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Just prepping tonight's classes

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I spend a good hour prepping the sessions for that evening. I have 4 classes on tonight, one kid’s (the hardest to prep for), one teen’s (second hardest), one senior ground (3rd) and one senior standup, (easiest). I’ll do a bit of an add on to each blog entry during the week to explain how I prepare for each session. First up is the kids class.

For the kids I prepare a warm up based either around a game or a race. kids love playing and they love racing, so it’s easy to get them to do these. I watched a taekwondo class not so long ago and the instructor was warming his kids up the way I used to do; in lines, hoppping up and down on the spot, jumping jacks and so on. Now will the kids will get warmed up doing this? Of course they will, it’s as good a warm up as any for getting body temperature up and for loosening out. Will they enjoy it? Maybe, but I wouldn’t if I was a kid and I don’t think any of the kids I teach would enjoy it either. Now I’m not trying to rag on taekwondo warm ups, I could use any class in it’s place, this was just one I happened to see and it reminded me of some of my own mistakes, actually my own previous assumptions, in coaching juniors. After that it’s some gymnastics, tumbles, handstands, wheelbarrow walks and so on. This is their fitness and strength work! After that, some basic sport specific games, tonight it’s takedowns so we’ll do games for those, and we finish wih some matches in which I sometimes throw in foam swords to see who can chop the other kids head off. All of this is probably best illustrated by explaining a process that I put in place about a year ago, an one which I’m only now beginning to see the benefit of as some kids change levels with age.

The following is a rough, and very crude description of my Long Term Development Programme (patent pending) for the gym. For a bit of history; basically I got sick of the whole business of martial arts training about 3 years ago, and decided that my gym was going to be an athletics gym that just so happened to teach fighting as opposed to football or rugby or tennis. If I was to be crude and describe most martial arts training I’ve experienced I would have to call it crap, and that would be mild. It was all get them in, get them a belt, keep them there by offerring more belts, bow to him, and to him, no not to him he bows to you, shake his hand no not like that shake it the proper way, what colour is your uniform, not that’s wrong you can’t wear that. When there’s all that protocol and frankly, cultish behaviour, it’s hard for athletic goals to be in focus. So I quit it all and I’m happy, and the result of that was the total revamp of the way I thought everything, including the way I taught kids. After the move to the new gym I stopped caring about how many kids I got in to train, and just decided I wanted smaller classes more focus. The net result after lots of research and lots of trial and error was The Long Term Development Programme (patent pending patent pending)

Broadly:
5yrs-12yrs- Training for fun. Basic gymnastic movements. Fundamental boxing and kicking skills, the fundamentals of pin and escape on the ground. The seatbelt and double underhook when standing and variations off that. Games, fun, friends, limited competition for fun.
12yrs-16yrs- Training to train. The beginnings of resistance training using bodyweight and progressing to med balls etc. Stand-up sparring introduced, understanding of multi-range sparring, submissions on the ground etc. Beginning competition.
17yrs+ Senior programme

So what I hope will happen is that any youngster coming from the 5yrs+ class will have the fundamental skills to progress to the teens class and have a base to begin all the training they have to do. Then any teen coming from that class will be able (should be able) to progress into the senior programme having been thought the fundamentals. The whole idea is that in say, 5 years time, a 17 year old kid will have more or less learned all of the fundamental things he needs to know when he progresses into the seniors, and be able to concentrate on refining technique and training for performance. I’ve already had a couple of graduates from the juniors to the teens and it all seems to be going well…. (all of the above is patent pending)

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