Innovative Martial Arts
15-1599 Dugald Rd
Winnipeg, MB
204-505-2787
logo
Our Philosophy

How games can teach behaviour

Games are a important part of learning at any age, but especially with kids they are the most natural and effective method of learning all sorts of skills from physical to mental to social.

We use games in our classes to teach behaviours, as well as skills and I want to take a minute to look at a couple examples of how this works.

First up: "The Ball Game" as the preschoolers call it.

One of our 5-7 year olds helping out with a game of ball tag in the preschool class

The game is pretty simple, we use some big exercise balls and throw them at the kids, the kids have to run away and dodge the balls. If a ball touches them they freeze until rescued by another child. This can be through use of a technique (generally a takedown) shooting under the legs, helping them up from a seated position, etc.

The balls are big, bouncy, and while they can occasionally knock the kid off their feet don't really hurt at all. Making it fun and safe.

But what are they learning?

There is the more obvious, they are running and exercising. They are learning basic tactics to run and zig zag, to predict collisions as they try to avoid the ball without running into it. Awareness of their surroundings, etc. They are also learning to fall (especially when they are using takedowns), get bumped and keep playing because... well... they are having fun doing so.

But the more important lessons of the game for young kids aren't as obvious because we often take them for granted as adults.

Being able to resist the urge to run around when everyone else is running around and remain frozen is a skill that for a preschooler takes some practice. They are natural copy-cats who like to run... so when everyone else is running and they are to remain frozen their is a strong lesson in self-control going on.

The second really important lesson is learning to notice the other kids and when they need help, and then helping them. Preschoolers naturally love to help... but at the same time tend to view the world in a very self-centred sort of way for those years.

For the second example: Shield Sumo!

Shield Sumo at Summer Camp

This one gets used with all ages, and is a safe way to teach some really fundamental principles when it comes to wrestling. The basic idea is two opponents get a shield each, they win if the other person steps out of the ring or falls down. This is a game that goes great at all sorts of events and we often use in birthday parties as it is really easy to get started and a lot of fun to do.

But apart from simply smashing each other with shields it isolates some really important strategy and tactics.

When a stronger / bigger child is pushing into them they learn to snap back out of the way, making the pushing child fall / lunge forward. When someone attempts to smash them they learn to pivot. Pushing, pulling, pivoting & shoving are the keys to off balancing when it comes to takedowns and throws, and the game represents a simplified way to isolate and practice those elements in a very safe and very beginner friendly way.

Our Philosophy

Help Us Crush the Competition!

But first, let me tell you who my competition is...

It's not some other martial arts school in the area, and we've had a couple open up in the past few years.

It's not other sorts of gyms and sports.

It's far larger then any of those...

We compete against bullies, that break down the confidence and self-esteem in kids that we are trying to build up.

We compete against Junk food companies, that makes our community over weight and lazy when we are trying to keep it fit and healthy.

We compete against big chain gyms that charge people for access and then let them fade away, paying for a membership they never use.

We compete against video games, that keep kids seated when they should be active.

We compete against a aged culture that says girls should look pretty and not be strong and fighters.

We compete against the diet industry that sells shakes, wraps and other "miracle" products that prevent people from doing things that actually make a difference.

We compete against a educational system originally designed to train workers rather then leaders.

So help us crush our competition, it's not other sports or other martial arts schools. Those are our allies and we are fighting the same battle.

Our Philosophy

Practice what you want to be able to do... and don't always colour within the lines

This seems obvious, but it isn't always as obvious as we believe.

In order to get good at something, we have to practice it.  This is a fundamental concept when you look at study and learning skills in anything.

I was always a very practical learner, I learnt things by doing them.  I got good at math, computers, (and martial arts :))... things where you did things and solved problems.  I had a harder time in subjects that required more memorization.  Names, dates, terminology... those tests didn't go as well.

After school and getting involved in teaching, both in Martial arts and post secondary, I think I figured out why.  I didn't study for those right.

I could memorize things well enough, if they where things I was interested in.  But when it came to studying things I wasn't interested in and had to memorize it didn't happen.

Anyways, the trouble is if you want to be able to remember things you have to practice remembering them.  Seems simple, yet high school me re-read the same text over and forgot it all by the next day anyways.

This is why flash cards work really well in things where you have to remember information.  They force you to practice recalling the information, which makes it easier to recall.  Practicing reading the same information will make you better at reading it... but not always recalling it.

The same thing applies in the martial arts.  If I want to teach you to get good at taking someone down that is resisting, I need to get you to practice doing so.  Static drilling makes static drilling better, and that is important in developing technique.  But to truly get good at something to where you can do it live, you have to practice doing it live.

This is also something that sometimes is lacking in martial arts schools.  The goal becomes appearance rather then function, classes get run like military drill practices to keep things looking crisp and clean...  Creativity and learning to do things live looks messy at times, it is something that comes out of chaos.

It's the difference between using a app that you scribble your finger in to paint a picture by filling in the area and it won't colour on the outside of the lines anyways vs freehand drawing.

Sometimes we need to colour within the lines, it's easier to get something that looks good that way.  It teaches us a isolated aspect of the whole, and is a good way to learn about important concepts.  But, in order to learn real skill and be able to freestyle we have to practice free styling, and sometimes it will look like scribbles.  :D

Our Philosophy

Martial Arts Culture pt 6 - Language

Language in martial arts gyms is a funny thing. For us, we speak English, and we train in English, and there is a reason.

Over the years I've seen and been guilty of some terrible misuses of language during my training. Coming originally from a Karate background my decision to teach in English came, oddly enough, after taking a Japanese language course.

So let's start with some examples:

First, a obvious one, and one that I mentioned in a previous post on titles. "Sensei", in western schools this is treated as a title meaning martial arts instructor. But it's not a title, it's a honorific term. It is used to refer to teachers, as well as anyone in a position of authority. So if you're talking to your lawyer, it would be appropriate. If you are a 20 year old karate instructor teaching a lawyer, you'd probably be using it towards them, not the other way around. A person would also never introduce themselves as "Sensei Andrew", or put it on a business card (which gets done over here all the time), it's something others use towards you. There are teaching titles in Japan... "Sensei" is not one of them.

And now a funny one: In Japanese "Mae Geri" roughly means front kick, "Yoko Geri" side kick, "Mawashi geri" is a young kick and so on. So "Geri" means kick, pretty obvious. Except it's not. "Geri" means diarrhea. "Keri" means kick, unless it comes after another word, then it becomes "geri".

I'm not sure why in the west we like to try and use... and end up misusing foreign language as a part of training. I imagine some feel it gives their training some sense of authenticity. But without context it is so incredibly easy to misuse language in a way which I think is disrespectful to native speakers, especially when we teach it as part of classes.

The other thing to keep in mind is this didn't really happen with the countries of origin for those systems.  Karate used Japanese, not Chinese when the Okinawans imported things.  When Koreans learnt karate during the occupation they went back to Korea and taught using Korean and renamed everything.  (Granted Korea was pretty anti-Japanese in general at that time.)

Some things have names in a language that don't really have a direct translation or a name in English.  In those cases it makes sense to import the word, and thats what is generally done outside of martial arts.  "Sushi" is still "Sushi", we don't really have a English word for it.  It makes sense to use "Sushi" instead of inventing a new one.  But even when we go to a Japanese restaurant most of us still call "rice", "rice" because we do.

Anyways, one more, "Osu" and I'll leave this one to a link: http://www.karatebyjesse.com/meaning-oss-osu-japanese/ the amount of "Osu-ing" that goes on in some places is almost silly, using it as a general word for everything possible and thinking it is respectful. It's a "low class" word, and IMO has little place in a educational environment.

Anyways, we speak English.  Hopefully we are able to get that language right.  :)

Our Philosophy

Martial Arts Culture pt 5: Effort and Achievement

Participation trophies get a bad rep, and perhaps rightly so. Participation in itself shouldn't really be cause for reward. But, it does have one idea right in concept, and that is that winning is not everything, especially with kids.

Even if the ultimate goal is to be the best, winning isn't everything.  It's something we can't control, all we can control is ourself and our own effort.

The thing is, in the long run effort, attitude and persistence will always win over talent when those things aren't there.

When we have a talented white belt that is great, but, the unfortunate thing is a lot of talented white belts do not follow through to becoming talented black belts.  And a lot of untalented white belts turn out to be very talented black belts.

Attitude, effort and determination decides who gets to reach  high level of skill, because even the most talented white belt is still a white belt.

Martial arts training is not a sprint, but a marathon and who is ahead at the 1 mile mark doesn't matter as much as who actually finishes the race.  Same as everything in life, effort and persistence will win over the person that got a early lead.

While we will give awards for winning, the awards for attitude  and effort are equally important.  Those are the things that determine long term success.

We can't control our natural talent, we can't control our opponents talents, the only thing we can control is the effort we put in, that's what we should encourage and recognize in kids.