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Coordination, speed, confidence, strength, and . . . five-year-olds? These kindergarteners have just begun Little Animal Power Kung Fu, but they are already balancing like cranes, leaping like frogs, kicking like roosters, and listening like (quiet, attentive) rabbits.


Today was our third class at the Strawberry Recreation Center in Mill Valley. The course is fast-paced and fun. Kids line up, salute, and then launch right into warm-ups, Kung Fu stances, and leaps. Today we introduced fundamental Kung Fu kicks, sat for guided meditation, and did a brief lesson on the Rabbit, which exemplifies politeness and careful listening. The group brainstormed situations when it might be important to stop making noise and instead pay attention to the sounds in their environment: “Like if you get lost, or separated from your family!” said one. “Or if cars are coming.” But they were perhaps most excited about the newest element of their curriculum—the kicks. While the class was still gathering on the lawn outside, a one of the students from a neighboring class yelled gleefully, “Show me your Kung Fu kicks!”


Well they certainly did.


And although they are beginners, these kids are already developing skills that will help them out in many challenges that they may face in the future. Just like anyone else, five-year-olds are not always brimming with self-confidence, or the patience to keep attempting something that doesn’t work the first time. We encourage kids to try again, build their way up to a difficult movement gradually, and just have fun in the attempt. “Look, I did it after all!” one kid told us, grinning ear to ear, during his very first lesson. An important first victory—and with many more ahead.


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