ADHD Shodan Test

Hidden truths about karate.
Forum rules
You may visit as a guest and read everything. You may register and post messages. I reserve the right to control site content. -- Hanshi Clayton

ADHD Shodan Test

Postby HanshiClayton » Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:46 am

I had a student who suffered seriously from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). People often use this term to refer to kids who are just spoiled and undisciplined, but this kid was the real deal. I wrote about him before, in this posting. When he entered my class, he was about 13 years old, and about 5 feet tall. He could not stand still to save his life.

He eventually grew to be over six feet tall, broad-shouldered, strong and smart. There were still signs of his ADHD issue, but he no longer disrupted the class. As he approached his shodan test, his only problem was that he seemed lazy. If I walked beside him and yelled at him, he could do excellent technique. Left to himself, the technique was relaxed and drippy. The issue was self-discipline, pure and simple.

If I provided the discipline, he did fine. If I stepped back, he slacked off.

I set up a special shodan test, just for him. I told him that I'd give him the black belt when he proved he could stand absolutely still for one full hour.

You could see the wheels spinning in his mind. He wasn't sure he could do it. For the next few weeks he practiced standing still at home. He started with five minutes, then ten, then twenty and so on until he felt ready to attempt the full hour.

On the night of the test, I stood him facing the wall and hung a timer around his neck on a string. I draped the timer down his back where I could see it but he could not. I set it for 60 minutes and walked away.

We ignored him and went on with the program. Justin Butler was visiting, so the rest of the class had a jujutsu seminar. We were loud and we were interesting. Our testee never glanced at us. He stood resolutely still, eyes locked forward.

I didn't realize how special this situation was until I glanced at the visitors' area and saw some guests. We had the testee's grandfather, his youth pastor, and a visiting school psychologist as witnesses to the test. They watched him intently for the full hour, amazed to see him standing still for the first time in his life. Afterward, they told me they would never have believed it if they had not seen it themselves.

Self-control is learned behavior. Until this challenge, this student had never really wanted to learn it. He was content to let the control come from others.

Now he wears the black belt. He knows his karate and jujutsu, but more importantly he knows something about himself. He knows that he can obey the rules when he wants to. He has the control. He has the discipline. Everyone has seen it.

No more excuses.
Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D.
Copyright © 2012, All Rights Reserved.
This forum is supported by the sales of Shotokan's Secret, Expanded Edition
Site Founder
Site Founder
Posts: 298
Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:45 pm

Re: ADHD Shodan test

Postby Philip Sneyd » Tue May 25, 2010 9:24 am

I just read the above essay for the first time. That is an amazing story! I have studied psychology to a certain degree but with great interest in my role as a teacher, and have to say the above anecdote is a wonderfully successful example of applied psychology. When I read that some of the testee's family members and school psychologist had turned up I thought - uh-oh, someone's going to to ruin the whole thing by protesting that a student is being to made to face the wall and not utter a peep for a hour, like some bizarre punishment.

I am so glad that no-one did interrupt the test, because far from being cruel or unusual, it was an ingenious test to see if he could make the grade to yudansha. Because, of course, to have made it thus far to 1st kyu, a knowledge of the kihon stances and waza of karate is a given. But the one element this hyperactive student was lacking, which is essential to the beginner student (shodan)'s frame of mind, was that of non-imposed, unwavering, self control: Mokuso.

Kudos to Dr Clayton for achieving what few school psychologists ever have. My hat is off to you, sir.
Philip is an Irishman based in Japan, where he has been living and training in Kyokushinkai Karate for almost 10 years. He holds a shodan 1st degree black belt and opened a small branch dojo in Tokyo in 2009. He is a big fan of the book Shotokan's Secret.
Philip Sneyd
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 8:00 am

Return to Essays about Karate

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

Hit Counter by Digits