I'm all excited. I was mulling over introducing my son to martial arts, and now I've decided I'm really going to do it.
I'm inordinately excited. Excited beyond reason. Why? Am I living vicariously? Do I wish my parents had signed me up for kung fu as a child? (Actually, yes I do, after the fact. As a child I can't imagine what I would have thought of the concept. Fewer girls were doing it, and there were no cultural references to girls taking martial arts lessons when I was little. But now, I would have loved to have.)
I'd like to say that my son's own sudden interest was the deciding factor. He is interested. A tae kwon do demonstration gave him thrills last month. "Kung Fu Panda" fascinated him - he started jumping around, howling and kicking. (He only watched half, which was quite enough for someone his age.)
But I think it was actually a foregone conclusion.
We found a kung fu studio in the next town that looks promising. It has the two most important factors:
1) They teach a class for 3-year-olds.
2) Kung fu is culturally Chinese.
They are apparently not into laying on the Chinese culture, which is too bad. Their website casually mentions Shaolin, but their style and method is largely American.
Still, it seems like a good starting point. It's nearby, it'll take kids his age, and the sifu seems really nice from what little I've heard. If AwesomeCloud develops a passion for kung fu, we can always explore additional options later.
Like, I dunno, going to China and sending him to study on a mountaintop.
Just kidding. I've been reading National Geographic too much. (The February issue had a great article about Shaolin monks who live on mountaintops. The photography was breathtaking. And maybe a little dream-inspiring.)
Now I just have to make contact with the sifu, sit in on a class for free, and find out precisely how much maturity the kiddo will need in order to get started. Should we plan to start him this summer? Wait until he can talk in complete sentences? Is it worthwhile to pay for classes before he's old enough to grasp what martial arts are for?
They're for exercise, by the way. I'm being realistic. I don't expect him to be able to take on a gang of street thugs single-handedly, nor do I ever want him to.
They're for exercise, balance, self-discipline, following directions, and occasionally competition if he ever wants to enter tournaments.
They're also for clout. I admit it. When his curious classmates ask him dumb questions about his Chinese heritage, they will inevitably ask him, "Do you know karate?" I want him to be able to answer, "The Chinese martial art is called kung fu, and yes, I know it."
I'm shallow like that.
I'll sign him up for Chinese brush-painting classes, too, if any come our way. Why not? He's got a body and lots of energy, so why not kung fu? He has hands and the house is full of art supplies, so why not brush painting?