Participation Ability in Karate

Students and their parents appreciate the level of participation during class times at East Valley Martial Arts. This is true at many other dojos too. Everybody takes an active role and is expected to use their time on the mat to train. Students do not sit out on the bench during their class.


Students in our Kids and Adults Programs participate in 50-minute classes. In this time, they typically get a workout, review what they’ve learned, and learn something new. Three-to-five-year-old Little Dragons do the same in their 30-minute classes. Their shorter classes accommodate their developing attention spans, allowing them to be successful in a disciplined environment. Classes consist of moderate exercise, and some sessions include a more challenging dynamic workout.


Sometimes students will perform what they’ve learned individually or in small groups while the rest of the class watches. For our youngest students, the most difficult task can be playing the part of audience, and quietly paying attention. They are learning the valuable skills of self control and showing respect to the person performing. Often, this time includes constructive critiquing of each student after they have done their kata or moves. Then, the students in the audience practice giving their impression of the demonstration in a positive manner. This helps the performer improve their work.


Student-to-instructor ratios vary with each class. However, even in larger groups, students receive feedback on their performance of their physical moves and their character behaviors. Verbal encouragement and adjustments are the norm in training. When working with a partner, the feedback can come in the form of whether a technique works or doesn’t. Students in Kids and Little Dragons receive encouragement for participation and behavior in the form of great job tickets. Feedback on participation also comes in the form of belt stripes and rank testing.


With over 18 years of involvement in martial arts, I can look at a karate class from many perspectives. That includes that of student, family member of a student, teacher, or teacher of teachers. I could watch a session and dissect it with a full informational report for the teacher, or their instructor. Having the experience of participation from all levels, I would much rather participate in any given class than watch it. As I tell new observers, “It’s more fun to do class than to watch.” I encourage them to give it a try.

There are no benchwarmers in karate. Students’ actions and progress are constantly evaluated. Even in the rare less-active classes, students are developing valuable life skills. We make best use of our investments of time and money. And those investments have a priceless return.

By Jenifer Tull-Gauger   

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