My kids have been showing an interested in tumbling lately. What kid doesn’t like trying to do rolls and so on? My younger son tries to slide backwards off the couch, put his hands down, and flip over. It’s probably because he does that thing lots of little kids like to do where he grabs my hands climbs up me and flips over. Flipping over is just fun for who knows what reason. So I took him to try gymnastics class and the first thing they did just happened to be that sliding backwards move, but with a soft curved, supported mat designed for it (and he doesn’t have to ruin the couch). I assume it’s prep for a back handspring or other moves. My older son is trying to do cartwheels and handstands. He can’t do them but he keeps trying. I hope he can keep it up til he can do them right. The problem is that they get shy if I try to take them to a formal class with tons of people. Still, as long as they seem to have this interest, I’ll try to encourage it. I think it’s great and my wife and I wish we had learned some gymnastics at an early age. I can’t imagine any activity is better for overall body sense. Below is a quote from a Mokuren Dojo interview with “Judo” Gene LeBell in which he advises taking kids to tumbling and gymastics before doing things like judo.

Patrick Parker: You’ve had so much experience in judo, wrestling, boxing, and jujitsu. Which of these arts seems to you to be the best way to start young children (like ages 6-8)?

Gene Lebell: I would say tumbling, gymnastics. Then if they fall off their bike they have less of a chance of getting hurt because they know how to move through the air. Then Judo and grappling involve all the skills from tumbling. Everyone should have background in boxing, judo, and wrestling.

Very good. I haven’t been able to get the kids too interested in going to judo. If they start to have “air sense” they probably wouldn’t be so afraid of it. Of course they like to wrestle Dad and each other. It’s all secret kungfu training. Judo Gene talks about when men were men and so on. I don’t know about all that but the secret kungfu training seems like a good idea.

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