Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Things I've learned teaching kids' judo

A parent told me a few days ago that I have the patience of Job working with the judo kids. I don’t know about that, but I can tell a difference in myself since teaching the kids’ class for a year or so. It was tough for the first couple of months last year, dealing with the chaos. It was two or three months before I really started having more fun than trials. I have learned a few things…
  • It doesn’t do any good to get mad at the kids for things they don’t know or can’t do.
  • I don’t easily tolerate lying around on the mat, whining, not making an effort.
  • Judo is supposed to be about, "You and me getting better together," so I will not tolerate kids being mean or unnecessarily rough with each other (but it is a rough sport).
  • When kids get bored or overwhelmed they become more chaotic and meaner and rougher with each other. Instead of yelling about the chaos, redirect them to another task.
  • Be prepared with enough 5-6 minute tasks/games/exercises for a 45-60 minute class.
  • If the class is more chaotic or frustrating than usual or is not really making progress, don't be afraid to cut it off 15 minutes early and play quiet seated concentration games.
  • The biggest time waster I've found is having to stop to re-tie kids’ belts or pants. If I have to re-tie someone’s pants I tend to cinch them up so tight that their feet almost turn blue.
  • When you want kids to be structured, like lining up to bow in, give them tape marks to stand on. Space the tape marks far enough apart that they cannot touch each other.
  • I would rather bench a kid for 5 minutes for misbehaving than make them do exercises (like pushups or crunches) as punishment.  I'm not out to make exercise punishment.


  1. Great post.

    I used to teach a kids (ages 4-6) karate class at a local dance studio. It was an introduction to karate focused on balance, movement and safety. I will honestly say that it was the toughest class I ever taught. Preparation and redirection was key to a successful class. The studio owner had me teaching in the gym...complete with multi-colored walls and a small trampoline. The kids were distracted by the room and the equipment. I used to set mouse pads or soft puzzle squares on the floor to mark their "spot". The location just did not work for karate so we decided not to continue.

  2. Can you give some examples of "quiet seated concentration games"?

    Actually, can you make another couple of posts: 1 that describes your/the kids favorite games, and another that describes the concentration games? I don't teach kids at the moment, but who knows...

  3. My favorite point is the one describing the preparation of activities.

    If you keep the kids attention rolling without a lot of downtime, it's much harder for them to become distracted or bored.

    nice post.

  4. Thanks for the great comments, y'all.

    Chad, that's a great idea for a couple of posts - I'll post those in the next day or so, so look for it.


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