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Kids learn Kung Fu at summer camp

Mercedes Benson kicks a dummy during a Kung Fu Camp Olympics-themed obstacle course at Kung Fu Northwest on Aug. 9.  - Lauren Salcedo
Mercedes Benson kicks a dummy during a Kung Fu Camp Olympics-themed obstacle course at Kung Fu Northwest on Aug. 9.
— image credit: Lauren Salcedo

MARYSVILLE — Kids looking to be active this summer, while learning to protect themselves and have fun, can find that opportunity at Kung Fu Northwest summer camp, offered through the Marysville Parks and Recreation department.

Kung Fu Northwest offers week-long summer camps from the time that school finishes in the spring, until it begins again in the fall. Children have the opportunity to enroll in full days or half days and they can enroll for one week, or for the whole summer.

“We primarily focus on activities for kids,” said owner Carlton Doup. “We have Ninjagarten for kids who are 3 years old to 4 years old, kids’ classes, teen classes and adult classes.”

Doup said that his business is very family oriented. “We have fitness bootcamps and yoga and pilates, too. Anything the entire family needs, we’ve got it. It’s not just for kids and it’s not just for parents. It strengthens the whole family when they can all work together on physical fitness.”

About 200 families are enrolled in Kung Fu Northwest programs at any given time, including their summer camps.

“The majority of the kids are here for the entire summer,” said Doup. “They learn basic martial arts skills like punching, kicking and blocking. The physical training is what we use to keep kids focused on discipline and respect. Punching and kicking is fun, but that’s not what is most important.”

Kids who have gone through the kung fu programs and are preparing to earn their black belts, must also volunteer some of their time at a non-profit organization or a good cause, said Doup. “It’s kind of something new we are doing this year, so they can learn the value of giving back to their community,” he said. Each contender for the black belt must complete five hours of community service and raise $500 for a cause of their choice.

This year, Kung Fu Northwest has brought some new additions into their summer camps. “We started to add themes each weeks,” said Doup. “This week, since the Olympics are taking place, my staff suggested we do an Olympics-themed camp.” They’ve also included teaching to use padded nun-chucks, staffs and board breaking.

“We do a lot of kidnapping prevention and bullying prevention,” said Doup. “It’s lessons they can take back to school that isn’t just academic, it’s social.”

The kids participating aren’t necessarily interested in the social implications of self-defense. For some, it’s just a fun was to spend the summer.

“I really wanted to do Kung Fu,” said Rush Bradley, 6, who was in his first week of kung fu training. “It’s really fun, but they are really working our butts off,” he joked. Bradley has already gained a white belt with a green stripe and blue stripe. “It’s hard stuff but I’m working and learning,” said Bradley, who credited the instructors with helping him. “They are really nice, they make us do a lot but they make it fun.”

Isabella Srey, 9, has been practicing Kung Fu for three months and began after realizing that her dad had a passion for martial arts. “My dad keeps all my belts,” she said. “I like camp because you can do all sorts of activities and all of the games are exercise too.”

Srey has already attained her gold belt, with a blue stripe, which she earned by practicing escape moves. “I’m learning kick stances and hand moves. Sometimes when you learn them at first they get harder. But when you practice more and more, it gets easier,” she said. Srey was quick to thank the instructors as well. “They are very nice. They tell you to work hard and after that you really get the power to do it.”

For more information about Marysville Parks and Recreation summer camp programs, call 360-363-8400. For information on Kung Fu Northwest visit www.kungfunorthwest.com.

 

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