The Three Contact Rule


Jack is a really nice kid, but he’s also a bit of a politician. 

Sometimes, when confronted, Jack thinks he can skirt the issue, so to speak, as to why he obviously didn’t practice that week. 

He is not a bad kid, though, he’s just distracted and needs to be re-engaged. It happens all the time with students. 

The way we deal with disengagement at the dojang is simple. I call it the three contact rule. 

I tell my instructors that, no matter how many kids are in the class, we need to try and make three contacts with that student. 

The first might be simply using their name at the beginning of class: “Hey Jimmy!” 

Now, if this was all we did, then that student would certainly be forgotten about by the end of the class, and will inevitably disengage. 

So, we follow up with an appropriate tap on the shoulder and an “atta boy/girl”. 

“Jimmy! Good job on that kick!”

Lastly, we want them to leave feeling positive. That might mean paying them a compliment, or a really nice goodbye as they’re leaving.

“Really good seeing you in class today. See you tomorrow, Jimmy!”

If we make good on the three contact rule, students are going to walk out of here eager to come back. They feel connected to their instructors which leads to greater connection in their training. It engages the student to make sure they’re learning what we’re teaching them. And who doesn’t like being noticed and called by their name? It shows we’re paying attention to each student. 

I find that if I only use their name once in the beginning of class, they get lost in the teaching. There’s nothing to re-center them back into the moment. I believe that the three contact rule keeps them in the moment of learning. 

So, in the case of our buddy Jack, the politician, the three contact rule might look something like this: 

“Hey Jack, great to see you in class today. We’re gonna have a great class!”

Then, halfway through class, I’ll be walking around and touch him on the shoulder and say: 

“Hey Jack, it looks like you didn’t practice. You really need to go home and work on this buddy. You’ve got a black belt test coming up. If you need any help, let me know, and we’ll help you out.”

Finally, as he’s walking out, I’ll stop him and say: 

“Hey buddy! Now is a good time to look back. Do you need to go back in and practice a little more? Do you need some extra help before you leave? If not, I’m gonna be counting on you to come back and show me what you did.”

That will keep him in the moment, keep him practicing, and leave him excited to come back and continue his training. 


Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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