Articles | YMAA

Structured Training in the Martial Arts
October 14, 2019
Structured training is not only necessary, it is essential and central to success in any field of endeavor, and especially so in the fighting sports that comprise the martial arts. A person has to train hard, but just as important, that martial arts athlete has to train smart. In most martial arts, there is a rational approach to skill development.
Not All Krav Maga is the Same
October 14, 2019
I am concerned for the future of krav maga. Imi Lichtenfeld created too formidable a fighting method for it to be relegated to the pile of self-defense and exercise fads. Grandmaster Haim Gidon has spent fifty years enhancing Imi’s teachings and producing several generations of instructors who have both become and helped train some of Israel’s most capable and finest warriors.
How to be a Complete Martial Artist and Discover the Champion Within
October 7, 2019
It took a 6-foot-wide and 8-foot-high jail cell for me to realize that I had the qualities of a complete martial artist. I struggled with the thought of the inside being like a tunnel and losing my breath from being claustrophobic.
Teaching, Learning and Training for Juji Gatame
September 30, 2019
Juji gatame is a core skill for all combat sports. The study of this armlock teaches fundamental skills that go beyond simply stretching an opponent’s arm. It is a useful, reliable tool with a high rate of success used in all combat sports and can be used by both male and female athletes in all weight classes.
Encountering a Bully
September 23, 2019
When you come across a bully, it is important to understand that there are several defensive tools you can use to escape a fight. To avoid these situations altogether, it helps to know what types of bullies there are and what weapons they will use to try to put you down.
Krav Maga: Developing Power and Balance for Maximum Effect - September 16, 2019
The following emphasizes the how of effective krav maga, in terms of how you use your body for the best outcomes. Israeli krav maga is designed to work for anyone regardless of athleticism, skill, size or gender. There are a few elementary techniques that you can perform instinctively and apply to a wide variety of situations. Importantly, you need not master more than a few combatives to become a kravist or competent krav maga fighter capable of defeating any type of unarmed or armed attack or threat.
Moderating Desire—Self-Satisfaction Translated and Interpreted - September 9, 2019
When the world is ruled according to the Dao, then there is peace, calmness, and harmony. Then even the best horses are useless for battle and instead are used for carrying the dirt and manure on the farms. However, if the ruling of the world does not follow the Dao, even pregnant horses have to give birth on the battlefield.
Western Health-Care Providers and Eastern Medicine - September 2, 2019
Conventionally trained physicians all over the world are seeking ways to help their patients move toward optimal health. There is a strong sense among Western health-care providers that pharmaceutical and surgical interventions may not be enough to correct the course of modern diseases, the majority of which are caused by poor lifestyle choices.
Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji and Liuhebafa - August 26, 2019
The approach to teaching and studying martial arts in China was based upon a monastic tradition that is characterized as door, hall, and chamber teaching. In times past the monastery, both Daoist and Buddhist, served as schools for medicine, the classics, and martial arts.
Qigong for Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia - August 19, 2019
The term qigong is composed of two words. The first, “qi” has been translated as the “life energy” or “vital force” within the body. “Gong” has been translated as “work” or “mastery.” Together, the word qigong can be interpreted as “energy work” or the act of mastering one’s vital force.
The Pursuit of Do - August 12, 2019
There is a formula in Western civilization that many people follow, hoping for inner peace and happiness—a good education, plus a good job, plus lots of money and material possessions, plus family and friends equal inner peace and happiness.
Work, Love, and Acupuncture - August 5, 2019
A wise man once told me, “Do something you love for a living and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I have certainly loved my career in medicine and, though some days have been more physically demanding than others, I do not think of my livelihood as “work”; it seems more like my “life’s work”. These days, that sentiment is truer than ever.
Before Practicing Meridian Qigong Exercises - July 29, 2019
Before you begin practicing, there are a few points you should understand. These exercises are designed to be done in bed, and ideally, you’ll be able to memorize them so you can practice without the book or DVD. But at first, you’ll need the book or the video by your side. Before we start exercising, let me explain the benefits and the best time to practice.
Emotional Health, Sleep, and Disease - July 22, 2019
For many centuries, humans have appreciated the connection between our emotional and physical health. Sleep lies at the interface between these realms, influencing and being influenced by our minds and bodies. When we find our mind troubled, our sleep disrupted, and our body out of balance, it is sometimes difficult to determine the initial cause.
Brief History of Liuhebafa: Water Boxing - July 15, 2019
The origins of Liuhebafa, also called Water Boxing, can be traced to the Daoist sage Chen Tuan (A.D. c.871-989) also called Tunan and Fuyaozi. Chen is a mystical figure whose advice and perspective was sought by Chinese emperors during the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (A.D. 907-960) and at the beginning of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).
Krav Maga Control and Disengagement Strategies for Social Violence - July 8, 2019
A moment of anger leading to violence can cost you everything, literally.  When facing the specter of social violence – a confrontation you can avoid and escape – how do you best opt-out? How do you walk away without feeling emasculated or that you blinked first? Ultimately, how do you disengage convinced that it was his lucky day?
Water Style for Beginners (Liu He Ba Fa) Part 2 - July 1, 2019
Water style incorporates the qualities and strengths of the three internal styles of Taiji, Xingyi and Bagua, yet it is in a class by itself, a unique form of internal martial arts. Its movements are sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes fast, and sometimes slow. These movements resemble floating clouds and flowing water that is sometimes calm, sometimes surging.
Water Style for Beginners (Liu He Ba Fa) Part 1 - June 24, 2019
Chinese martial arts are the essence of Chinese civilization. Several thousands of years in the making, it has developed into two major styles-namely internal and external. Both styles are again divided to include countless different styles. Among the internal styles, the best known and most popular are Taiji, Xingyi, and Bagua.
Bagua for Beginners - June 17, 2019
Bagua Zhang, Taiji Quan, and Xingyi Quan are known as three major internal martial arts styles in China. Bagua literally means "Eight Trigram" and Zhang means "Palm." The original name of Baguazhang was Zhuan Zhang, which means “Turning Palms.” This refers to the way the art is practiced—moving around a circle, turning the palms in various ways.
Metarobics, Tai Chi and Alzheimer’s - June 10, 2019
Alzheimer’s is a scary disease. To go from having memories and full mental functioning to not knowing who you are, a decline in mental and physical functioning, and eventual death—what can be scarier than that? And as a disease, Alzheimer’s is becoming increasingly prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increased 55 percent between 1999 and 2014. Approximately one-third of all people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer's disease. Although genes and environment can play a factor, much of the growth of Alzheimer’s may be linked to a more sedentary lifestyle.
The Legality of Protecting Yourself with a Martial Art - June 1, 2019
If avoidance, de-escalation and escape fail, the goal is never to waver about resorting to counterviolence in the face of violence. True self-defense focuses not simply on survival, but rather on how to neutralize the aggressor. There is no pity or humanity in a, perhaps, desperate visceral self-defense situation provided the counterforce is legally justifiable. Legally, you must be able to articulate what you did and why you did it. Your actions must be objectively reasonable to allow for an affirmative defense, should you face legal inquiry.
Juji Gatame: The World’s Most Popular Armlock - April 29, 2019
There are, fundamentally, two core ways of “locking” an arm. You either bend it over a fulcrum to cause pain or you straighten and stretch it over a fulcrum to cause pain. Juji Gatame is one of four primary armlocks that attack the elbow joint (as well as shoulder joint).
YMAA Tai Chi and Internal Arts Curriculum - April 22, 2019
At YMAA, students learn qigong (energy cultivation) as part of their taiji or kung fu classes. In ancient times, Shaolin monks trained the cultivation of qi (energy), and realized muscular power could be enhanced to a tremendous level, making martial techniques more powerful and effective. This was the beginning of internal cultivation in Chinese martial arts, starting around 550 AD /CE. In internal styles, YMAA focuses mainly on traditional Yang-style taijiquan which originated from Yang, Ban-Hou (楊班候).
A Fight of No Fight (無爭之爭) as told by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming - April 15, 2019
The best way to win a fight is without fighting. Often you can win a fight with wisdom, and this is better than physically beating someone up. Instead of aggression, use patience and endurance to succeed. Big successes always come from many little efforts.
The First Rule of Self-Defense - April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
The Three Building Blocks Of Learning And Training In Judo - April 1, 2019
In any field of study, there has to be some kind of structure so that the contents of that particular area of study can be logically understood, taught and learned, and ultimately passed on to others. This structure or framework must have a firm theoretical and philosophical foundation based on practical application and, just an important, allow for innovation to take place. It must be fixed, yet flexible so that the activity (in this case judo) has room to grow.
Fables from the Dao in Action - March 25, 2019
There were two young friends who decided to leave their village and go to the city to make their fortune. They worked hard for thirty years and each friend successfully earned a good amount of money. They decided to return to their village to enjoy their earnings and the rest of their lives.
Yang Taijiquan at Medium Speed – A Bridge to Understanding Jing Training - March 18, 2019
Contrary to what is commonly seen in parks or in pharmaceutical commercials, Taijiquan movements can be quick and used for combat. For martial proficiency, the natural progression is slow, medium, then fast. Medium speed is the bridge to understanding different types of "jing" (martial power 勁) and applying "fa jing" (manifesting explosive martial power 發勁) in future practice.
How Biomechanical Principles Apply to Judo - March 11, 2019
Judo is based on sound biomechanical principles. The more efficiently a person applies these principles, the more effectively that person will do judo. To do judo well, a person must know not only how to control his own body but also his opponent's. The Japanese phrases, terms, and names—in use since judo's inception and familiar to all judo practitioners—explain much of what judo is and does.
Theories of Yin-Yang and Kan-Li 陰陽、坎離之理論 - March 4, 2019
To practice qigong accurately, you must not only understand the theory but also the correct methods of practice. Knowing the theory correctly places a clear and accurate map in your hands leading you to your goal in the shortest time. Without this map, you may take many years to find the correct path.
Subtle Clarity—Yin and Yang Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary - February 25, 2019
It is clear that in order to expand something, it must first shrink. It is the same when you want to weaken it: first you should strengthen it. In order to reduce it, you must first build it up. Also, in order to take it, first you must give. This is the theory of yin and yang, which always balance each other.
Judo Isn't Gentle - February 18, 2019
Is judo really the "gentle way?" In the popular meaning of the word, judo certainly isn't anything close to being gentle. To paraphrase the great martial arts writer Donn Draeger; "Judo isn't gentle." And while judo isn't gentle in the more common use of the word, it's certainly efficient; and because it's efficient, it's effective
Your Tai Chi Pelvis - February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
2019: Year of the Pig! - February 4, 2019
The Chinese year 4717 begins on February 5, 2019. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Pig (豬年 - "pig year"; pinyin: zhūnián). The Chinese calendar is lunisolar (not purely lunar). Months begin with the new moon (when it is darkest). New Year's Day usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The Year 1 on the Chinese calendar corresponds to the first reign year of the legendary Yellow Emperor (黃帝; pinyin: Huángdì), who is said to have invented the calendar during the 61st year of his reign.
Fighting with Weapons - January 28, 2019
Weapons are simply an extension of the fighter. The Samurai even considered the sword to be an extension of their soul. The weapon assumes the character of whoever wields the weapon, as the weapon is simply a tool that extends the will of the fighter. The principles of fighting with empty hands apply to fighting with weapons. A fight is a fight. But there are some thoughts about these principles that should be noted.
Increasing Reliance on Expensive Technologies and Medications - January 21, 2019
The commercialization of the practice of medicine is driving up the cost of health care in America. While many drugs, devices, and procedures available are truly miraculous, study after study has shown that commonsense approaches increase quality and length of life to a greater degree than do expensive technologies. These commonsense approaches are not new: regular exercise, not smoking, getting enough sleep, stress management, and an unprocessed diet that is rich in beneficial fats. These modifications increase healthy life expectancy by many, many years by preventing the onset of chronic illnesses. The Chinese have advocated similar strategies for thousands of years: inexpensive lifestyle changes are the cornerstone of Eastern medicine.
Tips for Selecting a Tai Chi Class - January 14, 2019
To learn or practice tai chi for health, teaching ability can make more difference than the years of experience a teacher has in tai chi. This was also something hard for me to admit as a longtime practitioner. There are many traditionalists with a more martial orientation who may have incredible skill in tai chi but little patience as teachers. One of the largest barriers to learning tai chi identified in a survey of major programs in the United States was lack of patience on the part of the instructor.
Think of Beginning—Advance Gradually Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary - January 6, 2019
The Nature has always developed gradually. For those who are cultivating the Dao, the final goal is "doing without doing" (wuwei, 無為). However, to reach this level, you must begin with the easy and small. Only after you are able to take care of easy and small matters should you then gradually advance into more difficult and bigger matters.
The Hero and the Warrior - December 31, 2018
My favorite quote from the movie Skyfall occurs when secret agent James Bond meets his new quartermaster, Q, the designer of his spy tech and furrowed brow to many of his boyish antics: "I'll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey than you can do in a year in the field," quips Q. "Oh, so why do you need me?" Bond replies. "Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled," Q states. Bond smiles. "Or not pulled. It's hard to know which in your pajamas."
Anatomy of a Warrior Spirit - December 23, 2018
Martial artists are, by definition, warriors. True warriors have warrior spirit. In martial arts, as in life, there are some people who are successful, and some people who are not. The most successful people are imbued with a warrior spirit, known in the Chinese tradition as Yi. Warrior spirit has nothing to do with fighting or aggression, even though skilled fighters often have a well-developed warrior spirit. On the contrary, warrior spirit is about having the wherewithal to resolve conflict or avoid it altogether, and most of all to muster the internal fortitude requisite to the process of mastering yourself.
The Meaning of Taiji in Taiji Ball Qigong (太極在太極球氣功中之義) - December 17, 2018
What is taiji? It is generated from wuji, and is a pivotal function of movement and stillness. It is the mother of yin and yang. When it moves it divides. At rest it reunites." From this, it is known that taiji is not wuji, and is also not yin and yang. Instead an inclination of the natural pivotal function which makes the wuji derive into yin and yang also makes the yin and yang reunite into the state of wuji. This natural pivotal function of movement and stillness is called the 'Dao' or the 'rule' of great nature.
Guiding and Leading (Humility)-Putting Oneself Behind - December 10, 2018
As a leader, humility is the most important prerequisite to lead the people. The book Shu (《書‧大禹謨》) said: “(Those) satisfied will cause damage and (those) humble will acquire benefits.” This is because those who are humble can take a low position, be open-minded, and be willing to learn; thus they gain. Those who are satisfied and proud of themselves will not listen and learn from others; thus they lose. The Book of Changes (《易‧謙》) said: “Those who are humble and again humble always use their modest personality to restrain themselves.”
General Principles for Eating Well - December 3, 2018
The diet in the United States is very out of balance for the majority of the population. People eat too much meat, too many sweets, too much dairy, and too-large quantities of food. Junk food is very common in many households. Row upon row of processed foods line our supermarket aisles.
Qi: Science or Magic? - November 26, 2018
Tai chi and similar exercises are yielding phenomenal results for a large variety of health concerns. When I began collecting case stories, I was amazed at the number of people who have benefited from these exercises, often in dramatic ways. That tai chi and various qigong exercises increase blood oxygen saturation indicates that it is no coincidence that the Chinese word "qi" (pronounced "chi") is so strongly associated with these exercises. Despite qi's common association with the metaphysical and energy work, at its most basic level qi is best understood from its literal translation as "air."
Qigong and Tai Chi Benefits - November 19, 2018
Now is the time to start your action and make things happen. We all have different plans even though we have similar goals. We must put theory into action. Without action, nothing works. As unique as each of us is, as individually tailored as each healing plan might be, there is one item that should be on everyone's list: exercise.
Theory of Taiji Ball Qigong (太極球氣功之理論) - November 12, 2018
The theoretical foundation of taiji ball qigong is based on the theory and philosophy of taiji (太極). From this theory, practices were developed. In order to understand the root of taiji ball qigong training, you must first understand the meaning of taiji in taiji ball qigong.
The Value of Differentiated Movement - November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Doing Nothing—Be Nature - October 29, 2018
For those who wish to take over the world and act upon it, I can see that they cannot succeed. The world is a sacred vessel, it cannot be acted upon it and cannot be controlled. Those who act upon it will fail; and those who control it will lose.
Combining Eastern and Western Medicine in the Treatment of Headaches - Part 2 - October 22, 2018
Other non-pharmacologic methods of treating chronic headaches have been recommended by the American Academy of Neurology. These include relaxation training, thermal biofeedback combined with relaxation training, or cognitive-behavioral training. All of these methods strive to decrease muscle tension that may contribute to the onset of the headache. This tension is usually found in the upper back and neck.
Combining Eastern and Western Medicine in the Treatment of Headaches - Part 1 - October 15, 2018
Twenty-three years ago, when Louise was pregnant for the first time, her truck was broadsided and jettisoned over an embankment. The force of the crash caused a severe neck injury and sent Louise into preterm labor. Her daughter was born eight weeks early, but grew from a sweet baby into a beautiful young woman, as though the accident had never happened.
Thoughts on Eastern and Western Medicine for Optimal Health - October 8, 2018
When people think of Chinese medicine, they most commonly think of acupuncture. When they think of acupuncture, they instantly think of back pain. It is true that back pain is the first ailment for which Western countries accepted Eastern solutions. However, there is a vast array of different conditions for which all components of Eastern medicine can be used.
The Beauty of Simplicity - October 1, 2018
We live in a very complex world. Many of us are overloaded with information, technology, apps, consumer goods, foods, clothing, stuff, activities, and events. Because of this, many of us feel overwhelmed, and don’t remember how to breathe anymore. Others may even feel they need to acquire more.
Essential Elements of Metarobics and Tai Chi for Therapy - September 17, 2018
Tai chi is fast becoming a popular exercise, resulting in a wide range of teaching methods. Some changes are beneficial, but others may reduce or even eliminate the unique benefits of tai chi. This chapter provides a brief overview of the development of tai chi for health and discusses what to look for when choosing a class to maximize the benefits of tai chi from a Metarobic and structural perspective.
Self-Nourishment—Commonality Translated and Interpreted Dr.Yang, Jwing-Ming - September 10, 2018
Humans have defined what beauty is and what it is not. We also defined what is good and what is bad. In doing this, we set up an emotional matrix and dogma in human society. Once we have these concepts, there exists having or not having, difficulty or ease, and other ideas in comparison to one another. Consequently, competitiveness arises and different classes are discriminated. Du, Guang-Ting (杜光庭) said: "What are beauty and goodness? They are initiated from xin (i.e., emotional mind).
Qi, the Dao, and Cell Biology - September 3, 2018
Both Western and Eastern medical traditions base their definition of health on the correct functioning of bodily systems. In the Western paradigm, this is considered optimal cellular metabolism. In the Eastern model, this is considered the smooth flow of qi. Which concept is correct? They both are.