The English Korean Karate Association Education Essay

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The English Korean Karate Association otherwise referred to as The EKKA Karate Association is an association of 24 affiliated Karate clubs whose objective is to facilitate and promote the sport. This provides an infrastructure including a structured grading system, tournaments, technical courses, squad sessions, referee and judge training. The association also has a very active junior training programme.

All clubs are run autonomously by their instructors and maintain their affiliation by adhering to the rules and guidelines of the association. All instructors are CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked and will have many years experience in training both junior and senior students.

As founder members of the sports governing body, the EKF (English Karate Federation), the EKKA Karate Association adheres to the rules and policies of the EKF. Membership of the EKKA Karate Association includes membership of the EKF along with third party liability insurance cover.

The association has been in existence for 35 years under the auspices of the president and Sensei, Mick Blackwell (8th Dan), starting with just one club in Ipswich. Now it has 24 clubs - mainly in South East England - with over 1,500 members and has produced many top British internationals including World medallists, European and British champions. The Association has also produced World and European qualified referees and judges.

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2.0 Job Specification

Traditional Karate Job specification:

Most sports have a structured coach education programme in place. Most Karate and other martial arts appear to be lacking in this regard.  Instead, people "teach" or "instruct" rather than coach.  The instructors' qualifications are based on their length of time of participation within Karate, or their success in competition. Some organisations have "instructors' licences" but the exams are based on the ability to learn Japanese terminology, and learn by rote kata counts- this is not coaching, it is repetition.

This happens in lots of other sports too, where an ex-player becomes a coach and repeats the drills that were done with them 5- 10 years previously.  What happens is that the sport never progresses.  Instead a good coach can analyse, plan, deliver and review their sessions according to their team's and players' needs.

Often people with as little as 2 years experience (brown belts) are given the responsibility of coaching the fundamentals to new participants. Is there any wonder people without a depth of knowledge and no formal coaching training don't do the best job?

However the EKKA have tried to bring karate into the modern era and develop the sport using proven techniques used by coaches in different sports.

The EKKA Introduction to effective coaching In Karate:

Sessions are planned and published in advance

Each session is part of an overall plan, rather than stand alone. There can be a link to the grading system or kata. Publishing the plan empowers the athletes, because it gets them to take responsibility for their own learning.  They can see what is going to happen in advance and practice or research on their own. 

Start and end on time

This shows the coach cares and is prepared. Athletes must comply too. Finish on time no matter how the session is going, people have other commitments and have invested mental effort for only the required amount.  If you can't get it done in the session, you haven't planned properly, or you have gone off track.

Keep athletes busy the whole time

Especially kids, they need to be occupied.  Recovery periods are different, rest is important, but that is different from dead time. 

Promote competition between friends

It doesn't have to be fighting, but competition allows the chance to let off steam, every 4th or 5th session is ideal lots of karate activities always do this.  The danger is when athletes use beating others as a way of measuring progress, rather than looking within (ego versus task goals- another subject in itself) Also, most elite athletes will find a way of competing in even the most cooperative environment.

Include a lot of variety

As long as it is relevant, as long as it produces improvements.  Repetition is boring, especially for beginners, but reps are necessary to ingrain habits. It is how you structure these reps that allow you to show your coaching ability.

Include behaviours required in competitions

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In Karate terms this would include behaviours required in grading and in self defence situations. This comes down to specificity of practice.  If you practice slowly, you will fight slowly.  Some training must be at game pace.  Get the students used to performing under pressure. In a grading or a competition you are on your own, but you train in crowds of 20 people.  Replicate the grading / competition/ self-defence environment.

Involve each athlete in goal-setting

Don't set top down goals- elite athletes will already have their own goals.  Instead consult with the student and ask for their input and what they want out of their karate. Guidance on to technical goals is good and beginners may need more instructional type goal setting. Don't set a goal without identifying how to get there- pass 7th Dan may be admirable, but it is a long way off and you have to work on the intermediate and short-term goals first. Goals are for individuals, despite us participating in group practice.

Evaluate session as soon afterwards as possible

Evaluate your session or course within 24 hours of delivery.  Spend 20% of the time writing down what worked well, then spend 60% of the time looking at what needs working on and make a plan to improve these areas.  Then spend the last to 20% of the time reminding yourself of what went well to reinforce the positive message.

Generate as much feedback to each athlete as possible

There are two types of feedback:

Primary feedback- what we say, think, feel and do.

Secondary feedback- how other people respond (coach) to what we say and do.

As a coach it is a good idea to get the student to analyse their primary feedback before we give our secondary feedback. For example "what was your right foot doing?" or "where were you trying to kick?" before saying "your right foot is facing left instead of right" or "you were kicking to his shoulder, not his head or ribs". That way the student is learning for themselves.

Don't just give result orientated feedback, give mostly performance orientated feedback.  You are not in control of results (unless you are also the grading examiner or competition referee) so they may not go to plan, but you can give feedback on the performance itself.

Phrasing the feedback is also important, as is the timing. Verbal feedback that is value driven (words such as good, nice) is not specific and if over used, becomes ignored. Instead use phrases such as - "that was a good kick because your knee drive led to more speed" or "your timing in that Kata was good because you followed your breathing pattern".

Negative feedback isn't constructive.  Instead of "don't do that" say "do this" if you have to discipline someone don't do it in public.

Giving feedback on the day of a competition or grading is inadvisable- if they haven't got it yet, they aren't going to get it at the final moment.  Too many coaches want to make themselves feel useful and overcompensate by trying to correct things at the last moment- this is just a distraction for the athlete.

Feedback can also be gained not just from the coach, but also other students- but following the same guidelines.

4.0 Vocational Based Placement Diary

Work Experience Diary- Week One:

Duties Performed:

During my first week on work experience I learned how to pre-plan and publish sessions, which helps to keep an active continuous session (time management) and helped warm up and cool down the participants during the session using techniques learned from previous experiences. I worked with various age groups and at different levels of ability.

Training/Instructions Given:

Prior to taking part in any of the sessions I was given a full tour of the training gym and a full health and safety brief for all pieces of equipment. Also I was briefed on all first aid box location and the allocated first aiders. Also I was shown all fire exits and evacuation spots in event of an emergency.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

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During the week I really enjoyed working with the other staff; they supervised me, helped me when necessary during sessions plus always gave me good constructive criticism and praised me when I did a good job. Also I was able to bring some new exercises in which proved very affective during the warm up activity to the session which the staff were really appreciative about. I followed instructions very well and was not afraid to ask when I was unsure about a particular activity; I received feed back after every session, and took on board what was said ready to improve for the next session.

Observations:

When observing I noticed how important health and safety was to this job and how alert the instructors where, continuously assessing situations. Also I noticed how a good session plan helped for a smooth progression during the session.

Work Experience Diary- Week Two:

Duties Performed:

During this week I was sent out with various other members of staff as a team to promote/advertise the club. As a team we went round to different neighbouring towns and handed out flyers and chatted to the public about the experiences and benefits of joining the Lynx Karate club. Also this week I got involved in goal setting with some of the new students, we looked at long and short term goal setting for each individual and set realistic but challenging targets for them to aim for which keeps them focused, driven and motivated to progress and learn.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week I was tested on my communication skills sent out to promote the club with other staff members. I used various communication skills such as a democratic (question and answer) approach, with the aid of demonstrations and a good pitch of voice and positive body language which proved to be very effective, also being able to negotiate and listen to what other people had to say proved to be a very effective day of promoting the club and making people aware of the benefits of joining.

I also got to show some of my individual personal skills when goal setting with the students one on one, and used various coaching techniques (Autocratic, democratic, laissez faire) to get the best out of them.

Observations:

This week I noticed and put into practice myself, that everyone individual is different and need to be coached in different ways to get the best out of them. On observing the coaches they used different techniques (Verbal instruction, demonstrations etc.) to deliver the same message to different people, which proved to be very effective.

Work Experience Diary- Week Three:

Duties Performed:

During week three I helped plan and publish the sessions, also I observed the evaluation/debrief of the session. I was also educated in the financial sides of running a business (e.g. incomings/outgoings, ordering stock etc.).

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week I learned how to evaluate the session, this proved to be very interesting and important as it helped reflect if the session was effective and where there was room for adaptations/improvements. I also got an insight to the financial side of a business and looked at all the different aspects of running a company.

Observations:

This week I observed how important debriefing each lesson was, making sure the students understood the main aims/goals of the session by using question and answer techniques, also it proved very effective by ending on a positive note letting the participants know that they did a good job.

Work Experience Diary- Week Four:

Duties Performed:

The fourth week was very much a technical improvement week for participants, during this week we worked on technical aspects of kata, sparring techniques, punches and kicks and advanced kicks (jump kicks). The sessions were a much lower tempo, than I had previously experienced. Everything was slowed down to work on perfecting the techniques of each movement.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

I assisted several staff throughout the week in different technical areas, which helped me improve my own knowledge and teaching techniques. Not only did we work on technical aspects but also things like core strengthening and jumping techniques for improving jumping height and balance during advanced kicks.

Observations:

This week working as part of a team with several coaches helped me to learn new coaching styles, and pick positive things that I liked from each session and use them myself to improve my own coaching style.

Work Experience Diary- Week Five:

Duties Performed:

As part of a team we introduced behaviours required in real life situations (self defence), promoted competition between friends, introduced behaviours required in competitions.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week we geared up the tempo to actual game pace, in karate speed is vital and its necessary to practice at a fast pace, also we used small sparring areas to put students under pressure which helped replicate competition scenarios and get them used to disadvantaged situations (i.e. in the corner in a sparring area having to defend without retreating and then counter attacking).

Observations:

This week I saw students grow in confidence and learn to cope with high intensity persisting pressure (i.e. getting cornered when sparring), using their speed, technical ability and minds to overcome situations. I observed coaches just let the sparring go on instead of stepping in all the time and stopping it for coaching points, this let participants learn for themselves through trial and error which often proved to be the best way to learn.

Work Experience Diary- Week Six:

Duties Performed:

This week I planned, published and evaluated the session plan for the week under supervision I produced an active session with lots of variety.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week I got the chance to lead a session and show the other instructors what I had learnt and what other previous knowledge I had of coaching, I started the session with a clear concise introduction to the session topic, and moved into the introductory practice quickly and efficiently. I delivered the session with strong, clear verbal communication, supported by positive body language and expressions and use of demonstrations. Also I always checked for understanding after instructions. I progressed the session in two stages linking them with the same theme but with various conditioning to test the abilities of participants.

Observations:

I was well alert and stopped the session in appropriate places to give positive feedback. I used various coaching methods to get my message across to all individuals (verbal and visual). I debriefed the session to students highlighting main goals/aims of session.

Work Experience Diary- Week Seven:

Duties Performed:

Helped prepare students/individuals for grading, and revisited individual goals.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week I worked as part of a team with all the staff. We divided the participants up into groups of ability (depending on grade) and prepared them for their next grading. Working on general criteria and also individuals weaknesses to give them the best possible chance of successfully passing their grading. Also I helped the staff revisit each individual's goals and made sure they were hitting their targets.

Observations:

I observed the coaches on how to improve the information that we feedback to participants, I listened to them phrase sentences to get the most effect out of them and always leave a positive message. This is a skill that I will defiantly put into practice. Also I observed the whole grading syllabus at different levels of ability which was very useful to see how students progress through time and experience.

Work Experience Diary- Week Eight:

Duties Performed:

Revisited individuals goals after grading, worked on technical areas (Kata) and advertised club in and around the community.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This week I worked with all staff revisiting the surrounding areas promoting the club using my communication skills. Also we revisited and set new goals with the participants as they had achieved some of their short term goals by successfully passing their grading.

Work Experience Diary- Week Nine:

Duties Performed:

Produced a session plan, published and took the session myself. Took warm-up and cool-down, debriefed and evaluated the session.

Interaction with Staff/Customers:

This final week was somewhat of an assessment week for me, I was given the flexibility to write my own session and then I talked through it to other coaches and delivered the session. Afterwards the coaches gave me their own evaluation on my progress through the nine weeks and gave me constructive criticism on points to improve on as well as positive feedback.

4.0 Personal Development

The value of work experience:

I have learned from the value of work experience to develop my Personal and Key Skills to enhance my employability. Many recruiters want to employ graduates who are commercially aware; this means that the more knowledge and understanding of company and business issues and structures I have, the stronger my chances of employment are. It has given me the knowledge and skills that will enable me to cope more readily with the demands of the workplace today.

Relevance to degree:

The skills and attributes I developed during my work experience are also valuable to my degree studies, since managing my time and work effectively, communicating and taking responsibility for my work are also crucial for the successful completion of my degree.

Self Evaluation:

Undertaking work experience helped me to improve my skills in several areas that will both support my academic work and my future career. The skills that I have developed and honed during work experience are often those that employers are actively seeking when they recruit graduates such as reliability, teamwork, leadership, time management, self-motivation, confidence, problem solving, flexible, adaptable, punctual, approachable, responsible and logical.

During my work experience I was not afraid to challenge existing points of view, and was able to understand and interpret large amounts of data, solve problems and have an enquiring mind. Other valuable attributes I gained were taking the initiative,

Making decisions and taking responsibility for those decisions, planning sessions, publishing sessions and evaluating sessions. Time management helping keep an active continues session, also the ability to deal with constructive criticism and listening to feedback from the class.

Effective communication skills were also crucial - this includes being able to see things from another's point of view, standing up for your own point of view, being able to negotiate and reason and have well developed listening skills. These diplomatic and political skills are fundamental to most work environments. I used my previous experience but also developed my own communication skills greatly during my work experience and improved my self-awareness and self knowledge in these areas.

Undertaking work experience also helped me manage my time more effectively, be more realistic and helped me to increase my self-confidence and develop a more mature attitude. Taking time to reflect on the experiences I have encountered during my work experience, and relating them to my personal development was an important aspect of learning through the working environment.