Wushu proposed as school sport
Updated: 2013-09-16 08:20
By Sun Xiaochen in Shenyang (China Daily)
Good grades in martial arts could help with entrance exam
In a bid to attract more students to traditional Chinese martial arts, the sport's national governing body is lobbying for it to be included in the school curriculum, allowing students to earn points towards the national college entrance examination.
Wushu covers a vast array of Chinese martial arts, including those forms of kung fu made famous by movie stars such as Bruce Lee and Jet Li. It has won over many foreign fans thanks to its dynamic moves and distinctive culture.
Yet the sport struggles to hold the attention of Chinese students, who show more interest in NBA stars.
To improve grassroots involvement, the General Administration of Wushu has drafted a proposal to introduce the martial art into the physical education curricula of China's primary and secondary schools, while calling for favorable scoring policies in the entrance exam.
"How can we promote an age-old tradition globally without a solid fan base at home?" Gao Xiaojun, director of the wushu administration, asked during the 12th National Games in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
"Wushu won't be able to survive if our next generation has no interest in it," he warned. "We have to shift our focus from making it popular abroad to making it widely accepted and practiced by our youngsters."
To make the martial art accessible for all, last month the governing body established the Chinese Wushu Duanwei System, a hierarchical system that evaluates practitioners' qualifications, combat skills, theoretical knowledge and morality.
Popular styles such as changquan, taijiquan (tai chi) and nanquan would be compiled in textbooks and drills would be practiced in PE classes under the guidance of trained teachers, Gao said. Students who obtain high levels should also be awarded extra points in the entrance exam.
The system grades practitioners from low to high - primary duan (first to third), middle duan (fourth to sixth) and advanced duan (seventh to ninth).
Each duan requires a certain number of years of practice, as well as a level of theoretical and practical ability, martial arts ethics and etiquette.
"It should be related to the points system like other special talents, such as math and arts," Gao said. "It's a great way to guarantee implementation and motivate student participation."
Under current policy, high school students who register major achievements in national math, physics and chemistry contests can earn up to 20 extra points on their final college entrance exam score.
Gao said the proposal will be discussed with the Ministry of Education before trials in some schools next year.
"Schools in different regions could pick any one of 23 styles to develop on campus, based on their local characteristics," Gao said.
One hundred schools in Hebei and Shandong provinces have agreed to introduce pilot courses, and students will also practice styles of the duanwei system at 23 training centers, according to Li Xiaojie, director of the youth development department of the wushu administration.
"We haven't received a formal proposal from the General Administration of Wushu, but we welcome any programs that are beneficial to student fitness," said Liu Peijun , deputy director of the Ministry of Education's PE, Health and Art Department.
Liu said PE activities on campus should be diversified, with more events like wushu, but the risks of practicing martial arts have led to some concerns. "How to make it safe and easy to practice while keeping it appealing is an issue," he added.
Kang Gewu, secretary-general of the Chinese Martial Arts Research Institute, agreed.
"If we simplify wushu into slow-motion, non-contact stunts like radio calisthenics to make sure it's safe, it will become boring and students won't buy it," he said. "It won't reflect the deep traditional and cultural roots either."
Despite doubts, some school leaders have shown interest in cultivating future kung fu stars on campus.
"I think it's a good thing to try," said Wang Tao, vice-president of Beijing No 101 Middle School. "Look at taekwondo, how popular it is (with teenagers). Why not let wushu in?
"We might discover some students who could be movie stars."
Students learn wushu at a martial arts center in Gangu county, Gansu province. The national wushu governing body has called for traditional Chinese martial arts to be incorporated into the school curriculum. Chen Bin / Xinhua
(China Daily USA 09/16/2013 page5)