Thursday, June 16, 2011

Safety Day

Of Course, it has been too long. It is nice to have time to sit and think about teaching.
On the subject of street-wise safety and children, I’m certain we all have methods that have been working for us for years. As happened on my last post, I hope to get a lot of feedback on this. Thanks for telling me what is working in your dojos.
I’m not sure how long I’ve been running a “Safety Day”. I know I began doing it at summer camps and moved it into my dojo to change the routine a little. It worked so well, that I have kept it up for years. I have a flyer I give out when I teach safety and I’m going to include it below:
As you can read, the information is basic, but pertinent to a safe lifestyle.
 Here is how I breakdown the hour long workout:
First, I divide the kids into age groups (Don’t forget I am blessed with assistant teachers. I will address what I do when I am alone a little later):
age 5 & 6                       
age 7 through 8 or 9
age 10 and 11
age 12 and up (if they are still training as children)
Each group gets a teacher and each group starts by looking over the sheet. We talk about the importance of knowing what city you live in, how to dial 911, and other common sense details. When we get to the “ALWAYS” category, I let people play What if this happens? When we get to the “NEVER” category, I play a game where we pretend we’re walking on the wrong side of the road. A car pulls up opens the passenger door, and tries to pull our arm to get us in the car and speed away. Then we repeat the game while walking FACING traffic and note the safety difference.
Here, the green belt boy is walking in the correct direction: facing traffic. My white belt student and I are pretend drivers.
A quick note: the reason I divide the children by age is based on how to address the different age groups. I will speak to a preteen clearly and honestly. When speaking to a 5 year old, who is always with a parent, the parameters are completely different.
When we talk about being home alone, and being outside alone, we also play ‘what if’ games and move a little. After all, sitting and talking can get pretty boring. Of course, I play an attacker and the kids can kick, hit and “YELL, YELL, YELL. That is the best part so far!

All the kids take a sheet home so they can talk about everything with their parents. (I also include a safety day flyer in my introduction packets.)


All ages move into bag work. All the students hit, kick and scream.
Heel stomps, Palm Heel strikes Elbows and Knees are all examples of follow up strikes I  use.


 We work techniques on a regular basis, so most of this is review. When working self defense, I try to structure the technique to the age and power of my students. Young students use simple follow up strikes that are realistic against a larger assailant. Older children have more power, better memory, and a stronger opinion of what they want as far as follow up (i.e. how to hit back). Each group works at their own level. One note I’d like to mention here; this is a great place for me to mention that the target area in sparring is belly and head, but the target area in daily self defense is groin, knees, nose, throat, the areas that really hurt people. Many children (and adults) take a long time to make that distinction!


The last activity of the workout is another “what if”. What if you are standing, waiting for the bus (or a movie, or a friend) and a stranger approaches? It is a simple game meant to encourage the children to throw an object that they are holding at potentially dangerous individuals. Punching bags play the part of back packs, purses, lunchboxes and video games. My helpers and I play the dangerous individuals. We storm in on them and they throw things scream and run for help. It is chaotic, energy building and fun; a perfect period at the end of the safety day sentence.


If I am teaching alone, I keep the order of events the same. When talking about routines indoors and out I simply add the idea that what is correct when you’re 6 isn’t the same at age 10. We talk about it together. In the area of bag work, technique, and throwing things I let the older children help me with the younger ones. Then, at the end of each station, the older kids show their power and skill on me.
Tell me about your routines. Soon I’ll be making another feedback post and I’d love to share more great ideas.