Smart Kids Learn To Sword Fight
Smart Parents Encourage Them


Kids learn to sword fight


All the kids whose stories I'm sharing today learn to sword fight in my club. They are training in Yangjia Michuan Taiji Jian, Taiji Dao, and Miaodao. It's doing them a lot of good. Boys and girls learn to sword fight together, mostly with specially made padded swords. The older ones use shinai, or wooden swords when they are ready for them. Most of our swordfighting groups are taught outside in the fresh air. Parents bring picnic rugs, babies and puppies. They spread them out on the grass and chat while their children are training.

As a parent, you are probably concerned about your children's future. You want them to have good health and fitness. You know how important it is for them to be confident and not be trodden under by bullies. You hope they will have the resilience to keep trying even when things go wrong, and to make good decisions in life. Learning Chinese swordsmanship can help with all of that.

Kids Who Learn to Swordfight Develop Strength and Flexibility.
Some children are naturally more supple than others but stretching improves their flexibility from week to week. Training in Chinese swordsmanship employs taiji principles. It's just as good for kids as for adults to learn how to release tension from their minds and bodies. It will be something they can use for the rest of their lives.

We begin each class with stretching. A fourteen year old girl student usually takes this part. She knows some very interesting stretches from her circus training, and it's a good leadership opportunity for her.

Scott Rodell teaches at our first Kids seminar in 2006.
Alt Text--kids at our first learn to sword fight seminar
Learn To Sword Fight Groups Improve Concentration.
Firstly, the children have to pay close attention to their instructor. We live in a world where children often don't "hear" an instruction unless it is given to them personally. I taught school for many years and watched the ability to concentrate deteriorate from year to year. It was not unusual for five children to ask me what they were supposed to do, one after the other, even though, each time I explained, it was in front of the whole class. When I teach Chinese swordsmanship to kids, I only clarify things a child genuinely didn't understand. If they weren't concentrating, I don't repeat myself. I let them learn from the other students who did listen. The concentration of those kids improves dramatically. They don't want to miss important instructions that will make their sword fighting better.

When some of them start, they have so little concentration they don't even see the other kid's padded sword as it comes towards their head. This soon changes. They start to focus on what is happening and their concentration improves. You can't let your mind wander or look at the cat climbing the tree, if you want to learn to sword fight well.

Yielding drills helps kid learn to swordfight with fast, accurate responses..
Alt Text--learn to sword fight yielding drill
Kids Who Learn to Sword Fight Develop Fast, Accurate Responses.
After training the children in the basic cuts of the MiChuan Jian system, they learn partner drills, slow freeplay and exercises to increase their response speed. We might begin by training thrust or cut deflections to both shoulders and both thighs. These deflections are taught one at a time until the children are confident. Then we put them into a sequence known as the Four Corners Drill. When they are good at the sequence, we make it a little more difficult by changing the drill. One way we change it is by adding stepping while doing it with a partner. Another is to randomise the thrusts so they are learning to quickly respond to a strike from any direction with the correct deflection. There are many more such exercises to help kids learn to sword fight in easy stages. Many martial arts for kids develop quick and accurate responses. Chinese swordsmanship is particularly good for it.

Kids Who Learn to Sword Fight Get Strong and Build Stamina.

It's great great aerobic training. the kids are exercising every part of their body for an hour and a half at a time. Some of them are so keen they practise at home every day. Swinging the sword strengthens their arms, and the stepping and stances build leg strength. All this exercise is much better for them than sitting in front of a games machine tapping buttons. Experts keep telling us we should find some sort of exercise we love doing so we are motivated to do it. Chinese swordsmanship is like that. the kids love it so much it's the highlight of their week. I almost never have any of my present class of fourteen kids absent. They arrange everything else around coming to learn to sword fight because it is so much fun.

Kids Who Learn to Sword Fight Enhance Self Esteem and Self Confidence.

...experts tell us to find some exercise we love doing so we are alwaysmotivated...

Kids who are learning new skills from week to week have a sense of acheivement. In Chinese swordsmanship they are also learning self defence. In fact they are learning to be so good at it they have the confidence not to use it but to overlook small offenses and shrug off put downs. here is something about learning to sword fight that builds confidence like nothing else. Confident kids, who are valuable in their own eyes are less likely to be bullied. Most of the Blue Mountains group entered a tournament this summer (2009). There was an article in the local paper with all of their names and photographs. A little bit of fame like that can stick with a child for life, giving them happy memories of significance.

Training in Our Classes Helps Children Develop Social Skills.
I had one girl in my group who had spent the previous years of her school life hiding from all the other kids. She was so shy she seemed to have no ability to make friends. When she joined our learn to sword fight group, she found herself in a close knit community that cared for one another, stood up for one another and counted her as an important member of that group. We have girls and boys swordfighting in the same class. Since Chinese swordsmanship is based on strategy and coordination, rather than muscular strength, there is no difference between the sexes. After six months of being part of our training community, this girl was making friends everywhere. She became very popular at her school.

We have others who start out being a bit thoughtless and unkind towards others, saying mean things and putting others down. That is such unacceptable behaviour in our group that they seem to drop the habit and start to appreciate others for their differences.

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Kids Learning to Sword Fight Learn Discipline and Respect.
Respect is won from kids in the same way as it is from adults - by being worthy of it. At the lowest level, respect must be present for every human being simply because God made them and no one is more valuable than another. On the next level, people learn to respect those who have skill, for their dedication and time spent training. We can insist on respectful attitudes to those in leadership but the highest kind of respect has to be earned by admiration of good character. Kids in martial arts begin to have respect for themselves and that understanding leads to respect for others. Discipline is a similar process. We can take a sword off a kid who is mucking up, make someone do twenty push-ups for swearing, etc. We certainly do that but what we are really looking for is the self discipline that will cause a child to practise at home, go just a little further than he thought he could, and be the kind of person others can trust enough to take leadership. We train our kids like that.

Kids Who Learn to Sword Fight Develop Resilience
Some kids cry at the drop of a hat. This makes them prime subjects for teasing and victimisation. In our classes, they get hit with swords fairly often. Even padded kids swords can hurt a bit. It doesn't take very long before they get over it and start ignoring minor pain. They become resilient. I had one girl who was always feeling ill and had a very low tolerance to pain. She was forever calling her parents to pick her up from school because she felt sick. After a few months training in swordsmanship with our group, this stopped happening. She had become resilient. One of the boys who started coming was unable to take the least criticism. He took every little thing personally and made a big deal out of small incidents. But after a few months with us he felt loved and cared for. He felt significant and free to be himself. These days he hardly ever takes comments so personally. he's become more resilient and it will help him with all the rest of his life.

Your kids can benefit from learning to sword fight too. I hope there is a group close enough for all who want to join. I suspect this will not be the case. Sword fighting groups for kids are rare. They shouldn't be because they are so beneficial, but they are. If you live near the Blue Mountains in Australia, fill in the contact form and come up for a look one Wednesday afternoon. We still have room for more kids.

Low squats develop leg strength..
Alt Text--learn to sword fight low stances

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