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#133715 - 09/28/04 03:53 PM how would other instructors handle this student?
sunspots Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 650
Loc: Southern Oregon, USA
Apologies in advance for the length of this post, but I would love some feedback from experienced instructors as to how to handle one of my students.

I am a Blue Belt in my style, and instruct the Juniors and Beginners in my dojo. Most of them are great kids, and we have a lot of fun. Gets a little crazy sometimes, but they are learning.

I have one student who is proving problematic, however. I have NEVER seen someone with less physical coordination and muscle tone than this kid (Age 11). We work basic blocks from a horse stance, and somehow he manages to get his whole body into a simple inward block. His spine seems to be like jello, and he somehow ends up glancing at the ceiling when throwing a simple forward punch. After 6-8 months I am still trying to explain the concepts of "straight back, head level, look at your target."

Figuring that he's gonna be the target of choice for schoolyard bullies, I had another Blue Belt work with him on a bag on his punches. The student, ("J" for privacy,) was punching the bag, and my fellow Blue Belt ("A") was standing behind it, lightly tapping at J. when he let his head guard down. Well, A. went to tap J., who flinched and caught a fingertip NEAR, not IN his eye. (Didn't even leave a red spot.)You'd have thought someone had shot his dog and insulted J's mother. Hand and feet protectors went flying in all directions, and he ran for the door screaming for his mom to get in the car, he was quitting, they were going home,etc. Mom grabbed him and it took her, A., and I all three to get him stopped, and wrestled to the ground to find out what exactly had happened. While we were "talking him down," he was hiding behind his mother's leg like a three-year old, and it took 15 minutes to get him calm enough to speak clearly. Turns out J. "doesn't like to hit people, or to be hit."

Sifu spoke with his mom after I had explained to him what had happened, (He was teaching another class at the time.)telling her that if this is how J. reacts to being hit, that M. A. is probably not where he belongs. She and J. think he can get over it, and he keeps coming and cheerfully doing things wrong, while I wait for the next meltdown. This kid will wander away while Sifu is talking to him, gets distracted by dust in the air, and loves to tell me about video games when we are working on kicks.

I hate to give up on a student, since my Sifu never gave up on me, but this kid is what Sifu calls an "energy vampire." I get exhausted trying to keep him on track and learning, and it takes time from students who are really more suited to M.A.

I realize that ultimately, it will be Sifu's call what to do with him, but I'd like to hear any thoughts experienced instructors have.

#133716 - 09/28/04 08:45 PM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
kenposan Offline

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Wow, that sounds like a tough cookie. Kids are a strange bunch in general and this youth appears to be more challenging then most. Having not met the kid I can only offer this:

He sounds a bit socially backwards with poor impulse control. This may be related to a variety of factors: ADHD, Autism or Ausberger's, mild MR/DD, or maybe just plain personality traits.

If "J" thinks the kid is workable and is willing to commit the time and energy needed (and Sifu agrees), then go for it but in it for the long haul. You have a lot to overcome. Be patient and work on things in small segments. Pick a couple of areas to focus on and hit them hard. Attention span and dojo ettiqueteappear to be a good place to start. It's okay to talk about video games, but not during drills or instruction.

Good luck!

[This message has been edited by kenposan (edited 09-28-2004).]

#133717 - 09/29/04 01:32 PM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
sunspots Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 650
Loc: Southern Oregon, USA
Thanks, kenposan, for your reply. I am just trying to take it class to class with this one, and keep working his basics (stances, posture, etc.) until he gets it. He may be a white belt for a very long time.

The student in question does seem to have some social issues, but they aren't ones I am familiar with. My 16-year old daughter has ADD, and couselors/doctors are thinking maybe mild Asperger's, but she never acted out like my student does. Perhaps it's a matter of degree.

Anyway, we have class tonight, so here we go again... [IMG][/IMG]

#133718 - 09/29/04 07:30 PM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?

Kenposan has it right, based on your description of the kid's behavior, it sounds like he has Asperger's Syndrome. This is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder characterized by extreme social awkwardness and isolation, with poor gross motor coordination. Temper outbursts are common, even over mild provocations. Cognitive abilities usually fall in the normal to low-normal range. These kids are your stereotypical "nerds". They prefer playing video games, working on a computer, collecting bugs, etc. to socializing with others. We have a young man (now 16 years old) in our dojo with Asperger's. It was rough when we started, but his parents were patient and understanding and supported our efforts with him. He takes a couple of psychotropic medications, which have definately helped him control his moods. The combination of the meds, the firm but compassionate support and the parents have helped this kid attain a brown belt in Shorinkan karate. However, karate may not be your student's cup of tea. Just do your best like you have done, maybe learn more about Asperger's Syndrome to help you help him on his journey. Good luck!

[This message has been edited by budobrubbie (edited 09-29-2004).]

#133719 - 09/29/04 08:15 PM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?

Here's a suggestion, do as you will with it.

Take video of J in class, and later show it to him and his mother together. Maybe if he sees himself and sees his own behavior, he will be motivated to change his attitude. Most people are quite humbled when they see/hear themselves.

I'm not saying this is the solution. Look into medication and psychologists and all that stuff too.

[This message has been edited by Foolsgold (edited 09-29-2004).]

#133720 - 09/30/04 04:49 AM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
Toudiyama Offline

Registered: 04/14/03
Posts: 229
Loc: Zaandam, Netherlands
I would probably advice him to do some Judo first, get used to contact without being hit

This is the exact reason why I think contactsports aren't suited for selfdefence, most who need it, do not like to be hit at all

Also maybe some tag-sparring where only the body is a target might help him with his fears of being hit, eventually, the head could be a target
The problem was he was hit from behind and that scared him the most I think in sparring, especially tag sparring if not done at full speed will allow him to see what is comming end get used to being hit

#133721 - 10/03/04 10:22 PM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
Reiki Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/30/02
Posts: 3403
Loc: MiddleEarth
Break his work down into tiny steps for him.

He is obviously having trouble processing the whole thing and needs to feel like he is succeeding, so making tiny progress steps will be easier for him to feel like he is doing something.

Agree about him needing to see what is coming at him before it hits him.

Sounds like he has some form of ADHD or a similar condition. Keep the stuff simple and short and focussed so that he is paying attention. Get him to show you how good he can do something very simple. Next time make it a bit harder until he is slowly improving.

We do an exercise with punch drills aiming for the kids to keep their guard up well all the time. Those that do not keep the guard up properly get pressups and more pressups while the best ones get a reward at the end.

Make it very simple at first with just a jab and a cross, keeping the guard up well. Do say 10 sets, if u see kids dropping their guard start again at 1 and keep repeating until they can make the 10 sets.

If they continually fail to keep their guard up then they do 10-20 pressups which will help to strengthen their arms anyway!

#133722 - 10/04/04 04:14 AM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
I have a student with asbergers syndrome. He also had compulsive obsessive behaviour regarding hand washing (literally HAD to do it every 15 to 20 minutes. There were and are some severe family problems that have a huge affect on him.

He has been training for around 6 years and is now 15. He passed to brown belt (3rd kyu) a few months ago.

When he first started training a couple of other instructors told me he would not last 3 months. His school teacher told me "he will never be able to do it"

It has taken longer than most to reach this level, but so what? He enjoys his training, his body control has improved tremendously and he feels a real sense of achievment (something lacking in most other areas for him). I truly believe that if he sticks at it he will go on improving and gaining confidence.

Don't give up on this child unless he really is taking too much time away from the rest of the class.

#133723 - 10/04/04 06:18 AM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
still wadowoman Offline
Improved beefier techno-prat

Registered: 04/10/04
Posts: 3420
Loc: Residence:UK- Heart:Md, USA
Sorry, just re-read my reply and realised that my last paragraph sound like an order [IMG][/IMG]

I meant to say in my opinion, you should not give up on this child unless....etc.

#133724 - 10/06/04 11:34 AM Re: how would other instructors handle this student?
sunspots Offline

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 650
Loc: Southern Oregon, USA
No offense taken, and I appreciate your input. I am not going to give up on the kid unless it develops that other students are being shortchanged. I think I am going to try videotaping J, Sifu does it with other students sometimes. It IS an eye-opener sometimes. It was for me!! [IMG][/IMG]

And I think breaking down tasks into the smalles possible units will be helpful as well.

[This message has been edited by sunspots (edited 10-06-2004).]

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