Methods of studying
Kung Fu and Tai Chi Chuan
with Master Pham Vu Quang

Tai Chi
Kung Fu for Kids
Summer Camp 2011
There are as many paths to practicing the martial arts as there are practitioners. Yet all of them will enhance physical strength, balance and flexibility, emotional stability, mental focus, and spiritual growth. Any age can reap these benefits: from children as young as four or five to adults well into their 70s. And because the practice of Kung Fu integrates so many different elements, it can be adapted to a work with and treat a variety of special needs stemming from age or injury.

First steps. According to Quang, learning martial arts is like a child learning to write. First, the child has to learn how to print. They use short, simple strokes of the pen, just like a beginning martial artist practices short, simple punches, kicks and movements. Styles taught might include dragon, tiger, and crane. Students may also choose to focus on self-defence styles adapted to both men and women. Before any student can progress to more advanced practice, they must first demonstrate mastery of these basic techniques.

Next steps. Once a child has learned how to print, they can learn to write with longer, more complex, flowing strokes. In the same way, the intermediate student can progress to learn longer, more complicated forms that stress fluidity and flexibility. Styles taught might include snake, monkey, mantis, and drunken boxing. Students may also progress to weapons practice. The number of weapons taught is based in the mystical number of 72, distilled down to 18, which can then be divided into the following four basic types: long weapons, such as the staff or spear; short weapons, such as the sword or dagger; chain weapons such as the whip; and sectional weapons such as the three-section staff. Students might begin with a simple staff or sword form; once they gain mastery of the form they will understand how to adapt the form to use a variety of other weapons with grace and control.

Further steps. Once a child has learned the mechanics of writing, they can move on to express more complex ideas that reflect their own understanding of the art. Advanced students who have demonstrated a mastery of both the basic and intermediate forms can progress to adapt and combine these forms to reflect their own thinking, and the different situations they may encounter. Students will also build on the internal energy training and meditation techniques they have practiced earlier.

Tai Chi steps. Proper breathing and concentration are an integral part of the practice of any martial art. Yet students who want to focus on these aspects can choose to study Tai Chi. The Tai Chi taught by Quang is suitable both for those with no prior experience, and those who have already studied other martial arts. It balances Tai Chi's basis in the martial arts with a focus on increasing vitality and decreasing stress through moving meditation and deep breathing. As with Kung Fu more generally, students must progress through different sets of movements of increasing complexity, but all of them stretching and exercising the tendons, muscles, and organs. Students learn to balance the energies of the body's systems and how to focus and circulate energy throughout the body.