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Footbag karate drills

Updated: May 31, 2019

Use a hacky sack to improve coordination and balance while perfecting your karate technique.

Parents- all you need is a foot bag to try these coordination and balance games at home.

I recently asked our facebook page audience what types of ideas they would like to have us discuss in our blog. One parent wrote, "how to fight boredom and the same old thing."


We took this comment with a grain of salt and it gave us huge insight into our classes. As coaches, we understand that boredom is one of the enemies of karate so we have been experimenting with the Footbag, aka Hacky Sack, during classes and came up with some fun games that work on reaction time, coordination, and balance. For us as parents the upcoming summer is a great time to try new things that will alleviate the dreaded statement,"I'm bored."

A bit of background about how the footbag found it's way into the dojo. My husband, "Sensei" wanted something active to do outside in the nice weather. He was given a footbag last year for Fathers day and has been playing around with it ever since. His mom graciously agreed to make about 15 of them for our summer camp for Sensei to do a footbag workshop. So they have quickly become our fav new piece of equipment.

1. Footbag snatch- With a partner, stand to the side of person doing the snatching. The person doing the snatching stands with their pull hand (hikite) prepared to snatch. On the count of three the person holding the bag will drop it. The snatcher tries to grab the footbag before it hits the floor.

Variation- The person snatching starts with back to person holding the footbag. On three the person turns half way and tries to grab footbag before it hits the ground.

Sensei demonstrating one version of the footbag snatch.

2. Behind the knee- Place bag behind the right knee first. Bring knee up as if doing front kick (mae-geri). Then pivot as if preparing for side kick while holding knee up. Then move knee to side for round-house (mawashi-geri) position. Lastly, move knee in back kick (ushiro-geri) position. All while keeping the footbag behind the knee and not putting leg down to floor.

3. Footbag on head- Do this for smooth transitions of stances- place footbag on your head. Begin with front stance (zenkutso-dachi) up five times and back stance (kokutso-dachi) going back five times. To make this fun for kids- whenever they drop sack they run back to wall and start again. The first person to make it to the other wall wins. You can also do this in place transitioning from front stance to back to side stance (kida-dachi).

4. Footbag balance on knee- Start with knee up to the side as if doing roundhouse (mawashi-geri) place footbag on outside of knee then extend the leg. Do ten times. Then place footbag on top of foot and balance while extending leg for front kick (mae-geri). Switch legs.

Footbag drills can help improve reaction time.

5. Footbag grab game- Partners start in plank position with footbag on floor between them. On "Hajime" try to grab sack before opponent. Best out of three wins. Then rotate partners.

Don't leave all the fun to the kids- get a couple of footbags and have a family competition, just be prepared for a tough workout. I hope you try out these games at home or at your school with your students. Let me know what games and drills you teach at your school in the comments below and share on social media if you think this would be useful to someone else.

Happy footbagging!


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