Sifu Lee on Children & the Martial Arts
That is against the Tao.
If it comes natural, let it be, if it does not, let it be. My children will have to exercise, practice good hygiene, eat healthy, and sleep well. Those are necessities that they have no choice in fulfilling. We live the healthy way, so my children have no other choice but to follow. The fridge is only filled with healthy foods, there is nothing else to eat. It is either eat healthy or starve.
They are forced to brush their teeth and take showers even when they don’t want to, it is a necessity of health and wellness. The lights go out at a certain time so they have no other choice but to sleep when it is time. They exercise because there simply is nothing else to do. We have no cable TV to watch. We have movies, but movies get old. They play online games, but eventually they have to stop and move around. They want to go to the park to play, when they go to the park, that is the beginning of their physical training. Even at home they are very active running and playfully wrestling.
Activeness is extremely important. The must be active. But as far as formal exercise training, like in the beginning stages of Martial Art training, I do not force but I encourage. They know they will make us happy when they participate, knowing this encourages them to get involved. I also notice that when other children are around taking the training serious, they tend to get more involved.
Brandon loves playing XBox 360. We have an agreement that if he practices Kung Fu for 1 hour, he can play Xbox, and this agreement is working wonders. It really motivates him to get involved with the training. Angelina naturally loves to train and does not need video games as a motivation. Brandon and Angelina enjoy spending time with me and that is what makes them want to participate.
The kwoon is also separated from our home. Taking them to the kwoon creates a separate environment that also motivates them. Staying at home all day makes a child want to get out and be somewhere new. The kwoon becomes a quick getaway to do something exciting and different, this helps a great deal. Keo does get involved as well, but he is not as motivated as Brandon and Angelina because he is still a bit young and does not have as much energy as Brandon and Angelina. Jet is the only one that is unable to participate in anyway because of his extreme lack of focus and attention span.
I see that it is very important not to force the children to learn Martial Arts; they will learn when they are ready. If they experience great struggle in life, it may encourage them to learn when they wonder why they are having such a difficult time overcoming these struggles. Sometimes it will take a child getting bullied or beat up in school in order for him to realize that he needs to take action and get started in something like Martial Arts to defend himself when necessary.
It is of absolute necessity that children learn to be healthy and nonviolent. If they are able to live a peaceful life, they may never find a need to learn Martial Arts at all. But if they are surrounded by struggle and conflict, Martial Art training may very well end up becoming a necessity. It depends on each child’s circumstances. It is not right for a parent to force a child to practice an Art that he/she does not enjoy.
If he would rather play the drums or read, let him do so. But no matter what he chooses, he must find time to exercise. Exercise is something that I will always enforce, because him refusing to do so is no other reason than just pure laziness. When a child is being lazy, you must teach him the way to combat this laziness and become active. When a child is continuously active, Martial Art training will come on its own natural way that is unforced.
Freddie’s Modern Kungfu. Chicago, IL.