcement will come from set guidelines appropriately enforced in a reasonable manner.

Bad behavior will not be tolerated, but actions and behavior resulting from other issues will be dealt with in a modern, progressive system of enforcement that takes into account the student.

I spent 6 years working with extremely emotionally disturbed students and  behavioral students.  I have very strong feelings on the powers of positive reinforcement and the ability to develop discipline through enlightened self interest and pursuit of the positive.  In short, it works better than any other alternative.

There will be push-ups in my classroom, but never as a punishment. The goal of a modern classroom is to make the activities and training the reward for good behavior, not the punishment for negative!

The worst infractions of the rights, duties, and privileges will result in the student being removed from the classroom for the day.  If I do my job right, that will be the worst punishment the student could imagine.

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