Karate is a physically demanding activity. For kids and adults alike, warm-ups help loosen up the muscles, build physical stamina and focus the students' minds on the class ahead. Children may get bored easily if you simply do an aerobic workout. When warming up with young children, you may have to get a little creative. Always try to stick with enjoyable activities that will teach kids a karate-related technique.
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Like "Simon Says," this game requires the children to listen carefully to what the sensei is telling them to do. If they complete an action without first hearing "Sensei says," they are required to do push-ups or sit-ups before rejoining the game. Walk around the class and say, "Sensei says," followed by a technique such as a block, kick or strike. This gives them a chance to work on their basics while warming up, but also lets them enjoy a game.
Similar to Sensei Says, this warm-up game requires you to name an action for the children to complete. It can be a karate technique, such as a strike, block or kick, or another exercise, such as push-ups, sit-ups or jumping jacks. When you shout, the children are to freeze in the position they are in. Holding positions like this will help build muscle tone and balance. It will also give you a chance to notice any technique problems that you need to fix during the main portion of the class.
Set up an obstacle course for the warm-up portion of your class. The children can either complete the course while jogging around the room, or you can time them at each station. Include activities such as push-ups and sit-ups, punches at one back and kicks at another, skipping rope, stairs, rolls and even forms or defences. These types of obstacle courses can break up the monotony of a regular workout and help the kids practice technique, work on endurance and build muscle tone and coordination.
Reaction Time Drills
This is a drill that will both help the children focus on you and improve their reaction times, while giving them an aerobic workout. Randomly call out "Everyone move back one line!" or "One spot to your left!" The children then shift their lines accordingly. If you have multiple lines, the line in back will run to the front. If you are shifting from side to side, the child at the left or right end of the line will run to the opposite end. Mix up your directions. Have them switch lines, turn around, go back two lines, shift two spots to the right or any other direction you want.
Give each child two flags to tuck into his belt. Assign each student a partner. The object of this game is to capture your opponent's flags using basic sparring techniques. This is done without gear, so it should be stressed that flags are the only target. Time each match for at least two minutes and switch partners. This is a cardio workout that will also help the students work on their speed, accuracy, blocking and footwork.
At the end of your warm-up, it is always a good idea to stretch with the children. Their muscles will be warm, and stretching will help prevent injury. Stretching is also a chance for the children to re-centre and refocus their attention in preparation for the rest of the class. Complete stretches that loosen up the muscles in the legs, hips, calves, back and shoulders.
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