Sifu Sarah Gawley, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

Sifu Sarah Gawley

Youth Student’s Corner

by Sifu Sarah Gawley

What’s the best way to improve your Kung Fu?  Practice, of course! Doing a motion over and over and over again makes your muscles remember how to do it, which can be the difference between smoothly snapping a board with your sidekick or falling over.

But even Sifus don’t always find it fun to repeat the same Kung Fu moves all the time. Repetition is a great tool to teach your muscles Kung Fu, but it doesn’t have to be your only tool! Here are some other ways you can practice.

1. Close Your Eyes

Is what you’re practicing so easy you could do it with your eyes closed? Prove it! Your body uses vision to help with coordination and balance, so give it an extra challenge by asking it to do your form without that help. Safety tip – make sure you have a big clear space to try this or ask your adult to make sure you don’t kick the walls down!

2. Use Props

Lots of household objects can be fun to train with! Get an adult to hold a pillow for you to punch and kick. See if you can punch or snap kick a bean bag dropping from mid-air. Can you still do your form when you’re using a household ‘weapon’, like a backpack or foam sword or skipping rope?

3. Mix It Up

Build your own combos by putting all the techniques you know into a hat, shaking them up and drawing 3 at random. See if you can complete that combo! For an extra challenge, put all the stances you know into a different hat and pick 3 sets of technique + stance to use.

4. Train with a Buddy

Training’s always more fun with a friend! Set up a practice time with someone you like training with. Even if you don’t always practice the same thing, having someone working alongside you is motivating. Video calls can be useful tools because they can connect you quickly. Taking half an hour a week with a buddy to work on Kung Fu could help both of you out a lot!

5. Try It Backwards

This is one of the trickier challenges – if you think you know a form or sequence perfectly, try it backwards! You can either start at the last move and work towards the first or try it going to the left when it normally goes to the right. Using this trick means you can’t rely on muscle memory, you have to think through each move, so it’s a great brain exercise.