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Discipline; karate style

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Part of being a parent is introducing your children to new ideas and concepts. One example is karate, an activity both my daughters recently took up.

In doing so, both kids were introduced to an entirely new form of discipline. My eight-year-old daughter, Helen, was very quick to pick up on this.

The kids can only have had a couple of lessons before she remarked: “He’s very strict, our Karate teacher.”

Oh yes, he is strict indeed. As the lessons are only an hour in length, I tend to stay on as a spectator so I get to see them in all their glory.

As an aside, this does present me with a problem as there is an adult section to this karate lesson. I find myself being slowly drawn in. I predict that, at some point in the future, I will give it a go myself, but that’s another story.

If a kid gets a foot in the wrong position, Yandon (the teacher) wastes no time in pointing out their mistake. If a child starts misbehaving, they get called out immediately.

I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. Discipline is not a foreign concept to this family, we take it seriously. Sometimes there’s negotiation, sometimes, to use management speak, we engage and empower, sometimes we inform and instruct. With these karate lessons, you simply do what the instructor tells you.

It is interesting that Helen has picked up on this as she is the more sensitive of our kids. Izzy, meanwhile, just goes with the flow and doesn’t question the approach at all. In fact several parents have commented to me how she has picked up the moves and follows the instructions perfectly.

As it happens, she is the youngest person in the group and has got her first degree, meaning she is on the way to getting her first coloured belt. For Mrs Adams and I, this is fascinating as Izzy is, ahem, the more challenging of out two children when it comes to discipline. In karate class, however, she simply does what she’s told.

I was speaking to a mum about it the other day. She said her boy also went to football lessons where the instructor didn’t give an inch; all kids were expected to follow instructions.

“He’s strict, of course he’s strict,” she said, “he’s teaching a group of 20 boys, he has to be.”

There is another aspect to this. While the discipline is very strict, the older kids, teenagers mostly, are very supportive and helpful towards the younger ones. Those with greater experience are expected to help out during the lessons and assist their younger charges. It’s nice to see this and I hope my kids pick up on it too.

Would I want to employ the karate method of discipline at home all day, every day? Absolutely not, it would do my head in. For an hour a week ‘though, I am more than happy for my children to be exposed to this different approach. In fact, it seems to be a positive influence.

Do your children study a martial art? Do they attend a group or take part in an activity where discipline is at the core of the experience? Are you a fan of strict discipline or do you prefer to let your kids set their own limits? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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