by Sifu Laurent Bernardin
Two of my kids started training at WKFA back in 2012, just a couple of months before my own Kung Fu journey began. A few years later my youngest joined as a Little Ninja and, ever since, I’ve watched all three of my kids develop as martial artists. My oldest is now seventeen and earned his brown sash in the Adult Program. I have utterly enjoyed watching them climb the ranks and hope to be able to share with you some of the experiences gained while we accumulated an amazing total of 44 belts and sashes over the past 8 years.
My kids have experienced a variety of mental and physical benefits from being active in Kung Fu. I’ve seen my role as a parent to support them in this journey and to hopefully see them engaged for the long term.
There have been bumps in the road, of course: Frustration with progress, trouble with a classmate, injuries, school stress, time conflicts with a party, disagreements with an instructor, changing personal priorities as they get older and, more recently, the challenge to transition to zoom classes. None of these are unique to Kung Fu, of course, and they are a natural part of being engaged in any activity of this kind.
However, these bumps can, and have, triggered times where the spark was lost and the motivation to keep going hit a low. Here are three thoughts on how to help your child get through those times:
- At WKFA we often emphasize the seriousness of Kung Fu. The discipline. The need for diligent practice. However, having fun is just as important. Without it, staying engaged for the long haul is tough. While kids will benefit from a nudge to practice at home or to go to class after a long day at school, there is nothing wrong with the occasional silliness.
- Kids grow and their Kung Fu grows with them. They become stronger. Their moves look crisper. Their punches get faster. They become more willing to put in hard work towards their progress. However, this evolution is not linear. There might be times where progress is slow and then they’ll surprise you with a sudden leap. Watching this as a parent took patience and sometimes pushing too hard turned out to be counterproductive.
- You are not on your own. From personal experience, I know that the instructors, and Sigung Dave in particular, are always available to discuss your child’s progress with you and will work with you through any rough patches.
Ultimately, every child will go through their own personal Kung Fu journey. Some will be in it for the long haul, others will see their priorities change over time. All of them will carry with them lasting benefits of their training. Let’s help them get the most out of Kung Fu.