Friday, February 26, 2010

How to get kids to slap when they fall

I had another triumph last night at the kids' judo class.  This one was about how to get kids to slap properly when they fall.  We'd been through all the standard exercises - rock on the back and slap, sidefall and slap big, etc...  I'd told them to, "swing big," and "hit the mat harder than it hits you," and all that. But in forward rolls and airfalls, most of them would still either slap with the backs of their hands or curl the arms up against their bodies and then land on them.  I'd just about worn my voice out, telling them, "don't land on your arm!"
Then it came to me.  I put a spotter in  to hold the hand of the lead (rolling) arm, and just before they would roll I'd have them give the spotter five with their free hand.  Each time they slapped the spotter's hand I'd say, "This is your slapping hand."  The fix was immediate and complete.  100% of the kids stopped landing on arms and started landing on their sides, slapping big, and slapping with their palms instead of their knuckles!
There are lots of this sort of breakthrough in teaching martial arts.  Instructors strive for the right way to say it or demonstrate it to get the idea through the students' skulls, then suddenly the students get it perfect, as if you'd just now told them the right thing to do for the first time.  One of my instructors long ago liked to say, "apparently the speed of sound is different for everyone because I've been telling you this same thing for years and my words have just now gotten to some of you."

Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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