Karate & Martial Arts Games for Kids

Kids and parents love karate. It’s a great form of exercise that helps children hone important physical skills like speed, balance and agility. But it’s also a mental discipline that teaches self-confidence, mindfulness and self-control. Wondering whether karate is right for your child? UNICEF Kid Power has scoured the web for fun games your child can try to decide whether he or she is ready to put on a ghee.

Catch Your Tail: Great for beginners, this game is a good intro to what all karateka must have: agility! Two kids pretend to be a tiger, with one acting as the head, the other the tail. The kid who’s the tail, ties a karate belt to the back of her belt, then tries to evade her opponent as he or she tries to catch their tail. It’s silly — that’s more than half the fun, of course — but after playing for a bit, both kids will develop some pretty fancy footwork.

Horse and Snake Relay: This game works with two or more teams of at least four players. Have each team line up on a starting line spaced at least 30 to 60 feet away from the finish. When the players at the back of each team yell ‘snake!’ all the players in front assume a deep horse stance (legs at least shoulder width apart, knees bent) so the snake can slither between everyone’s legs to reach the front of the line. All players take turns snaking their way up the line; the first team across the finish line wins.

Sword and Shield: According to Bowley Kenpo Karate, this popular karate game is great for improving kids’ ability to land pinpointed attacks using foam “swords” and hand shields. The goal is to touch the opponent’s four targets — arms and legs — with the foam “sword” while blocking your limbs with the “shield.” Any arms and legs that are hit are forfeited. If the arm that gets “hit” is holding a weapon or shield, that gets dropped as well. The game teaches children proper karate stances and maneuvers as they dodge their opponents and move in to “attack.”

Sensei Says: An understanding of basic Karate’s moves is essential to this martial arts spin on Simon Says, but once players are up to speed, the rest follows the old formula: The Sensei (teacher) calls out moves players execute — if prefaced by “Sensei says.” Kids who move without the command must leave the game. This game is a nice introduction to Karate that requires something of kids parents often wish they did more of: listen!