Karate Games – The Listening Game

A great way to warm up your karate student’s minds and bodies is of course to issue challenges and use games, particularly with younger students.

This is one of my favorite karate games that’ll challenge both your kids and adult classes.

It’s called “The Listening Game”.

I’m not sure where it came from originally, but it’s one that I did years ago with my instructor and still use today with my classes.

Here’s how it works.

Students face a partner so that they make 2 lines across the center of the room.

There are 5 commands…

“Ichi” = students must squat down

“Ni” = students must stand up

“San” = students must turn around 360 degrees once

“Change” = students must change position with their partner

“Run” = students must either run to the side of the room behind them, or back to the middle depending on their position


You call the commands and your students must perform the corresponding action as quickly as they can. The game begins when you say, “The game has begun”. And tell them it finishes when you say “The game has ended.”

Call the commands with plenty of time between each, to give your students a chance. As soon as somebody makes a mistake, they are eliminated from the game and take a seat to the side. The last person remaining is declared the winner.

When the game begins make it easy so students can get used to the commands and actions.

Then after 30 seconds or so, increase the difficultly with the following ideas.

– call the commands with less time between each so the game becomes faster

– call multiple commands in one hit – eg. Ichi, Ni, Run

– when your students are in the squat position, call “Ichi” (the squat position command), and you’ll almost always get someone to stand up. Try the same from the stand position, by calling “Ni” and you’ll get someone to squat.

– ask your students to relax and sit down

– throw in regular commands and karate terminology to add confusion with the following examples:

“Down” instead of “ichi”

“Up” instead of “ni”

“Switch” instead of “change”

“Spin” instead of “san”


– what else can you think of?

Points to note…

1) Make the game fun. Laugh and enjoy it.

2) When someone makes a mistake, reinforce the commands so they learn by saying, “There’s no down there is only what?” and your class should answer “Ichi”.

3) When students mess up and perform a command that’s not one of the 5 commands, you can then ask them, “What’s the game called???” and “How many commands!??”

The Listening Game is supposed to be an enjoyable warm-up game for all ages, so teach it that way.

Of course if you want a bunch of more ideas for class check out my 125 Dynamite Drills  and 50 Kids Karate Games which have a ton of karate drills and exercises for keeping your classes fresh and students motivated.

Until next time…

What’s the game called?

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