High kick, sweeping the leg, horse stance. If all those words sound like some intricate dance moves, well they’re not. They are actually terms used in the Martial Arts industry, in particularly kung fu (or Gong Fu). There are many types of martial arts practiced and taught throughout the world, but particularly Chinese kung fu focuses on self-discipline, integrity, and self-respect. Kung fu is taught with a clear mind of not using the skills one learned for fighting or battling, but more for self defense and achieving a greater sense of being through hard work and perseverance. And through internal skills learned from great kung fu masters, one can overcome many obstacles – physically and mentally.
Kung fu originated in China thousands of years ago and some believed that it began with the Shaolin monks. Kung fu was practiced in secrecy for many years due to the fear of uprising among the commoners. As each generation learned specific kung fu forms and skills, kung fu became even more revered as well as feared in ancient China. As dynasties grew and the need for skilled martial artists arised, kung fu was then only allowed to be practiced and used by the warriors and armies of the Empires. But even with kung fu being prohibited to be practiced or used in ancient China, masters still taught students and the art transferred throughout the decades and has become one of the most popular forms of martial arts in the United States today.
I started practicing martial arts kung fu when I was about 9 years old. The normal age to begin kung fu training would be around 5 or 6 years old but maybe I wasn’t ready at that young of an age. However, the earlier you start, the better you’ll become as long as you continue with your practice and training. Kids are astute learners and their muscles and tendons are growing faster when they are young which makes them perfect candidates for martial arts or any kind of physical exercise. Kids are also more agile and faster and with proper training and discipline, they can become great martial artists. And most importantly, Kung fu teaches children to be more disciplined, more aware of their surroundings, and creates balance in their lives and in their bodies. Through unique techniques taught in kung fu, children’s muscles, tendons, and bones will grow better and they’ll achieve overall good health. When I was doing kung fu, it helped me tremendously during sports in high school and my body felt lighter and I was more confident.
If you think you’d like your kids to start kung fu or any kind of martial arts, I would recommend Shaolin kung fu or karate. Shaolin kungfu derived from the Shaolin Monks in ancient China and the forms are straight-forward, fluid, and energetic – kids will love it! Other forms of martial arts may be a bit too rough and hard for little kids but to start them off right, a disciplined form of martial arts such as kung fu and karate may be right choices. It’s also important to choose the right school as well as the right instructors (although you may not have a choice in the latter). Good schools will have good locations where it’s visible and safe, large enough studio for teaching and practicing, teachers that have a number of years of experience teaching at the school and possibly certified, the Masters of the school present where possible, a great staff, and clean and neat interior. And the most important factor would be a thorough and complete curriculum. Their should be exercises where you must relax your muscles before you begin and exercises to help you wind down and relax after intensive training.
So no matter what type of physical exercise you want your kids to do, remember that any type of physical exercise would work well. Just keep in mind your child’s age and physique – not all martial arts and sports are created for little kids in mind – and it’s always safer to do some research on your own as well as ask the instructors beforehand. You know your children and their limitations so always be safe.
* I was given permission to use information from The Wen Wu School of Martial Arts, inc. For more info about Wen Wu School, please visit their website: www.wenwuschool.com and their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wen-Wu-School-of-Martial-Arts-Inc/165691813445201. Wen Wu School of Martial Arts currently teaches Shaolin Kung fu, Taiqi, Dayan Qigong (Wild Goose Qigong), as well as several internal martial arts for advanced students.