8 Martial Arts Warm-Up Exercises Kids Will Love

With adults and children alike, injury prevention is a serious topic. Little bodies should place importance on warming up before engaging in rigorous exercise, such as martial arts training, since young students are also at risk of injury. Warming up can reduce the likelihood of an injury, such as a pulled muscle, as well as center and focus your younger students.

While it may be difficult for your younger students to understand the importance of warm-up activities, you may find it highly effective to introduce exercises as games to pique their interest and excitement. Here are eight different warm-up exercises kids will love.



Not only is it a great game on the playground, but tag is also a brilliant way to get your students’ heart rates going. To add flavor to the game, you could even introduce a martial arts themed version of tag and have players call out names of different martial arts styles when they tag another student. To make it a full-body warm-up, pause the game at random intervals and have your students perform exercises on the spot, like push-ups or jumping jacks, before resuming.


Sensei Says

A play on “Simon Says,” you can lead a group warm-up through Sensei Says. Just like Simon Says, if you don’t start your sentence with “Sensei Says,” the student will have to do a physical activity to warm up, like high knees or sit-ups. You can make your commands silly, like “scratch your head,” or challenging, like “run around to touch all four walls.” You can cater your game to what you think your students need to focus on, like stretching or cardio.


Relay Race

Not only will a relay race warm your students right up, but it will also help them get into a competitive mindset that they can bring into their practice. Putting your students in teams will also build teamwork as they participate in a tag-team sprints, wheel barrowing (one student holds another’s legs as the latter student races across the floor on their hands), or crab-walking.



Yoga is a great way to warm up and stretch for your students. Not only will you be able to introduce a new exercise to some of your students, you can also target specific muscle groups through selecting specific yoga positions. This is also applicable for adult classes and competitive teams.


Going Through the Jungle

Going Through the Jungle is a particularly fun game for younger students. The object of the game is to follow the instructions of the teacher who stands in the middle of a circle formed by the students. Everyone starts off jogging on the spot, as they sing “Going through the jungle, going through the jungle…” The teacher has four commands: branch (students must duck), cheetah (students must sprint on the spot), and bear (students must drop to the floor and play dead). It’s a great way to get your students’ heart rates going, while loosening up multiple muscle groups.


Obstacle Course

Create an obstacle course for your students, alongside a few instructors, and require them to go through it two to three times. Some ideas may include: bamboo sticks at different heights – so that students must jump over or duck underneath them – teachers holding focus mitts that students must punch a number of times, and a punching bag that students must kick.


Sparring Matches

Sparring is always exciting, but sparring in lightning rounds can be even more engaging, while prompting students to recall techniques quickly and strategically. Consider letting your students face off in a round-robin style match-up. Award points to the first student who scores a point, as their opponent sits down. This is a great segue into the remainder of your class, while keeping things light and fun. It can also be a spontaneous opportunity for students to incorporate elements of their last class, with the potential to earn extra points or incentives for those who use them.


Letting the Students Lead Warm-ups

While this may not be a game, letting the students lead one another during warm-up can provide them with a sense of pride and responsibility. Outline some guidelines (like what you think the class should focus on), play some music, and give your students the opportunity to lead.

For more tips on how to engage your younger students, visit our blog. What does your school practice during warm-ups? Let us know on our Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+, to stay up-to-date with all of your ChampionsWay news.