At WKFA our adult program is truly an “adult” program. We do not differentiate between ages, gender, or size, and there are adjustments to be made when students move to the adult program. Sometimes the biggest adjustment is for parents, especially if their kids are moving into the Advanced program. In some ways this evolution is analogous to the jump from grade 12 to college or university. As an instructor for the advanced adult program, I am privileged to witness both migrations firsthand on a regular basis.
Kids that were top of their class in high school sometimes discover that they’re average when they hit college. In Kung Fu, kids that excelled in the Junior program discover that the expectations of the adult program are more demanding than those of the Junior program. They often need to make serious adjustments to their attitude, training habits, and attention to detail, along with an increased focus on power, accuracy, and commitment to their techniques. They also have three ranks of self-defense to learn before they can even participate in their preliminary adult grading.
It’s important for parents to be aware of the increased demands and commitments so you can help with the transition. One challenge for parents is the necessity to bring kids to class more often; twice a week is no longer adequate. Adult students, especially at an advanced rank, are expected to train at least three times per week, and that expectation increases as they begin to think about grading. I remember years ago, when my own boys were actively training; in one year, between their training and my own training, I spent more money on gas than I did on memberships. But sometimes that’s what it takes to help your kids be successful.
When kids head off to college, they quickly discover that profs or administrators do not speak with their parents about grades or issues, they speak directly to the student. The same applies to the adult program at WKFA. For the most part, instructors communicate with the student; not with their parents. This is done to instill a level of trust and maturity, and it can help form the foundation for independence that will become necessary in the years ahead. Some students need to be gently guided, while others need a more disciplined approach, but most rise to the challenge and flourish in the adult program. As an instructor it’s gratifying to watch timid, or sometimes cocky, kids morph into strong, independent, adults over a couple of years.
Another tough concept is that Kung Fu is a process with no specific destination, other than continuous improvement. There are milestones along the way, but the timing of those milestones is mercurial; they may need to change to adapt to external life circumstances, like school or work. I’ve seen many very talented students leave Kung Fu over the years because advancement became more about pleasing their parents than in fulfilling their own desires. Kung Fu training in the adult program provides a valuable growth experience as kids transition to young adults.
Support your kids and guide your kids when they jump to the adult program, but remember that at WKFA we no longer consider them to be kids; they are young adults. We are teaching them to become martial artists, and that is much, much more than the ability to kick, punch, and learn forms. Letting them find their own way, make their own mistakes, and discover their own solutions pays dividends down the road.