Kids Sport Activities: Chinese Sword Fighting Games


kids sport activities Laoshi Says

Traditionalists would not include Chinese Sword Fighting among kids sport activities - not because it isn't suitable for kids, but because it isn't really a sport. It's a martial art. I call it sport to help people find this information easily online. Parents are looking for new sports for kids who don't fit in with the seasonal team favourites. As kid's sport activities go, Chinese swordsmanship has everything a parent could want - the discipline of a martial art, aerobic exercise, flexibility training, social skills and so muchfun the children can't wait to be there every week.

About Listening

In taijiquan and Chinese swordsmanship we use the term "listening". Listening is a combination of focus and observation. It describes the state of being so aware of what your duifang is doing or preparing to do that you will not be taken by surprise. The Classics tell us that he moves first but I arrive first. Listening is being in the moment, focussing without distraction, and using all of your senses to preempt the duifang's next move.

Some of the games we use teach this focussed observation. I would list "Laoshi Says" among the best of our listening exercises. It's an old and well known game, adapted for developing concentration and appropriate responses. Classroom teachers have been using it for developing concentration in both kids sport activities and academic discipline, for years.

How To Play Laoshi Says

Laoshi is the title for our martial arts teacher. You could also use Sifu Says, or whatever else is applicable. One child is chosen as Laoshi. Sometimes we make the choosing a game in itself. One week we held a "Survivor" style food challenge. The foods kids had to eat to pass to the next round were frozen peas, lettuce, a bunch of parsley, and bush lemon off my tree, with the skin on. It was all good for them but these are "allergic to veges" kids we are talking about. Emily won, swallowing her chunk of lemon before anyone else. She won the prestigious opportunity to be "Laoshi".

Emily had to put on a very big T shirt with a picture of our Laoshi on the front. Then she had to call out a sword training activity. It might be one of the basic cuts, a stance, a drill, or similar. If she prefaced the activity with the words "Laoshi Says", the kids had to do it. If she simply said "Do Pi cuts" or "Do this", any child doing the activity or even pausing from the last command, was out and had to sit down. The last person in is the winner.

Another day, Michael was chosen to be "Laoshi". He got people out with innovative methods such as "Laoshi says do Liao", while he started doing Duo. It was amazing how many children copied his action without listening to the command. They were only partly focussed.

The Importance of Listening in Chinese Sword Fighting

All kids sport activities require at least some sort of focus. My grandson figured this out at the age of two. He was trying to make throwing and catching balls harder for the adults, so he turned his head to look at one, while throwing the ball to another. Not bad for two!

In Chinese swordsmanship, focus is even more important. Children are distracted easily but we need to change that. Firstly, they need to have their body ready, in a stance that is easy to change at a moment's notice. Then they must have their eyes on the body and weapon of the duifang, at all times. They need to learn to watch for the position of feet and hands, the smallest movement of an eye, the slightest twitch of a muscle, if they are to have any chance of arriving first, or even getting out of the way when a strike comes. Thirdly, they must use all of their senses and their mind to process and interpret the small clues. This is "listening".

Laoshi says finds some of the gaps in concentration. If they are ready for a command to repeat the same way and then a couple of words are missed out, they need to process that quickly enough to act change or continue without hesitation. If the "Laoshi" throws in a feint, as Michael did, they have to be alert enough to catch it and respond correctly. This game is one of a number we use to develop focus and observation at speed.

Many of the old well known games can be useful as training in kids sport activities. Here are some more games we use:

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