Sifu Lorna Jones, Waterloo Kung-Fu Academy

By Guest Contributor, Sifu Lorna Hayward

Parent’s Corner

There are so many incredible things that we aim to teach at WKFA, but it’s not about teaching your children to fight. That is not what Kung Fu is about. Our goals with teaching martial arts are so much deeper, and, hopefully, so much more life-impacting than that.

One major thing we hope to instill in the students is a sense of confidence and accomplishment. Things like gradings and the shiai are integral to achieving this goal. Yes, the competition is scary for your child, and yes, they will likely have to step far out of their comfort zone, but the best personal growth comes from outside of that comfort zone. Not everyone can get first place, but just taking the time to make sure that your child relishes in the moment of ‘I did it’ and reminding them to celebrate every small success in their journey can have a huge life impact. Encouraging them to participate in the shiai is a great way to help your kids have the courage to step beyond what is comfortable and have pride in just finding the bravery to try difficult things.

Another incredibly important thing we try very hard to teach is control. We start each class by taking a moment to breathe. This is not only to try to calm their minds and prepare them to be ready to learn, but we also hope to teach them to learn to take a moment to breathe when they need it. Learning to take a second to think before reacting is a skill that we all work on, and definitely goes a long way in diffusing difficult situations. Also, physically learning to control their bodies, and making sure that their mind is controlling their bodies, not their emotions, will help them greatly in their lives. Yes, we teach punching and kicking; but if we can’t see that the student is able to stay in control of their bodies, it isn’t very responsible of us to teach them to punch harder! Seemingly small things like holding still in a closed stance, and keeping hands chambered and knees bent in horse stance, are huge indicators to us that they are beginning to learn to keep their minds in control of their bodies.

Of course, we are also teaching the more obvious life skills, like discipline and respect. These seem to be the skills people associate most with the martial arts. But hand-in-hand with these, comes empathy. Teaching students to respect the people around them has to also be accompanied with being AWARE of the people around them, and how they may be feeling.

We hope our students work through their journey with us developing skills that will take them far in life, and the confidence, discipline and control to become anything they wish to be. An added benefit to teaching the martial arts to children, is that they learn the value of physical exercise, and perhaps that will be something that becomes a habit throughout their lives.