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#190067 - 09/30/05 02:00 PM Fun teaching methods
Zombie Zero Offline
Compliance & Liability

Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 1993
Loc: Lorton, VA
This one is for the instructors out there...

What are some of the unusual/unique/entertaining teaching methods that you use? To clarify, here's my example:

Many of my students had trouble with the front stance, keeping their stance too narrow. (about half of shoulder width apart) I was correcting stances over and over again.

Finally, I came up with a way to show them why (instead of just telling them why) they need a wider front stance. I had all the students form a circle around the classroom, facing outward. (So they couldn't see each other). I then had them step out with one foot, so it was in line with the other, as though they were walking a tightrope.

I walked around the inside of the circle, and as I passed each student, I pushed them lightly on the shoulder with one finger. Sure enough, every single one of them lost their footing and balance. Some nearly fell down.

Next, I did the same exercise, only this time, I put them all in good solid front stances. I pushed harder, and nobody lost their footing.

This way, I was able to illustrate the need for wider footing, and most of my students have improved their front stances greatly.

I like to use tricks like this to keep the class interesting and fun, while still teaching a valuable lesson.

I'd like to hear about similar methods you use.
In my walk in the martial way, my hope is that as long as I live, I will always be a beginner.

#190068 - 10/03/05 12:37 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Zombie Zero]
Galen Offline

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Here's one I use with the kids all the time.

When they are in a stance, and I want to concetrate on stepping quickly, I will get a shinai, and tell them that I going to try and drop the end of the stick on their foot. If they move fast enough, no worries.

If not...

Now of course, I completely control the speed that the shinai is moving, so that the no matter how slow the child steps, they are not in any danger of actually getting their toes walloped. The trick is getting them to think that they will.

As well, once they step quickly, a very heavy and well deserved slice of positive reinforcement is served as well.

The looks on their faces when they think they might not step quickly enough, mixed with euphoria when they do, cant be beat.

The parents love it too, by the way, once they realize that I would never dream of actually hitting them.

Adults on the other, hand, I actually try and hit.

Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

#190069 - 10/03/05 12:40 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Galen]
Galen Offline

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Sorry for the two posts, but another one came to mind.

We sometimes play a variation of 'Simon Says'. We call it 'Sensei Says'.

Played exactly like Simon Says, but we use techniques as the actions the kids have to perform.

If the child moves without me saying "Sensei Says' first, or does the wrong technique, they have to sit down.

Very fun, and quite effective.

Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

#190070 - 10/21/05 10:40 AM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Zombie Zero]
ShaolinNinja Offline
hates silicone bubishi

Registered: 10/09/05
Posts: 301
Loc: Ireland
Your example illustrates a principle of good teaching: it's better to demonstrate why something needs to be done a certain way than to just tell the students how to do it. The reason behind a given point of a technique should never be 'because sensei says so'.

Ninjutsu classes I think are particularly rich in fun methods, partly because of the unconventional techniques being taught (ninja juhakkei). Here are a few of the fun things I've come across in MA classes:

A game like chasing/ tag in which everyone is against everyone else and you have to try and hit the left knee (front, back or side) of other students with your right hand. If someone hits your left knee with their right hand, you're 'out'. If you step outside the boundaries, you're 'out'. The last one left is the winner. This game is good for warming up, but moreover, for developing zanshin (you have to really watch your back!), speed, evasive movement, combat tactics and positional awareness.

Students stand behind one another, forming a sort of conga line. Each student puts their hands on the hips of the student in front and bends down so their head is beside the hip of the student in front. The student at the end of the line then hops onto the back of the next student and pulls themself across the top of this human line, being careful not to whack anyone beneath them with their elbows or knees. When you reach the end, you dismount with a breakfall, scramble back through the legs of the line, then take your place at the back of the line, and the next student climbs over. If the class is big enough, you can form several lines and have races. (This will be of no use to you if you're teaching any art other than ninjutsu, but I had to post it here, coz damn it's fun! It also makes a good party game.)

For any kind of drill, stretching or warm-up exercize, some instructors are fond of mixing things up to keep students on their toes. Instead of saying "Ten push-ups..... Good, now ten sit-ups.... Good.", they'll assign numbers to various exercizes e.g. 1 for push-ups, 2 for sit-ups, 3 for star-jumps, 4 for squats and 5 for squat-thrusts. Then they'll yell, "3, 4, 1, 2, 4, 5, 3!" and the students have to race to do the corresponding exercizes.
The world's a will to power and nothing besides

#190071 - 10/21/05 12:53 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: ShaolinNinja]
PierrePressure Offline

Registered: 07/02/05
Posts: 173
I'm not an instructor, but something that I see my instructor doing seems like a lot of fun for the kids.

All the kids get on the mat and spread out somewhat, and my instructor and some assistant instructors all get a small pad. One at a time (but never in a particular pattern), they hurl their small pad (like a frisbee) at the kids, and if one gets hit, then they have to sit out for 30 seconds. The emphasis of the drill is side-stepping from a straight-on attack. They seem to enjoy it .

Another thing that's fun is "Karate Baseball". Again, the instructor takes a small pad, and the student gets into a fighting stance. The instructor holds the pad up in the air, and then drops it. The student tries to kick it in mid-air. It helps with speed, timing and accuracy.

Interesting posts so far.
"If life gives you lemons, you blow those lemons to bits with your laser cannon!" - Brak

#190072 - 10/23/05 10:02 AM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Zombie Zero]
Tolyn1007 Offline

Registered: 10/02/05
Posts: 113
Loc: SF Bay Area
I don't know how much fun this is for my students but it's a great deal of entertainment for me. When my students start to get tired, a lot of them will drop their hands leaving their head wide open. I walk around with a blocker pad and when they drop their hands, I bop them in the head. It amazes me how fast people's hands come up when I start reaching for that pad.

All of them seem to enjoy shoulder tag. This works 360-degree outside defense and inside defense. The idea is to touch your opponents shoulder with an outside or inside tap while they defend and vice versa. It's a low key version of sparring. I usually do this at the end of a series of bag and pad drills.

#190073 - 10/24/05 03:41 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Zombie Zero]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
here is one I haven't seen anywhere else. we played this at the end of kids class, and the adult class did it too was brought over from a visiting sensei.

obi tug of war

tie two obi's together (square knot works fine)

two opponents face each other at arms length away, each take one step back, and assume a horse riding stance (shiko,kiba or naihanchi dachi).
Each grabs one end of the obi and a 'referee' stands between them and holds the slack (with the center knot in the middle).

first person to touch any part of their body on the floor OR lets go of the obi OR moves foot postion, loses.

* feet cannot move from starting position.
* each opponent starts with one hand on obi, one hand on knee. when the 'referee' drops the slack, opponents can use two hands.
* cannot wrap obi around your body or legs, however, using arms/elbows is ok.
* 'draws' (both losing balance at the same time) are up to referee to call or match is restarted.

strategy hint:
you can use the slack to your advantage, pull and release slack quickly to off-balance your opponent. In this way, a small opponent is able to defeat a larger and stronger one.

opponents shake hands or bow.

It improves stance, balance, timing and strategy. more importantly, it's fun.

#190074 - 10/24/05 04:48 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Kintama]
JasonM Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 2502
I used to do something smiliar, Excpet we fought that way. Kind of like the old fashion tying at the writs and fight with a knife. IT was fun to tie obi's and then spar. There is no where to run, and the belt becomes an obstacle...
90 percent of good abs is your nutrition

#190075 - 11/03/05 01:49 PM Re: Fun teaching methods [Re: Zombie Zero]
Malachi Offline

Registered: 11/03/05
Posts: 51
Loc: Seattle, Washington

I walked around the inside of the circle, and as I passed each student, I pushed them lightly on the shoulder with one finger. Sure enough, every single one of them lost their footing and balance. Some nearly fell down.

Rock on, dude!
I found that one of the best ways to wire something in with students is to give them real world application. I used to say that application is the glue that binds technique and skill together.
I do the pushover thing alot. front stance,'s great. (of course, the push is different for horse than front, but you get the picture...)

Here's a funny experience along that line. One night in my women's group I had them all stop my rush with a front kick. If they didnt' stop me, I tackled them and made it very uncofortable (I was obviously familiar with all the students in this class at this point.)

One of my long term students kicked me so hard she cracked my groin cup in three parts

needless to say, she stopped me. Oh, another tip : if you are unsure of a teaching approach, grab another instructor and walk through it. I do this alot when I am trying a new approach. it saves moments of embarassement when a spark of inspiration turns out to be a flub.


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