A student falling behind...need help

I have a small class of 6 students they all started at roughly the same time and have advanced together. However I have one student that battled Cancer (cancer free now!!) and since then it's like he has become learning disabled. His mom calls it "Chemo brain" he really has lost the ability to concentrate and do more than 1 thing at a time. If I say " Show me a front kick" it a decent front kick, however if I say "Throw a low block then a front kick" it's like I'm speaking Greek. He's never been the "Star student" but he was always competent, now it's like he's brand new in the class and has no clue. He has been Cancer free for about 3 months and hasn't missed a class but I'm at a loss on how to catch him back up with the class without him feeling like I'm picking on him or singling him out.


  • Dory_42
    Dory_42 Posts: 3,511 Member
    Chemo brain really is a thing. It took my friend over a year to get over it. She is back training again but is still way behind where she was with regard to stamina etc. She has decided that she is happy to be training and had stopped comparing herself to others. Her progress will be different and as long as she is improving, she is happy.
    Maybe chat to him and find out what he expects of himself, does he want to be where the others are and is he willing to do what it takes to get there. Explain what you feel that will take and help him realise that while it might be tough, you are in it together.
    My coach pushes us differently but even though it can be hard to get the rough side from him, I know it is because he wants the best for me and gets that I do need that push at times.
  • owieprone
    owieprone Posts: 217 Member
    As Dory suggests, talk to him first about his expectations on progress, and his current needs from karate and yourself.

    As someone who suffers from brain-fog, balance and energy issues, I totally sympathise with him; it is super frustrating when I know I can do better but brain and body just don't act in unison. Sometimes I can't understand the instructions spoken or shown, sometimes I do but can't do them, other times I feel like knackered and brainless and then do everything perfectly! There's no consistency, I have good and bad sessions I even start off crap and get better as the session goes on (rare, usually i start crap and descend into chaos). I tell my sensei's not to treat me differently, if i'm having a bad day they still tell me off, if i fall over they tell me that's not the move they said to do ;)

    There's a few things I can think of from my own experience that might be an option for you and him:

    If he's not a white belt then maybe talk to him about standing with the white belts for a short amount of time so he can focus, he can help with the white belts (if he's a higher belt) nothing helps you learn and think more than being Senpai. Once he shows signs of chemo-brain going away he can rejoin his normal belt group.

    If he's not happy doing then you could try not treating him differently, give him the same instructions as the others and he'll do what he can when he can - encourage him but let him know when he does a move badly.
    for instance I really struggle with back kick (too much turning), if I can't do I'll switch to a kick that lands me correctly for the next move, I'm a higher belt so Sensei trusts me to figure it out - but maybe have an alternative ready for him.

    Is your student getting bored just doing one thing at a time? If not then maybe he can focus on bits he can improve on - like stance or timing etc.
    Another thing to check is if can he pick up instructions if you show him rather than just tell him (assuming you're not doing that already?); or can he do 5 different moves in a row, rather than 2 moves in the same step? If he's still able to do kata he may be able to do different punches in a row etc.

    Hope that helps and I hope he gets rid of wonky-brain soon.
  • Out_of_Bubblegum
    Out_of_Bubblegum Posts: 2,213 Member
    @trackercasey76 I know it's been some time, but I'm really curious to hear a follow up on this student. How are things going?
  • trackercasey76
    trackercasey76 Posts: 794 Member
    Well unfortunately COVID closed the facility I was teaching at for good. The Student is still cancer free and his mom said he is doing well in school. I don't much more than that.
  • Out_of_Bubblegum
    Out_of_Bubblegum Posts: 2,213 Member
    @trackercasey76 Sorry to hear about the school closure! I know it's been an absolute blood bath. Glad to hear they are still cancer free though!

    Once it warms up a little, I'm thinking of starting an outdoor club - I imagine there are a lot of people wanting to practice with no place to go - exactly because of things like this. I'm not sure this is a good time to open a school, but it's hard watching so many schools close, knowing there are so many people that are missing training because of COVID, and not want to do something about it.