DVD review: ‘Kung Fu for Teens’
By Mai Du
For many busy teens, physical activities can occupy a substantial part of their week. Some like team sports while others enjoy individualized engagement such as learning kung fu. If you or your teens are curious to explore what kung fu is all about, the “Kung Fu for Teens” DVD by YMAA Publication Center will provide a decent glimpse into what it takes to learn kung fu.
However, for youth, my recommendation is to actually take your teenagers to a respected local school to seriously commit to learning kung fu. Unlike practicing aerobics or other general exercises, kung fu learning in its traditional sense involves not just the body, but it also demands the mind, spirit and the intellect to fully embrace and appreciate the arts through years of hard work and self-development. In fact, there may not be a point in kung-fu learning where one feels that one has accomplished the ultimate goal, like winning the championship or completing a certain program. Kung fu is about continuously developing and refining a previous skill or insight. Still, during the teenage years, or even younger, it is a great time to embark in kung fu learning.
“Kung Fu for Teens” features certified instructor Ben Warner leading students in their late teens through the basics of kung fu techniques to build strength in the arms, legs, torso, and core without any special equipment. Towards the second half of the video, single and partnered movements explain the blocks, strikes, and kicks to elicit power and application. Warner and his student talents touch upon building speed through speed training and stamina through endurance conditioning. Warm-up and post-workout stretching are emphasized in this 105-minute long DVD. The DVD ends with training strategies to train efficiently and safely, along with a discussion about “wu de,” the martial arts code of morality.
There are many rich topics and skills shared in the DVD. However, it is ambiguous in its purpose and targeted audience. Yes, it is about kung fu and it’s for teenagers to watch. But some parts of the DVD seem to be just to expose teens to kung fu movements are, and other parts seem more instructional. Moreover, it’s unclear if this DVD is made for a certain level or all levels. If it’s for beginners, there is too much information to digest. If it’s for experienced kung fu practitioners, the communication is somewhat disconnected. I like the content and the excellent Long Fist forms performed towards the end. But I didn’t think the presentation format was most effective to make the DVD engaging from the very beginning. I give this DVD a 2 and 3/4 stars out of five.
Mai Du is a female certified instructor in the Wah Lum Tam Tui Northern Praying Mantis kung fu style, tai chi and qi gong in the Greater Boston area.
This post is also available in: Chinese