Fun Karate Games for Kids

Two boys (4-7) wearing karate uniform, looking away, close-up

Teaching kids the martial arts discipline of karate through games and activities helps them reach their potential. Karate involves physical and mental training, and requires proper form and technique, body awareness and the ability to concentrate and focus. Introduce and teach children these requirements, but keep them interested in learning with games that work on agility, form, technique and focus.

Warm-Up Game

With very young karate students, play Catch Your Tail to get the kids warmed up and prepared for their lesson. Pair them up and assign one as the tiger's head and the other as the tiger's tail. Tie a karate belt to the belt at the back of the student assigned as the "tail" and start the kids off facing each other. For 30 seconds have the student assigned as the "head" try and grab the tail. Have them switch roles and repeat.

Game to Improve Agility

The Jump or Duck game can be played with six to eight students. This game helps kids with agility and their stance. Hold a foam swim noodle and instruct the kids to form a circle around you. Have them assume a fighting stance about an arm's length away. Slowly swing the noodle around the circle and vary the height. If you swing it low, they must jump over the noodle to avoid touching it and if you swing it head high, they must duck. If the noodle does touch a student, have him step back from the circle, do a task such as pushups or jumping jacks and then return to the circle.

Sparing Game

To help improve your students' speed, play Point Tag. Pair the kids up and give each one a goal or a reference point to tag on the other student. For example, while one kid is trying to tag the right knee, the other might be trying to tag the belt knot. The goal is for each student to keep the other from touching his target area. The match is over once one kid gets tagged. Play many rounds of matches and change the pairing of kids with each round.

Game to Improve Technique

Play Sensei Says, a variation of the classic Simon Says game, to help the kids perfect their form and technique. The martial arts term sensei means teacher, mentor or leader. Arrange the kids so they have enough space to kick or punch without hitting each other. As the sensei, call out a command or karate technique such as a specific strike, block or kick. The kids must demonstrate the technique only if the words "sensei says" precede the command. If any kid does not follow the command, he is out of the game. If you call out a command without the words "sensei says," and a student demonstrates the technique, he is out of the game. Play until one kid remains standing.

Mental-Training Game

The Number Game can help kids concentrate and stay focused, key to becoming a successful martial artist. Pick five techniques the class might be working on and assign a number to each one. To start the game, have them assume the ready stance. Call out the numbers in order, allowing the students enough time to perform the technique and return to the ready stance. Repeat the sequence several times until they associate each technique with a specific number. As they become more competent, mix up the numbers, speed up the count or add more techniques.