Kid's Tai Chi class for 5-12 year olds
Benefits for kids include
Anti Bullying Skills
Self Defence Skills
About 15 years ago I was asked by a local primary school to teach their kids Tai Chi. Although I had already been teaching adults for over 20 years I was still very dubious. As a dad, I knew how difficult it was to make kids concentrate, and even more difficult to make kids move slowly. But actually, I was very pleasantly surprised.
I found a wonderful teaching resource, a children’s Tai Chi book which used the ancient animal names of the Tai Chi moves to ignite the children's imaginations: names such as Chasing the Monkeys Away, Rooster Stands on One Leg, and Dragon Plays in the Clouds. The book came complete with cute colourful pictures which even made the teachers smile. The book worked! Rather than meaningless slow movements, the kid’s practised Tai Chi in pure delight as they stood on one leg like a rooster, pretended to chase the monkeys away, and waved their hands like shaping clouds in the sky. By engaging their imagination the children were able to step inside Tai Chi. The whole class went quiet as the children moved gently, with concentration, with their imagination leading the way. It was magic!
I then decided to try the kids with a Tai Chi two person exercise called 'Pushing Hands'. The ancient Chinese who created Tai Chi knew that while we may be peaceful individuals, other people aren’t. So they made their art into a complete anti-bullying and self-defence system. Consisting of kicks, punches, throws, holds, it's aim is to make happy, peaceful, kids who have the confidence to defend themselves against bullies if ever they get picked on. But unlike many martial arts, such as Kick Boxing, Tai Chi moves are natural- so are more easily used in a safe defence situation. To teach this, the Tai Chi masters created an exercise called Pushing Hands. In it, one child gentle pushes the other’s hand, and the other yields and redirects it. The other child then returns the push, so creating a see-saw motion. This exercise uses co-operation rather than competition, yielding rather than confrontation. But how would the kids take to it? It was so far removed from the competitive sports the kids were used to. Even worse, would the children simply try to push each other over? But the class took to it even better than adults. Most adults are very reserved, but the kids had no such hang-ups. I then saw how this simple exercise could help children’s communication skills. How shy children could come out of their shells, and stressed out kids learn how to communicate rather than stressing out. The greeat Tai Chi masters even created a safe guard in Tai Chi: being based on yielding rather than confrontation you can finish a fight using Tai Chi but you can’t start one.
15 years later I am still teaching Tai Chi to kids, and actually still using the same book. I now realise what a wonderful activity Tai Chi is for children. How the Tai Chi moves helps kids concentrate, and so helps them with their school work; how the slow, relaxed movements help them de-stress to cope with the problems of home and school; and how Pushing Hands can help in children’s social development.
By Clive George
If you'd like to introduce your kid's group, school, or club, to Tai Chi, then please contact Clive by email at