Last Wednesday during our Self Defense class for the kids, Sensei went into the other room while I warmed up the class and he set up a maze using big folding room dividers. Around blind corners he set Wavemasters (free-standing punching bags) like these:
Sensei led the kids, one-by-one, through this maze to have them work on their awareness and aggression by having them attack each bag, full force, every time they encountered one. The trick was that the bags weren’t the only things waiting for them around blind corners–myself and Sensei’s girlfriend, Tiffany, were in the maze wearing chest protectors, ready to jump out and grab the kids as they went through.
The first time the kids went through the maze they went quickly and without any awareness of their surroundings–Tiffany and I were both able to catch them from the side or from behind without them even realizing we were their until we grabbed them. We had to have the kids supervised in the other room so they didn’t pass along the information, but the supervising person heard all the commotion and wanted to go through, as well, and he got caught as well but had more time to react because he did notice us faster than the younger kids.
The second time through saw a remarkable change in almost all of the kids! They were walking through the maze staying further from corners so they could see around them sooner, they were keeping their head on a swivel to watch for attackers, and they were much quicker to respond with aggression when grabbed. This drill was a lot of fun for everyone involved, but I don’t think I can possibly stress enough the importance of the situational awareness that they learned. Given how young they are it probably won’t stick with them completely, but I hope that it gave them something that their subconscious can grab onto and use in the future, and I’m sure we will be running them through something like that again.