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Fun Martial Arts Drills and Games

By Sang H. Kim

Boredom is the biggest enemy of every martial arts teacher - your students' boredom and your own. Teaching classes every day, year after year can become monotonous quickly if you are not constantly searching for new teaching ideas, drills, games, exercises and techniques. Not only will your students be bored doing the same old drills, you will be bored teaching them over and over. To maintain an excited, active student body and keep yourself excited about teaching, you need a ready source of ideas and brain ticklers.

This section is meant to be just that. A resource that you can turn to while you are developing your lesson plans or just before you head out of the office to start a class. A quick reference guide packed with new ideas as well ideas you might have long forgotten or that may lead you to create your own games and drills.

Below are a few ideas excerpted from this section of Martial Arts Instructor's Desk Reference:

Obstacle courses

Making an obstacle course in the training hall is a great class starter for kids' classes. Don't let anyone stand around waiting in line - assign a time killing exercise like jumping jacks or running place between turns at a station. Some ideas for stations to keep everyone moving:

• Jump over a pile of kicking shields
• Crawl through a tunnel of kicking shields without touching them
• Jump over a series of heavy bags laid about two feet apart
• Kick or strike a hanging target, hanging bag or stand up heavy bag
• Weave around a line of hand targets
• Duck walk under a hanging heavy bag
• Look in the mirror and kihap loudly five times
• Roll between two kicking shields without touching them
•Block an "attack" by a blocker or foam wand
•Kick a paper cup off of the top of a standing bag
•Crawl under a stick balanced on two chairs
•Walk on a line on the floor (masking tape works well and removes easily)
•Hop over a belt laid on the floor to form a zig-zag course
Some stations may require an adult to reset or facilitate.

Whistle Drill

A more advanced variation of Simon Says is the whistle drill. The students spread out on the floor and you gives a command like "jumping jacks" and blows a whistle. The students do jumping jacks until the instructor blows the whistle again. The students then must freeze and not move. Then give another command and blow the whistle to signal the students to begin. Any student who moves between whistles is out and has to sit down. You may also try to trick students into moving by calling a technique, but not blowing the whistle. Any student who does the technique is out. For really tough students, you can talk to them, approach them, ask questions and try to distract them into to moving.

Martial Arts Drills and Games Videos


Random Attack and Defense

Students love to try out their self-defense skills in a realistic scenario. With group of intermediate or advanced students, have the students form a line (one behind the next) in front of you. As each student comes to the head of the line, throw an attack (for which they have learned a defense) at them quickly. Each student has a few seconds to react. Whether they successfully defend or not, their turn should end in less than 10 seconds and they return to the end of the line. Keep moving quickly and vary your attacks. This drill has many variations, some of them can get quite rough if you are not careful. Keep a tight reign on safety rules and have students wear protection gear if you think it is necessary.

Circle: Form a circle with one person in the middle as the defender and those forming the circle as attackers. Go around the circle and have each attacker enter the circle and attack the defender with an approved technique. (one that the defender has learned)

Numbered circle: Form a circle as above and give each person in the circle number. When you call out a number, that person should run into the circle and attack as above.

Advanced numbered circle: Call out two or three numbers at once so the defender has to cope with multiple attackers.

Anything goes circle: For advanced students, you can allow any type of attack (within safety precautions) and the defender has to defend drawing upon his or her knowledge, but not necessarily using a preformulated defense technique.

Timed circle: Call out a number and that person can play attacker for thirty seconds or one minute, launching a series of attacks against which the defender must defend.

Payback circle: Play any of the circle games above, but allow the defender to throw and attack at any one person on the outside of the circle when you call " payback ".

Martial Arts Drills and Games Videos


Sparring matches

Most schools have students face other for practice sparring. However, sparring with feedback can be more fun, not to mention very helpful in improving competition skills. Some fun ways to stage matches in class:

First point: Select two evenly matched students to face each other. At your command, they begin sparring. The first student to score a point continues on against another opponent and the loser sits down.

Challenge sparring. Two students face off for a short match in any format you choose. After the match, the loser sits down and the winner " challenges " any other student in the class.

Rotating matches. This drill is more suited to children than adults. Have a group of about ten kids face off in pairs and begin non-contact sparring on your command. Watch the group and call any points you see ("Jimmy, one point") as they are scored. You won't see everyone score every point, but try to catch each kid at least once. The kids will really work to get your attention. After a couple of minutes, have the group sit down to rest and call a new group.

Point tag. To practice speed and concentration rather than techniques, have a game of point tag. Give the students a goal like tagging the other persons left shoulder or belt knot. Each student has to protect his own target while trying to tag the other student's target area. Once a student is tagged, the match is over.

Counter sparring. Give points only for counterattacks. Each student takes turns initiating an attack for the other student to counter. Only successfully countered attacks score points.

Combination sparring. To develop combinations, give points only for the second, third or fourth technique in a combination.

The above article is copyrighted by the author. All rights reserved.

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