The first workshop started out with introducing Kungfu as well as Qigong. For this second workshop I had planned to include some kicks & punches, but I also brought with me some Shaolin weaponry mainly used within the system. Having no car, I had wrapped them into a large blanket and biked my way to the school.
Are those weapons real!
I had placed the weaponry against the wall, so when the kids walked into the room, it will be the first thing they see. Waiting for there response, they where immediately drawn to them. But my rule was clear, to look but don’t touch. It has always been a fascination for me that anything related to asian weaponry works magical. Maybe it is in the design or the many different ways people perform with it. We have all seen movies where these kind off weaponry is visible. But before I would give them some explanation we first needed to do some warming-up.
As I was looking at the weaponry, I was thinking by myself how these would have been used on the battlefield and how to translate these into a more cultural way. I did not wanted to go into the cruelty, so I decided to make a comparison with the modern soldier(s). Nowadays we don’t use these weapons anymore and what has survived the centuries, is now on display behind class windows in musea or can be found in private collection. The once I had standing against the wall where all for trainings purpose and fake in anyway. So, my answer to “Are those weapons real!” was that they are not.
But in the old days, as a soldier in the Tang, Ming or Qing dynasty you had to make yourself very skillful to defend the country borders when the emperor was demanding. Each soldier was not only trained in hand to hand combat but also in the use of weaponry. One such weapon I had brought with me was called a broadsword. In the Chinese martial arts you can divide weaponry into long and short once. All the cutting weaponry like the broadsword can be placed under the umbrella of “Dao”. The curved blade of a broadsword starts small and becomes thicker when it reaches the top. I continued explaining and did the same with the staff and spear I had also brought with me.
By the end of my story which was a little bit longer than I had planed, the kids realized that it was a completely different way of defending yourself, let’s say 200 years ago. Nowadays we only keep practicing these martial forms to preserve a part of the Chinese cultural history. I closed this session with some very happy faces. Some kids got to hold the broadsword.
Kicks and punches
I divided the class into 4 groups of 5 kids. Out of each group someone was holding up a punching path and I first let them punch the path without any instructions. One thing I noticed by kids, but also adults is the way the hand moves from the body to an object in front of them. It usually goes in a curved line with the fist not completely closed and the thumb not hidden well. Usually of centre the hand tries to hit its target. It gets even more difficult to aim, when your opponent is moving around.
So what to do to make this better. I aks them to use some imagination and picture a invisible line which runs from your navel and divides you up and down. The next time you punch, try to focus your fist towards this invisible centre line when striking at your opponent. I can assure, you will always hit your target.
Kicks & Punches
Doing some kicks was next. I explained two. One front and a spinning kick. To my surprise the kicks where done much better, even on the first round. You can ask yourself the question, what is so cultural about doing kicks and punches. Well there is none, but mostly all martial arts styles have their own vision of how to execute these properly. So maybe in this small detail, lies the cultural part. But this is going way too deep into details. For the kids this was a lesson in working on: distance, power, focus, self confidence and finding your balance.
Learning to kick and punch correctly is important nowadays. Not that I am a supporter of using violence and will always prefer to first talk or avoid a conflict, but as I had mentioned in my previous post, sometimes you need to physically defend yourself, or even others. The world has changed a lot and is not so lovable as how I experienced my younger child years. Kids nowadays are influenced enormous and with the use of differents kinds of technology this is highly amplified. You hear or read the most crazy stories.
Everybody is growing up with different values and norms, but the basic principles of right and wrong has never changed. So kicks and punches can help you become physically and mentally stronger.