In the animal world play is how a lion cub learns to hunt whilst a baby chimp will pick up valuable life skills by playing with siblings. For humans this is often forgotten, certainly by adults. Children will play all day long given the chance, assuming computer games are off limits. Introducing a sense of play into drills for kids, martial arts training can be made more enjoyable. A very obvious method to enable this is to establish relevant martial arts kids games as part of a Kung fu, Judo or Karate a course in miracles.
If a child is having fun he/she will come back. However, too much unimaginative repetitious training and a child’s mind wanders, rendering the martial arts class in question, BORING. Bored kids will not last the distance and more likely than not will end up dropping out. Of course, it is essential to ensure that while everyone is having fun, martial arts relevant learning occurs. This balance can be achieved by tinkering with the class format and using imagination, either your own or that of the students themselves.
Kids get a big kick out of being IN CHARGE even if only to choose a game. By vetting kids idea’s some great games can be invented or adapted to include important martial arts skills.
One that works very well for improving movement skills is a two-person version of the classic STUCK IN THE MUD. In accordance with regular rules, when caught a person has to be rescued by a friend/student sliding between their legs, but there are two catchers, i.e. two students are on rather than the standard one. This game is fast, furious and chaotic with plenty of dodging, feinting and fast footwork required, similar movement skills to those needed when confronted by more than one opponent.
Another example could replace shouting out Japanese names for punching combinations. Whereby, kids can be encouraged to ‘punch round the clock’; hooks are 9 and 3 o’clock, uppercuts 6 o’clock, straights 11 and 1. By varying the angle of punches kids can punch round the clock in different orders thereby creating their own combinations. Further, they can be instructed to get into position to punch around the clock by following someone with pads and entering while covering, dodging/feinting or ducking their way into range for striking the pads. You can always include an exit as well, which involves getting away from the pad holder without being BOPPED. This little game contains many essential skills presented in a fun format that promotes learning.
Performance can be rated/marked to reinforce good performances. A clear explanation helps kids understand what needs to be improved. If this is done in a competitive environment other team members can encourage their mates to use all the skills specified. Incorporating relevant martial arts kids games into your kung fu, judo or karate syllabus is easily achieved with imagination. The benefit is fun filled lessons with engaged kids learning as they play and ready to stick with the martial arts program.
Dr. Jon Law is a sports scientist, martial arts instructor and blogger from Epic Martial Arts Birmingham UK with almost 20 years experience. For more information and tips on all kinds of martial arts skills for both adults and kids please visit his Epic Martial Arts Blog or simply visit his author page to discover more interesting and informative articles.