Lining the walls of Mr. Jim Mao’s classroom are floor to ceiling paneled mirrors, with a distinct Chinese script above each panel, denoting values for character building. Also, lining the walls are various photos of students practicing Wushu in action over the years.
Since 2015 Mr. Mao has taught Wushu at Keystone, a sport he is deeply passionate about and eager to teach to Keystone students. “Wushu is so important in the Keystone curriculum because it helps young students learn more about their Chinese identity, and fits in beautifully with the Chinese Thread curriculum,” said Mr. Mao. “When I was young, learning and practicing Wushu helped me understand my cultural background more. This is something I want to share with students, and I’m very pleased that there is always a strong interest in Wushu every year!”
Under Mr. Mao’s tutelage, the Keystone Wushu Club grew significantly, with over fifty new members last school year. Students not only hone their athletic skills by practicing the sport but also builds strong character traits that contribute to the essence of being a true Wushu student. “At Keystone students practice Chinese dance and learn about Chinese art as part of the Chinese Thread curriculum. Wushu is no different, and can even be seen as a type of performance” remarked Mr. Mao.
In his classes, students begin their lessons with several warm up exercises, before practicing nuanced motions that demand physical and mental focus. This is crucial for the success of executing Wushu movements, especially during competitions.
During the summer of 2018, Keystone’s Wushu Club participated in the 15th Annual Beijing Wushu Competition, jointly organized by the Beijing Sports Federation and the Chinese Martial Arts Association. A total of 185 teams comprising of more than 4,000 primary and middle students across China joined this year’s competition. Groups were divided by age, ranging from kindergarten to middle school. 41 students represented Keystone, with 35 students hailing from primary school and 6 from middle school.
After two days of excellent performances, Keystone students received high marks from the judges. The Keystone Wushu team were awarded fifth place amongst 185 teams and received the Children’s Wushu Promotion Contribution Award. Individual achievements were also rewarded during the competition, with 14 students receiving First Place, 10 students receiving Second Place, and 10 students receiving Third Place.
Mr. Mao proudly displays photos of this year’s competition on the walls of his Wushu classroom. “All of our students did really well in this year’s competition. I want students to enter these events because it truly shows them the art of Wushu. It is a performance, and just like Chinese dance, it ties deeply into their Chinese identity,” remarked Mr. Mao.