One way to teach kids courage: medieval combat
Putting "armor" on kindergarten children and getting them to take part in a cool, niche sport is teacher Lu Qi's special educational way.
The kids, wielding sponge "weapons" and fully equipped with protective clothing, work in rival teams on the school's PE course.
Jing'an District's Yanchang Road East Kindergarten is Shanghai's only course combining education with medieval armor.
He was inspired to create the unusual activity by his craze for medieval combat.
The sport, which originates from the West, is a globally played historical full contact sport. In which, participants dress in early modern armor and use historically accurate medieval tactics to fight.
An international organization is in charge of global competition, which attracts hundreds of fighters worldwide.
Lu led a team to take part in the International Medieval Combat Federation world championship in Scotland in 2018, the only team from Asia, and they achieved great results.
The metal swords, axes, machetes, maces, spears and shields as well as woven steel armor won Lu's heart.
"I suppose it is every man's true dream from the heart – to be a brave fighter," he said.
The hobby prompted Lu a to look more into traditional Chinese culture, and as he knows more, he teaches more.
"I want kids to know that combat sport is not a brutal sport, it's systematic and cultural," he said.
Lu is the founder of China's medieval combat community and he created the Shanghai Historical Martial Arts Club for people who share his hobby.
Thanks to his efforts, the club has grown from six people at the beginning to over 20 now.
He has retired and turned the club president's position over to his friends. But he still uses the spirit and philosophy he learned from the sport to educate kids.
Born in 1981, the 41-year-old has devoted almost one-third of his life to kids – three years in primary school and 10 in kindergarten.
"I love kids so much," Lu told Shanghai Daily. "If a man doesn't love children as much as I do, he can hardly stick in such a position (teacher) for such a long time."
He has an eight-year-old son, and treats his students the same as he treats his son. They affectionately call him "father Lu."
Every day, during outdoor activity time, "father Lu" helps them put on protective clothes and lets the sport itself teach them how to be brave.
"Overcoming fears" has always been his core philosophy for teaching. However, he does confront obstacles sometimes.
Once, a little girl cried and reused to jump through a sponge mat because she feared falling.
"I told her not to be afraid," Lu said. "And I watched her all the time, when she fell, I would catch her as soon as I could."
With Lu's help, the girl tried many times and finally managed to jump successfully.
"The movements I ask them to do are easy, but for those little kids, it can look a little horrible," Lu explained. "But thanks to this little sense of fear, children can learn how to be brave and tough, which is very important for their growth."
Shanghai has always put great importance on quality education and coupled with the support of the kindergarten, Lu's educational philosophy has played a key role among the children.
The little girl he encouraged, has enrolled in primary school now, and loves sport. She also won third place in a city-level swimming competition.
"What I want to deliver to the kids is to be brave about the things they are afraid of," Lu said. "It will have a lifetime positive impact on them, especially when they are facing something hard."