Posted by Damon O'Hanlon
Challenge level: Moderate physical challenge for students, difficulty increases sharply as play goes on. Highly physical for the instructor
Group size: Best with at least 8, scales well for groups as large as 20 or 30 if playing area is large enough
Suggested Variations: Multiple instructors
Crab tag is a straightforward tag variant I came across in my early days with Sensei Wilson. The rules are simple: In an enclosed area, students get on all fours in a crab-walking position. As a team, the students try to tag the instructor by tapping them on the foot with their own foot. As the game proceeds, it can be very challenging for kids to maintain the crab-walking position. You may have to remind students that there is no scooting along on their butts.
If a student successfully tags the instructor, there are a couple options. If you're only playing one round, the students can simply “win” and the game is over. If you plan to play more than one round, you can set an exercise the kids will do after the game, like ten push-ups. Then each time the instructor gets tagged, you take one push-up off the total. So for example, if the students tag the instructor twice, they only have to do eight push-ups instead of ten.
The truth is, unless the kids are very athletic, it's hard for them to catch someone who is able to stand up and run away from them. So a big part of this game becomes intentionally getting close to the kids to give them a fighting chance to tag the instructor. Of course, the safest thing for the instructor to do is hang out on the perimeter of the playing area. But the game is at its most exciting for the kids when the instructor dances through the crowd.
Safety: For safety I usually emphasize two things. First, students can only crab-walk forward. That way they can see where they're going, and they can make sure to not bump into each other or step on each other's hands. Second, students are only allowed to use the bottom of their foot to tag an instructor. This makes students “reach out” with their legs, and discourages wild swinging that could result in an injury to students or the instructor
Variations: My only suggested variation for this game is to have more than one instructor if possible and play in a freeze tag format. Then if a kid tags an instructor, that instructor is frozen until another instructor can give them a high-five. The kids only "win" if all instructors are frozen at the same time. In this variant, the game becomes instantly more dynamic for two reasons. One, there are more instructors for the kids to chase. And two, the instructors can take more risks because they have a teammate who can unfreeze them.
Great things about this activity: This activity needs no materials and takes very little time to explain. Also, don't underestimate the challenge of crab-walking! If you play for even a few minutes it's a monstrous workout. Finally, team games are rare in my karate class. I encourage the kids to use teamwork, and enjoy their chattering as they try to coordinate their movement to catch me.