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Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists

Uniting and empowering a diverse community
of women and girls in the martial arts.

The Clothespin Game

By Nina Thompson

This, the clothespin game, has been a community builder, an aerobic way to end a class, and a gift. I am sharing it with you all here in hopes that it will be the same for you.

The premise is to attach clothespins (we use three) to the back and start with zero on the front. After you catch someone else's clothespin, you can then put it on your own belly. While you play, you are practicing not turning your back on opponents. As you capture other clothespins and attach them to your belly, you are practicing keeping your guard and positioning yourself. It is a solid martial arts game and a lot of fun. 

I played a very short version of the game and filmed it for you here. Thank you to my fellow players, Ramin and Kathleen and to the cameraman, Sensei Dan Bean.

This game was taught to me by Sensei Sander Neggo, 4th Dan, Shotokan Karate, Chief Instructor at  the VA Employees Dojo.

I trained in Mexico for a summer before my Spanish was up to par. The instructor let us play a game of a type of basketball at the end as a reward. I bought a box of clothespins and brought this game (from Sander Neggo). There were few ways for me to show appreciation and this was the best way. They loved the game! The little, quick, fast students were rewarded more, as usually size gets in the way of them being successful in other games. And although it is great for kids, it is great for adults too! Let me know what you think!

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