Okay, children, it’s your turn to find out the top 5 kids’ karate mistakes in training. I’m not picking on anyone here. I’m sharing the knowledge from my years of experience as a karate instructor, student, and karate parent. This is in the hopes that we can learn from other’s missteps, grow our wisdom, and hopefully avoid the same oversights. Plus, I’d like to help you get the most out of your own training (and parents, help our kids get the best possible karate experience).
Most Common in Kids’ Karate Mistakes: Discrimination
What? Kids discriminating? Yes, this is one of the most common kids’ karate mistakes. Students and potential students discriminate based on age and gender. This blunder often happens when a student first visits the dojo. The kid looks for students who are the same gender and age as them. This discrimination can also rear its head when a favorite training partner quits.
Your dojo mates do not have to be the same sex as you to help you on your karate journey. I know this from experience. They don’t have to be close in age either. I have had training partners who are much older, much younger, and also my age. They have all encouraged me to do my best; they have been living examples of the Dojo Kun. And they have all given me new insights into karate drills and theory too.
2nd Most Popular in Kids’ Karate Mistakes: Always Wanting Fun
Kids and teens are masters at fun. Here’s a link to 15 ways children have fun – you can bring many of these on the mat. We learn best when we are relaxed and enjoying ourselves. However one of the kids’ karate mistakes is to get in the habit of thinking that every class and training session has to be fun. Different people enjoy different drills and activities. Not every class can be tailored to your preferences. We need to work hard to learn the curriculum. Hard work can be fun, but probably not all the time. There is value in taking pride in a job well done, and in working hard even if you don’t see the immediate benefit of a knee-slapping laugh-out-loud experience. Additionally, there will be periods as you move through the ranks that are more fun than others. If you stick through the difficult times, you will get to the easier, often more enjoyable, times ahead.
3rd Most Common in Kids’ Karate Mistakes: Too Much Focus on Belts
Belt ranks became widely used in traditional karate when teachers had a boon of new students and had to keep track of their knowledge of the curriculum. This great tool allows a teacher to look at a belt color and know what a student needs to learn. Moving through the ranks as you earn proficiency also helps build confidence. However, the best student will take pride in their karate rank without focusing too much on how they will get to the next belt.
Many things have more importance than your rank level. Are you consistently challenged to become better in your technique? Are you learning new material or new twists on old material? How about working on character in all facets of life? Setting a good example for other karateka at the dojo? And do you help the lower ranks in their karate journey?
4th Most Popular in Kids’ Karate Mistakes: Putting off Class
At some point all martial arts youth probably fall into doing this, one of the common kids’ karate mistakes. It happens when you are living in the moment (children excel in that). Maybe you’re coloring a super great picture you drew. And suddenly your mom says it’s time to go to karate. What do you do? You say, “No, I don’t want to go.” She insists. You resist, just wanting to finish your art. Now your mom thinks you hate martial arts and you are disrespectful, and she needs to pull you out of the karate program. My best advice to prevent this mistake is to ask your parents to give you a 15 or 20 minute warning before you need to leave for class. Then you can finish what you were doing, get ready for class, and put on your karate “game face.”
5th Most Common in Kids’ Karate Mistakes: Bragging
This is not as common in kids’ karate mistakes, but I have heard about it, and I have seen it in person. And it gives others a bad impression of martial arts and your dojo. This misstep usually happens at school, or when many kids get together. One kid brags about how they have a specific belt and they could kick someone’s butt, or their training somehow makes them better than others. Sometimes this encourages a fight or argument. Usually, though, their bragging only makes them look egotistical. That’s especially true if their other actions (such as disrespect, dishonesty, or being out-of-control) don’t show good character. If you bring attention to the fact that you train, people will make their own determination about how good a karate student you are. Or are not.
If you have made these mistakes, don’t despair. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to get back out there on the mat and keep training. Persevere as in Dojo Kun number three. Now that I pointed out these blunders, maybe you can prevent them in the future. If you’d like three big reasons that karate is great for kids, here’s a link to a short article on the benefits. You get so much out of traditional martial arts that it’s worth the time, thought and effort so you can reap great rewards. And youth who train throughout childhood stand to gain additional benefits for life.