Karate Kumite Reaction Drill

Here’s a quick kumite drill you can use to help your students develop their reaction speed.

You need 3 people for this one to work and your students should stand, so 2 fighters face each other, while the third person stands as shown below. We need a name for that guy, so let’s call him Bob… more about Bob in a moment.

kumite drill

The fighters stand outside of punching range, stationary but ready and focused, like a big cat about to pounce.  Bob’s role is to tap one of the fighters on their glove. He might choose to tap either fighter’s front or rear hand. That fighter must immediately slide forward and score their technique to the head or body, then immediately slide back to guard. In the example below Bob tapped the red fighter’s front hand.

front jab

Bob might then tap the blue fighter’s reverse hand, in which case he would slide in and make reverse punch.

reverse punch

Now Bob’s job is to keep the fighter’s guessing. He might tap the blue fighter 3 times before tapping the red fighter. Or he might tap the red fighter and then immediately tap the blue fighter on completion of the red fighter’s technique.

Bob can make them wait… tick… tick… tick, or make them work with a series of taps with no downtime. He can mess with the timing and can fake, so the red fighter thinks he’s about to get tapped and then tap the blue fighter instead.

An advanced spin on this is to tap both fighters at the same time and see who scores first. Be careful with this one, of course.

After one minute Bob switches out with one of the fighters and the exercise continues, this time with a new Bob.

This is a great kumite exercise for developing reaction and anticipation skills…

Happy Holidays…

– Jason

P.S. Thanks for being my subscriber and/or customer this year. I appreciate you.

P.P.S. Don’t you love my awesome stick figures with over-sized, disproportionate heads?


*** UPDATE : December 20, 2013 ****

Last night I shot a quick video of my junior class doing this drill so you can see it in action… Enjoy!

Kids Karate Game – Tag Ball

Here’s a kids’ game you can use at the end of your martial arts class as a reward. Takes like 3 minutes and students will leave your dojo on a “high”. This is just one game in my 50 Kids Karate Games package that kids of all ages love.

(Actually, adults have been know to enjoy this one too – but shhhhhhh! Adults aren’t supposed to have fun, especially in a karate class! It’s supposed to be more like consentual torture, right?)

The game is called Tag-Ball.

Works like this:

You and an assistant instructor are on one team. Your students make up the other team. Your team’s job is to eliminate your students by tagging them with the ball (a soft inflatable ball will do just fine). Their job is to avoid being eliminated.

The rules of the Basic Game are these:

  1. When in possession of the ball, you may not move.
  2. When you don’t have the ball, you can run to position close to your students.
  3. You can throw the ball to your assistant instructor(s), and they can throw it to you, and when you’re close to a student, reach out and tag them with the ball (you cannot throw the ball at a student to eliminate them).
  4. Once a student is eliminated they sit down on the side of the mat.

Here are 2 more variations of the basic game.

  1. Infection –  When a student is eliminated they’re not out – they’re infected. That means they join your team until only one student remains uninfected. They are declared the winner.
  2. Role Reversal – In this variation, students must eliminate the instructors. This is a hoot. Kids will break all kinds of rules trying to eliminate you. They’ll chase after you when in possession of the ball, throw the ball at you, etc.

    (Usually I set a time limit on this variation, because the kids rarely eliminate a single instructor. You know, because we move like ninja-cats…)

    In all seriousness, it’s actually a good agility game to teach teamwork, as well as athleticism and hand-eye coordination.

That’s it for today…




Your words have impact…

Love him or hate him, Sensei John Kreese from the “Karate Kid” became famous in pop-culture.

On entering the dojo Daniel-san hears Kreese ask his class:

“Fear does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

“Pain does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

“Defeat does not exist in this dojo, does it?”
Class Responds: “NO, SENSEI!”

Sensei John Kreese warning Miyagi Sensei back in 1984’s movie “The Karate Kid”

What you say in your classes has an impact on your students. It affects their mindset, their performance and ultimately the way they feel about karate. That affects morale and your student retention.

Kreese used negative reinforcement to instill fear into his students and then ironically stated that “Fear doesn’t exist in this dojo”. Contradictory, wouldn’t you agree? No wonder his students were angry and confused just like him.

(Yes, I realize it was a movie… but when you teach you’ve got to remember, “Monkey see, monkey do”.)

I do my best to keep it positive, to motivate and teach responsibility and accountability to my students. Here are a baker’s dozen of my “sensei-isms” I use regularly to engage my classes. Feel free to use them in your dojo…

  1. “I want to see results, not hear excuses!”
  2. “The word “can’t” doesn’t exist in this dojo!”
  3. “Pain is just weakness leaving the body”
  4. “Is this the world’s slowest punch competition?”
  5. “My grandma can kick faster than you, let’s go!”
  6. “Bad guys don’t take days off, so neither can you.”
  7. “Get your butt down! You look like Mt. Fuji!” (when doing pushups)
  8. “Whose belt is it? Yours or your mom’s? You are responsible for your belt, not her.” (when kids forget their belt)
  9. “You want to win? You’ve got to work harder and do more than the other guy”
  10. “Repetition is the mother of skill” – Tony Robbins
  11. “Stop blocking with your head! Keep your hands up!’
  12. I can only teach you so much… YOU need to do the work.”
  13. “I told you guys already… listen to me and you’ll live longer.”

What are some of the Sensei-isms you use in your dojo? Post ’em below.