Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged

Nobody likes a boring class. Whether its a college course, drivers ed, or martial arts for that matter, staying engaged is hard in a boring class. This is compounded when it comes to teaching kids. Their minds are already prone to wandering in the day to day activities. Focusing on training one task for an extend amount of time is one of the most difficult hurdles of martial arts teaching. So how do you overcome this problem without subjecting your art to then demon of distraction? We will cover a few ways to do that here in this article Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged.

Kung Fu Kids: Keeping Your Kids Engaged

Relationships First

In my previous article “Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care” I cover some ways to make sure your children understand that you care about them. That is one of the most important things when it comes to their focus. For a student to stay focused on you they must have one of two things: fear or respect. Fear may give you short term results but can hurt their learning in the long run. My previous article helps address how to help cultivate that respect from the day to day of teaching a class.

Once that respect has been set in place your students will be much more keen on listening to you. However, this must be constantly worked on and reinforced. It is much easier to be a bit harder on your new student and then wain off of that. If you do not establish that line of mutual respect first then it will be very hard to make that up later.

One is the Alpha and one is the Beta. As their instructor, you are the Alpha. This must be established from day one. If the child at any point feels as though they have become the Alpha then you will struggle to maintain their respect.

Mixing things up

Now that we have gone over the base of relationships, lets get into an applicable drill.One of the tactics we employ at the Sifu Och Wing Chun Afterschool and Summer Camp kids martial art classes is called Cycling. We cycle the same techniques over and over again through different drills. As an example, if you are teaching your kids a Tan Sao Punch you could mix it up 3 different ways.

First, have your kids practice the technique in the mirror. They will focus on shifting their weight properly as well as punching the same target every time they strike. Within that drill you shift their focus from their punches, to their weight, to their Tan hand. This allows you to continue drilling but gives them different focus points. By changing the focus points you have again “cycled” the drill within it self.

Second, have your kids use focus mitts to build power. Blasting through the mitt with as much power as possible. Again, cycling through different focus points to help them fully develop their technique can help their mind stay engaged.Whether it’s making sure they are striking with the correct portion of their fist or they are engaging their hips fully. Changing things small things helps keep things engaging.

lakeland little lions classes

Thirdly, applying that technique within a combo against an attack. If you throw a combo into the mix it not only keeps it engaging but also allows gives perspective. When they see the big picture it helps them understand why they are working on the that individual technique.

By cycling through these drills in a class we are able to accomplish two things. We are able to keep the kids engaged by not repeating the same drill for too long. But at the same time they are able to work on their focus within that drill because they are given those different focus points. As far as the actual time, that balance must be experimented with and adjust based on your kids. You will have to gage the class to accomplish this.






Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care”. That statement has never been more true then when it comes to dealing with kids. Children these days have a serious struggle with staying focused. Lack of focused is compounded in a class setting. As an instructor we must take every advantage to maintain our student’s focus. One of the biggest ways to help them maintain their focus is helping them understand how much you really care about them. In this article, Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care, I will go over some tips on how to accomplish that.

Afterschool Martial Arts: Showing You Care

Mat Chats

Mat chats are a great way to intentionally impart wisdom to the next generation. At the Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Afterschool and Summer Camp Classes we take 5-10 minutes every class to sit and talk to our students. Each month we go over new concepts to help them grow as people. This can range from peer pressure to manners. These mat chats are not lectures. They are a time to engage with your students and listen to their responses. Getting them to open up to you shows them that they can trust you. When you listen to their responses you are leading by example. By showing them how to listen respectfully they can see what it means be respectful.

Little Lions preschool martial arts

Listening When Disciplining

Many times I have seen, and experienced, instructors in martial arts and sports doing blind discipline. A child acts up and immediately they are jumped on and made to do some form of work out for a disciplinary action. Before moving forward let me confirm that discipline is key, without it classes are chaos and nothing is accomplished. However, maintaining discipline is a two sided coin. True discipline is achieved when the student is maintaining discipline out of respect, not fear. I accomplish this in my classes by taking the student’s aside that are acting up and talking to them.

When I have engaged a student I seek to explain to them my point of view. Helping them understand why I am pulling them out of class or off to the side. What I am trying to accomplish is to show the child that I have perceived a wrong has been committed. And then due to that perception something must be done about it. I then allow the child to explain himself. Allow him to share why he was acting up or not staying focused. Most of the time there is no good reason and proceed to explain why I must discipline the child. However, there are times where the child was not deserving of punishment.

Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years old

To Punish Or Not To Punish

Many times when speaking to the children I have found that outside factors played a big role in their distraction or outburst. If they are having a hard time focusing on their training sometimes it leads back to family or school problems. In that scenario I have the chance to teach them another lesson. This can be anything from perseverance in a hard time to forgiving a friend for doing something wrong to them. In any case a punishment would have only hurt their growth.

Most of the time, unfortunately, the child is acting up because they simply have not learned discipline yet. In that is the case you must be consistent, firm, but caring in your punishment. If it is a repeat offender in the same day I will again take them aside and speak to them. If after I have spoken to them, and punished them multiple times then in might be time to speak to the parents about what you can do as a time to help with his discipline.


Children can be wonderful to teach. Their mind can absorb very quickly and they have a very high energy most of the time. That being said, your kids classes are what you make them. If you make them a time that the children feel safe and cared for, they are more likely to listen and enjoy your classes.

Exercising Kids and Training Kids Goes Hand in Hand

When teaching kids self defense classes in our Wing Chun after school martial arts program, a big part of that involves exercise. Exercising kids builds the muscles they need to use to be successful in self defense. Just as with adult Wing Chun classes, building muscles isn’t just for “the big guys”. Training kids is just as important for developing their self defense skill set.

Reasons for Exercising Kids in Training

After being at school all day long, we find that exercising our kids serves many purposes. Let’s examine just a few:

Working Out That Energy

The first thing exercising kids does is work out all that pent up energy from a day at school. While some schools continue to offer physical education, many do not. Of the ones that do, classes often involve low energy activities that don’t really allow them to expel energy. Kids need to move. They need to expel all that physical energy that accompanies their daily mental exercise. Without this exercise, kids tend to expend that energy in less productive ways. They can also work out their energy in scenarios where it’s not appropriate.

When exercising kids in our after school program, we give their bodies the means to get rid of energy built up during the day. It’s a release that helps their minds concentrate, and it prepares them for entering the next day’s activities.

Building Muscles

When we’re training kids, we try to build up their muscles. We’re not going for weightlifters, but rather well-rounded training. We want kids whose arms and legs have some “experience” with being used in activities likely to engage those same muscles during self defense. We want to exercise kids so that when we drill them in kung fu those muscles get trained.

Preparing Them for More Rigorous Programs

We train our kids hard because this isn’t the end. We don’t want them to stop with kids after school programs. They should be ready to graduate into our adult classes. When they do, their muscles will really be tried. They’ll be pushed…hard! With the way we have our kids exercising, these rigorous training methods won’t seem entirely unexpected when they arrive.


There are probably even more reasons why we want our kids to train hard and exercise proficiently in our Wing Chun kung fu classes. The biggest reason, however, is that it’s fun. We actually like working them out, and we do so in ways that are fun and engaging. There’s no reason, at this age, that a good workout has to be boring. With a combination of fun games, and varied exercises, our kids Wing Chun self defense training builds muscles. It also builds confidence stamina, memory, and technique. We love it. They love it. What more could you want?

Practical Kids Kung Fu Training

When most people think about Kung Fu, images of high flying wire fights from old movies comes to mind. For kids, you can add Jackie Chan’s crazy stunts and Kung Fu Panda. Most people don’t realize that being a Kung Fu master is so much more than fighting. In the modern translation it has been widely accepted to only refer to the fighting aspect of Chinese Arts. Kung Fu is actually translated as “acquired skill”. It involves anything that been achieved. So, should children participate in Kung Fu? Absolutely! In fact, kids kung fu training can help them assimilate a lot more at an earlier age than is possible when you’re an adult. Learning how to defend oneself and understand ones own body is very important. Becoming a person who conquers every goal he sets for himself is the true meaning of a Kung Fu Master.

Serious Kids Kung Fu Training

As children grow into adults they begin to learn patterns of behavior based on what is permitted by those in authority, friends, and mentors in their life. At Sifu Och Wing Chun the children are taught discipline as a first rule. Working synergisticly with discipline, is hard work and consistency. When those three are combined almost anything can be achieved. Sifu Och utilizes those aspects to teach martial arts in our Lakeland after school program. Our hope is that those characteristics will bleed into the rest of the children’s lives. As they mature, they would have had a childhood of focus, a focus on goals that can only be achieved when one works to improve oneself to reach those goals.

If children are not given the chance to understand self development is ones own responsibility at a young age, how much harder will it be to not only understand that, but to be put into practice with the coming of age? Teaching kids kung fu gives us a chance to jump start that progress.

Imagine a generation that placed goals before themselves, and day in and day out sought to reach those goals. And while they themselves reached for their own goals, the also sought to uplift and encourage those around them to reach as well! Not only masters in the art of defense, but in art, music, food, and people! A generation that sought to improve the world around it with hard work, dedication, and a spirit of selflessness! While Kung Fu is not the answer to everything, it is most definitely a very powerful arena that one can sharpen and grow in.

Effective Training Requires a Master

Sifu Justin Och has devoted his life to martial arts. As a person, he is one of the hardest working and focused men you will find. This work ethic, self motivated drive is manifested not only in how effective is Wing Chun is, but how he devotes himself to the betterment of his students. Working through exhaustion, overwhelming work requirements, he seeks to improve every single one of his students, inside of class, and out. He has developed his character to one of a Master, a black belt. When looking for someone to mentor your children these are aspects one should be looking for. Not just to see if they are good martial artists, but how do they treat those around them. And how well they perform at other tasks in their life.

Children must be led by example, and our kids kung fu training aims to do just that. If kids are surrounded by men and women that push themselves to a new level every day, they’ll learn those to be valuable traits. Our instructors care about each person that they come in contact with. Our hope is they will soon begin to follow suit. We want our kids to improve themselves every day—not just come to class and have fun, but grow, and develop. They will understand that with life, failure is a good thing—it is the ultimate teacher. We hope they can develop the habit of never quitting but learning. Martial arts gives them the opportunity to become uncomfortable, and then push past the feelings to seek a better version of themselves.


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