Early or Late: The Importance of Being “On Time”

Youth karate students in horse stance at Freedom_yy

“If you’re early, you’re on time.  If you’re on time, you’re late.  If you’re late, it is unforgivable”.  Now, “unforgivable” might be a little strong, but let’s look at the benefits of being early and the impact of being late.

Benefits of being early
  • Preparation:  Students have more time to prepare both physically and mentally.  Physically, students should arrive early, dress for class, begin to warm-up.  Mentally, they should leave everything at the door and focus on the task at hand.  “FREE your mind”.
  • Communication/socialization/community:  Students will have extra time to connect with the studio, instructors, and fellow students.  We work to instill an environment where students and families want to spend their time.
  • Bonus knowledge/practice  If a class is not in progress, students are welcome to bow on to the mat and start practicing.  Our instructors are always happy to help students with their techniques when there is extra time.  Sometimes instructors may give early students a tidbit of knowledge they may not get in the group class.
  • Perception:  When students arrive early they show others that they’re invested and reliable.  To instructors, a student that arrives early wants to be there and will put in the most effort.  To other students, the student that arrives early is one that is dedicated and looked at as a leader.  It is difficult to lead when you’re the last one to arrive.
  • Life skill:  Getting in the habit of arriving early can translate to all aspects of life, including personal, academic, and professional.  The benefits also extend to all areas.
Impact of being late
  • Disruption/Distraction:  Students that arrive late break the flow of the class.  Our instructors know how to handle this, but the students that are already in class may not.
  • Missing out:  When a student arrives late they miss something.  All material is covered multiple times each testing cycle, but for that day they have missed something, even if it was just the initial bow to get class started.  Remember, we bow not only to show respect but as a way to mark the beginning and end of the training session.
  • Mental state:  Your body has arrived, but your mind is still worried about being late.  This splits a student’s focus and they’re not fully present in class.
  • Perception:  When you arrive late it can be seen as disrespectful or that the student has a lack of care for the class, the instructor, or the material.
It is not the student’s fault if the parent is running late

“Back in the day”, when a student was late to class, they would be required to do push-ups before being allowed to join class.  The reality is that a student’s tardiness may not be their fault and such negative reinforcement isn’t always the best motivator.  Our instructors understand that most of our students don’t have control of their transportation or even their schedule.  That being said, parents bear the responsibility of getting their children to class early.  Parents and instructors are responsible for setting the example.

What should I do if I am late?

As per our studio rules, if a student arrives late they should stand patiently at the edge of the mat with their hand raised and wait to be acknowledged by the instructor.  Once acknowledged, they should ask for permission to join the class.  We do this not to put a spotlight on the late student, but so that the class is not unknowingly disrupted and the student doesn’t walk into a technique in progress (get hurt while other students are working).

How early should I be?

We recommend arriving at least five minutes early.  We currently have a 10 minute gap between our classes to allow for flow of students in and out of the studio.

About the author:  Master Adam N. Parth is the owner of Freedom Karate & Fitness, Inc. in Los Angeles, Ca.  He has nearly 20 years of experience in various karate and holds the rank of 4th Dan Master in Modern Tang Soo Do.  Master Parth has been a karate instructor since 2006.  He has taught for various schools and programs and has been an activity instructor and lecturer in the School of Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Food Science at California State University, Los Angeles since 2014.


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