Discipline in the martial arts does not mean making a child do knuckle push-ups for misbehaving in class. I am not a supporter of using exercise for punishment anyway. No, what we are talking about here is self-discipline. Discipline is all about doing what you must do even when you don’t want to do it.
Training and control of oneself and one’s conduct, usually for personal improvement.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged
the act of disciplining or power to discipline one’s own feelings, desires, etc., esp with the intention of improving oneself.
Webster’s College Dictionary
Control of Self
How does a child learn to control his temper and not lash out? A good role model that he or she looks up to can be a big help. If the sensei says it’s not right to strike another child in anger, most kids take it on. I have even had many parents complain that their child did not hit back when they were attacked because “the sensei said it is not right to use karate at school”. Good or bad, this is self-control in its purest form.
Activity Must be Fun!
How do you get your child to get off the video games and get ready for karate class? Simple, the child has to like the activity. If you can make the classes fun and challenging at the same time, the child will be more likely to continue with it.
Goals Should be Broken Into Little Chunks
How do you keep a child motivated? You have to break the goals into little chunks, because for a kid, six months is forever! Break the goals down into smaller chunks and reward them for their efforts more often. This is not bribery, this is just how kids operate.
The Sensei Knows if You Have Been Practising
How do you get kids to practice at home? This is a hard one, but if the sensei suggests strongly that the child practice outside of class, and says he or she will “check your work next week”, a good many will.
Games Build Concentration and Peer Pressure Can Make Them Work Harder
How can you get a bored child to concentrate? Play a game that requires the child to concentrate in order to win. Every child wants to win at games. Peer pressure can help as every child wants to fit in. “Yes I focus on that kata one more time because the rest of the class is doing it”. They start to learn how to concentrate on their own, enough to master the techniques that are required of them.
Recognition is the Key to Building Mastery
How do you get children to do their best? Use the carrot, not the stick! We always make it a point to have a child demonstrate for the class a technique in which he or she is very good. It makes all the children in the class try harder. Kids are like any other human, we all crave recognition. As the child begins to achieve a sense of mastery, and this is recognised publicly, they start feeling a lot better about themselves and this is where they begin to really enjoy martial arts.
Over a period of years students learn that if they persist, work hard, and do not give up, worthy goals are achieved. It is a lesson that will serve them well throughout their lives. How has the martial arts helped your child’s self-discipline?