Youngsters practice Shaolin boxing during a sports class at a primary school in Zhengzhou. [China Daily]
Education authorities in Henan province are planning to introduce a Shaolin boxing program in all primary schools in the provincial capital Zhengzhou, in a bid to promote traditional martial arts among young people, local media reported yesterday.
"Shaolin boxing will be introduced in the coming term as part of the physical education program for all students in grades three through six at 1,007 primary schools," Wang Kejie, an official with the Zhengzhou education bureau, was quoted as saying yesterday by the Henan Business News.
"We based our decision on the good reaction we received to a pilot program held last year that involved more than 20,000 students at 56 primary schools," Wang said.
As well as the boxing program, education authorities in June introduced a group dance course for primary school students in Zhengzhou.
Zhu Junjie, director of physical education at Dongguan Primary School, said: "Both courses have added diversity to campus life and students, on the whole, have been delighted with them."
Shaolin boxing will be a compulsory element of the physical curriculum, while dance classes will be optional, Zhu said.
In an effort to make the boxing course enjoyable and suitable for primary students, the Zhengzhou Martial Arts Association, which designed the program, has simplified many of the moves.
Shaolin boxing is known for its compact structure and distinct attacking and defensive moves, but it also incorporates many complex movements, the association said.
"I am fascinated with Shaolin boxing because it is so manly," third-grader Chen Haoliang, said. However, some parents and teachers have expressed concern that the course could lead to children becoming more violent.
Zhao Caiqin, a physical education teacher at the Dengfeng Second Primary School, said: "At first, I was worried that some students would get into trouble once they learned Shaolin boxing.
"But I have since found that students are really focused on the course and there has been no detrimental impact on their behavior at school."
It is important to teach students about the essence of the martial arts spirit, in which defense is emphasized over attack, Zhao said.