Tips for training undisciplined students

Teaching martial arts to students can be both challenging and rewarding. Seeing kids come in who know nothing about karate, taekwondo and other self-defense disciplines, and then blossom into masters of their craft, brings instructors great joy.

However, instructing becomes especially challenging when parents enroll their children in classes as a way of instilling a stronger sense of discipline. These individuals require a lot of attention and patience.

Here are a number of helpful suggestions martial arts instructors can use to impart knowledge on students who at first glance, may seem difficult to reach:

  • Learning is more important than winning: Many students will come into classes because they want to win fights. This is why supervised sparring sessions are a good teaching tool. Pitting a student lacking discipline against a more experienced opponent can be a humbling experience. Teachers can then connect with these individuals and impart the importance of focus and learning from losses, Averi Clements wrote for the Distractify blog.
  • Always offer positive reinforcement: Punishing kids for negative behavior displayed in class can be counterproductive. Fighting Arts suggest communicating with students who are difficult to train in a manner that is positive and eschews negativity. Explain to them how they could potentially hurt themselves or someone else due to their lack of concentration. Being assertive, yet offering encouragement, is effective.
  • Teach them to follow before they can lead: Most martial arts students who are seen as disruptions to the outside world desire to be leaders but don't know how to channel that energy in a more positive manner. Karate and taekwondo instructors should pair these individuals with someone who can serve as a mentor in class and encourage them to emulate their behavior. This can help students become the individuals they want to be outside of the school setting.

Teaching self-defense classes is a rewarding experience in general. However, nothing is more gratifying than seeing an undisciplined student shake his or her bad behavioral habits and become a role model both in the classroom setting and in everyday life.

Karate and taekwondo offer enrichment. For martial arts instructors, improving the lives of everyone who walks through the door should also be the main goal and priority. Not only does this provide value for students, but it gives the school a positive reputation in the community. This can help boost enrollment and allow a school to grow and thrive.