Detailed Drills: Fun and Games Part 3

More fun and games today! Like parts one and two, these drills are fun but still have valuable and practical lessons to teach. The theme of today’s sparring games is objects – both using and protecting them.

Gladiator Sparring


Give each participant a kick shield and a foam blocker. Striking a legal target with the blocker (as well as with a kick or other legal technique) awards a point. Meanwhile, the shield can be used to block the strikes. While not the most realistic, this sparring drill is a lot of fun!

Younger students really love this drill, but people of all ages can benefit. The added intensity makes this a great workout, but it also trains you to use objects available to you in self defense. Remember, the foam blocker is representing a club, bat, or other weapon. The shield can represent anything you use to defend yourself: a trash can lid, a heavy textbook, or even a couch cushion.

This is also a great drill to practice distance-based defense. Try to use distance to avoid the foam blocker and only use the shield as a last resort. This is true when defending against a kick or punch and is even more relevant against a weapon. Though its outward appearance may make this drill seem like it’s more at home at a renaissance fair than a self defense class, when you remember what the safety equipment is symbolizing you can see the real value.

Distraction Sparring


Participants each get a small foam pad or ball to carry during the match. While sparring, they may throw the ball at their opponent as a distraction. This scores no points but can be used to set up a technique that will score points (for example, throw the pad at their face and then strike to the body). This teaches you to use your environment and think in a self-defense mindset. In this drill, the pad represents any object you can throw to distract an attacker.

Remember to have no lag time between throwing your distraction and attacking your opponent. The throw will only distract for a second! Another variation is to use the distraction as a chance to run away. Practice throwing and then running from the attacker.

Protect Your Valuables


No not those valuables! A popular opinion in self defense is that it’s best to just give the attacker what they want. The old saying goes “nothing in your wallet is as important as your life.” However, there will be occasions where something you have needs to be protected to ensure your long-term safety. If you’re in an unsafe environment and cannot escape on foot, fighting for your car keys might be your best option.

In this drill, a defender holds a hand pad and the attacker is trying to take it. The defender wins if they can score 5 points while not losing the pad, and the attacker wins either by scoring 5 points, or by successfully taking the pad. The points are important because otherwise both participants will focus solely on the pad and not realize they are getting punched repeatedly!

This drill teaches you to spar with different priorities. When the defender has two ways to lose (lose 5 points or lose the object) it forces different strategies. Don’t tunnel focus on the object, focus on the opponent first. This drill also forces the defender to get better at sparring with only one free hand.

Get Creative, Use Your Equipment

Most schools have shelves of equipment. When you can, look at the shelf and see how many drills you can come up with using the equipment in non-traditional ways. When you create your drill, remember it must be safe first, then fun, and then finally educational!

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