View Full Version : Please help me with a new High School Course

Barrie North
12th July 2002, 04:14
Hi all,
I have been lurking in the forum for a while and want to get the input of people here.

I am a teacher at a high school and have convinced our administration to offer a "martial-arts" class for a trimester. This came about because my sensei actually works at the school as a drug and anger management counsellor. He actually runs his anger management classes (which are pull-outs) very similar to a dojo class. So, we thought, why not pull in more students, go every day and offer it as a credit bearing class. The credit btw is "performing art" as I am certified in science not PE :(, even though a shodan.

So we will be on the mats 3 days a week with my sensei and just me in the classroom for 2 days a week. The help I need is what to be doing in those 2 days (12 week, 24 in all).

Ideas I have had:

Watch films (any ideas?)
Watch themselves perform Kata (taped from matwork)
Research about MA

Bear in mind the students are, er, challenging to say the least. Periods are 70 minutes. We will study aikido, judo, jujitsu and goju-Ryu.

Barrie North
Rivendell Academy
White River Budokan

12th July 2002, 05:23
It is a great idea if you can get the philosophy across.

Best of luck.

Joseph Svinth
12th July 2002, 05:47
The Kent, Washington, school district has had judo in the high schools since the 1950s. See, for example, http://www.kent.k12.wa.us/KSD/KW/activities/clubs/judo/judo.html .
Another area high school judo club is located at Foss High School. Its website is http://www.angelfire.com/wa2/judo/index1.html . Probably if you would write the teachers and administrators involved, then you could get some ideas for pitching your students, parents, and adminstrators.

Jeff Hamacher
12th July 2002, 05:58
in response to your poll question, Barrie, i think that the success of such a course depends very heavily on how the enrolled students react. if you're dealing with "bad apples" all around, can you think of any that would take the course simply to improve their bullying skills? would any get frustrated with the slow process of practising certain things over and over again, leading to a quick drop-out? i've seen some situations where even tough-guy students responded really well to a tough-guy teacher teaching a kind of tough-guy curriculum, so if you can capture student interest early on, it might be the best thing that ever happened to them. if your instructor/counsellor already has a working relationship with some of them, i think that will up your prospects for success.

as for the classroom component of your course, why not start with an overview of on-screen martial arts vs. real-life martial training? i figure at least some of your target bunch are pretty impressed with the Jet Lis, Steven Seagals, and Jackie Chans out there; get them to compare their actual training to the images of their Hollywood heroes. where school rules don't prohibit it, take a look at some movie clips and have students predict how long it would take them to master some of those killer moves. each week, the students could revise their estimates and keep track of their progress as part of an ongoing "budo journal". if the students don't get defensive about their personal thoughts, have them do short presentations about the things they learn from budo training, perhaps using snippets from their journals.

sorry that this is just a hodge-podge of ideas, but if it provides food for thought then i've accomplished what i set out to do. i wish you all the best with the course if you can get it happening.

Shitoryu Dude
12th July 2002, 06:25
I was going through the course listings of a local community college looking for a class on Access when I saw offerings of MA (Goju Ryu) classes. Beginning through advanced, 2 credit hours each - I feel ripped off; I missed out on 6 credit hours for having fun.


Barrie North
12th July 2002, 18:29
Thanks guys, some interesting ideas. Jeff, I liked the idea of real vs screen MA. We will have a journal. I have actually ordered a video "The Secrets of the Warriors Power". I wanted to show enough stuff to hook the kids but also stuff that would have them question what they know MA to look like :nin: types.....

Keep the thoughts coming.

Also, to clarify the course is actually a go, I am just trying to fill out my ideas.

Barrie North

12th July 2002, 19:27
How about information on martial arts other than the main one you are teaching? You could devote a class period to a particular martial art. Present the history (brief), some film of the techniques, perhaps profiles of some well known practisioners. If the art is available locally, you could contact the local dojo and get them to put on a demonstration.

15th July 2002, 02:04
Originally posted by Barrie North
Hi all,
my sensei actually works at the school as a drug and anger management counsellor.

Bear in mind the students are, er, challenging to say the least.

We never had one of those at my school. And if they had, he would have targeted the teachers! Times musta changed!

Rupert Atkinson

15th July 2002, 14:42
I was wondering, why so many M.A. styles ?
"We will study aikido, judo, jujitsu and goju-Ryu"

Isn't one enough ???
wouldn't the students be confused ?
(You only have one year)

I'll try and think if I can come up with Idea's for theoretical studies,
I would try and dedicate at least some of the lessons
to the question of "when should you use M.A.?"
using both films, role-playing and discussion.


Barrie North
15th July 2002, 15:52
Thanks Amir, I like the idea of some role-play maybe around that question. We were going to discuss it, but rp would add some spice.

Isn't one enough ???

Weeeellllll, that's an interesting question. At our dojo, our sensei consciously teaches these on an ongoing basis. The rationale is "ok, so what does the karate guy do when he falls on the mat" :D. Progress is slower I guess, but it can be argued that one is capable of easier insight because you can see and understand the core underlying principles better, because they are often commen to more than one art. For example, at high ranks of karatedo, one often studies techniques that are found at low ranks in Judo or Jujustu, and they are made out to be "big secrets". Not to the Judoka!

Barrie North

16th July 2002, 16:58
I have another question:

How do you insure the M.A. studies to reduce the violence of the students instead of increasing it ?

An quittance of mine (from an Israeli M.A. forum in Hebrew), gave his story :
As a child he was very violent, when he started learning Karate and Gong-Fu it only made him more violent - he kept using the exercises on the other children. Until as a teen-ager he started learning Aikido, there any attack gave his opponent an opportunity to perform a technique. This experience taught him not to attack others.
Today he studies Tai-Chi and teaches it to violent students in his town. He is using the same ideas that helped calming him to try and bring some peace to violent students.

Is your way similar, please write about it.


Barrie North
16th July 2002, 22:32
I think that it depends mainly on how the dojo/classes are taught and secondly perhaps what art is being taught.

Many dojo'd unfortunately have lost sight of "Budo" and merely teach effective ways to kick peoples teeth in. You can easily spot these dojo's, massive amounts of testosterone ;). I am fortunate to go to a dojo whose sensei is cut from the traditional mold and a large part of his teaching is conflict avoidence.

You are right I think about your observation about your friend. Two of the main arts we will be examing are aikido and jujutsu. Both firmly grounded in defence.

So, hopefully the combination of these two will cultivate students learning martial arts more as a path to self-disciplne. You might want to post this issue in another thread, that is, how do dojo's either promote aggression or emphasize Budo.....

Barrie North

If you do post it, tell me where, I'd like to follow it.

Joseph Svinth
17th July 2002, 04:40
For bibliographic essays discussing the use of martial arts for reducing (rather than increasing) aggressiveness, see

1. http://www.uoguelph.ca/~kataylor/mapsy1.htm and

2. http://userpages.itis.com/wrassoc/articles/psychsoc.htm


You may want to base your instruction on principles (e.g., breathe, center, relax) rather than techniques (e.g., low block, high block, punch). Why? Because your desired end learning objective is not teaching kids to pass state-approved standardized tests, but to breathe, center, and relax.

A problem, though, is that if the teacher is truly focused on these principles, then Mike Tyson Jr. would need to be graded down, no matter that he's the best fighter in the school. Meanwhile, some doofus might deserve a reasonable grade simply for mellowing, and thereby becoming tolerable for more than a few minutes at a time.

Such subjectivity will lead to other problems, among them complaints of favoritism, etc. For example, it's possible that some of the complaints at Bad Budo are based on talented people with big egos (critically important if you're a tournament animal) subsequently being passed over for promotion precisely because of those big egos (not so valuable if you want to be a senior administrator). Anyway, if you decide to grade on non-quantifiable principles, then you MUST make the tasks, conditions, and standard clear at the outset.

In short, parents, students, faculty, and administration must all understand that the grade in this class is not based on Johnny's success in learning techniques, but Johnny's success in internalizing the principles of breathe, center, and relax in daily life.

Barrie North
17th July 2002, 22:27
Couldn't have said it better myself Joe :toast:


20th July 2002, 01:56
I think that it is a good idea to have it as an optional course
for students like for those grade 10 and up.
In Ontario it is mandatory to do Phys-ed for one credit.

I think those who choose to sign up should.

My best friend went to High School in Brampton Ontario
and she studied Goju Ryu in High school and got up to her
Orange Belt.

Still to this day after all of this time
she still remembers her Katas and is actually thinking
of signing up with a Dojo again.
Imagine that....

Karin Kemen

Budoka 34
22nd July 2002, 19:12

I work in a program for long term suspended and adjudicated youth.
My approach has been to first teach philosophy and then technique.
We first introduced the client to the idea of warriorship (vs thuggery)and then introduce them to Bushido. We discuss warrior cultures around the world and the positive and negitive social responses to said culture (social responsibility).

I do not teach any conventionally applicable technique, instead we start with our version of tai chi. Slow controlled motions in five directions. When they master the first set, we move on making it more challenging. We introduce them to the concept of Aiki both in the physical and emotional sense. Don't just stand there, blend! Be a part of what's happening in your life (internalization).

Once the client has shown enough self-disipline to master all three sets, we begin with very basic Karate and Ju-Jutsu stances and movement. Kata is also taught to the clients who show serious interest.

Hope this helps. Please, if you don't mind, keep me informed of your progress.

Yours in Budo,

26th July 2002, 14:13

I have thought about running a similar type of program myself. I know of two other high schools in my state that offer MA programs succesfully to students. If you like I will send you a short bibliography of peer-reviewed articles dealing with martial arts training and adolescents that I used to present a prototype program to my school administration. In my own experience you may encounter a few issues:

1) If you are teaching the material as a part of a class it will have (somehow) meet the requirements of your state's curriculum planning board. I teach an integrated unit in Freshman World Geography on cultures of East Asia. A major component of this section is a mini-unit entitled "Myths of the Martial Arts" which is intended to both introduce the concept of geography in East Asia and dispel some stereotypes surrounding the martial arts. It seems to work pretty well especially with boys who are difficult to engage in a regular geography class. I have a lesson plan and PowerPoint presentation available on this if you like.

2) If you are planning on teaching a physical component to the class you will have to secure space and equipment. I have found this to be more difficult. In my district the Athletic Director was very reluctant to allow us to use the gym (and fall under the school's liability insurance). For example, despite encouragement from students, parents and other faculty (from my own school and faculty invovled in HS martial arts programs in other districts)I have refused to start a club at my school because I would not be garrunteed gym time on a regular basis.

Another issue you may want to consider is a synopsis of some of the research on martial arts training and violent juveniles. Basically, the research available seems to show that students involved in regular exercise become niether more nor less violent, students invovled in non-tradiational martial arts practice actually articulate greater aggression, however, students exposed to the martial arts under traditional instruction do seem to exhibit fewer aggressive traits than other populations.

Some food for thought anyway,

Geoff Wingard