Martial Arts Monday: The Benefits of Dodge Ball in Young Martial Arts Training

As an instructor, I am always trying to find ways to keep young students engaged in their training and improving their skills. Today I want to explore the 5 Reasons why playing Dojo Dodge Ball is important to Martial Arts Development.

If You Can Dodge A Ball, You Can Dodge A Punch & Kicks Too

We’ve all see that one student that seems to be a magnet for getting hit during sparring. They walk into every kick and punch thrown their way. Well, dodge balls hurt a whole lot less than a punch or a kick. It helps get a students body moving their feet and flowing as opposed to being a wall that takes every hit thrown their way. Also the competitive nature that comes out in dodge ball is similar to that of sparring. Its competitive and usually helps students gain confidence and get hyped up for whatever the next drills may be for the day.

Develops Spatial Awareness

I like to begin my classes as many studios do: a warm-up of running around the school mats. As silly as it seems, I cannot count how many times I have had young students crash into, trip, fall down, push, and cry just from simply running in a circle. They put their heads down and follow the squares ignoring anything and anyone around them. In dodge ball, students are forced to constantly looking up for where the balls are and for anyone that they can hide behind. Funny enough I believe that dodge ball is actually a safer activity than just running – who knew?!?!?!

Develops Gross Motor Skills

I’ve seen some weird movements in my 18+ years of martial arts. Running is no exception. Arms flailing, knees pointed out, hopping up and down like a monkey from the Wizard of Oz, you name it, its happened. Moving in dodge ball is it’s own beast all together. The faster you run, the better your chances of not being hit. If you can jump high and then drop low quickly, again your likelihood of survival go up. From jumps, to throwing, and running, all of these skills will in turn allow a student to connect better with their body. They learn what they can and can’t do and work on those skills without thinking that they are practicing, they’re just doing.

It’s Exercise

Why do martial artist lift weights or go for runs? It is because we know that being in top our top physical shape will improve our skills as a practitioner of the arts. Martial Arts in general is a great form of exercise, but it takes more than punches and kicks to become your best. The more exercise you can get, the stronger you become (with proper rest and diet but that’s a discussion for another time). And if you’ve never gotten your sweat on in a game of dodge ball, then you’re not playing right!

Because It’s Fun

Sometimes you just need to let loose and have some fun. Martial Arts is fantastic and my favorite thing to do in the world. That’s why I became a teacher and opened my own school. That being said, sometimes it’s important to not take yourself too seriously all the time. Kick back (instead of kicking butt) and play a game or two with your students and instructors. Everyone leaves feeling more energized and excited for their next class because they had fun. A student associates the fun they had with the Martial Arts they are studying and BAM they are eager for their next class to begin.

A Little Advice – Make Rules & Stick To Them

They best part about dodge ball is that there are so many different variations of the game that work. I have usually played with all the students running in the middle of the floor and the instructors throwing the dodge balls to ensure that no one gets drilled in the head. But you can add in a doctor to free people who are hit or be more adventurous and have the students throw at the instructors. Whatever rules you come up with make it a point to follow them every time. Kids are far to good at manipulating rules in their favor. Keep your students honest, teach them the rules and everyone will have a blast.

Respectfully Written, Tiger Blood

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