A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this martial arts competition series features mental and physical challenges and tournament-style mat fighting. Young viewers can observe talented young men and women show off their skills in a variety of disciplines, including tae kwon do, karate, and kung fu. While there's no full-contact fighting, contestants participate in a mat fight with specific rules set down by referee/host Ernie Reyes, Jr. This is a fine choice for tween martial arts hopefuls and up, but it is> a fierce competition, and parents need to know that contestants will do whatever they can to win.
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What's the story?
In FINAL FU, 30 contestants (both men and women) representing a range of martial arts disciplines compete using their specific skills; the last one standing will earn $25,000 and the title of Final Fu. The show is hosted and refereed by Ernie Reyes, Jr. -- a martial arts champion since the age of 8 -- who helps guide viewers (and contestants) through the weekly challenges. Since each discipline is unique and focuses on different moves, the challenges provide a way for all of the contestants to demonstrate the universal qualities needed to succeed in martial arts, including agility, flexibility, and quickness. After the contestants are scored in the challenge, the two with the lowest totals face off in a mat fight, exchanging traditional greetings before they begin and bowing or shaking hands afterward. Although these fights aren't full-contact and none of the contestants indicate any pain, viewers do see quick, aggressive kicks, spins, jumps, and hand/arm movements.
Is it any good?
Young Final Fu viewers interested in martial arts will learn about discipline, patience, and respect as much as about developing physical strength. Kids who already study martial arts will get exposure to other disciplines and "meet" men and women who have mastered the sport, since the contestants talk directly to the camera about how well they think they're doing and what they think of their opponents. For kids who have an interest in martial arts but no experience, parents should be prepared to help them understand the fights within the context of the sport.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the stamina, discipline, and endurance demonstrated by the contestants. Parents can help kids understand why concentration and mental skills (along with physical strength) are important parts of martial arts success. Families can also talk about the nature of fighting. What's the difference between fighting in a martial arts competition and fighting when you're angry or to get what you want? Is it ever OK to fight in the latter case? Families can also talk about the female contestants and how their skills compare to the males'.