In my nearly 20 years of involvement at our dojo and in the Alliance I have witnessed plenty of funny chuckle moments that are martial arts related. We practice an art that encourages discipline, so many times I have to keep a straight face while on the inside I’m laughing giddily. Here I would like to share just one example from a Little Dragons class.
A PEEK INTO ONE OF THE CHUCKLE MOMENTS
Our karate program for three-to-five-year-olds is called Little Dragons. Toward the end of one of these classes, I said, “Line up!”
The two three-year-olds, one four-year-old and two almost-six-year-olds each rushed to stand on their own colored tape.
I pointed to the framed Dojo Kun and said, “Strive for a good moral character…means…Try…”
“To be a good person!” a few of the Little Dragons called out, each rushing to get their words out first.
Four-year-old Payton looked at Jordan next to him, “I said that!”
Immediately, three-year-old Jordan retorted, “I said that!”
But before Jordan finished his sentence, Payton chirped, “I said it!”
“I said it!” Jordan repeated.
“I said it!” at least one of the other boys got in on it, by the sound of it.
KEEPING CONTROL DURING CHUCKLE MOMENTS
For me, this was one of those chuckle moments. I wanted to laugh – one, because they were so focused on actually doing what I asked, which for some kids could be boring, two because they were so indignant that they wanted to be the one describing the Dojo Kun, and three these young kiddos in their uniforms trying so hard to do their best that they argued about it were just so darn cute. However, I kept a straight face. “Guys!” I interjected, “Don’t say ‘I said it.’ If you say it, great, I’ll hear you, but just say the Dojo Kun meaning.”
As we moved on in the same pattern of meanings, toward the last Dojo Kun about restraint, there was a lot more self control from the students. Payton couldn’t help but blurt, “I said that!” once or twice more, but he didn’t create another wave of proud arguing.
And we got through the five Dojo Kuns and their meanings put into simpler words. Then we finished class and moved on with our evening.
WHEN I CAN’T LAUGH AT CHUCKLE MOMENTS
I would have gotten a good laugh-out-loud chuckle out of the Little Dragons’ “I said it!” chaos if I didn’t know better. From experience as an early-childhood karate teacher and a parent, I knew that laughing at them would encourage future outbursts and argumentativeness in karate. Thus, it would diminish my ability to keep their classes on the orderly side of the fine line that allows the teacher to lead the class and the students to constructively use their abundant energy.
This night’s humor was not as universally hilarious as many other funny karate teacher moments when I held back laughter and kept a straight face.
CHUCKLE MOMENTS HAPPEN WHEN TEACHING FROM THE HEART
Maybe you have to personally know and love the students to get a kick out of these moments like I do. Maybe having a history with them helps. I’ve seen how Jordan and five-year-old Eli have come out of their timid shells. And how hard Payton works 85% of the time now, whereas he used to spin and fall and daydream in class about 85% of the time when he first started karate.
Among other things, the instant feedback of our Great Job Ticket system has encouraged him to rein in his behavior.
To me, these “chuckle moments” are precious, sacred moments. They are a simple joy of being a karate teacher. And just one of the reasons I love teaching Little Dragons.