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Karate - is this normal??!

(27 Posts)
fidelix Fri 10-Jun-16 11:09:37

DS recently started a karate club at school, run by an outside organisation. He seemed to be enjoying it though the guy leading it was quite strict.

Yesterday, though, he was really upset after the session as apparently they'd been told it would be a fun week, but it was the opposite. One child couldn't do the routine of moves they have to do, and every time he got it wrong, all the kids in the class had to redo it AND do 5 press ups or sit ups (the hardest type, with your hands on your head, but no-one holding your feet down, so not recommended). This happened 12 times till the poor kid got it right! DS reckons they all did about 100 push ups and 10 sit ups in a 45 min lesson (he said some of the other kids counted and thought it was 80 + 10 but he thought it was more - anyway, a lot).

Today, he's in a lot of pain - in his neck and stomach particularly.

Surely this isn't right? I understand getting the kid who did the routing wrong to do it again, but not the whole class? And not 12 times? And not with additional punitive exercises for the whole class??

It sounds like an army training camp. This kind of discipline might be fine for willing adults, but for kids aged 6-7 to 9, this seems like at best overkill and at worst abuse/bullying.

Anyone with any knowledge of karate or similar martial arts - how unusual is this, please?

birdsdestiny Fri 10-Jun-16 11:17:58

No it's not what happened in my son's karate. Are you allowed to stay during the class. Most parents stayed to watch at ours ( similar age group) and this would give you a chance to suss out what's going on.

irvineoneohone Fri 10-Jun-16 11:29:07

At my ds's club, sometimes the whole session(45 mins) is consists of sit ups/ press ups etc., the muscle building session. But not as punishment for getting move wrong.
Children who can't keep up just quite.

bluecarpet Fri 10-Jun-16 11:29:13

no. my son does karate, the class is appropriate for the age. this isn't right.

originalmavis Fri 10-Jun-16 11:31:29

Are the numbers correct? My DS does exaggerte .

BertPuttocks Fri 10-Jun-16 11:35:05

That would never happen at the club my children went to. A child might be given push-ups if they were deliberately messing about but never in the way you describe and not for the whole class.

The only time I've seen a whole group punishment happening was for a different sport where someone had forgotten a piece of kit. It was done in such a silly way though that the children were usually laughing too much to do any actual push-ups.

fidelix Fri 10-Jun-16 11:35:51

Thanks, no, can't stay and watch.

I'm nervous about complaining because when I went to get my DS yesterday, there was I got there early and there was another boy there who was very cross and upset who said the instructor had made him leave because he said he wasn't committed as he'd missed the last session (the boy had been on a school trip that day and had been tired). I'm worried that if they know I've complained, DS will just be chucked out of the class, with no way of getting back the £50 it cost in termly fees, £25 in membership, £25 in outfit etc. And before today, DS was really enjoying the class! But this doesn't seem right...

fidelix Fri 10-Jun-16 11:38:18

mavis - my DS might well exaggerate! But whether it's 50, or 80, or 100 it was still a lot. I think that much is clear.

irvineoneohone Fri 10-Jun-16 11:46:23

Ha ha! It's a lot, but does happen at my ds's club. One of his mate did a trial lesson on one of those days unfortunately, said it was a torture, never came back. And you are told to leave if messing about, but not for missing class on different week.

originalmavis Fri 10-Jun-16 11:49:58

At DS 's club the sensei might say 'ok, 100 press ups!' and the kids drop but he doesn't actually mean do 100.

But they do sound a bit serious. We had one child asked to leave but he did keep running around punching other kids and parents.

Seryph Fri 10-Jun-16 11:53:12

It sounds like the teacher has got sick of some of the kids mucking about, not listening and therefore not learning.
However I seriously doubt they did over 100 push ups/sit ups. Also, there's nothing wrong with sit ups without anyone holding your feet.

If your son's neck is sore then something has gone wrong somewhere in the way he is exercising, or he has hurt it some other way. I would ask the teacher to show him how to do these exercises properly, and slowly (kids have a habit of throwing themselves at it and can get quite jerky).

fidelix Fri 10-Jun-16 12:04:05

From what Ds said, the kid that was asked to redo the kata (sp??) was messing about and laughing - but it still seems unfair to punish the whole class! And no, they couldn't quit if they were exhausted - if they failed to do one of the exercises (eg push ups) right, he made them start again from 1. Which might be OK for oldr kids or adults, but these are young kids.

I did wonder if he was trying to reduce class numbers - the school added an extra child in when the class was already full, so this might be the teacher's way of reducing class numbers by chucking out/putting off kids. Still seems harsh though...

lifeistooshort Fri 10-Jun-16 12:09:16

It is not uncommon and certainly happened in the past but I did ask my instructors a while back and he said to me that nowadays instructors are not allowed to get kids to di press ups.

Used to be used in the past as discipline and to help kids (or adults) build muscle quicker. It is a bit silly though as if someone can 't do a technic they just have to practice and practice but punishing them won't help (unless they are messing about)

redskytonight Fri 10-Jun-16 12:24:59

I don't think they use sit-ups/press-ups in DS's karate group BUT the leader is very strict about messing about and stresses the importance of commitment and regular attendance and that karate is not something you dip in and out of. I'd say 90% of people drop out after the first year - karate is not meant to be a "fun" activity.

DPotter Fri 10-Jun-16 12:42:20

Martial arts are VERY hot on discipline and self control and messing about is not tolerated whatever the age and total commitment is expected especially in more traditional schools. 'Punishing' the whole class would very quickly pull everyone back into line. I can easily imagine a situation where a child was asked to perform the kata, couldn't do it and asked again & again and then the giggling starts from the other children. Hence whole class 'punishment'.

In my own martial art - you practise a move / sequence until you get it right. You don't give up after the 1st attempt or even the 10th. It's about focus. You can ask for help, but you keep going.

Its a very different way of training and it isn't for everyone. And yes -it is like an army boot camp as its a martial art !

AnnieOnnieMouse Fri 10-Jun-16 12:42:25

I trained at karate and kickboxing for several years, and used to help train the kids. if the Master was late, it was down to me to start the session. My kids started training at 6 and 8 years old.
The setup is not uncommon, but I think it is wrong. The guy is evidently trying to teach obedience and concentration, but he is way off. It is fine to get the one being silly do do reps, but unfair on the others, although an occasional, 'ok, everyone drop, 10 pressups; is fine. IMO, if one continues being silly he is pulled to one side and made to work alone, and kicked out if it continues.
There is a big problem with pushups, in that you can't do them properly and safely until you have built enough muscle to support yourself like that. Forcing people to do pushups when they can't, or are past their endurance level causes injury. Situps are even worse. Students should do crunchies until they are really fit. People should never EVER do situps with their hands pulling their neck or head - hands should be at the SIDE of the head, and not pulling the head, otherwise there is a risk of damaging the neck.
Some martial arts groups are harsh, some people can hack that. I don't think it is right; discipline and obedience are very necessary, but so is sense, awareness and realisation that they're working with little kids, not kamakazi warriors. I hope the sessions improve, and your ds is able to be taught the proper way to do situps, etc.

birdsdestiny Fri 10-Jun-16 12:51:14

Interesting that you can't watch. My son did karate at three different places and parents were always there. Especially at age 6. Is it down to space or is it the teacher saying no spectators. Now I think about it, I have never been to any sports activity where parents couldn't watch. I choose not to watch my 11 years football practice but I could if I wanted to. I suppose what I am saying is that this might make me a bit uneasy.
I do second what a pp said in that karate is not for everyone but when my son did it there were lots of fun elements to it and never whole class punishments.
Also karate is sometimes imo geared towards money making.
Has your son done a grading yet? Is the same teacher involved in the grading as this would give you a chance to see how he relates to the children.

KingLooieCatz Fri 10-Jun-16 13:37:04

You could ask sensei to explain to you how the sit ups should be done, saying that your kid was in pain after the last session e.g. "My son shouldn't be in pain after a session, should he, so he must have been doing it wrong." It might drop the hint. Personally I'd be thinking about researching another club if there are alternatives and looking for word of mouth recommendations.

I would think they are a member of larger body and get their insurance through the larger body, might be worth contacting them for advice. Martial arts clubs should be insured to the hilt for public liability and should be super wary about children sustaining an injury so if there was bad practice in training children I would hope their governing body would take a very dim view.

We used to do a family martial arts class on Saturday mornings and they managed to make it a great work out for the adults and fun for the littlies. There was a bit of "drop and give me 10 pushups" but it light hearted and the kids did half a job of it.

fidelix Fri 10-Jun-16 13:52:18

Thank you so much! Lots of useful ideas there. I can see the point about developing discipline and that's actually part of the reason I thought karate would be good for my Ds, as he could do with getting better at that, but I wasn't expecting it to be so harsh and yes, I am worried about injuries through doing the exercises wrong. He's not the fittest kid so being encouraged to do some more exercise is good but I think that has to be balanced with what he's capable of at this stage.

KingLooie - good idea of a tactful way of complaining, thanks!

Cleo1303 Fri 10-Jun-16 14:16:39

DD started karate in Reception at school and continued until Year 6 getting her various belts along the way. Parents would go in at the end of each term and it was obvious that they were learning in an age appropriate way, improving and enjoying themselves. It was never harsh and DD never came home aching or hurt.

I agree with you, fidelix. It sounds like an army training camp not a fun karate club for young children. I would check out some alternatives.

Captainladder Fri 10-Jun-16 14:23:09

agree that it sounds like a training camp. some sensei's are more hot on discipline through group punishment than others. Suits some kids, but its not the style I would go for. We all do Karate as a family so we train together in the same class and its brilliant. Parents also allowed to watch classes, apart from gradings. Maybe have a word with the instructor or find a club more suited to your style?

roguedad Fri 10-Jun-16 18:09:15

DD aged 7 is in a class and sit-ups and press-ups get used occasionally for misdemeanours or sometimes part of routine but not for collective punishment and never to excess. Sounds pretty sick, frankly.

sanam2010 Sat 11-Jun-16 12:20:50

I've seen this happen in a judo class at a very reputable Judo class for a similar age group. If they are more traditional, it can be their style. He just made them work hard. It is actually required for kids to get fit. Many martial arts classes contain dozens if not hundreds of press ups and sit ups and I have seen this happen in another dojo as punishment for kids who talked instead of listening. It may not be everybody's style but strict martial arts teachers can be like this.

ThinkPinkStink Sat 11-Jun-16 12:34:19

This is a very old school approach to karate (and the approach I was taught). It's the difference between karate as a sport and karate as a discipline.

For me, I thrived on the discipline, I wasn't a very sporty child so that repetition meant that while the more able kids were perfecting their kata (you spelled it perfectly) I'd have the chance to at least learn it to a reasonable level.

The discipline of karate is hard - think beach training, running up pebble beaches, in and out of the sea at 5am wearing your heavy gi or spending 1.5 hours a week in one stance with a person (firmly but not painfully) hitting not your limbs with a bo (6ft wooden stick) to tone your muscles.

This type of thing suits some kids better than others and that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with either the kid or the class, it's just a matter of preference. For me the confidence and fitness this approach offered me was invaluable X

Ilovewillow Sat 11-Jun-16 23:51:21

My 8 yr old daughter does karate as an after school club run by an outside club. Yes is it disciplined as its a disciplined sport and they need to accurate for their grading and stamina and strength is part of that. However, the class is for yr 3 to 6 so a real mix of abilities and her Sensai teaches them according to ability and level. He also teaches them to be disciplined but in a respectful and fun way! It sounds like this is a bit OTT and not really the way I would want my daughter taught!

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