Making Karate Practice Fun

Happy Father’s Day! One of the many lessons I learned from my dad was how important it was to plan for fun. Cool thought and follow-up from my childhood. I trust you are planning for fun when you practice; I know that I am.

Glen and Dad 2006

Happy Father’s Day!

Both of my parents were teachers which meant we had the whole summer off of school. Back in the old days my dad wrote letters and received answers, maps and information in the mail, and we made our summer vacation plans from that information. The internet had yet to be invented. With some input from all of us, my dad mapped our intended fun vacation day by day and event by event. We even practiced the fun of an overnight event with our pop-up camper to ensure we could use it. These were fun practice sessions for us as we got away for the weekend.

I know I want results as quickly as possible. While my desire is to advance quickly, I am fortunate to belong to a dojo that promises each belt as being earned and not simply received. That means I have to practice and get better. It also means we are learning karate.

My initial thought about needing to practice something like punching is to go to the bag in our basement and make it rock. My thought is to hit the bag 75 or 100 times, and I have done that. Of course my hand does not look all that great when I am done. I also need to take a few days between practice sessions to have my hands heal prior to my next practice session. That is not fun. With Father’s Day approaching, I thought back to my dad and the maps and the plan to have fun.

Here is my secret on how to plan to have fun while practicing:

  • Warm-up prior to the practice session; this can be fun—try to incorporate skipping. Who can skip and not have fun? Have you ever seen a 5 year old cry while skipping?
  • Light stretching prior to the practice session makes sure the muscles are warmed up first.
  • Have a goal in mind for the practice session (have fun running and improving this kata…)
  • Demonstrate and record progress–
    • For children, we mark the results with a sticker.
    • For me, I like to have a reward like a sticker or a check mark. So, why not give yourself the same reward for having practiced something.
    • I often have a set number of repetitions for a kata or a set number of times to perform a move on a sheet of paper that I can mark off when completed.
    • It always puts a smile on my face when I have a check mark next to “practiced horse stance” or the drill for the day.
  • Record your initial try. You now have a baseline and a reference point to measure future improvements. Prior to the black belt test, my son and I did a push up challenge. Each day I added one more pushup to my daily total.
    • Day one, one push up. Yes, I recorded my one push up for the day!
    • Day two, two push ups
    • All the way to our goal 100 days later, 100 push-ups in one day. I am happy to have made this goal in just over 100 days.
  • Starting slow and emphasizing technique, run drills for 5 minutes or less, 3-4 times per week. Just a little practice is better than no practice.
  • Practice in a mirror to see how you look. Are you relaxed, is that what your notes say?
  • Who, besides you, will notice and think about how pleased they will be to see your improvement?
  • Share results when ready with a fellow student and your teacher ensuring you did not miss any steps.

My plan to have fun comes from the pride in seeing the progress weekly and the joy from overcoming a challenge.

How about you? What is your plan to have fun the next time you practice? Leave us a comment below on how you have fun when practicing.

See you in class soon.

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