Over the past weekend, I took the little guy to observe a local contemporary wushu class. However, after expressing my interest for my son to take wushu lessons, the instructor said we might as well start today. So, the little guy attended his first formal wushu class! As a side note, I took taiji lessons from the instructor for a couple of months about 5 yrs back. When I showed up, he remembered me and recalled I had a wushu background.
We arrived at the school a bit early, so the teacher took my son over to the indoor trampoline to practice jumping. The little guy was receiving instruction on raising his hands as he jumps, resulting in more upward momentum. After a couple of minutes, the teacher asked me son to try and spin while in the air. Then, teacher showed my son how crossing his arms midair would aid with the turn. The teacher then told my son to just have fun and jump around however he liked. I really liked how the teacher knew when to let kids be kids. He knew just how much instruction a 4.5 yr old could take and when it should be playtime.
Next, my son was guided to the carpeted flooring area where students practice forms. The teacher asked my son if he liked to jump. As my son was nodding “yes”, the teacher placed a blue kicking pad on it’s said and asked my son to run and jump over the pad. The little guy was able to easily clear the kicking pad, so the teacher provided some guidance on which leg to step with and which leg to jump with. Next, the teacher placed another kicking pad under the already standing pad, forming an upside down T. My son was not able to clear the pad at this height, but the teacher noted that my son was able to actually jump higher when the second pad was not present. He went on further to note that in the child’s mind, they think it’s too high when their body is actually capable of doing more. The teacher then pulled out a box of LEGOS for my son to play with.
Having a bit of wushu background myself, I could easily see the connection of this “play training” with wushu mechanics. Wushu is all about optimal biomechanics and is like a cross between martial arts and gymnastics. Contemporary wushu teaches one’s body about flexibility, strength and coordination. I definitely see these as beneficial characteristics for physical development. However, I will be sure to impart my own knowledge of structural alignment to my son to avoid any knee injuries.
Overall, my son had a great time when the formal class began. He learned some new stretches and covered some of the basic wushu kicks and punches. Most importantly, he met new friends and developed more self confidence in his own abilities. I am glad my son is enrolled in wushu. The teacher even gave me some homework to cover the basic stretches and kicking patterns with my son. Sounds like a good plan to me!
For those in the Illinois area and interested in some wushu training, here is the bio page of the instructor, Jinhua Guo of Championship Martial Arts Academy.