Chad asked for the other day in his comment to my post about teaching kids judo was some description of our favorite judo games to play with kids. Following are my top ten favorites (and my kids’ favorites too.) These games teach physical skills used in judo and are used as prelude to judo training in younger children and as warm-ups for older children.
- Tug o’ war – two players face each other across a goal line. The players are given a judo belt (or two, one to hold in each hand) and they try to pull the other guy off his base or across the line or make him lose his grip on the belt(s)
- Kneeling knockdown – my name for newaza randori. Starting on knees, the object is to push/pull (not hit) the opponent to the ground onto his back and press him long enough to say some moral statement, like “Honor means always keeping your promises.” This gets them used to grappling and pinning for several seconds.
- Toe-stomp randori – the object is not really to stomp toes but to step on the tops of their feet without getting your feet stepped on. This one is hard to contest because it moves so fast that an outside judge is hard pressed to call it.
- Seated push/pull – two partners seated back-to-back or feet-to-feet. The object is to push/pull the opponent across their goal line.
- Rooster tail randori – like flag football. Two opponents have spare belts tucked into their belts in the back. The goal is to pull the opponent’s tailfeathers without getting yours pulled out.
- Repetitions (e.g. cross-face turnover) down the mat – The best way I’ve found to get them to do repetitions of anything is to have them roll their partners down the mat using the specific technique I call for.
- Side roll - Get a partner in guard and roll laterally down the mat – similar to bridge&roll from tateshiho and leg sweep from the guard, two partners just roll over each other down the mat.
- Sled drag - Partner lies between your feet and holds your belt and you drag them like a sled. This is a good warmup.
- Monkey toes (pick up tape balls with toes) – get two opponents and throw an odd number of 1-inch round balls of duct tape between them and have them pick the balls up with their toes. This gets them used to the idea of using their feet like hands.
- Crawling man – everyone’s favorite game by far, is crawling man. One partner starts on hands and knees and the other starts standing behind with both hands on the kneeling man’s back. On “go” the crawling man crawls toward the other baseline and the standing man strives to turn them and pin them on their back. This is their favorite form of randori and it provides a great basis to hook techniques and other groundwork skills onto. This game forms the basis of all our newaza practice with kids.
A little more on this topic - Excellent video series - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
photo courtesy of Carlaarena