I hate walking into a Martial Art School and seeing a bunch of kids walking their way through techniques, blocks, exercises, stretches and katas as if they are just doing vague movements while waiting for the class to finish.
I also hate walking into a class that is totally out of control with kids running wild and ignoring all instruction.It may seem strange to some but I'd rather have the first problem to deal with than the second.A great problem to have is a class full of kids who have too much energy, all you need to do is find a way to harness that energy.
At the start of every lesson you will have some kids bubbling with energy and others that need to be woken up, which is why I think the first 5-8 minutes of the lesson are the most important to get right.Hyper-active kids need to burn off excess energy while slow starters need to be warmed up in some way. One of my best solutions when teaching martial arts to kids is a quick game called "The Fury".
The number of kids that can participate at one time is dictated by the size of your training area.Be sure to space the kids out with plenty of room around them before starting.You may need to split the class into a couple of groups and run one group at a time.
In my Martial Art we use the concept of a clock on the ground to give a reference point for techniques. When you first take a ready stance the direction in front of you is 12o'clock, behind you is 6:00, your left side is 9:00 and your right is 3:00. If you prefer you can try using the directions of a compass but I find the clock is more easily understood by the kids when first playing this Martial Game.
With the kids all facing the front in their fight stance you explain to them that they are going to fight imaginary demons / bad guys / ghosts / ninjas … whatever you think is most interesting or relevant for their age. Now tell them that they can use any technique they want to hurt the bad guys when they attack and that it is best not to repeat the same technique too often as the bad guys will notice and learn to block it.Tell the Kids which direction they need to face when doing their attacks. Now the fun begins.
Always call out the first attacker coming from 12:00 to get them started, then start mixing it up … there's one at 3:00, now there's another one at 9:00, quickly 12:00 get him …. Start slowly, then speed things up so that they have just enough time to reset their ready fighting stance from the last attack before calling the next one. Keep them turning and do not get into a rhythm / pattern, and sometimes make them wait and wonder what you are going to call next.
This Martial Game has a lot of great benefits:
1. It teaches them direction
2. It tests their knowledge of techniques
3. It tests their techniques under pressure
4. It tests their balance and footwork
5. It teaches them to cover as they transition from one direction to another
6. It gets the heart pumping, lungs opening, brain focusing
7. It burns excess energy and energizers the slow starters.
This is a fun way to start a session as it gets everyone involved and creates an upbeat mood in the room.This way the kids are pumped up and on a high, but at the same time you've burnt off the excess energy that causes fidgeting and distractions.When your kids are huffing and puffing they are less inclined to muck around.
Please try this game in your next kids class and if you want a good laugh try it on the adults as well.