Teaching anything to little kids is always a challenge. When I say little, I’m talking about 4-6 year olds. They have really short attention spans and usually lots of energy. It’s hard to get them to do anything for any length of time. My approach for the really little kids was to just keep them busy for the one hour that I have them. This included running around, pad kicking, or obstacle course running. Basically anything to keep them moving. With a 4 year old, you can’t tell them to do a move 30 times and come back later in 5 minutes. In 5 minutes, that kid will be off in a corner climbing on something or worse.
Just recently, I’ve come across a good way to teach little kids to do stances while still keeping their attention and not losing them. I was especially proud because I managed to get this little one Grace to essentially do stances for most of the class. This little ball of energy was wiped out by the end of class much to the gratitude of her mom. I don’t even know how she deals with her little Tasmanian devil the rest of the time, but that’s another story.
Stances, a necessary component in martial arts training which builds strength and foundation, is not known to be the most exciting or fun thing to do. Getting adults to do them is one thing. They realize the benefit and value and so will put up with the arduous task. Tackling kids is a different beast altogether. The trick is to turn it into a game.
Here’s the game I came up with. I put focus mitts on and had the kids stand feet shoulder with apart. The idea is that I throw a punch (slow and softly of course) at them, and they have to dodge it. However, they can only dodge it by going down into a horse stance. They are not allowed to move back or step sideways. The only way is down and into a horse stance. They can’t bend down because then they can’t see when the next punch is coming. Mix up your throws and your little student has to be on their toes in order to avoid the focus mitts.
I did the same for drop stances (aka dragon stances). They can only dodge left and right switching from left drop stance to right drop stance. Good form is emphasized and drilled into the exercise. I also got them to do single leg stances by applying the same game. I had them stand either left foot forward or right foot forward and swiped at their front leg. They had to move their forward leg up as to not get hit by the focus mitt.
So getting little kids to do stances shouldn’t be a chore. If one can make it entertaining and require attentiveness, kids will take to it. Any thoughts or suggestions for other “games” would be appreciated.
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