ARTICLES

Strong Bodies, Disciplined Minds

Tuesday, 26.12.2017

Having our kids enrol in a martial arts course has many benefits for them – and no, they won’t become a mini-fighting machine!

The purpose of martial arts is the training of discipline, and mental, emotional, and physical strength. Through practicing martial arts, they’ll also enhance their concentration and develop respect for themselves and others. Here are some types of martial arts that your child can learn in Singapore:

Wushu (武术)
Developed in China after 1949, Wushu is a full-contact sport and martial art that standardised the practice of traditional Chinese martial arts. It has become an international sport through the International Wushu Federation (IWUF), and they hold the World Wushu Championships once every two years.

The Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation (SWDLDF) is the equivalent of the IWUF here in Singapore. A Wushu practitioner benefits not only in terms of health building, but also in gaining experience over attacking and defending techniques, which can be employed for self-defence. Competition Wushu was created with outstanding movements as the main focus. Singapore has many well organised events and competitions for Wushu every year in different age brackets. Introduce your kids to the world of competitive martial arts!

 

Qigong (气功)
Qigong is coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used for health, spirituality, and martial arts training. With a history of more than 2,000 years in China, it can be practiced by people of all ages, with many different styles and schools. It’s primarily an exercise for health which aligns with TCM and meridians with exceptions to certain forms. In qigong, the repetitive nature and the unique stretching and strengthening positions will target multiple parts of the body and people feel more calm, relaxed and flexible after a class of qigong.

Qigong is generally practiced in two categories – ‘Still’ and ‘Moving’. ‘Moving’ qigong involved movement of the limbs and body under the conscious direction of the mind. ‘Still’ qigong places emphasis on quiet, motionless meditation, generally employing methods of internal concentration and regulation of breathing.

 

Tai Chi/Taiji (太极)
While Tai Chi and Qigong have many similarities, they’re different arts! However, they’re mutually beneficial if both are practiced – as qigong uses many movements from tai chi. The focus of qigong is typically more on health or meditation than martial arts, and even though modern day tai chi is also focused on health, there are many more martial applications than qigong – variations of tai chi involving weapons also exist (like Wushu)!

To develop balance and posture, tai chi is ideal.  The martial arts origin of tai chi means that the movements are focused on maintaining postural alignment throughout.  A person who has accomplished good postural alignment doesn’t fall off balance easily. In martial arts, the philosophy is to achieve an efficiency of movement and move one’s body with maximum power and speed without compromising one’s centre of balance.

 

Muay Thai
This Thailand martial art has been gaining popularity in recent years, with a greater focus on physical abilities and striking techniques, but instils discipline, focus, and respect into their students so that they won’t use their techniques outside of self-defence.

Muay Thai is recognised as a national sport in Thailand, and still is an integral part of local festivals and celebrations, especially those held at temples. It’s intended to be a full-contact sport that concentrates more on attacking than defending, and the usage of their eight contact points will make your kids work hard! They’ll gain strength and endurance, and it will build up their confidence to face challenges in-and-outside the classes.

 

Aikido
The word Aikido is written with three Japanese characters – 合気道 – ai, ki, and do. A literal translation of their individual characters means harmony, energy, and way, but when translated as a whole, aikido means ‘the way of harmonious spirit’. The art was developed by Morihei Ueshiba with the goal of practitioners being able to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury; certainly an unconventional art of defence that aims to make harmony with opposing forces instead of combating them. 

Physical training in aikido consists of controlled relaxation, correct movement of joints such as the hips and shoulders, flexibility, and endurance – less emphasis is placed on strength training. Aikido-related training focuses on the use of coordinated whole-body movement and balance that’s similar to yoga or pilates.


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