The premise is simple. Adults, at least in my Curriculum, do not learn only the movements or forms, but also how to apply them. Even if they join more of a "self-defense fitness oriented" program, we would do some exercises with the help of partner drills, boxing gloves or pad work.
But how about children?
âChildren's classes are different. They focus on different skills, are more general, so even if the kid won't stick with kung fu, he or she will be ready for anything else. They do lots of strength training, games, speed and coordination exercises. We spend big amount of time on basics, which I believe are more important than forms.
But we also do application. Altought, the kids maybe don't know.
Kids are great. You make it a game and they don't mind it's actually drilling. We drill like this a lot, very seldom I would have them stand in a line a repeat a movement dozen times. Instead, they repeat a movement dozen times in a race or in a game.
The same thing goes for application. Let's have this sink:
We are training traditional martial arts. Even if the student never will fight or want to fight, he or she needs to understand the application, because the fighting usage is the core of the movement, and tells us when it's wrong and when it's right.
So even if it is a children's class, they need to know what they are doing. Yes, the way they execute the technique is kind of rough, not very precise yet and often I am just happy they remember how to do it "kind of". But still, the usage is important.
How to teach application, that's another story. Kids are often in a martial arts class with the idea of fighting some bad guys, doing cool stuff etc. But they almost never think about actually punching somebody. That is a thin edge, where the coach needs to explain well the difference between violence and fighting. In my orange stripe class, which is more advanced beginners, they started doing sparring with gloves. Before that, we did many games and exercises where they touched each other, tagged etc., so they are very well now with the distance and control. They know how to say: hey, you are too rough. Which is also very important skill to teach. So when we moved to gloves and actually hitting each other, they have good control and good respect.
For the beginners, and also advanced beginners, I like to use pool noodle. With love, we simply called it Noodle. Kids love me hitting them with it. Yes. I know. Weird. But any game involving me hitting them with the noodle, they love it. No matter that they are drilling something for 10 min straight.
The noodle often stands for an arm. They do application drills, such as blocking. They also learn how to keep calm when under too many punches that they can't defend. And they also get used to being hit, the shock of it.
With the noodle, we do various exercises. For example, using some sequence from the form or a technique for their stripe level, they would do a pushing hand block with a punch to the pad. Or they would just block. Or try to understand the principle of a hung kuen bridge. Or they would learn how to use footwork, when I go for the legs, etc.
Sometimes I throw the noodle away, and instead of hitting them in the legs with it, I just sweep them. Of course, it's a good idea to also catch them, when you sweep them. The ground is hard.
This is my way of using applications in my classes. Because of that and because of my focus on basics, they learn forms really slowly. But I am OK with that.
Let me know what you think!
I have been practicing martial arts since 1999. It became the reason for moving to Hong Kong and it guided many of my life decisions. I am addicted to hung kuen kung fu and MMA. Follow my path to pro fighter on this blog or my social media.
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