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#233527 - 03/12/06 08:39 PM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: Ronin1966]
wristtwister Offline
like a chiropractor, only evil

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 2210
Loc: South Carolina
We never tend to do things we dislike very well, so I'm wondering if your performance of forms, which you were sent back to practice, are just an effort to upgrade your performance, rather than to punish you for some infraction.

As a sensei, I'm always careful not to make too big a deal of an infraction unless the student refuses to correct the situation or creates a problem. Being late to class is a pushup for every minute they are late, etc. enforced at the close of class... while everyone waits to bow out. If their technique is lacking, it's back to practice while the class moves on to other things. It isn't punishment, but enforcment of the standards of the class. Making everyone else wait at the end of class for the first "punishment" is to make sure that they realize that everyone was expecting them "on time" for class to start. When we "pair up", if someone is missing a partner, it causes a problem for them, and someone else has to "split their time" to be uke for this person, so it's important to have "little methods" of keeping people cognizant of the rules.

Our school has over 650 students in it, so there is something going on all the time... and if people don't follow the rules, it interferes with a lot of other people's opportunity to practice. It's hard enough to focus on training anyway, with that many people involved, so discipline is maintained by using varying degrees of "activity direction". To be reduced to pushups, someone must have interrupted the class in some manner or stopped an activity cold.

Our younger students in other programs at the school, will play dodgeball as a "skill drill". They learned the hard way that when the ball comes onto our mat, we own it from then on, so they are careful to make sure it isn't thrown carelessly into the middle of our class.

I don't consider it punishment, but discipline, and if you follow the rules... most likely you won't have a problem in your school either.

What man is a man that does not make the world a better place?... from "Kingdom of Heaven"

#233528 - 03/15/06 09:58 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: wristtwister]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Wristtwister:

In the years I have been studying, I have never seen anyone "punished" (adult or child) for any ~breech~. I've verbally kneecaped a very, very few kids who were obnoxious.

Why do you punish someone for being late? The kids cannot drive! Adults presumedly have professions which might well interfere for a few moments on occasion. But unless something is habitual, I do not understand that approach. I do admit to liking it administered at the end, in spite of my ~distaste~ however...

<<To be reduced to pushups, someone must have interrupted the class in some manner or stopped an activity cold.

What is the difference between discipline and self discipline IYO?


#233529 - 03/15/06 03:07 PM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: Ronin1966]
WarblyDoo Offline

Registered: 03/15/06
Posts: 24
Loc: Vancouver, Canada
I think that a distinction needs to be made between punishment which helps the student and punishment which is malicious and hurts the student. As an instructor I do discipline my students at times but I use useful disciplines such as the afore mentioned pushups.

Students get individual pushups for things such as swearing in class which I can't allow because it degrades the experience for everyone there and for breaches of etiquette a small humiliation never hurts.

Pushups are handed out to the group for mistakes made in techniques that they are supposed to know (for example techniques which were required for their last grading). I give out group pushups because it builds a team camraderie and because the students who have an easy time of pushups will still focus to avoid them because they do not want to see their less fit classmates doing them. Note that I also do the pushups which can mean a great workout for me when I have them split in multiple groups and I am doing pushups with each of the individual groups.

Also note that all punishments are handed out in a light hearted manner. Never out of malice. If you are angry with a student for whatever reason it should be shared privately and professionally.

Also the delivery of the punishment is important, if you are using negative reinforcement be sure to use it in the most effective manner psychologically. For example the brain remembers what is on the beginning and end of actions far better than the middle. So if one of students is doing a form that was required for their previous grading and they make a mistake I stop them, explain their error, then give them 10 pushups, then make them restart the form from the beginning. This puts the mistake at the end of the action so they will more easily remember not to repeat it and the negative reinforcement directly after the action so they will not want to repeat it. I have found this to be an incredibly effective tool for quick learning of forms, my students have found this as well and I see them using it when they are practicing their techniques by themselves.

The only other time I use pushups as punishment is during drills when I see to many people dropping their hands. I first warn them that dropping their hands will result in pushups then when the hands go down everyone does pushups. I don't call out who it was who dropped their hands, this way no one is embarrassed and it puts everyone on their guard because they aren't sure if it was them. After all I tell them "If you are going to drop your hands get well aquainted with the floor because you are going to spend a lot of time laying there." Of course this punishment only works for martial arts where the hands are kept up to protect the face and neck and not lowered to shoot from the hip or counterbalance. To each his own and that discussion is for a different forum.

That is my dissertation on good punishment (reinforcement) now my quick rant on bad punishment (force) anything meant to explicitly humiliate a student, cause pain and suffering, or which isn't properly psychologically targetted towards improving technique has no place in a dojo. If you find yourself in this school run.

The simple rule to follow is to say more good things than bad. If you critisize a student's technique make sure you acknowledge improvment. Or compliment the technique then suggest refinement. "Your front stance is looking much better. Now slide this foot over here and you will find your balance improves."

Thank you all for a terrific forum read. I have enjoyed the differing opionions.

#233530 - 03/15/06 03:15 PM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: WarblyDoo]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Hi WarblyDoo, welcome to the forums.


So if one of students is doing a form that was required for their previous grading and they make a mistake I stop them, explain their error, then give them 10 pushups, then make them restart the form from the beginning.

This has been my experience when I was a beginner. I earned a lot of pushups for exactly the situation described above. My instructors always handled it well, kind of making it a game so it was never really terribly humiliating.

I have no problem with those type of "punishments", done in that manner.
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

#233531 - 03/15/06 03:16 PM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: WarblyDoo]
tkd_high_green Offline

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Yes! This is exactly the point I've been trying to articulate. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.


#233532 - 03/16/06 08:21 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: tkd_high_green]
JohnL Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/24/03
Posts: 4309
Loc: NY, NY, USA
When I teach class, I've recently taken to ensuring that the students understand the Japanese term for techniques. They have been taught previously but tend to forget.

When someone gets the term wrong, everyone in the class except the guilty person goes down for push ups. I stand and explain the term to the standing person, so everyone can hear.

Hey, it gets the push ups done and everyone blames the one guy who got it wrong and didn't have to do the push ups.

Guilt gets them every time.
John L

#233533 - 03/16/06 09:08 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: JohnL]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6772
this isn't as a reply John, just in general to the thread.

learning terms:
I like how a local Aikido place does it...they have copies of a 'cheat sheet' available and students can take it home and study it. That way, valuable class time isn't eaten up by acedemics or trivial calisthenics. When they don't know a term, they just look around to see what everyone else is doing and eventually learn. It's not like students are cramming for a test, the idea behind all MA is as a lifetime study.

Instead of punishments, what I think is much more effective in terms of long-term usefulness is teaching students how to push themselves - as oppossed to fear of doing something wrong. Since someday, they will likely be traveling the road alone without anyone to push them but themselves.

The atmosphere this creates in a class is students are inspired by how others are pushing themselves, and order is self-maintained. This also seems to side-step the social garbage of 'teachers pet' mentality and competition between students instead of helping each other rise up.

I'm not a teacher, so this is from my experiences as a student. The most effective teachers I've been lucky to train with have this philosophy of non-punishment in common. however, it's not completely passive....sometimes 'points' are made. If you continue a habit of raising your elbows while kicking, for instance, the teacher might tag the opening hard to 'remind' you. It should never be about power-trips or fear, it's all about self-awareness, thinking, learning, learning how to learn, and learning how to think and correct yourself.

...from this student's point of view anyway.

#233534 - 03/16/06 10:15 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: WarblyDoo]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3119
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Warbleydoo:

Wow, your first offical posting. Congradulations!!!

I accept your views about never administer maliciously and always, always if we must then done with humor. What would you say to practicing XYZ say a dozen more times versus pushups, or other PE class exercises in terms of corrective behavior?

As for the dropping hands loathe using it, but accept with the children it seems effective... do not have to like all the tools we sometimes are compelled to use I guess...


#233535 - 03/16/06 11:29 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: ShorinjiSeisan]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
Have to be very careful what you do these days, too many cry babies.

My Korean instructors were very strict way back but I can't think of any punishment per say. I did get my bottom wacked with a shinai a few times in front of the class for goofing off but that wasn't any big deal everyone got it once in a while. One time a BB complained that it was to hot in the dojang and Sah Bah Nim opened up all the windows during the winter and the snow coverd the floor for the entire night, no one said a thing. Sometime you can tell if he wasn't happy with something, he wouldn't say a thing but the work out that night would have been bloody. If your a good instructor and have respect from your students there are not many times you have to enforse punishment. Personally I don't enjoy belittling someone or making them feel inferior, I would rather try to motivate an individual....although if punishment is required there is nothing wrong with a good old fashion work out.
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

#233536 - 03/16/06 11:39 AM Re: Punishments from a Sensei [Re: Ed_Morris]
schanne Offline
breaks things

Registered: 02/18/04
Posts: 4370
Loc: Woodbury NJ
I have seen many BB's drop to the ground & do push ups for doing something wrong without anyone saying a thing. I suppose you could call that some type of self punishment. Most of the time it was because they used to much contact during sparring and hurt a lower belt or something, I always thought that it showed great respect for their opponent as well.
The way of the warrior does not include other ways... Miyamoto Musashi Schanne

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