Lesson Plans For Marital Arts Classes

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Oct 16th, 2016

Years ago I dealt with the question, “Mr. Lawson, why do you always carry a clipboard when you’re teaching?” My answer was straightforward and simple, “I create a plan for each class I teach, this allows me to deal with variables, questions, and other teachable moments as they arise, and still, cover the essential material for the class.” Most teachers and coaches have a written plan for their classes or training sessions, how about you?

One Lesson Plan format I’ve used many times is the Madeline Hunter Lesson Design Model. Hunter uses eight points. Using these steps will help you make sure your classes are interesting, consistent, and always exciting.

Anticipatory Set – This is a prompt or a short activity that focuses your student’s attention before you begin the actual lesson. You might start by reviewing a prior lesson with a similar theme, or by explaining the principle of motion or self-defense that this class will focus on, or by giving a brief history of the form or set you’ll be training.

Purpose – Explain the purpose of the lesson. When your students know the “why” it’s easier for them to train the “how to”. For example, “Today, we’ll train on alternating stances and the weapons of your closed fist to increase the power and effectiveness of your strikes.”

Input – This is where basic skills and any new vocabulary are introduced. Moving from warm up exercises you might have students:

Launch forward and back to a neutral bow stance, having their lead hand striking with a vertical or roundhouse punch or executing various blocks, while their rear hand goes to a thrusting point of reference.

Launch from a neutral bow to a forward bow stance while the rear hand executes an uppercut, horizontal, roundhouse or vertical punch.

From the forward bow, shift back to a neutral bow stance using the lead hand to hammerfist to the groin, block upward or whip an outward backnuckle.

You might also emphasize certain principles of motion, timing of hands and feet, breath control, anchoring, contouring, etc. or if you are teaching the model, Alternating Maces, the principle of Collapsible Deflection. The choice is yours!

Modeling – Using the above example, the teacher demonstrates Alternating Maces from various angles, with and without an attacker.

Guided Practice – Students follow the teacher; imitating the movements, the pattern, and the speed of execution:

By the Numbers – One – first move, two – second move, etc.

Fluidly – Where one movement flows into the next without hesitation

Hard and fast – This is where the teacher and students train the sequence for speed and power.

From this point, the students might train the pattern in the mirror emphasizing constant head level while changing stances, or train using a bag to reinforce the lesson about forming a tight fist.

Independent Practice – Finally, the students work with a partner or in a technique line to develop targeting skills, control of depth penetration, etc. Control the level of body contact based on the student’s experience and skill levels. Step in and experience their Art. Remember, “To feel is to believe.”

Check for Understanding – Here you deal with student questions and ask your own questions to determine their understanding of the lesson. You can alter and adjust the pace of training to highlight the lesson or move forward or back in the lesson to reinforce a particular point for an individual student or the group as a whole.

Closure – Review the main points of the lesson. Allow the students to demonstrate what they have learned. Showcase their new skills while subtly making any necessary corrective adjustments.

No prepared lesson plan will cover all the unique questions or conditions a class can offer you. As a teacher, having a plan allows both you and your class to deal with these situations and stay on course; landing you safely at you “lesson destination.”

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

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