grappling for kids?

Can anyone point me in the right direction to find some grappling drills / games for small children?

I've started helping out with my son's judo classes (ages 4-7) and I really need some ideas for warm up and just to make it fun for the kids in general.

Ideally I would like the drills games to be fun but also have a devious underlying practical purpose. So I can trick the kids into learning something while they think they are playing a fun game.

Keep in mind a kids attention span at that age seems to be about 5-30 seconds.

Judo, I can't help you with. But here are some fun games we used to do in wrestling when I was in elementary school and junior high....

Circle Catch:

  • Have your two largest wrestlers get in the middle of your wrestling mat's circle. They, and anyone they catch, must stay on their knees. The object is to catch all the standing wrestlers in the circle. Anyone caught or who steps on the line or outside the circle, especially when being attacked, must join those trying to catch the others.

  • For every three takedowns, a person gets to stand up.

  • Two-on-ones are allowed, but you don't get credit for a takedown if you have help.

  • Last man standing wins.

King Of the Hill:

  • Line your team up against the wall by weight. Starting at the heaviest end, have two wrestlers at a time come out and wrestle until one gets a takedown. The winner stays out and faces the next man lower in weight.

  • Work from the heavy end down to tire out the bigger kids, so the lighter guys have a chance.

  • Last man standing wins.

King Of the Mat:

  • Battle Royal! Every man for himself. In wrestling, you go for pins, but I think you could adapt to Judo by going for throws or takedowns. Once a man is taken down, he is out.

  • No two-on-ones. If you interfere while two people are engaged, you're out.

  • Last man standing wins.

No Man's Land:

  • Takes place on a three-piece mat.

  • Have your wrestlers line up by weight and then count off by two's. All ones remove their shirt. One's have control on one mat section while two's have control of the opposite mat section. The middle section is considered no-man's land.

  • The object is to physically pull the opposing team to your side section of the mat. Wrestlers must stay in the middle section unless actually pulling someone. Leaving the middle section to the safety of your own section can be considered fleeing and can also result in being considered out. When a wrestler is pulled to the opponents side, he is out and leaves the mat or sits down.

  • It's up to you to decide if two-on-ones are allowed. It makes for a faster game if they are.

  • The game ends when all members of one team are out.

Match up kids of relatively equal size/weight. One kid lays down on his back, the other kid gets in a side mount position. Then the drill is the bottom kid has to stand up, the top kid has to keep the other kid down. Let it go for about 30 seconds, then switch. Its a great game for the kids and you'd be suprised how quickly they learn how to escape their hips and push opponent away when on bottom and, on the other hand, how to control from top.

Thanks for the info. I use a couple of those already. I play king of the hill but we just call it SUMO. I also play tag and do a leap frog drill where you leap then turn around and shoot back through your partners legs.

Most of my experience comes from BJJ and submission grappling, none of it with small children.

I noticed most kids, especially the smaller ones pick up the guard very quickly and they don't even know anything about it. I get adults in my grappling class who have trouble picking up the hip escape even after being shown multiple times, yet kids seem to do it without even thinking. It's pretty cool.

we like to have to the work on heavy bags laying on the mats doing mount and side body drills

Have them do changing positions on the ground and see who does it tha fastest. Like from mount, to side mount, to scarf hold etc etc.

Dived the people into 2 teams and the mat into 3 sections. The middle section is neutral. The outer sections are the teams' area. There is a big rumble in the neutral section and the judoka try to drag, carry, or push the opposing team members into their section for "capture".

I already gave him that one, Steve.

check out the PAW tapes they have

PAW video package = $399.00US plus shipping.

Come on man.

First off I am in Canada so that would cost me closer to $700.00 all said and done. Second I don't run a kids school, I just help out with my son's class at his judo club.

I know people have to make money but I have trouble just scraping together enough money to buy a gi.

PAW is definately worth the $$

I did the "sumo" game in the Judo kid's class. We made a circle with their belts, had everyone stand around, and picked two kids to go in the middle. Whoever got pushed out of the ring lost, or whoever put anything but hands on the ground first lost. Then they got challenged by the next kid.

I also did getting in rear-mount and the kid IN rear mount had to roll around. The kid on the back just had to hang on and keep the position.

Another one is less technique, but you have the biggest kid lay on his/her stomach, and the smallest kids try and sit on him/her or pin him/her while the big kid tries to do a front crawl.

Also, if you just say "okay try and hold side control!!!!!!!! or you lose!!" anything like that that is like a competition gets kids doing. I like some suggestions posted here.

HST- I thought they were 100 bucks...

Here's another game for the younger kids (4-6). 2 kids stand facing each other. Each has a "flag" (piece of material) sticking in their waste at their back, half in half out. Object is to get the other guys flag while not letting him get your flag. This helps them develop reflexes and reaction (when the opponent circles around you, you learn to react and move, keep the opponent in front and not let opponent get behind you, etc. The kids enjoy it.

PAW 1 and PAW 2 are outstanding and give you tons of great training ideas, drills and teaching progressons


Thanks to everyone thus far, some really good ideas. The thing with the flags, no man's land, and getting someone off your back were one's I hadn't even thought of.

As far a the PAW video series goes I'm sure they are very good. But like I said I don't teach kids at my club I just help out at my son's judo club. Approx. $700 (converted to CAN, factoring in duty and import taxes) is a bit much to spend just to get some warm up drills and games.

Luis Guitterez has some great drills, if you have kids or teens classes, well worth the investment

Joe M

American Mixed MArtial Arts of Jupiter

The PAW sets 1 & 2 are designed for gym / school owners as they are a complete "turn key" program to run an entire kids program in BJJ and MMA.

I completely understand your view point HST but just to be clear, the set is 10 years plus of work and experience coaching kids safely to state and national level status as well as building a successful commercial gym without selling out for our love of BJJ or the MMA.

That stated, shoot me an e-mail when your time permits.

Here are some fun clips of them training at the gym, playing at camp, and competing at tourneys.