Dojo Hockey Warm-up for Martial Arts Classes

It’s important to have a wide variety of cardio warm-up options to develop different body movements, but also to keep things interesting for your students. Our traditional warm-up choices have always been skipping, stair climbing, running, and even the occasional game of freeze tag. Recently, I introduced a new game, dojo hockey, as a choice for warming up. It was something that I once did in a Taekwondo class a while back. I remembered it and thought it would be a nice change. It is now our most requested option for warm-up.

Here’s what you need to play:

  • 4 Body shields (for goal posts)
  • Kicking paddles (one for each player)
  • foam brick (or other light object for a puck)

We usually play two 2-minute halves with students switching sides at half-time. We don’t have dedicated goalies to ensure that everyone gets warmed up rather than having one person camped in one place. We have a few rules to keep things orderly:

  1. No contact (i.e. body checking, holding, striking, etc.)
  2. No dragging paddles across the mats (to prevent them from getting all marked up).
  3. If you fall, you have to get right back up to your feet (so as to not put yourself at risk of being hit or kicked and to keep from interrupting play).

If anyone is caught breaking the above rules, they get a penalty and have to do jumping jacks off to the side for a set amount of time (depends on the seriousness of the infraction). As you can see in the video, the students really get into the spirit of the game and this is an adult class. I imagine that kids would enjoy this just as much if not more.

Do you have any interesting alternative warm-up games that you play? Please feel free to share them in the comments. 🙂

Comments (10)

10 thoughts on “Dojo Hockey Warm-up for Martial Arts Classes

  1. One game we have at my dojo is called “Sumo Shields”. We make a ring in the middle of the mat with either tape or belts and two students with kick shields get in the middle. When sensei says go, they try to push each other out of the circle. We do it by points. Victory is 3 points. Pushing someone out is worth 3. Making someone fall forward so their shield or knees hit the mat (by side-stepping or tricky push/pulling) or causing someone to fall on their butt or back is worth 1 point. As long as 1 foot is in the ring, you are still counted as in.

  2. Our adult students play a game that I particularly enjoy. If you’re familiar with the Wing Chun kung fu exercise “Sticky Hands” at all, this will be familiar. In sticky hands, or Chi Sao as it’s called, involves maintaining contact at all times with the arms of your partner and moving without strength to deliver strikes. The exercise develops acute muscular awareness and aids very much in kinesthetic awareness during combat.

    To the point, 2 variations we do on this concept:

    1. “Sticky Wrist Locks”. The initial concept is the same; maintain physical contact with your partner’s arms. The object, however, is to gain wrist-locks (ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, etc.). When the wrist lock is firmly applied, it is held for about a second and then released so that the flow of the game can continue. This game helps to train what we call “blanketing” or gaining a touch on a larger part of the arm and allowing it to lead you to the appropriate part on the hand to apply a wrist lock. Much more sensible than simply “catching a fast ball” or trying to snag a passing atemi.

    2. “Sticky Ground Game”. This is done the same as Sticky Hands, except that one partner is on his back in the mount of the other while the mounted partner is attempting to land strikes. This is essentially a defense drill to defend against ground and pound. Sometimes, we add mount escape to the rules, so that the partner on the bottom can attempt to secure an arm and bridge into an escape. If this is done, the came continues, but now from guard. This game also emphasizes the fact that, in a genuine situation, the other guy could be frantically trying to land as many blows as possible, and maintaining a calm and tactile control using muscle memory affords a greater likelihood of recognizing opportunity for valuable technique.

  3. Another is “Takedown Tag” or “Ninja in the Grass” as the kids call it. In the older kids or adults class, there is one person as a “tagger” in the middle on his or her hands and knees, and the rest of the students are moving about the mat by gliding their feet (not running). The tagger has to do a single or double leg takedown on a gliding student. Once he or she does this, that student becomes another tagger. The game ends when everyone is a tagger.

    A kids variation of this allows for simply tagging a student rather than having to take them down.

  4. During Halloween we play a game that I call “Zombie Tag”. In this game, there are two teams, the zombies and the survivors. The zombies are only allowed to walk with their arms out (and, in the kids class, say “braaaaiiiiiiinnnnnns”) while the survivors are allowed to move swiftly. The zombies have to grab on to a survivor (simple grab, clinch, etc.) and hold this for 5 seconds. If the survivor can’t escape (no strikes allowed), then this survivor becomes a zombie. This game becomes particularly valuable when dealing with multiple attackers. When several zombies grab you, you really have to be good at evasion and clumping your attackers together to keep them in front of you. The game has a 3 minute time limit. Anyone who survives at the end is declared the winner. After the first 3 minute round, the teams switch roles.

    In our adult class, we do a more advanced version of this that we call “Shambling Randori”. In this, you have one to three survivors who are allowed to apply jujitsu techniques (standing only, as going to the ground guarantees becoming undead) and controlled throws (no tomoe nage or any other sacrifice throws). If the class is crowded, we usually divide it into groups of 5, having each group rotate for 2 minute rounds while the other groups are doing push ups or squats (to get the arms and legs heavy). The zombies, of course, must be compliant (but not overly compliant) and cooperative ukes (I passed out printed copies of your article on the matter at my dojo a while back). Anyone who has demonstrated otherwise is excluded from the game.

    I apologize for going crazy on your comments board, but I have a ton of these.

  5. One game we sometimes play is running around while throwing tennisballs at each other (first one, then two or three): if you drop the ball you have to do either push-ups or sit-ups. Now I really have to run or I’ll be late for class.

  6. The game starts with one tennis ball that gets thrown around, the object is to keep moving and stay alert since you have to avoid dropping it. After that more balls are introduced making the game more exciting, the amount depending on the number of people in attendance. It’s one of the ways we do warm-up, as you said playing games makes it more fun.

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