Zhang Laoshi teaches Max wushu (kung fu). He is a fantastic teacher, with strictness and kindness in just the right mix.

The methods he uses to teach foreign kids, however, are far different from the ones his own teachers used.

Chinese parents, he told me, want their kids to win competitions. Foreign parents just want their kids to have fun. Different goals call for different methods – one far more brutal than the other.

His own training, he recalls, involved constant beatings. “If I didn’t come home black and blue my mother would think I hadn’t been to class.” When the teachers would help the kids stretch – to increase flexibility – 9 out of 10 kids would cry.

Zhang Laoshi seems to have been converted to the Western approach– his own daughter attends Max’s class, where the stretches are gentle and the harshest punishment is standing in the corner.

Nevertheless, he is a little uncomfortable with the frivolous attitude of some parents. Fun is not the sole purpose of his class.

The Chinese have a saying, he told me, without suffering you cannot learn.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.