: A pair of students have a pool noodle or foam bat and a kicking shield between them. They play R/P/S and the winner of the round grabs the bat and and gets one swing to try hit the loser with the bat (below the head). The loser picks up the shield and blocks. This teaches cognitive processing (Who won? and Which weapon/shield to pick up?) and aiming/blocking, is super exciting!
: Everyone is “It” and try to tag students on the back without being tagged. If you get tagged, you have to drop and do three pushups and then you’re back in action.
: One person is “It” and everyone who gets tagged is “frozen” and in rectangular stance. They can be released if another dives between their legs.
Belt Pull Tag
: Everyone takes their belts off, folds them in half and sticks one half of the belt in the back of their pants (it has to be visible and grabbable) so the other half is hanging out like a tail. Goal is to keep your hands up and protect your tail. No pushing, no sliding, no teaming up. Once your tail has been pulled out, you are out. You can run this drill as “last person standing” and send “outs” to a corner to stretch or practice blocks and punches, or extend drill with three strikes you’re out, or enable unlimited mode with allowing kids to do 25 jumping jacks or punches in rectangular stance to “get back in”. Always retain the “freeze” command that you can use at any time in case for safety control for wild running etc. Goal: keep your opponent in front of you; awareness, alertness, avoidance, anticipation, action.
Games (with principles/techniques)
- Ideal for students that know the kata but need work on details (and self-awareness)
Designate one or more students as the detective and have them leave the room. Then assign three mistakes to the students. For instance: Student #1 will have bad reaction hands, #6 will not punch on the centerline, and #11 won't bend their knee enough. Bring the detective back in and tell them what the mistakes are, but not who's going to make them.
As they do the kata one step at a time the detective needs to call out who they think is making the mistakes. If they call you and it's not supposed to be you, you have to do a pushup. If they get it correct you stop making that mistake for the rest of the kata. (as a bonus, assign mistakes to students that are repeatedly making them. doing it on purpose will help them become aware of themselves.
- usually on Halloween but can be used any time. Instead of having the students be the detective pick a monster or animal or whatever and attribute strengths and weaknesses to them (Vampires have great loads for blocks but drag their back foot in stance). Making them make mistakes on purpose while also focusing on being sharp elsewhere essentially satirizes the mistake and they call it out on themselves.
Bean Bag Stance Challenges
- Fun way to focus on bending knees in stance
- Put bean bags on everyone's knees in rectangular stance and see who can last the longest.
- One partner has a single bag on a knee in Rectangular stance. The other partner runs to the other side of the room to get another bag to stack on anywhere on their body. One bag at a time, the team with the most bags stacked without falling picks from a list of challenges to do next (or gets to go get water while everyone else does round 2. Whatever motivates your students :>)).
- Carry a bean bag or two while doing kata. At each stance balance the beanbags on one or both legs.
Red Light Green Light
: Sensei turns back on students (opposite ends of dojo). Sensei says “Red Light Green Light 1-2-3. Students try to advance to tag Sensei. Once sensei turns around, students must be in a stance or technique and frozen. Anyone moving goes back to starting line. First to tag Sensei wins. Goal
: Body control, awareness, timing.
: Sensei calls out a stance after “Green Light” and before “Red Light” and students must be in that stance or go to the starting line. Goal
: stance precision.
Jump the Noodle
: Sensei is in the center of the circle with a couple of belts tied together. This is a jumping drill to get the knees up and high, both legs jump at same time (no heels up and no skipping or one legged running type jumps). Sensei swings the rope close to the floor and around in a circle as the kids are in the circle and jump over to clear the rope. If the rope hits them, they are out. You can extend play by using 3 strikes you’re out or giving them drills to get back into play. Goal
: Jumping up high with knees up.
Jump – Duck – Dodge – Rising Block
: Sensei is in the center of a circle with paddle targets or soft boppers. Sensei demonstrates with one student in the circle for entire sequence; but everyone does the drill simultaneously together as if Sensei is striking at them. Sensei then moves systematically around circle randomly selecting different students for surprise attacks as students get better at sequence flow. Sensei strikes low with target at feet, everyone jumps (knees up eyes on opponent); sensei strikes horizontally high, everyone ducks (legs bend, back straight, eyes on opponent, hands up). Sensei jabs center of body (middle jab), step foot back to dodge or “open the door” to the dead-side (hands up, eyes on opponent). Sensei strikes down vertically on centerline toward head, student does rising block. Can add upward knee kick or front snap or punch as counter attack at the end of the sequence. Can then drop the targets (more sparring like) and have Sensei use her/his foot to sweep low (jump), back fist horizontally high (duck), punch middle (dodge – open the door), strike vertically to head (rising block), student counters with upward knee strike or punch. Goal
: sparring drill, awareness, mobility.
Karate Dodge Ball
: Divide room into two sides using belts or a line (if in a gym) or chalk etc. Divide kids into even teams. Provide squishy balls or squishy frisbees. Line them all up on the center line division. Equal teams start from their home side wall. Begin, kids run to center and grab ball or frisbee and try to get the other side out by striking them. Valid Cuong Nhu blocking techniques or jumping and dodging are valid. If you get hit you are out (can use three strikes or have a technique to get back into the game). Catch the ball or frisbee and the one throwing it is out. Goal
: Awareness, stamina, endurance, mobility.
Sensei Says Warm-up
: Everyone lines up facing Sensei. “Sensei Says” is said before all techniques called out. Everyone does them in unison. If Sensei calls out a technique and doesn’t say “Sensei Says” in front of the warm up or technique, the student is out and has to do something to get back into the drill (like push ups, jumping jacks, blocks and punches etc. Goal
: builds attention.
Last Person Standing Kicking Stance
: Everyone goes into kicking stance at the same time, if you jump or put your foot down you’re out and sit down.
Last Person Standing Wall Sits
: Everyone is on the wall in rectangular stance. Take a heavy ball, raise it above head and then pass to the student next down the line, and return. Add a tambo to the knees for a challenge to maintain low stances. If student can’t stay in stance, then sit down and do crunches until all students have sat down.
: Partner targets for kicks or punches. Sensei starts stop watch and you have to do as many kicks or punches to the targets as you can, keep count and compare scores at the end of the 30 second or 1 minute drill.
: break kids up into even groups (4 groups of 4, 3 groups of 5, etc.) Give them any combo of techniques to go down the floor with (rolls — if have mats), lunges with punches, flying front snap kicks, crawls, jumping jacks, punches in stance etc. First from each group goes, gets back and touches hand of next in line. First group to all sit down and finish their turn wins.
: Take belts off and tie them together. Two students hold each end of the rope and swing for jump rope. All other students are on one side of the rope and have to run into the rope (timing drill) and jump for X number of times and then exit to other side. If you stop the rope from moving, you have to do X punches on other side. This drill can be done with partners too. Partner has to time the jump in to jump rope together and then exit without disrupting the flow of the jumping.
Games and Activities for the Young at Heart
- comprehensive game compilation written and edited by Joe Varady and Shawn McElroy