What is Discipline in Martial Arts Training?
The value of Kata in my Judo Schools and managing chaos

As well as a brief discussion of sports judo for self defense and the art or judo kata in childrens martial arts classes

Some people believe that discipline in Martial Arts means students standing in a line repeating the same move, over and over again so that a movement is learned by rote (Kata).

However my version of discipline is much less controlled, because my philosophy on life is that is what real life is... controlled chaos.

One of my senior students put it this way when refuring to his experience of self defence situations: "in a real situation it only takes moments before you are involved in full contact grappling". That mean trying to control chaos.

My Martial Art training in my Judo schools is sports judo for self defense. Because it is only in the contest envioroment that you can experience choas with relative safety. Childrens martial arts classes is judo self defense and art or Judo Kata as well.

I have had some parents take there children to other sports and childrens martial arts classes because I don't teach by rote. As disappointed as I am about losing students I have no intentions to change my ways at this time.

My reasoning is that whilst children do learn by kata very well, the learning is not thinking learning. That is if anything happens outside of the confines of the scenarios they have learned they are often floundering as to what to do. This has some very serious implication for self defense and contest development.

More than this, students that have learned by rote are often (though not always) only able to pass on what they have learned, in the way they learned it and can only lead others to do exactly that. There leadership skills may therefore be limited.

My form of leadership is based on many years of experience with children. I have spent a large portion of my life in leading young people. My involvement in Christian youth camps, youth groups, teaching Judo, teaching swimming, running Before and After school care programs, running off the street drop-in centres for street kids to name a few instances, has been extensive.

I have made many mistakes on the way, most minor fortunately but a few major ones and the thing I have learned is "Life is not straight forward". If we want our children to cope with life we have to give them a framework that is flexible and that is hard to do if you only teach by rote.

There have been many studies done on forms of leadership but the one that caught my attention the most was one that was done with children. I'm sorry that I can't quote the source but I watched it on a television documentary some time ago. I would be happy to have anyone refer me to it if they know of the source.

Children were placed in three groups under differnt forms of leadership:

Lese fare

As I recollect all three types of leadership had their advantages and disadvantages. The autocratic was by far the most efficient and the lese fare had creative advantages but the democratic version allowed for much greater development of character and better ability to deal with a much wider variety of situations.

Having taken this information on board and utilizing my reasonably extensive experience, I have tried to incorporate the different styles of leadership into mine. The result is that to the person viewing in from the outside my judo classes can look a little chaotic. And they are! But it is controlled.

Students at my judo schools are valued and developed and whilst not being over protected are made to feel safe and are safe within the bounds of a real martial art training. But more importantly students self develop and are helped to be independent developmentally and intellectually as far as they are able.

I teach the art or judo kata too! It is critical to learn that kind of discipline but you have to learn self discipline as well. People need the ability to adapt. Without adaptability you cannot do well in any kind of contest an you can't manage conflict nor defend yourself properly.

To this end I will in the long term compare my students against a Kata based martial art training any day. I believe my students in the long term will be better technically and better equiped creatively mentally and emotionally.

This is just my opinion but in lieu of overriding information I won't be changing my style of teaching soon. I hope that all my students and there trusted adults will be able to see where I am going and the developmental advantages.

I want to make it clear that this is not a criticism of Kata based forms of martial art training. Many of my former students have gone to one of my competitors who I have a great deal of respect for. I have no trouble mentioning his Ju jitsu school with high regard. In fact we should remember that Judo is in fact Ju jitsu. I wish here to only point out why I teach the way I teach.

I may not every have as many students as other Martial art clubs because people like to be told what to do. But I am very happy with the development of my students. I hope now you know you will be happy too.