A one and a half hours or even one hour Martial Arts class consisting of warming up, fundamentals, forms and self defense applications is a long time for young children to maintain their focus. For this reason, for the past 40 years that I have been teaching young children, I blend the general class with exciting and challenging games.
These games are great to stimulate a sense of fun and enjoyment. This adds variety and sustains interest, keeping the lessons “fresh”.
All the games I incorporate in the lesson are somehow related to Martial Arts. They practice attributes such as balance, flexibility, strength and speed of movement.
I believe these activities are important to compensate the high “drop off” rate in Martial Arts, as the rate of progress is relatively slow compared to other sports or activities.
Martial Arts is taught in the school system in Japan, in fact all children begin with Judo at the Primary level and later progress to Kendo, Aikido and Karate at Secondary School.
We want children to reap the empowering benefits of Martial Arts as they grow and mature. These benefits include outstanding self-confidence and physical dexterity that can be utilized in other sports, improved physique and self-defense awareness.
One of our greatest endeavors in life is simple pleasure, of feeling good; human beings of all ages love to be entertained and to entertain. One of the greatest and easiest ways of entertaining ourselves is to simply have fun and play games.
A few games I find very effective:
Sweep The Arm
Both children face each other in a push-up position. By balancing on one arm, they both try to sweep out the partners supporting arm to bring them down.
This teaches great balance, timing and assists in upper body strength.
Two Instructors at either end of the dojo throw a large soft ball across the dojo forcing the children to doge the ball. If they are struck, fall over or step on another child they are out, last child remaining is the winner.
This teaches the wonderful ability to accurately judge distance and reaction skills.
Instructors tie their belts together to form one long belt and position themselves on either side of the dojo. Children run between the front and back of the dojo as the Instructors change the height of the belt forcing them to jump over or duck under. If you step on the belt or it touches you, you’re out and last person remaining is the winner.
(Instructors can manipulate this game to allow everyone to have a chance to be the winner)
Belt game teaches spatial awareness and reaction to sudden change.
The class sits in a circle and two contestants attempt to remove a tissue or small piece of material tucked under the back of the belt. The one who successfully captures the other’s tissue is the winner.
Tissue game teaches children the importance of evasive circular footwork and teaches them to block the offending arm that is attempting to remove their tissue.
Martial Arts training is superb for the developmental process of growing youngsters. Movements are balanced to both sides of the body and awareness of body wisdom.
They begin to interact with the connection between the body, mind and spirit, why not do it in a fun way.