At the end of each class, before we bow out, we review what was covered in class and then assign homework. Homework? In karate class? Really? The Kenpo homework is actually a pretty important piece of the puzzle in helping to develop the students.
Muscle Memory– In order to use Kenpo in a fight or flight situation, the body needs to react on instinct. Instinct like that is developed through numerous repetitions thus creating muscle memory. In an hour long class we aren’t going to get in enough repetitions to create muscle memory. Many moves, like blocks, punches, and kicks, we do practice every class. But we can’t practice everything every class. Reason number one for the homework is developing muscle memory.
Discipline – To be good at martial arts, or most things in general, you have to practice. Not just practice when class is going, but practice at home on your own. You have to set time aside and make the choice to do it. For some, the self discipline is easy. For others, discipline is a habit that must be formed. By assigning homework each class, we’re helping to create the habit of practice at home and the discipline to follow through with it.
School Identity – As much fun as it is to learn karate, and we do try to make it fun, we are a school. Learning goes on inside our four walls. Parents and students should expect, and rightfully so, we take teaching and being a school seriously. As such our identity more closely resembles a traditional school more than anything else. And schools assign homework. Probably not liked much by the younger students, weekly homework is an expectation we set right up front.
Parents can help with the Kenpo homework as well. The homework is usually a technique, form, or set we’ve learned in class this week. The student should perform the technique 10 times on base side each night before bed. (The student should also clean their room beforehand so as to have enough room to do the work.) Base side is the strong side or the side they learn first. As students become proficient at base side, we work on opposite side which is a mirror image of the base side. At that point, the homework becomes doing the technique 10 times on opposite side.
The Kenpo homework isn’t designed to be tedious or time intensive. It should take about 10 to 15 minutes and cover only material we worked on in class. The end result is a more proficient, disciplined kenpo student with pretty good coordination. And if that’s not what happens, we’ll break out the more traditional physics and literature reading homework. (just kidding)