At one of the Instructors’ Classes at my dojo several years ago, we focused on the subject of “time management”. Within the context of karate, there are various ways to look at this subject.
For the Instructor
One issue relating to time management is how to break up the class time between its various phases, such as the warm-up, kihon (basics), kata (forms) and kumite (sparring), possibly integrating strengthening exercises or self-defense practice as well, perhaps some time for stretching and/or meditation at the end of class. Most instructors deal with this by either just giving the “3 K’s” (kihon/kata/kumite) equal time within each class, or by giving more time to kihon on Mondays, kata on Wednesdays and kumite on Fridays, to give them equal time over the course of the week. These methods work fine, unless some students can only attend certain days each week. There are other ways to deal with this as well, such as trying to “blend” different types of training such that we do kihon in kata format, or facing each other as though doing kumite.
Another issue for instructors to consider is how to deal with the flow and intensity in class such that students are not bored, confused or exhausted. Bearing in mind that membership may be composed of people of a wide range of athletic abilities, intellectual capacity, ages and interests, this can be quite a challenge.
Then there is the issue of managing the time spent between sets of exercises. Does this instructor let the students do whatever they want between sets? Is stretching encouraged or discouraged? Is there a long enough break to keep them from becoming exhausted? Or are the breaks so long that their muscles get cold and they become bored? Is there time for questions? If there are many or very involved discussions, we may again have issues with people becoming bored or cold.
How does all the above change when dealing with classes composed of a wide range of student types? How can we manage the time spent between kihon, kata and kumite when some people really want and/or need to practice kihon above all else, while others kata and others kumite? How can we best deal with the tempo of classes and the complexity of the techniques and exercises, taking into account the range of students present? I usually prefer to keep things more on the basic end of the spectrum. But basics can be worked on at a high level by those with more experience. The trick is to make it challenging for everyone, yet not so challenging that it is confusing to the less experienced. The better instructors usually find a way to link kihon, kata and kumite, in their classes.
For Both Instructors and Students
How can we deal with the time we are given to stretch out between sets?
If we cannot get to the dojo as often as we would like, how can we make the most of the time that we do have for karate training? And how about all those extra-curricular activities, such as tournaments, seminars, etc? How can we possibly fit it all in?
And on a somewhat related note, micro-managing our training time, what should we keep in mind as we count? Should we count monotonously and at an even tempo? Should we count as we execute the technique, just before, or timed together with the completion of the move? (the correct answer is just before).
On a “macro” level, how much time should we commit to focusing on different concepts, techniques and training methods in our day-to-day karate activities? What are our priorities in training? Should we, for example, be putting half of our time into perfecting a single move of a kata? Or would our time be better spent another way? There is definitely a point of “diminishing marginal return” on the investment of your time toward a particular training focus. Putting all your effort into making a strong punch may result in poor posture, for example.
Even without going into much detail on the above, it is quite obvious that there are many points relating to “time management” that are worth consideration. Note that I have intentional not answered all my own questions, above, as I think these subjects should be contemplated on an individual basis, taking into account the reader’s particular situation, desires and goals.
No one answer will fit everyone. But each person should consider if he (or she) is managing his (and/or his students’) karate time in a way that best fits the desired goals.
Copyright © 2022, Jon Keeling (originally published February 2005)