The power of a challenge
In karate class this week I said “Today we are going to learn how to throw a combination with 16 hand strikes in it, and we are going to do it with speed and power”. I saw the looks of “no way” and “unbelievable” on their faces, and heard the sighs of disbelief as I explained how this drill could greatly improve their hand speed. I asked them “how many of you can do it?” A few hands came up. I told them all to put up their hands, because “you will all be able to do it, I challenge you to do it”.
First, I showed them four different combinations and we drilled them over and over. Many of the students had trouble with it, but with patience and determination, we were able to get the combinations down pat.
We then strung two combinations together for a total of seven strikes. We had difficulty at first, but overcame it with practice. Again, many of the students were unable to do it, but we forged ahead, adding three more strikes for a total of ten. I could hear the sighs growing louder and the groans of exasperation by now, but we were on a mission.
Set your sights high
As we completed the ten-strike combination, I noticed a funny thing. The students who earlier had trouble with the 7-strike combination were doing it easily, now that it was the first part of the 10-strike combination. The “impossibility” of the 10-strike combination made the 7-strike combination seem easy.
By the time I announced to the class that we were now going to attempt a 16-strike combination, I could swear I was starting to get dirty looks from the parents, who were watching from the side, and the class seemed to all but give up, save for a few determined individuals.
The 16-strike combination concluded with a 6-punch boxing combination we had practiced earlier. It was now just a matter of tacking it on to the ten-strike combo. The students struggled and many were not able to get it, but I could see the determination on their faces. We kept practicing. As we progressed, just about everyone had mastered the 10-strike combination, and most had done pretty well on the 16-strike combination. We finished, pumping with energy, and bowed out with a feeling of great accomplishment–a truly special karate class.
Expect greatness from your students
The moral of the story: set high standards for your students, keep raising the bar, and expect them to be able to do it. They will rise to the occasion. Challenge yourself and challenge your students.
How old were the students, you ask? Get ready for this—6 to 10 year olds.
A Karate Class Challenges Itself is an original article by Sensei Matt Klein