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The Fight
January 18, 2021
Fights are not static. Things move. People move. Bear-hugs and headlocks and all that stuff happen sometimes in a fight, but they are transitional actions. You do not get bear-hugged just to be held (except by bouncers). A Threat wraps his big arms around you from behind either to pick you up and shake you (disorienting and intended as an intimidating show of strength) or to drive you into a wall. Maybe to throw you over a balcony. If you practice technique-based defense, will they work if the Threat refuses to stand there? If he is using that headlock to slam you from wall to wall?
The Lowest Level of Force
December 7, 2020
The Records area at Rusafa Prison Complex in Baghdad is enclosed by a chain-link fence and was almost always crowded. It’s a stressful place, with inmates being processed in and out, Iraqi military, police, corrections, advocates, politicos, and sometimes families of the convicts are present and a small handful of American advisors.
Introducing New YMAA Author! Daisy Lee
January 3, 2018
This article is being reposted to reintroduce Daisy Lee, one of YMAA's newest authors. Daisy Lee is the disciple of the 58th generation lineage holder, Master Wang San Hua, descendent of Hua Tuo, originator of the root form of medical qigong, Five Animal Qigong (五禽戲) from Bo Zhou, China.
Introducing YMAA Author: Helen Liang's Early Training Years
May 7, 2017
Bestselling YMAA author Helen Liang was born in a very remote village in China's Sichuan province during the Cultural Revolution, where her father had been forced to relocate after graduating from University for "re-education." Her father, the legendary martial artist Liang Shou-Yu was already a famous kung fu teacher, highly educated, and one of China's top coaches.  Grandmaster Liang was raised on Emei mountain, where he started training at the age of six with his renowned grandfather, Liang, Zhi-Xiang.
Sumo: David vs. Goliath
February 10, 2017
In Malcolm Gladwell's very popular book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, the author deeply explores the lessons behind the three-thousand-year-old Biblical story of how the small young David defeated the giant warrior Goliath.
Simple Drills Worth Knowing - January 30, 2017
The following are important things, some little, some major, that lend themselves well to simple drills or exercises. Backing up is almost never the answer. Unless you are excellent at reading and remembering tactical terrain, you might not know what or who is behind you.
Preparation for Beginning a Tai Chi Sequence - January 5, 2017
Before you begin the sequence it is good to stand in wuji for a moment to focus your intent and your qi.
MMA Champion, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, Incorporates Sumo into his Fighting Style - January 5, 2017
A prime example of how a MMA fighter has incorporated sumo into his game is former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. He has a strong sumo background, but his primary style is traditional Shotokan karate.
Sumo: A Case Study in Size vs. Technique - November 7, 2016
Sumo is the fusion of honored ritual with unbridled power. Even in a combat sport like sumo, where great body mass and girth are often winning factors, superior technique can overcome size and strength.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2 - October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1 - October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
The Hidden Roots of Karate and Jujitsu - October 5, 2016
This article will discuss several martial arts to illustrate how different looking martial arts are apparently closely related and how the idea of hidden historical roots applies to many martial arts. First the origins of karate and Okinawan sumo will be explored. Then the root of jujitsu will be uncovered.
DRILL: The One-Step - September 26, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite.
Not Parlor Tricks - September 12, 2016
The following aren't actually tricks. They are exercises that you demonstrate once to show a deeper truth. Most will not work on people a second time. Some will learn to game it.
DRILL: The One-Step - August 29, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite. I thought, "That's brilliant—unscripted but safe, just looking at this whole thing as a meat geometry problem…"
Training for Sudden Violence - August 15, 2016
I teach about violence. As I left “the life” I discovered that my niche wasn’t so much teaching cops as I had expected, or even teaching civilian self-defense. The material seemed to resonate most with experienced martial artists who were coming to discover how little they really knew about violence.
Introduction of Yang Style Lao Liu Lu Taijiquan - August 8, 2016
In the time of Qing Dynasty, taijiquan was quite popular in the royal palace due to Prince Pu Lun Bei Zi, a man of great power and wealth, who appreciated the fighting technique of Yang-style taijiquan. He recognized the martial applications disguised in the slow, graceful movements, as if there were needles hidden, wrapped in cotton.
Self-Defense: A Unique Teaching Challenge - June 27, 2016
There are six very important distinctions that make self-defense different from almost every other subject we teach. Rarity. Emergencies are extremely rare, complex, and varied. Rarity means there is very limited experience available on how to deal with such an event.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility. The three dharma seals are the general principles of truth, which guide the enlightened to "wisdom" and human beings to understand the "world" with its extensive and profound theories.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility.
Hooks in Violent and Non Violent Encounters - January 12, 2016
Dealing with people who routinely used violence to get what they want, they often sought a "hook." A hook is an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their actions later.
Tai Chi Ball – A Lost Art - October 5, 2015
Practice with a wood or stone ball was traditionally part of the curriculum when studying many Chinese martial art styles, until about a hundred years ago. Because of repeated cultural upheaval, some of the deeper aspects of tai chi (known formally as taijiquan, "grand ultimate fist") were lost over time. But now, the taiji qiu or tai chi ball is making a comeback.
Safety In Practicing Taijiquan - August 10, 2015
Is there a safety issue for practicing taijiquan? Yes. I occasionally listen to a program on learning taijiquan while in my car. A host once asked his guest (a famous master of taijiquan), "What physical conditions are required for learning taijiquan?" The guest answered: "You can learn taijiquan as long as your knees are fine."
Boundary Setting—Society's Rules - August 3, 2015
One of the advantages of living in society with a set of rules and mores is that the boundaries are supposed to be set for you. In a homogenous society everyone has similar ideas of right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate. The rules say who you can and can't touch and how, what you can and can't say and to whom.
On Practicing Taijiquan—The Five Mindsets - June 29, 2015
Many people are aware that taijiquan is beneficial, but to obtain those benefits one needs "samutpada" (arousal of earnest intention) and one has to pay the price. Everyone can afford it, but most people are reluctant to pay. Whenever I run into taijiquan enthusiasts who want to practice taijiquan with me, what I first say is, "If you want to learn taijiquan you need to pay the price.