Our introductory kids class focuses
on setting behavioral expectations within the training hall, developing inner
stillness and attention span, and extending body consciousness through the
spine and extremities. Classes are slower-paced to allow new students time to
understand and practice foundational movements. Appropriate for kids ages 5-
1/2 to 11.
Kids 2 and 3: Mondays and Wednesdays at 4pm
This class introduces
combination techniques and more challenging forms, along with leaping and
acrobatic techniques, the willow-leaf saber, and the rattan staff. A faster-paced, highly energetic
class that demands attention and quick thinking. Students in this class are largely self-motivated and
self-disciplined, and work with instructors as guides and mentors. All students must be at least yellow belt level to attend this class, unless expressly admitted by the instructor.
West Gate’s kids program is centered around the development of presence, self-
discipline, and enjoyment in our students. Our highest calling as teachers is in
teaching children the joy of movement and the value of physical art alongside the
more traditional martial arts values of tenacity and self-discipline. Our program is
founded on the notion that art emerges through work and practice rather than
natural talent, and that anyone can develop skill if they put in the right effort, with
the right level of conscious attention.
We train all of our kids, irrespective of physical ability, to be their own teacher – to
demand more of themselves, to critically assess their abilities, and to ask for help
when they need it. We encourage them to work together, to figure things out for
themselves, and to ask questions when they hit a dead end. At the same time,
we design our classes to be exciting, upbeat, and challenging, and to give our
kids the structure to push through to the next level.
Kids class begins with a brief meditation practice, which we call “stillness time.”
Students and teachers sit together in a circle, still their minds and bodies, and
focus on their breathing. Most children struggle with sitting still at first — this is
normal. Finding stillness, a kind of alert attention in the absence of active
thought, is a skill, and it takes practice. Students and teachers often talk about
stillness after the practice for a few minutes, either in an unstructured format or
by examining a koan (a short story with an unexpected or nonsensical outcome,
often used in Zen practice), or some other teaching tool for self-awareness. We
ask students to bring this stillness, as often as they can, into their work in class.
We then proceed to a general warm-up for building strength, flexibility, and
endurance, followed by coordination exercises or target practice for kicks,
punches, and tumbling. After a break, we work on forms — choreographed,
extended sets of movements that teach the body timing, power generation, and
flow, while improving attention span and resolve. These are the same complex
forms we teach in our adult Mizong Luohan Kung Fu class, with some of the
more confusing parts omitted. Children work on forms in peer-groups, and are
encouraged to help each other. In level 2 and 3 classes, forms may be followed
by point-sparring practice, a tag-like game where students try to score points on
each other using controlled kicks and punches while wearing protective padding.
Uniforms are available for sale at the school, and consist of a handmade
traditional-style tunic ($45) and comfortable, durable pants designed for kung fu
practice ($30). Typically, we encourage parents to purchase a uniform for their
child prior to their first rank test.
Like many other martial arts, we utilize a ranking system based on colored belts.
Belts are symbolic of the time and effort associated with skill development, and
signify a gradual darkening of the material (originally an off-white, raw silk sash
used as a back-support) as it accumulates sweat, grime, and the like. By the
time it is black with grit and detritus, the student has mastered the fundamentals
of the art, hence the notion of a “black belt,” a now-universal ranking within the
martial arts community that signifies amateur-level expertise in a style. Belts are
shiny and dyed nowadays (and smell a lot better!), but the notion remains the
Children generally rank test 2-3 times per year at West Gate, and proceed from a white sash through yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, and brown. Your child is
ready to rank test when they can make it through the required form or forms at
the commensurate competence level for the rank without stopping or needing
assistance from others. We can help you make that determination, and the
decision to test is always up to you. Children may not test for black belt, and
must wait until age 16 to do so. Rank testing fees are $25.
Kids programs are priced per semester, and full payment for each semester is required up-front. Regular attendance is expected. There are NO REFUNDS for non-attendance. Prices are as follows:
Fall Semester: September 1st – December 15th: $950
Spring Semester: January 15th – May 31st: $950
Summer: June 1st – August 31st: $350