Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Kung fu kid

Sometime between babies, I managed to fit in a few years of training in the Taoist arts, including kung fu, t'ai chi, yoga, massage and other aspects. All useful skills in every part of life, but most useful of all when one's children are begging one to "Teach us some kung fu!"

I did train as a teacher, but that was to teach classes of adults, using a lesson plan (which didn't really fit with the subject matter, but could be adapted a little bit to fit circumstances) and a set curriculum.

You can't really teach an autonomously educated six year-old anything with a lesson plan and a set curriculum ;-)

So we just played with it and had some fun yesterday, as we have in the past on occasion. Most of the stances are named after animals and she likes learning those and using them to test their strengths and weaknesses. We've also done some chi kung demo stuff like 'the unbending arm', which is always a good party trick. (The arms bends quite easily when it's held straight with muscle power, but is unbendable when relaxed and held straight using chi, breathing and mental focus.)

Her favourite thing is just to spar, though.

Straight away, she got the idea that we must be gentle with one another - the idea is to learn, not to win or to damage the opponent. In fact, kung fu is never about winning or damaging people. But she's an absolute natural: most children are I think. here are some examples of the way she instinctively employed kung fu principles yesterday:

I gently took her down to the floor by her head, and she went with the movement instead of fighting against it. She squatted down faster than I was taking her, and ducked out of my hold;

I said: "Let's slow it down a bit more and see if you can do anything to deflect my approach to your head this time," and straight away she took my arm in a big circular movement over the top of her head;

The next time I took her down, she crawled away between my legs!

We'd have played like this for half an hour or more, but the baby didn't like it so we had to stop. We couldn't decide whether she thought we were really fighting, or was jealous of the physical attention Lyddie was getting. Either way, it had to stop.

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