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Paul Herbert 5th Dan
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Bringing Education to the dojo

Part One: Lesson planning (from the beginning)

By James Martin


You have taught karate-do for years and produced some good successes. You pick up an article on lesson planning – looks interesting enough, but it involves too much work and besides you are not struggling with your teaching so it is of little benefit for you.

To go from nothing to lesson planning is too much for anyone! And if you have never taught in a classroom environment it is hard to see first hand the effects of lesson planning, so I really do sympathise with those not wishing to use one.

I also think other peoples pre-made templates for lesson plans are working to the assumption that

a)      You will use one and

b)      You teach in a similar style/format to the person who produced the template

c)      You understand the concept and benefits of lesson plans

My personal opinion is that articles/advice/templates on lesson planning are the end product and do not deal with the initial process of understanding and assembling your own personalized lesson plan.

My aim this month is to start you on that journey, so that you can experience the benefits of lessons plans and start to put together you own to aid you in the dojo. I have tried to make this process manageable: Minimal effort for maximum benefit. I have created a few short tasks and homework assignments to guide you into the habit of lesson planning. I suppose that is what this process is habit. Good Luck



QUESTION: What did we do last lesson?

Easy to answer if you had one class (or is it?). The question becomes harder to answer the more times you teach in a week.

TASK Ask yourself the following five questions. (You can be as honest as you wish because you have to justify you answers with no one!)


1.      Was the class easy for every student you taught?

2.      Was it too easy?

3.      Was if fun or boring?

4.      Did anyone struggle with ANY technique?

5.      Did anyone perform anything that was their personal best?

Now they seem like quite straight forward questions, and I hope these five questions have really made you think because if you have put your mind to it - a lot can happen in the 45minutes – two hours lesson you teach. Can you see the benefit of making a few notes at the end of each lesson; providing a picture that can be accessed and built upon.

What should I write down?

Well that’s up to you. You could just ask yourself the five above question or different ones. You could highlight strong and weaker students. You could identify what works well in a lesson or what failed. Should you repeat part of a lesson that didn’t quite work or move on?

HOMEWORK Try writing down a few notes after each lesson for a few weeks and see if it benefits you. I would recommend buying a note book and just spend 2- 5 mins after each class making notes.

Move on to the next section when you have tried this out.



TASK: take one student ands track their progress over three lessons. What progression have they made and what evidence do you have?

Once I have my notes from the lesson it’s time to create the focus for my next lesson. For example:

Notes on previous lesson:

Tried Mawashi geri for the first time. Knee pick up was generally ok – Johnny struggled. Foot shape was generally bad. Jane really took to this kick and was the best at it (use her next time to demonstrate). Felt the class was a little boring in places so next time a few games would break this up


What I recommend are three focus areas per class

·         Something based on last lesson

·         Developing something you did last lest (moving it on)

·         Something new

So based on my last lesson I could (only a suggestion):

·         Work on Mawashi geri

·         Work on moving in front stance mawashi geri

·         Maswashi geri, gyaku tsuke basics

Progression. That’s the key work to get used when teaching and managing multiple learners can be a tough ordeal. If you teach a group of students for five lessons then you expect each student to have made suitable progression within those lessons. As managing there progression can be difficult, the note making process is a valuable tool. If you then use those notes to create manageable but challenging targets there is no limit to the progression you make with your students.

HOMEWORK Keep writing down a few notes after each lesson but now set three targets after each session: Something based on last lesson: Developing something you did last lest (moving it on): Something new


James Martin


Next time: Part Two: Sesame Street style learning


The Applied Karate DVD series by Dave Hazard 7th Dan and Aidan Trimble 7th Dan

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