Posted tagged ‘training drills for kids’

The “Deck of Cards Class” and Other Tricks for Making Hard Work Fun

July 3, 2011

"Six push-ups!"

Instructors: What tricks do you use to make the workout fun? I don’t mean “playing games” so much as making a regular workout seem like a game, or giving it an aspect that keeps kids engaged through many necessary repetitions.

The “Deck of Cards Class” is something I picked up years ago from a member of an adult class I was teaching. He got it from a Hapkido instructor he’d trained under in college. I stole the basic idea–which was to use the suits and numbers to determine the repetitions done in class–and adapted it to my tastes. It goes like this: I shuffle a deck of playing cards, and designate meanings for the four suits. Clubs mean ‘hand techniques,’ spades mean ‘kicks,’ hearts mean ‘exercises/calisthenics,’ and diamonds may mean different things, depending on the class and my whim– maybe partner work, rolls and drops, or performing in front of the group. Aces and twos of any suit usually mean ‘kata.’

Class proceeds by letting a student draw a card, and having the whole class perform the repetitions suggested by the card. For example, if the first card drawn is nine of spades, I’ll choose a kick, and we’ll do a count of nine (or perhaps, nine on each leg) with a kiai on number nine. Then the next student draws. In a class with older or more advanced students, I’ll let the kids choose the techniques, jumping in only if someone is taking too long to decide. (It’s important to keep things moving!) Even with the younger kids, I’ll let them choose for hearts – push-ups, frog jumps, jumping jacks, etc. When clubs are drawn, the technique might be a hand combination (as opposed to a single technique), as appropriate. If the card drawn is a low number, I might make the most of it by tripling the technique done on each count. The possibilities are endless, really.

In a good Deck of Cards Class, each student will get to draw twice or more. Even when they don’t get to choose the techniques, they feel a sense of excitement and control when they’re drawing from the deck. It’s fun!

Do you use any similar devices to keep things exciting? Please share.

Kids Karate Workbook featured on Karate Cafe podcast

November 26, 2010

The Karate Cafe podcast recently featured the Kids’ Karate Workbook and author Didi Goodman, in an hour-long interview about the book, how it came to be, and various topics related to teaching and training in martial arts.

Karate Cafe was founded five years ago to broadcast the kind of after-workout discussions martial arts enthusiasts love to have — talking about anything and everything martial arts, and continuing the conversation till all hours through an on-line forum.

For the recent podcast, Episode #66, co-hosts Gene Myers of Auburn, NY, and Paul Wilson of Dallas, TX, had read the book carefully, and both had plenty of good things to say about it. One thing both hosts remarked on is how the book is not style-specific, but succeeds in spanning many different kicking/punching arts, from taekwondo to various styles of karate. Gene is a yondan (fourth degree black belt) and instructor in Chibana-ha Shorin-ryu karate, and also studies Two-Circle Jujitsu and Hakutsuru (White Crane) Kenpo. Paul holds a yondan in Shoryin-ryu Kenshin Kan, and is founder and head instructor of White Rock Kenshin Kan. Paul has also studied Tai Chi, Wing Chun, Aikido, Jiu-Jutsu, and Escrima.

Gene noted that, in addition to being a great book for students and parents, The Kids Karate Workbook is also a useful guide for instructors who teach kids. He himself had used it to find new ways to explain things, and come up with new activities and training ideas. Both Gene and Paul remarked on the book’s straightforward style of explanation–clear enough for kids (without talking down to them), but also very readable for adults. They also praised the quality and clarity of Linda Nikaya’s illustrations (over 200 of them!) for conveying the techniques explained in the text.

To hear the full interview, visit http://www.karatecafe.com/ — click on ‘podcast’ and listen to Episode 66. And while you’re there, check out all the other good stuff on the Karate Cafe site!

Check out the Karate Cafe Podcast!

November 12, 2010

This coming Sunday, November 14th, at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time, 8:30 Eastern, and everything in between, Kids’ Karate Workbook author Didi Goodman will be appearing on the Karate Cafe live podcast to discuss “Teaching Kids: Tips, Tricks and Traps.”

The Karate Cafe crew – Gene Myers of Auburn, NY; Paul Wilson of Dallas, TX; and Dan Williams of Lansing, MI – host regular online discussions of all things martial arts, and invites the public to join in. Check out their archives at the Karate Cafe website, and you’ll find friendly, wide-ranging conversations among true martial arts devotees – the kind of people (like us) who leave the dojo wanting to keep thinking, talking and trying things out till late into the night.

You are invited to join in the live podcast by phone, text or email this Sunday. Follow this link for details on getting connected. If you miss the live event, you can still tune in by visiting the Karate Cafe archives.

Symposium on Teaching Children

June 2, 2010

I recently had the pleasure of participating in a mini-symposium on teaching martial arts to kids, organized by Madeline Crouse of Satori Dojo in Pennsylvania. It took place at the annual training camp of Cuong Nhu Martial Arts, IATC 2010, in Raleigh, North Carolina.

One thing I took away from the symposium is that there’s a real hunger among martial arts instructors for knowledge and shared experience on this subject. We barely scratched the surface in two hours. Many subjects came up that will make good blog posts & discussions; I’ll get going on that asap (any suggestions where to start?). It made me feel, even more strongly, that we need more people posting on this blog, more people blogging on their own about teaching kids, and everyone linking to one another so instructors surfing the web can tap into a wide network of high-quality, practical information.

What do you say, folks? Who’s ready to help make it happen? If you want to share quick ideas or an occasional rant, please post on this blog whenever a subject interests you. And feel free to suggest subjects or propose a “guest blog” if you want to write about a special topic. If you have a lot to say and want to write on your own terms — start your own blog (it’s easy), let me know about it, and I’ll link you here.

The Dreaded “Triple Push-Up” & More Martial Arts Fun

March 4, 2010

photo courtesy of Shawn McElroy

Shawn McElroy Sensei, head of after-school programs at Sung Ming Shu Dojo in Atlanta, loves the “triple push-up,” adding,

I have had groups up to 5 do this exercise. Great for team building and strength!

What’s your favorite fun, funny, weird, creative drill or exercise for kids? Share it here. Leave a comment below, or – if you have a photo – send it to redwoodojo@hotmail.com.

“Reward the Behavior You Want to See”

November 30, 2009

There’s an excellent blog I’ve been reading called Mokuren Dojo, with articles on judo, aikido, weapons training, and many other aspects of martial arts, as well as occasional pieces on teaching judo to children. I highly recommend it.

The author, Patrick Parker, was kind enough to send me a link to a post where he lists many of his articles on teaching kids. If, as I do, you teach a style that includes some matwork, you should definitely read this material. Even if your style is a pure kicking-punching art, you’ll still find concepts and approaches of value to any instructor.

Scanning down his list of articles I noticed one called “Reward the behavior you want to see.” Great, I thought, this will be a piece about a behavioral approach to teaching unpredictable or unruly kids; I look forward to his take on the subject. I clicked the link and what I found was even better than that: Instead of a theoretical piece of the kind (I have to admit) I would be more likely to write, it was an absolutely practical post about a specific training exercise and how he had modified it to get better results—better training—from the kids.

Instructors, I know you have all experienced this: a drill that works perfectly well with adults has completely unexpected results with kids. Or a training game that seems like a great idea turns out to favor the bigger kids (as in Mokuren’s example), and not necessarily the more skillful or harder working students. Or the drill just isn’t getting you where you want to go with the class. That’s when you have to get creative and change things up.

If you spend time at Redwood Dojo, you’ll probably hear me shout “New Rule!” after watching the kids work a drill for a few moments. Maybe I told them to kick the target with as much power as they could manage—and they’re doing it, but form and balance have gone out the window. “New Rule! You have to hit it twice before putting your foot down.” Or, “New Rule! You have to hit hard, then put your foot down without making a sound.”

Share some of your examples. How do you reward the behavior you want to see?

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