Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class

There are many steps to Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class. You can vary teaching styles based on age, style of martial art, and size of the class. Regardless of these factors there are a few things you can do to make sure that you are running and fun and engaging kids program. These are some of the things we do at the Sifu Och Wing Chun and Just Dance Afterschool and Martial arts Programs.

Building a Fun Kung Fu Kids Class



Lakeland little lions kids preschool martial arts kickboxing karate kung fu ages 3 - 5 years oldThe very first thing that you must have when running any kids program is a focus on discipline. When the class is smaller, under 15-20 students, it can be easy to slack off give them more leeway. However, if good discipline is not integrated early in the program it will be difficult to maintain that when the class gets closer to 25+. What you must feel is the class energy. If the kids are engaged, following instructions, working hard, there will obviously be a very good energy in the class. On the other hand, if there are children that are whispering to each other, spending too much time fixing a shoe or belt, etc. there will be a hiccups in flow of class. When you feel the flow of energy weakening you must change the class dynamic. But more on that later.

Kids Kung Fu, Kids Martial Arts Classes, Kids Kung Fu, Kids Training Lakeland, Bully DefenseOne of the first tricks we to maintain class discipline and structure is using the word discipline itself. When one of our instructors calls “discipline” the entire class responds with “yes sir” and stands at perfect attention. To compliment that you must enforce this and any other rules without hesitation or exception.

When we call discipline if any child speaks, doesn’t stand up, or is distracting another student we address it immediately. We enforce this with burpees. To keep the group together we will tell the students to start the burpee by saying “down”. When we say “up” we have them stand back up in discipline and say “yes sir”. This is repeated as many times as necessary until the group is performing this quickly as a unit.

Class Dynamic

kids martial arts, afterschool, kids martial arts, martial arts afterschool, afterschool pickupThe next aspect we will discuss is the class dynamic. As mentioned earlier you need to feel the energy in class. If you have classes that include children as young as 5 years old you will find that they my struggle more so with paying attention. If you also have a larger class this problem is compounded. To help maintain a fun but focused atmosphere you have to be able to make adjustment quickly. By interchanging combos with a mini work out you can quickly re-engage those who may be distracted. Teaching a basic combo like Jab, uppercut, round house, can be either very fun, or very boring. If you mix it into a fun work out to get the student’s moving you lift the overall energy. For example: if we have the students run in place, switch to high knees, then immediately take a fighting stance. Quickly follow up with the combo two or three times. Then we have them isolate one or two of those techniques and repeat them. The go back to the high knees, or jumping jacks etc. By cycling through different mini workouts, techniques, and other options you can keep the class very exciting.

Little Lions preschool martial artsFun

The last thing is of course have fun with them. If you as the instructor have an upbeat excited attitude then the students will more than likely emulate that. By embracing your inner child you can usually find new and engaging ways to energize the class. Have fun, maintain discipline, and you will have quite a enjoyable kids class.


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.

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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.






Martial Arts Philosophy-Chinese Versus Japanese Part 1

When broken up, martial is referred to as “those inclined to war or fighting”.  Art is referred to as “the expression or creative skill and imagination”. Thus, martial arts is to be translated as “the expression of creative fighting skills”. Some (possibly the majority) of the practices still firmly embrace this concept.  However there are other practices that use martial arts as a catalyst and add it with the practices philosophy in order to create a new self. In this part of our two part series titled “Martial Arts Philosophy-Chinese Versus Japanese Part 1”, we will cover the Chinese side of the two lines of thinking.

Martial = inclined to war or fighting

Art = expression or creative skill

Martial Arts = Expressive or Creative Skill in Fighting

Chinese Martial Arts

Despite it having a combat effectiveness, Kung Fu (also pronounced Gung Fu) is founded on the philosophy of attaining intelligence and wisdow. Two qualities that take years to develop and attain. Additionally, the first character, Kung, when translated, means “training intensely” or “skillful work”. Translation of the second character, fu, refers to “time spent”. Together, Kung Fu may be translated as “time spent training hard” or “spending time on skillful work”. By this translation it is somewhat difficult to pin kung fu (time spent working hard) solely to martial arts (creative skill of fighting). Rather Kung Fu is referring to a skill or skills in a variety of subjects, and not just martial arts affiliated.

Kung (Gung) = Skillful work

Fu = Time Spent

Kung Fu (Gung Fu) = Time Spent on Skillful Work

Kung Fu

For instance, in today’s time when one speaks of Kung Fu, those involved immediately perceive it as martial arts—more specifically Chinese martial arts. However, this view contradicts the literal translation of kung fu as it predicates to a single subject. Kung fu is a meaning of achievement in a subject; be it in medicine, industry, mathematics, culinary or martial arts. It represents the training process that one had to go through—the strengthening of mind and body, the learning and the knowledge gained from it.

Take for example one that acquires self-achievement in the knowledge of medicine through a long period of time; in comparison, there may be slight difference from one that acquired self-achievement in a martial art. Considering that both went through intense years and massive amounts of effort to reach their goal, it is difficult to deny that both carry kung fu skills. In this case you would say that the person has kung fu in medicine and the other person’s kung fu is in martial arts.

Kung fu to Wushu

The misuse of the word kung fu traces back to the misinterpretation of the word in Asian movie dubbings and subtitles. Since then Westerners often use it in its false pretense and is even defined the same way in the Oxford English Dictionary. Asia, even China, adopted the English definition of kung fu in the late twentieth century. The accurate term used that describes Chinese martial arts is Wu Shu. Wu, when translated, means “war”, and shu translates to “art”. Fully translated, wu shu means “the art of war” (which is also the title of Sun Tzu’s well known book).

Wu = War Shu = Art

Wu Shu = the Art of War

Chinese Martial art roots

Much of the philosophy that Chinese martial arts follows is deeply rooted in eastern religious doctrines. The three that has the greatest impact in the evolution of Chinese martial arts are Daoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. What Chinese martial arts took from Daoism is the important teaching of the harmony between Yin and Yang. It is universal that for something to exist it will have an opposing force. Buddhism teaches the importance of all life and the need of one avoiding suffering through self-cultivation. Its use of practicing self-defense and learning make it an essential aspect in Chinese martial arts.

Body Trinity

It also focuses on three aspects that make the human: the spirit, mind and body (some may refer to it as the “trinity”). The body contains all that we are—all that we are made up of—the legs, arms, torso, etc. although it may be a healthy body it is an instrument that can be improved upon. The mind is what drives us to live the lives we live and is fed with knowledge and information. Feeding it positive information will have a parallel effect on the body and will greater ones existence.

There is specific amount of time that it takes to achieve “kung fu” in Chinese arts. For some it may take a single decade, others it may take many! It all depends on your effort and dedication!


Martial Arts Punch Defense Variations

The straight punch, or jab, is a widely used technique used in almost every existing martial art. Though different arts may vary slightly in how they deliver this technique, the biggest difference lies in how they defend against it. Some martial arts will block the blow with a stagnant defense. Others will avoid contact completely by dodging or evading by moving in or to the side. This article will analyze how some of the most popular martial arts in the world defend against that attack.

Martial Arts Punch Defense Variations

Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Muay Thai

Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Muay Thai are similar in their defense of punches in that they block the attack in a hard stop that accepts much of the energy. The most popular punch defense in Tae Kwon Do is either an in-to-outside or an out-to-inside block. To perform this block, one will start in the guard, one arm across the body and the other fist up by the face, by bringing the front arm either from the outside-in or inside-out of the body; this pushes the punch off course. Karate starts from the same guard, but will employ a box block. The box block will move up, down, left or right, but only by a few inches; choosing to take an angle so that not so much force is necessary. In Muay Thai, the most common punch defense is accepting the blow to the guard. To form the guard, one will place both fists on the forehead while keeping the elbows in tight. The Muay Thai practitioner may turn slightly to deflect some of the blow, but the guard will absorb most of the blow.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, and Judo

These martial arts prefer to take an angle to the oncoming offense, desiring to not incur quite as much damage. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) defends mostly against ground techniques, though they acknowledge that most fights will start in stand-up. A BJJ practitioner may dodge the punch altogether, coming in with a take-down. To handle punches from the ground, much like the Muay Thai practitioner, one will use a guard. Aikido is all about redirecting energy in a circular fashion. The Aikido practitioner may block to the outside of the opponents hand, continuing the momentum in a circle – usually ending in some kind of lock. Judo, like BJJ, does not like to address the punch directly. A Judo practitioner may side step the punch, following through with some form of lock or wrist manipulation.

Krav Maga and Wing Chun

Krav Maga and Wing Chun fall somewhere in the middle of our previous two groups in their defense against punches; both desire minimal movement, taking the path of least resistance. In Krav Maga, a practitioner will start with both hands open and in front of the face, stepping to the side and pushing one hand out to meet the oncoming punch; directing it off target. Wing Chun will start off similarly to Krav Maga, with both hands open and up by the face, though one hand will be reaching farther out than the other. The hand closest to the oncoming punch will push out, palm up, commanding the space that the opponents punch was in. An alternative to that is to intercept it with a straight punch of their own.


All of these martial arts will teach more than one way to defend against a punch, and can by no means be boxed into a few sentences. Each of these examples, rather, displays the arts’ mentality when defending a punch – which can be just as important as the actual move. Whether your goal is to stop a punch in its’ tracks, redirect it, or dodge it completely, being able to defend against a straight punch is a necessity in any art.


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