(ARA) - Summer break will be here before you know it, and if you're like most parents, you're looking for something constructive for your kids to do. Rather than sending them to another year of art camp, expose them to something that will really change their lives for the better this summer. Sign your son or daughter up for a kung fu class.
This sacred martial art, which has been around for nearly 4,000 years, originated in ancient China as a way for people to keep their bodies strong and healthy, the mind sharp and alert and the spirit calm and tranquil. "Kung Fu teaches all qualities that are good for a youngster to master early in life," says Master Yuen, who studied under the same trainer as Kung Fu legend Jackie Chan. Master Yuen started his kung fu training when he was just eight-years-old and says it has served him well.
"It (kung fu) is a good way of living after you get over the hardship of training. It helps keep you in shape, and it helps you be focused on life," says Yuen, who adds that children learn many lessons from kung fu. Among them:
* When you are less strong than your opponent, you will work hard to change the situation.
* When you are stronger than your opponent, you do not take advantage of your strength.
* How to clear your mind.
* How to be confident and have a strong sense of self esteem.
* Kung fu is not for fighting. If anything, kung fu is just for the opposite of fighting. It is about fighting without fighting.
Yuen says in his experience, children who have taken classes in kung fu tend to do better in school and excel in sports because they have learned to be self disciplined. Additionally, kung fu can really empower kids to become leaders in life and show others that you can have fun while staying active.
Not sure if your kids will like it or not? This summer's Dreamworks film, "Kung Fu Panda" (rated PG) is sure to serve as inspiration. Two of Yuen's students are featured in a McDonald's Happy Meal commercial to celebrate the movie and its theme of discipline and empowerment.
McDonald's is also helping kids discover their own kung fu skills online at www.happymeal.com with Po from "Kung Fu Panda," which debuts in theaters on June 6. There is one Kung Fu Panda toy inside every McDonald's Happy Meal.
Whatever you do though, Yuen recommends you be sure to sign your child up for a class with a trained professional. "These instructors can show your kids the proper way to perform poses and sparring techniques without getting hurt," he says.
Courtesy of ARAcontent