Removing Boredom from Basic Repetitions

You know as well as I that student boredom is the number one reason for students to quit karate. As karate instructors we have the responsibility to keep our students motivated, focused and working hard. However some students would rather watch paint dry than do basic reps.


dojoSo how do you keep your class interested and still get them to do basic repetitions with the passion they once had?

It’s easy… just involve them in the learning process.

I’ll say that again just in case you missed it.

Involve them in the learning process.

This keeps them ENGAGED and INTERESTED and keeps BOREDOM on lock-down.

For example, instead of simply having your class do 20 lunge punches, followed by 20 front kicks, and then 20 back kicks, ask for your students’ involvement.

Here’s what a typical day at my dojo might sound like during the basic repetition portion of class.

“Who can name one hand technique?”, I ask.

“Oi-zuki!”, shouts one student. (That’s Japanese for lunge punch)

“Ok, great”, I say, “Who can give me another technique. This time with the legs?”

“Mawashi geri!”, shouts another. (Roundhouse kick)

“Perfect. Ok so here’s our new combination technique. First you make oi-zuki then immediately make mawashi geri off the rear leg. Ready! Ichi… Ni…. San…”

Once my class is done with the first set of 10 reps for this new combination, we switch sides and repeat. Then it’s on to the next one.

“Ok, next combination… Joseph – name a technique.”

“Mae geri”, he answers.

“Thank you. Someone else?”

“Uraken”, says Tommy.

“Ready, step forward into your fighting stance, kamae-te!”, I shout.

“Mae-geri / uraken combination on my count…. Ichi… Ni… San…”

This is a great way for you to have your students do their basic reps every class but with a twist. They never know exactly what the combination will be, so that keeps them focused and interested. It’s also a great cognitive karate exercise because they are challenged mentally to put together combinations they may never have practiced or thought about before.

You can scale up the difficulty of this exercise in the following ways:

  • increase the number of techniques per combination
  • make the combinations only hand techniques, only leg techniques, or combination hand-leg techniques
  • restrict the techniques to only one side of the body
  • etc

Your class will always be challenged no matter the skill level or experience.

What other ways can you think of to modify this exercise?

Your feedback and comments are always welcome.

About The Author

Jason Stanley

Jason Stanley has been practicing karate for 29 years. He is a 5th dan in Shitoryu/Shukokai, and 3 x stick fighting world champion. Since 2002 Jason has provided karate tips, hints and information to help both students and teachers increase their karate knowledge, deepen their understanding and improve their karate skill sets. His materials, e-books and courses have sold in over 35 countries.

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  • Walter

    Reply Reply October 21, 2015

    Hi jason,

    Excellent advise! It’s true that nowadays kids need to be ‘entertained’. We are also searching for ways to keep the exercises fun and enjoyable. I’m going to implement your example the next training!


  • Richard Holdstock

    Reply Reply October 24, 2015

    G’Day Jason ~

    Reducing boredom both for kids and senior students is an essential tool to inspire and motivate students, and to improve their skills and the byproduct is a successful Dojo.
    Richard Holdstock Head Instructor 4th Dan
    Goju Ryu bushido Karate Academy
    Blacktown City NSW Australia

  • Steve Clarke

    Reply Reply March 17, 2016

    Great tip! I’m going to use this in tomorrow’s classes.


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