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The Favourite Student

In martial arts as in many other sports there can be times when it appears there are favourites within it and in some schools sadly there are. Think for a moment about the student who wins everything at awards days, competitions and achieves top scores across the board. You probably have someone in mind?


As a parent you always want your child to be in the top spot, that is completely normal and wonderful to support your child along the journey. We all want to be the kid (or the adult) at the top and sometimes without understanding we can get jealous and begin to get very negative towards others. The below is written to hopefully shed some light on the subject, perhaps give you a new positive perspective.


My students ask me all the time who is my favourite, my reply is always the same “you are”. Which my students will giggle at and walk away. Because I’ve grown up in a world where there was nasty favouritism along the way and so as a teacher I’ve always strived to ensure I don’t ever have a favourite, everyone is treated equally.


But did you know that the student or students you are sick of hearing their name, is probably training more in the space of a few weeks than what another student might do in a whole year? And that the reason they train might be very different to the reasons you train.


Recently we had a look at the days and hours students were training at Kenbu Dojo over the first 15 week period of the year. Which you can see below. (Names have been removed, but initials left in so you can see where you are on the chart if you wish)


Some students as you can see by the graphs below scored a fantastic 15/15. Perfect attendance. Some who scored higher than that as they train twice a week. Then there are some who simply missed a small number due to holidays or being sick or general life things going on. Then there are some who have attended less than a quarter of the lessons.

(Big thanks to Jay for running the numbers and creating our graphs) (these graphs only include set lessons each week and not any extra events or seminars)




But if you look there is a tiny minority, the truly addicted, dedicated and crazed martial artists in our club. Who in that same 15 week period have trained up to 95.5 hours. It’s those people that you hear their names all of the time, it’s their faces you see constantly in almost every picture. Are they favourites? No…. not at all. They are just always there and giving 100%. They are doing so well and perhaps achieving so much at a faster rate than others, simply because they have already done more than a years training of one class a week in the first 15. They truly love what they do and can’t get enough.



In traditional martial arts, you get out of it, what you put in. Now of course everyone will not be as hard core as that small minority! Most of us (myself included) enjoy one nice chill, social and fun lesson a week with the occasional event thrown in. Unlike other sports, this is a lifetime study/activity, always growing with you and challenging you, no matter your years you’ve trained.


So we ask all our students, parents, friends and fellow ninjas, to support those students at the top, let’s celebrate their hard work, dedication and learn from them when they share their vast knowledge. These hard core students turn up outside of class times to help too, sometimes asking to help teach the youngest students or help out setting up for events etc. Almost my shadows when ever I step foot in the dojo.


It is however so important to all students, to think of this one question, why do you train? If your answer is:


Because it’s fun and I like my lesson each week, great!


I train because I love being social and seeing my friends, fantastic!


I want to learn to defend myself/compete/learn something new. Wonderful!


I want to be a great martial artist and dedicate my time to learning, teaching, studying my art. Good for you!



I want to become a world champion, Impressive!


I want to take over Kenbu Dojo and defeat Sinead....... woah, woah, woah.... hold up there! I still have a good few fighting years left in me lol


There is no wrong answer, but the next time you look left or right and wonder why others have gained new belts quicker then you. Stand back and think are they training more than me? But also remember YOU are the most important, go at your pace, laugh, learn, make mistakes and enjoy your journey through a lifetime of martial arts.


Consistency, communication and a love for what you do, is all that you need.


Kenbu Dojo will provide all you need to achieve any goals or dreams you have set. From your first lessons to World champions, we have everything you could ever ask for!


We have a page in our syllabus books that is a guide to how often you should train based on your belt levels, check it out if you haven’t already. But if you do want to train more in the week, speak to us and we will happily guide you to some extra lessons. Equally, if you are happy with where you are, carry on and enjoy every moment you spend in the dojo.


Finally, while I can’t have a favourite, I don’t mind being your favourite, crazy but caring, Irish martial arts teacher!



- Shidoshi Sinead ; Ninja Mum to all the adults and kids at Kenbu Dojo and provider of many laughs by simply saying 33... lol



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