YMAA // 2009 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // February 3rd, 2010
Learn real kung fu! (...as opposed to the fake kind?)
Allow me to get my personal biases out of the way right off the bat. I have been a martial arts student for over a year now studying taekwondo with my son, am a firm believer in the value martial arts training can play in your life, and am also the owner of my own school.
Billed as a resource for children between the ages of seven and 12, Kung Fu For Kids is a comprehensive program that seems to cover all of the fundamental concepts and moves of traditional kung fu. I haven't studied this particular martial art in any great detail, but the level of instruction and attention to detail you'll find here is on par with some of the better instructors I have experienced in my own training.
The bulk of the content looks to have been shot in an open studio area with a light blue curtain backdrop, creating a neutral setting so all the focus is on the instruction. Leading his students and viewers in a complete work out, instructor Ben Warner is a bit uncomfortable and awkward on camera from time to time, but his personality and skill will win you over. Framed by a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises; Warner leads students through the basic stances, blocks, punches and kicks that are taught in the YMAA (Yang's Martial Arts Association) children's curriculum. The attention to detail is clear through all the instruction, focusing on form and explaining each move and skill as it is demonstrated. Stances, punches, blocks and kicks are covered in the "Training Workout" section; then again in more detail in, ironically, the "Detail Section." This allows viewers to engage in a complete kung fu workout, then go back to review and refine their skills later on.
For an instructional resource like Kung Fu For Kids, the audio and video quality work together well, remaining crisp and clear at all times and never distracting from the content or instruction. While this is certainly not a slick, high-end release, the level of sincerity and quality of instruction easily cover the occasional gaffes like flubbed lines. The menu navigation structure is well planned and convenient, allowing students to zero in on specific elements of their training by accessing them directly, or watching all the content through in larger chunks. There's also a fairly cute animated mascot, a star for some reason, that leads into each section of the DVD. A section billed as "DVD Extras" is largely promotional content for the YMAA, their programs and other DVD releases. The DVD preview section lasts almost 39 minutes...seriously!
While Kung Fu For Kids is by no means a complete replacement for
formal in-class training, it does serve as both an educational tool for people
who aren't familiar with kung fu and a training aid for current students. If
you've always wondered what kung fu is all about and how it differs from other
martial arts, watching this will serve your purposes well.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated