A few weeks ago, I was asked by Madhouse to give several Kungfu and Qigong workshops at a local primary school in Enkhuizen, IKC Anker. The children between the age 8 to 12 years (group 5 – 8) are exploring different cultures, and it was with this reason Madhouse wanted to do something that involves Chinese martial arts. On Tuesday the 25th of October the first workshop took place and all the kids enjoyed it very much, as shown on the picture above. So… 1 down, 5 more workshops to go!
Workshop 1: Introduction Kungfu & Qiqong
This first workshop I started out with introducing Kungfu as well as Qigong, dividing both into a practical and theoretical section. In the practical section the children learned some basic movements of Kungfu and a few simple movements of a Qigong practice called: Ba Duan Jin.
A short history lesson about Qigong
Standing in front of 22 kids, trying to explain the history of Qi Gong, is not an easy job! Not only is it ancient history “literately”, but is also difficult to understand even for adults. So let me give it a try to explain it in kids terms: Qi Gong or the more modern written way Chi Kung was first found in the book Jingling Zongjiao Lu written bij XuXun. He was a Taoist monk in the Jin Dynasty and he, as you can imagine lived along time ago. The connotation of Qigong can be translated to “Qi” which stands for energy and “Gong” which can be described as a period of time, practicing something. In order to get the benefits of Qi, they discovered that by doing certain movements in combination with the right way of breathing and giving it a intention. (focus of the mind) you good contain this energy within the body.
As I already said, this was all, along time ago. Nowadays, Qigong is a practice that can easily be done as an individual, but because it still evolves around: movement, breathing and intention (focus) I think that it can benefit kids in many ways. Kids are busy bees, but not all of them have the ability to find a peaceful mind. Some are always stressed, or having trouble concentrating. By doing some Qigong exercises you can improve this. You can make it better. But the key is: Keep practicing. Only then you can reap the benefits.
So, we practiced together three movement, just to keep it simple and easy to perform. The kids enjoyed it, because is was easy to follow and to my surprise the teacher already noticed a more calmness within the group. A “Yeah” moment for me… Let’s not forget that the group consisted out of 22 very excited kids.
Let’s move to doing some Kungfu!
As we continued with the workshop we also had to do something with Kungfu. I asked them at the beginning if they know what Kungfu is, or had they ever seen something remotely about kungfu. The answer I was getting back all referred to the movie Kungfu Panda. Great movie, but not really the answer I was hoping for… but then again, kids, this was the answer I expected! Slowly some kids told me, they had seen some Shaolin Monks on the Tv. They ask me instead if I was a Shaolin Monk. I replied politely: ,,No, sorry I’m not, but I visited the temple in China once”. I hope I didn’t disappoint them…
I was not planning to give a fully detailed explanations about “what is Kungfu”, because explaining Qigong was already a lot to take in for the kids. So, I sticked to the fact that it is a Chinese martial art which has its origin in the Shaolin Temple, nothing more, nothing less. Maybe in a later post I will go in somewhat deeper in the history. For this workshop I had the kids line up in pairs and they practiced some basic defend techniques together. Training together is a great way of learning children to set boundaries, stay in control, don’t forget to keep breathing, evolve in social skills and when necessary defend them if needed. I think that nowadays learning a traditional martial art can benefit many children. You not only learn defense techniques, but also to overcome obstacles in which you can benefit later in your life….
In my personal opinion, it was a successful first workshop! I introduced Qigong as well as Kungfu and I even gave them a little homework assignment; practice the 3 Qigong movements for the entire week. So let’s see if they did their homework in the next workshop!