Squares, squares and more squares

If you’ve ever had the experience of teaching small children karate, you’ll know that one of the biggest challenges is to get them to stand in something that looks like a karate stance…

Some of my kids pick it up naturally. And then there are those whose bodies look like twisted pipecleaners in a 4 year old’s art project. For whatever reason as soon as they make “forward stance” they think they must put one foot in front of the other and then stand sideways…

This drove me nuts!

Then I’d correct their stance and of course with the very next movement it was “welcome back to twisterville”.

Like I said, this drove me nuts until I thought of a clever way to sort out the problem.

Wanna know what it is?

Are you sure?

Here’s the answer:



That’s the key.

Squares made from electrical tape, stuck on the floor.

Now I just ask them to spread out and put their feet in the squares and face forward. From there I ask them to bend their front knee and hold up their hands…

Simple, huh?

I’ve positioned my “squares” at various points on the tatami and they make a great point of reference for young children when doing basics or kata. Sometimes we use one square, sometimes two.

Furthermore you can use the squares to play games, relay races, etc.

Tape a few to your floor and see how handy they are.

I know – you’re asking “What if I don’t have a full time dojo and I share a basketball court?”

Tape a few squares on the floor anyway. Most people won’t realize, and if they do they probably won’t say anything. What’s the worse that can happen? You might be asked to remove them. No big deal. Or if you’re really worried, ask first.

The squares are a great way to teach kids from ages 4-6 the basic length and width of a stance. Yes, I know all kids are different shapes and sizes, but use the squares as a general guide. It’ll cut down on your workload of “stance correcting” and give you more time to develop their skills in other areas.

Young minds need tools to help them learn.

Squares are fun and helpful.



6 thoughts on “Squares, squares and more squares”

  1. Aye, a good idea. But do you have an idea about how I get them to keep the hips “frontfaced” and keeping the sholder back when hitting oski? I just can’t figure out how :0/

    Thanks for sharing your good ideas.

    • I use what I call the ‘Cowboy Robot’. Hopefully I can relay this in words. Picture standing like a cowboy(in the horse stance) then they walk like a robot into a front stance. They can imagine a post from the top of their head down to the floor. If they maintain the ‘robot’ with their upper body, everything should stay in place. If that doesn’t work for their shoulders, place a dowel rod or broomstick across their shoulders like their carrying water. All of the references (cowboy, robot, carrying water) can be fun and keep the kids’ attention.

  2. I have placed lines in my dojo. they place there toes on each one. the lines are spaced to the width of a basic stance. I use this for basics for both adults and children although I found it has greatly helped the kids classes in there stance work. this way as we do basics they can correct themselves to some degree. But I like this square concept a lot and will be trying it in my classes today at the very least this is something my many parents can do at home to help there children. I have a lot ask me what they can do at home to help in there kids training. this is perfect for that. Super easy to place lil tape on a floor then remove it.. thank you again for the information…

    • You’re welcome Matthew….

      Any visual reference we can use will always help the majority of students learn… particularly boys, as they tend to make up the majority of visual learners.

      The squares are great for the youngest students… trying to explain geometry to a 6 year old is asking for a headache. The squares solve that problem. Great idea of having them do this at home too… just be sure they are setting the squares at the correct dimensions.


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