Jim Mao

What drew you to Keystone?

Before coming here, I already knew that Keystone Academy attached great importance to the teaching of Chinese cultural heritage and offered Wushu (martial arts) as a course on its own. I grew up immersed in traditional Chinese culture and my previous teaching experience in a Hong Kong-based international school made me realize the significance of having both one’s own cultural heritage and a global perspective. For years I have been thinking how to instill in Chinese students their own cultural traditions on their path to explore the world. One of three cornerstones at Keystone, ‘to develop students’ love for Chinese culture and encourage them to identify with their Chinese identity in the global context’ really resonates with what I would like to impart through the teaching of Wushu. That is why I joined Keystone.

What is Wushu and what does Wushu teach you?

Wushu is a major part of traditional Chinese sports practiced by Chinese people as a form of physical exercise and self-defense over thousands of years. Theoretically, Wushu features a series of routinesand confrontations. However, in the school context, Wushu serves more as a medium in the teaching of Chinese culture and tradition. By combining physical exercise and cultural study, Wushu lessons help foster students’ enthusiasm and love for the ancient sport in each gesture and move.

Born in a Wushu family, I started my martial arts training in my childhood and am now a career Wushu instructor focusing on teaching and promoting the ancient art. No matter in personal life or at work, Wushu has made a significant impact on me. It has taught me to be polite, modest and sincere when dealing with people, as well as persistent, self-reliant and determined in the face of challenges. These precious lessons I have learnt from practicing Wushu will stay with me for a lifetime.

What connections do you see between teaching Wushu, the Chinese Thread and 5 key values at Keystone?

Wushu is a critical component of the main courses at Keystone. In class, students learn and train in various Wushu skills, including boxing and using martial arts equipment. Chinese Wushu history and its development are also introduced in the course; these include the origins of boxing and martial arts weapons, and legends of Wushu masters throughout the history.

In the boxing skill courses for pre-school to Grade 2 students, lines of Di Zi Gui (Students’ Rules) are recited in the practice. The interdisciplinary teaching method as such not only teaches students Wushu moves but also introduces to them the world of traditional Chinese culture. The learning of Martial virtue (Wude) are instilled throughout all Wushu courses in primary and secondary school, and what they promote are the embodiment of 5 key values at Keystone.

What other responsibilities do you have at Keystone in addition to teaching Wushu?

Besides teaching, I initiated and set up a Keystone Wushu team last year, offering more opportunities for young Wushu enthusiasts. Qualified as a swimming instructor, I also teach PE swimming at Keystone. This year, I am serving as a subject leader of the arts department in the primary school. In cooperation with teachers of music, visual arts, dance, drama, and Wushu in the school, we aim to create more opportunities for children to learn and develop. Meanwhile, as a member of the Keystone Chinese Thread Committee, I am also actively involved in this particular part of the curriculum.

Living off-campus, how do you stay connected with the faculty that lives on campus? And what has your experience been building a social life away from campus and campus activities?

I live by the campus at the moment, so my personal life is not far away from the school. After finishing work for the day, I often go to the gym, play ball with my colleagues, or eat out with friends. On some weekends, I go on excursions to the outskirts of Beijing. I like football, badminton, and swimming, and am an enthusiast for climbing, skiing, snowboarding and other outdoor sports. For me, these activities are a great way to meet like-minded people.

Jim Mao
Primary School, Wushu Teacher