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Bowley Kenpo Karate » Philosophy, School Information » 6 Karate Games We Play

6 Karate Games We Play

Each class we try to spend the last 10 to 15 minutes playing a game. The games usually are a reinforcement of many of the Kenpo concepts or drills we cover in class, but also act as a reward for the hard work put in on the mat. Often there isn’t a prize, however we sometimes have the winner lead the bow out for the evening.

While we play a variety of karate games, here are 6 of the more popular ones.

Duck and Jump using a big blocker instead of a swimming noodle

Duck and Jump using a big blocker instead of a swimming noodle

Sword and shield – Sword and shield is one of the favorite games and requested often. Each competitor holds one of a foam blocker and a hand shield. The goal is to touch all four targets on your opponent with the foam “sword” while blocking your targets with the “shield”. The targets are both arms and both legs. When an arm or leg gets hit, you lose it. If the arm has a weapon or shield, it gets dropped. If a leg gets touched, now you hop on one leg or are on your knees. We try to promote holding good stances, maneuvering around, looking for targets, moving in and back out again. Both kids and adults love it.

Duck and jump – 5 to 7 students circle around an instructor who is holding a large foam blocker or noodle. The students face the center in a fighting stance usually within arm distance of center person. The instructor then swings the blocker low or high varying up the movements. Students either jump over the blocker or duck underneath attempting to not get touched. If they are touched, the student backs out of the circle, does 3 push-ups, and steps back in. The goals of the game are to work on focus and agility while keeping a good stance.

Obstacle course – The obstacle course game is a big mess of fun. We usually lay out 8 or 9 of the swimming pool noodles in grid lines on one side of the mat and stack kicking and hand shields at various heights on the other side of the mat. The students then crawl through the grid of noodles in different methods: crab crawl, bear crawl, backwards crab, side crawl, etc. They then have to jump over the shields while trying to keep their knees together.  Should they move a noodle or topple the bags, they do 3 push ups. There’s usually a lot of laughter going on during this game.

Push over – This game is about practicing backwards break-falls. Two people squat down on their toes facing each other with hands up, palms forward. They match up their hands together and slowly start to try to push each other over. Whoever falls over first should do the break-fall with proper form. They then do 3 push-ups, reset, and start the game over again. With lower ranks, we try to keep everyone’s hands together. As the students become more experienced, they can incorporate parries and blocks against the pushes.

The advanced pull down has 4 players instead of 2

The advanced pull down has 4 players instead of 2

Pull down – The Pull Down game is more geared for some of the older kids and adult students. Students pair up facing each other in the push-up position. On the word “Go”, they attempt to pull the arm of their opponent and drop them to the ground. They also have to defend themselves from being pulled down. We discourage grabbing above the elbow. Anyone pulled down has to do 3 push-ups. The game then resumes. The goal is to build upper body strength, quick reflexes, work on blocks and parries, and practice falling on your side. Face planting isn’t much fun though it does happen from time to time. Often we’ll play the Push Over and Pull Down game on the same night.

Avoid the noodle – Like the Push Over game, the emphasis on this game is working on break-falls and coordination. All the students are in the squat down position and all in a straight line. The instructor is about 2 feet away, standing, and holding a swimming pool noodle. The instructor will lightly toss the noodle in a straight line towards the student. The student will attempt to fall backwards, avoiding the noodle, and try to catch the noodle between their feet.

The games are a great part of class, filled with lots of laughs and smiles. The last memory the students have when leaving is how much fun they had. Not every lesson has to drive home the thought of self defense. As our goal is to build leaders, teaching early the mantra of “Work Hard, Play Hard” is important.

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Sam Bowley
McKinney, TX

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