View Full Version : New ideas for teaching a class...

26th August 2000, 17:49
Hey all....

I try to keep my classes fresh, and in doing so I like to create new games, ideas, etc. that I can use when teaching. But lately I've been in a real creative funk, so I extend a hand out to the rest of you... what games, ideas, just general STUFF do you do in your class, besides just the basic kata, drills, kumite, that is done standard line up fashion. Creativity counts! What do your students seem to like? Help me keep from boring my class! :laugh:

26th August 2000, 20:37
I like, particularly in the summer, to have class from time to time at the local area swimming pool. Everyone shows up in swimsuits and does kata in the water up to their chin. Gives a whole new meaning to "do it slow and concentrate on your form". :)


27th August 2000, 04:52

Games? I find that out of place in a martial art class, (this is my personal opinion and in no way a condemation of those that use games) but if you want variety in teaching, try having the class do their forms in the dark, or with their eyes closed!

Additionally, have you tried coordinated rolls? The first student in line runs to the mats, goes into the 'up' pushup position, the next in line does a roll over thh one on the pushup position, then rushes back to the front of the line which has been vacated by the 1st student, who runs to the end of the line. This goes on, through the line, until all students have rolled. If done correctly, it increases coordination, and student cooperation with each other. This is also a great exercise, if done quickly and correctly.


Thomas Wahl
27th August 2000, 09:40
Good question!
Beside games or different training-settings you can also pick some students for a show.
In the end of September I will have a "day of the opened door" (I don't know the exact englisch word, so I just translate the German term), because then I will have my studio opened for 5 Years! So we will have all different kind's of show-act's (Self-defense, Kata, Weapons,...).
So what is different about it!
I pick up students, from which I think, that they will be able to do that. Then I let them be in team's of 2,3 or 4 people. Then I tell them what topics/situations I want to have in the show!
I let them work out their part by themselves. I made the experience, that this is a great honor for the student's because You show them, that You have trust in them.
I just go around to the different groups and correct details or give tips.
They train like crazy and they feel as a team!

27th August 2000, 12:01
Hi, Thomas,
I think you are referring to an "open house." That is what it is called, I think. Possibly anniversary or "grand Re-opening, but oen house sounds closest.

One other thing I have been wanting to ask you. I have a friend in Los Angeles, a German, named Juergen Wahl, founder of the Encino Judo Club and Judo Information Site. All his family is still in Germany, and I know he is going home to visit if he hasn't all ready. You wouldn't be family of his, would you?


27th August 2000, 20:58
Hi Ken,

Here's a few ideas.

1) To help the kids work on their rolls we do a game of tag, where you're only allowed to do either forward or backward rolls to pursue or escape.

2) Be it kids or adults, I have them assume a posture, and step onto the mat with either a wooden sword, spear or halbred. The students aren't allowed to move until I swing, helping them associate proper distance and timing in regards to an attack. Once evading they again assume a posture not knowing whether they or someone else will be swung at next.

Have fun,

Eric Bookin

Gil Gillespie
28th August 2000, 02:39
I am not a sensei, merely a senior student. I heartily concur with blindfold or closed-eye training, esp re: women or smaller budoka. If they don't see uke's size they are not intimidated and connect and move with uke's of all sizes. Some of what has eventuated in our dojo in blind training has drawn outright applause.

Also, in line techniques, before the new nage (or tori) takes on the ukes in line s(he) must 1st do technique with sensei as uke. Most budoka are intimidated having sensei as uke, but non-verbally repeating the attack before nage is allowed to take on the line makes him do it right and gives him a boost in confidence. In Mochizuki Sensei's Yoseikan dojo in Shizuoka Japan all training is done this way.

29th August 2000, 23:00
Here are two ideas some might find valuable:

1) Use "monkey chains." Whatever technique you're doing, have student A stand at the end of the dojo with all other students lined up facing him/her. Student A does the technique to Student B, who then stands next to or behind student A. Student C steps up, and student A does the technique to him/her. Then Student C steps down the line to student B, who does the technique to student C. When student C stepped down to student B, student D steps up to student A and student A does the technique to student D. C then joins the line. D moves to work with B, E moves to work with A, and so on. When all students pass student A, A then works his/her way down the line. This can go on for hours. It's a great way to have every student work with every other student.

2) Shadowing. This is sometimes called, "mirroring." It's a wonderful ancient exercise that teaches timing, visual acuity, and focus. It also is meditative. It's easy enough: Simply have your students pair up, a with b, c with d, e with f, etc. Facing each other at twice arms reach apart, one member of each pair begins moving slowly and randomly. Let the student move however he or she wishes, with the only proviso being that he/she cannot turn back on partner. This student is the leader. The partner plays follower and has to mimic every single body motion of the leader. After a while, let the other student lead. Switching partners is fine, too. At the end of the class, have both students in each pair SIMULTANESOULY lead and follow. I know it sounds odd, but they will "move as one."

I hope this helps.

30th August 2000, 00:59
Back when I did aikido, one of the more interesting classes we had was when only three student showed up to an advanced (read "non-beginner") class. The instructor stated that with only three of there, she wasn't going to teach us; we'd have to teach ourselves. So she had one person thinnk of an attack, and another think of response without announcing them. Then they both announced to the class what they had picked. There was only other rule: you couldn't pick something that had been done before. By the end of class we were pulling out all sorts of stuff. It turned out to be quite fun (except when it was "munetsuki nikyo," ouch), and reminded us just how versatile different waza could be.
Another variation was a specified attack, then each student named and demonstrated a counter for the calss, which the class then practiced.

Thomas Wahl
30th August 2000, 08:11
Hi folks!
There is a idea for the case, that only 3 or 4 students show up for class. I have that quit often in summertime.
Normaly in that times only people show up, who really want to learn. Instead of letting them train freely (teching themselves), I let them team up in groups of 2-3 students. Then they have to pick up their testing-programm (our testing-programm is quit stuffed in our Ninjutsu-branch) and work on the missing parts or parts they don't do so well. So they put together what they know. What Partner A does not know, maybe partner B or C does know. While two are practicing, Partner C is correcting/watching them.
I do in that time training for my own, but go from time to time around to correct details or answer questions.
In the end of the lesson, I then do test's. So in that period I was able to test about 20 persons with good results. Notice: I don't give them the higher rank, just to please them! They have to work for it, and they did.

So the students have a positive experience, which encourages them to come to class although it is hot outside.


John A Butz
30th August 2000, 19:00
I'm not an instructor, just a senior student, but I often run one of our dojo's warm up "games". It's a great warmup as well as a learning tool.

All the students on the dojo circle up. A senior student throws a koosh-ball into the center of the circle. Another student does a forward roll over the ball, picking it up as they go. After the roll, they throw the ball back into the center of the circle, and the process continues.

Safety note-be aware. sometimes more then one person will go for the ball. Make sure that no one rolls into any one else.

Advanced version- Uke uses different ukemi to pick up the ball. If the ball is thrown more towards uke, he goes backwards. If it lands beside him/her, roll sideways. Very bold uke can attempt to intercept it in the air and do an aerial breakfall.

5 or 10 miniutes of this makes for a fun warm up. You can involve students of all skill levels, as long as they have a forward roll. give it a try.

[Edited by John A Butz on 08-30-2000 at 03:04 PM]

31st August 2000, 19:02
I do this in the kids class, and once in a while spring it on the adults. They all seem to enjoy it.

It's a rip-off of "Simon Says", I use Shogun Says instead.

I usually start everyone off in a horse stance and call out basic movements, starting with "Shogun says right punch" and move along. You would be amazed at how difficult this can be. When a student screws up, the drop and knock out 10-25 pushups, then back in the game. It's good for at least 10 minutes and it's a real challenge for concentration. I'm a sadistic lad, so I'll chat a little during the game and shout out commands for movements, without Shogun says. Towards the end, I'll say "OK, feet together" and usually snag about 70% of the group for a quick round of pushups.

The parents enjoy watching the kids do this and the adults actually enjoy it too. Give it a shot!
Kevin Schaller

1st September 2000, 08:21
I don't think anyone is thinking chess or checkers here so "games," if done with a lesson in mind, whether it is realized by students or not, is a great way to teach and the students have a sense that the teacher is in tune as to what may keep a student atune and thinking at the same time.

What Tommy says is correct to a point, but what he suggests of ukemi is really a game, and can be fun, so I would only partially disagree.

An ukemi game: Have one student on his knees and elbows, with the head tucked and protected with the hands. The everyone takes ukemi over that person. After everyone has done that one, he stays, and one more is added, and another, until it is obviously unsafe to do so, and you begin to use the line as a comparison, and have the class "see" how many they can jump and roll (sounds like mugging:eek: )

When there are enough new students, or those who have never done this, the teacher contributes, by inisting on jumping all, and this time it will not be an imaginary line. Teacher looks at the line and adds one more, and another, until all who can fit in a diagonal line and still have enough room for take-off and landing. Teacher asks if they trust him when he says he can jump all thirteen (or whatever, it just has to look impossible), and walks up and down the line, making mental measurements, and then, if possible,he puts one more on the end he is going to land. More looks and measuremeants, and asks again if they trust that he can do it. Usually, you will get a couple of meek "yyy-essss?" Teacher takes off for his jump and ukemi, then runs across the backs of the students. Most are relieved and also a little embarrassed by being tricked like that, but I think a lesson and a good point is made here. It can't be done very often like that, but then the students want to have another go from time to time, but the joke is all ready known, so it is taken seriously.

Taking ukemi blindfolded is also a test of trust, but more it is a test of "centering" and feeling the distance to the floor. Blindfolding tori during attack drills has experienced students, and even teachers, shaking in their tabi. This isn't traditional judo, but it certainly contains valuable lessons. Games? Sure, but a lesson also must go with it. Whether a student realizes the lesson right away is immaterial. Blind Man's Bluff is a great "game," and may be modified to a particular art or technique.

Joseph Svinth
1st September 2000, 12:10
This ain't Webster, this is Joe:

Games: Competitive activities combining varying degrees of luck, skill, and strategy. Although participation can provide intrinsic pleasure, people also use games as conflict resolution models and for teaching methods of trickery, deception, and divination not otherwise taught in school.

Play: Recreational activities that provide pleasurable excitement. These activities may be mental, physical, or both, and the player can participate in them as an actor, a spectator, or both. Play becomes work once money, trophies, or similar external rewards assume greater importance than the activity itself.

Sports: Athletic games. The word comes from the Old French desporter, and originally referred to frolics that distracted people from work, school, religion, and similar "serious" pursuits.

The problem is only partly one of semantics, between us, I believe that some people still hold to the Calvinist notion that anything pleasurable must be sinful...

John A Butz
1st September 2000, 21:07

We us an obi for junior students, rolling it out a little more after the entire class has gone over, and repeating the process till we reach they're limits(and a little beyond of course :) ). When you fail to roll the distance, you leave that group, and do either solo kata or pushups, soemthing of that ilk.

Senior students use other's( good candidates are junior students who have reached the limit opf their skills with the obi, see above :) ) in a manner much like you describe.

[Edited by John A Butz on 09-01-2000 at 03:10 PM]

2nd September 2000, 09:33
Yeah, well you may be younger and think quickly, but I am older and have more insurance.:up:

2nd September 2000, 17:57
WOW! thank you all for the input! I found all of these very inventive! some of them are variations on some things I have already been doing, and some were completely new... I appreciate all the support.

Mark- yes I have done the ukemi over something, but I usually have them do it over those Century blast-masters lined up. (I can only imagine the $h!^ I'd get in if a kid were to squish another one! But with adults... maybe :)

Also, to kinda define "game"... I didn't mean what we normally think of when you say "game". For example, during a few classes I do a "memory" type game where I go down the line, student by student. Student A names a techniques, and we do that technique 10 times. Then, student B names a technique, so we do a combination, A+B. Then Student C names one, so now we do A+B+C... etc. down the line. And oh yeah everyones techniques have to be different! :) This tests the students physically (in a class of 15 by the time its over you have done 1200 techniques!) as well as mentally (remembering the order the tecniques were called off) This is a great tool and makes the class fun and interesting, I would call this a "game", but it's not like "hey lets run around randomly make a lot of noise and do nothing that relates to martial arts..." ya know? :)

[Edited by kenshorin on 09-02-2000 at 12:08 PM]

2nd September 2000, 18:01
just a quick note... I would call the "coordinated drills" as defined above to be a "game"

so I guess I should change my original message to read "drills" instead of "games" to be message-board p.c., huh? ;)

3rd September 2000, 03:37
Hi Ken,

I just have a hangup about some McDojo's labeling the classes they run, as fun and GAMES, so I bit you for yout choice of words. Sorry, no insult meant, but I think you understand from the flow of the thread, what I meant!


3rd September 2000, 10:20
:) no prob, I didn't take it the wrong way honestly. I figured as much, and yeah even as I was typing my original post I had a feeling the word "games" was just not the one I was looking for because of that same reason; the second I hit the "submit" button I knew SOMEONE was gunna get me on it too. But for lack of a better word, I guess... ;)

7th September 2000, 20:18
Hi, Ken.

I had a Judo and Jujitsu dojo for twenty years, and keeping fresh was always a problem!

Two things the students never tired of were "Lake Walks" and blindfolded randori.

First the blindfolded randori. I got this idea teaching a group of blind students self defense at the local YMCA's basement. We did all the same randori my classes always do but with a sighted companion partnering with the blind student.

Then, on the last class meeting, I turned out the lights, to give the sighted students a taste of what it is to be blind in combat. After that experience, I instituted blind randori as a permanent fixture in our training schedule. the funny thing is, the students always prefer to be the blindfolded one after a few rounds.

The "Lake Walk" was a little more special. When I started Taihei Yukikan Dojo, one of my lectures was about O-sensei and his Aikido training in the icewater pool on the first day of spring. One of my white belts said "Sensei, can we do that?" My options were 1)to say "No, I'm sorry. Only real martial artists do that," or 2) You guessed it. Twenty consecutive first-days of spring without a miss. Good turnouts, too. [The boat ramp at "Negro Bar State Park" in
Folsom, CA is about two miles below the outflow of Folsom Dam: water temp approximately 40 degrees F.] We walked out until we covered our belt knots, did Chi Gong until the goosebumps went away. At the end of the lesson, I gave each of them a rock from the bottom of the Lake.

8th September 2000, 03:17
ok i'm just a mid-level student but here's some ideas i think would make good lessons:

HIKING WORKOUT. hike into someplace cool for a workout.

GUN SAFETY SEMINAR. class at a gun range. good place to get familar with firarms.

ANATOMY CLASS. indepth seminar in human anatomy.

i like the idea of getting out of the dojo once in awhile to see how else we can apply ma priciples. my sensei teaches a class in water fighting techniques. we spent the day at a pool (owned by one of the other students) and learned how we could apply our techniques in that kind of environment. although it was a great class in itself, especially here in hawaii it also help give another perspective on what we do.

Joseph Svinth
8th September 2000, 09:09
Kata and standing basics are also interesting to do in water. In surf, for example, you had best be centered. Meanwhile, in the pool you quickly learn what is hydrodynamically (ergo, aerodynamically) correct and what is not.

9th September 2000, 09:35
The beach is always enticing to students, whether training or not (This was the Southern California area). My first teacher would get the older junior and younger adults in a car or two, and we would do this on Saturdays. This didn't last long, as I was opening the dojo on Saturdays for randori only (he gave me the key).

Try randori in the sand. One would feel slow, very methodical (thinking a lot on how to improve quickness for this surface). Joe has mentioned the pool and the surf which never did register with this group, but giving us almost unlimited surface in which to play hard randori, we quickly learned that falling, moving, and entering were very difficult indeed. We only did this for an hour or so, and then it was to "basics" of how to ride a six foot swell with an undertow that would not allow you to get back on the beach. This actually had a beneficial effect in that it was an even harder to overcome than throwing while on the beach, and when we did get back to the dojo on Monday, it felt like a hot knife cutting butter. The ease of moving in for a throw, not to mention the absence of tiring, was a lesson in just how difficult it may be in practical situations. While there is no beach in Mew Mexico (except for the Rio Grande), I can still feel what it was like. Talk about minimum effort!:smash: