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Fun Ideas for Kids
Training with Swords

Want fun ideas for kids swordsmanship training? Here are some of the kids games and training exercises we use in our weekly after school Kids Sword Club. Fun is really important for the kids.

You will notice that a lot of these activities are straight from the adult training. We just shorten the amount of time they do an activity and make sure everyone learns something new without feeling they have to get it all straight away. Feeling discouraged, bored, or overwhelmed might do something for adult character training, although, I rather doubt this, since it never helped me to learn. In the case of children, these feelings are enough to make them give up. Make sure you keep it fun if you are training kids.

Stretching Exercises

Make the stretching fun.
Alt Text--stretching exercises fun ideas for kids
Stretching is one of the first things we do in a training session. It doesn't have to be the same thing every week though. that gets predictable and predictable is boring. There are plenty of fun ideas for kids in this part of our training. I usually hand the stretching time over to a teenage girl. She did circus training for a year and can put the other kids through the most amazing contortions. All of them are genuinely designed to stretch different muscles and ligaments. The kids never know which one is coming next.

If you want ideas, all your kids have been to different sporting training. Just ask each one to lead his or her favourite. Get them to bring a new one next week. You can always finish off with a few of your own if the kids haven't covered everything. Take a look at our Stretching Exercises page for a few ideas to start with.

Partner Drills - Fun Ideas for Kids & Adults

4 corners deflection exercise.
Alt Text--Parry a thrust to the tight side
Fun ideas for kids training should always include doing things in pairs. Kids naturally gravitate towards their friends. There is a time for this and a time for spreading the community by choosing a different partner for them. Keep an eye on the ones that clash and make sure they have only a short time together before making them take a new partner. Watch this page for links to explanations of these:

  • 4 Corners Drill
  • Yielding Drill
  • High Deflections
  • Random Deflections
  • Ci, Ya, Hua
  • Liao to Zha
  • Jian Form Applications
  • Basic Cuts Precision Games

The Circuit

Form can be part of the circuit.
Alt Text--Fun ideas for kids martial arts
While thinking of some new fun ideas for kids in our Sword club, I came up with a way to make basic cuts training fast paced and interesting. I would set up a circuit around the room or backyard with for example, a hole in the fence to thrust through, a pair of bricks for practising Pi cut between, a bottle to hit off the stand with Hua, a gap between two chairs to Liao through.

I might have eight stations with one child in charge of each station and the rest of the class going through the circuit. I would tell them how many of each cut they had to do. Then we would swap and let the finishers be the station watchers and the other half of the class do the circuit.

It's unlimited in potential fun ideas for kids. You can go around again left handed, make one of the stations a section of the form, make one a partner exercise with the station guard, make one a strength exercise, etc. Let the kids make a few choices if you have time. they always love that.

What if? More Fun Ideas for Kids & Adults

This is a game where one of the more advanced kids or an instructor invents a scene. For example What if I swing my sword horizontally at your head and then drop low to swing it at your lower legs?

Each child has a turn responding to the situation and tries to invent a different set of defenses. It's a bit like lots of ways to play out a drama and there is always laughter, while some serious training is happening. Of course, we always use padded kids swords when we are doing this. Kids can choose the "What ifs?" too. It's fun for them if the instructor has a go at one of their scenes.

Mini Tournament

Scott Rodell brought this to our kids training years ago and it has lasted the time since as one of the favourites. Half the ideas on this page are his. Pair kids up for short bouts while the others watch and give comments at the end for what worked or could be improved. Then pair the winners against each other - the losers against losers too, if there is time. Bring it down to a final pair and see who is the champion for the day. The champion's prize can be a bout with the instructor. This helps keep their head in the right place.

The Skirmish

Skirmish - the most fun of all.
Alt Text--fun ideas for kids swordfighting
There are several ways to do this. Our kids like to make two teams and plan a strategy before the battle begins. Kids who take a "killing" blow have to lie down and stay dead. If they "lose" their sword arm, they have to try and survive with the other one - same with legs. Using the environment is okay - hiding someone behind a tree until the last minute for example. Or driving their opposites into a fence, climbing the steps for the uphill advantage, taking quick swipes from behind the wheelie bin, stealing the weapons from the "dead" and "wounded" .... whatever. This is the best of my fun ideas for kids training but you have to watch them pretty closely to make sure no one does anything dangerous.

Catch the Ring

This is a great game for training precision with thrusts. Someone stands to one side and tosses rings (large rolls of tape will do). The person with the sword tries to thrust at it and catch it on the end of their sword. The padded kids swords require larger rings than the wooden training swords. With a small group this can be done with a single line of kids. A larger group can make teams. I usually let a child have one attempt and go to the back of the line so the game moves quickly. It can be scored in various ways. For example, when a child has caught a ring five times. they can sit down and watch or do another activity. Or, it might be the first team to twenty catches.

There can be an individual winner or a team winner. It can be a tournament with each pair having to do the best out of five tosses and the winner continuing to the next round. There are lots of fun ideas for kids precision training, as unlimited as your imagination. Remember to listen to the kids "Hey, Miss, we could do this...." and suddenly you have a whole new seed for new fun ideas for kids.

Answers to a....

I sometimes line the kids up and have them find ideas for how to deal with a certain cut. They might have a go and then go to the back of the line, giving them time to think up a new answer for their next turn. Even a beginner can find four answers to a thrust. Kids who have been around a bit longer might find ten different answers.

A variation is to put them in pairs and try out answers to a Zhao for example. Then move them to the next partner to take their best ideas and share them around. The answers can be discussed at the end when the group comes back together. The kids can be set to slow freeplay to try and use some of the answers. This helps them think on their feet. This is one of the most useful fun ideas for kids because they all learn from each other.

You be the Teacher

Kids can learn from teaching a group.
Alt Text--Two handed sword
There have been times over the past year when I've been injured and not able to run the whole group. I quickly found some of the kids to be capable teachers and made use of them in the classes. I would take whichever aspect of our training a child was best at and make them the leader of a small group for 10 - 15 minutes of training time. They would improve their skill by having to explain to other kids who didn't know that activity as well, and everyone would be occupied and learning. It also has the advantage of allowing me to circulate and watch out for kids who are gifted in teaching so I know who to raise up for the future. I added this to my fun ideas for kids because they all felt valued by being given an oppotunity to help when I was on crutches. It was a big deal to them and they had fun.

Matrix Speed

Kids love to go fast in freeplay but this means the more advanced can't train well with the newer students. Paul Wagner coined the phrase "Matrix Speed" from the movies where one person appears to have a lot more time because he is operating at extreme speed. To us, it means everyone plays very slowly. This helps students train together no matter what their ability. It gives each one time to think about what is coming and respond to it with better principles and more varied applications. You can tell them to speed it up by 25% if they are both capable. It's also a good way to train a new application - slow until it is trained into the body, then with more speed or more resistance from the training partner, until both can do it full speed and with variations.

Kids, and probably adult students as well, pick up new applications faster and more accurately with these small increases in speed, than they do starting off at full speed.

Multiple partners

Another fun idea for kids swordsmanship training is to set sveral of them onto one of the older students and see how long she can survive. You can make your own rules and variations. It's a lot of fun. Give the attackers different weapons to make it even more interesting. One might have a spear, another a jian, another a dao and tengpai, and another a miaodao. It's a good idea to have the victim in armour.


This is one of the things our kids like most of all. I break the training time into blocks and give each kid a sign up sheet when they arrive. They know what is going to happen in that block and who the group instructor will be. I might make up to eight blocks in an afternoon of training.

Here's an example of one of our training sessions. Yes it's colourful, but this page is about fun ideas for kids.

Circle which sessions you would like to attend. One choice per line.
Instructor Linda Matt Aled
10 mins Basic Cuts
best pair with worst
Linda check 2 at a time
while others swap to help
basic cuts
basic cuts
Instructor Emily A Matt Aled
6 mins Section 1 form Section 2 form Section 3 form
Instructor Emily T Ellen Linda
6 mins Section 1 form Section 2 form Section 3-4 form
Instructor Matt Aled Cody
10 mins Mini Tournament thrusts/deflections Yielding drill
Instructor Aled Matt Joshua
6 mins Section 3-4 form Combos MiaoDao
Instructor Cody Keith Linda
15 mins Dao Emptyhand Freeplay
Presentation of trophies from the TCSL Youth Tournament.

I will add more fun ideas for kids swordsmanship training as they come to mind. Please feel free to contribute to this page by clicking here. Write your idea and send a picture if you have one. I will test out any untried ideas on my own Sword Club kids before adding them to the page.

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