Articles | YMAA
FREE Shipping order $70 or over (US Only, Conditions apply)    |   20% Off Books, eBooks, DVDs, & Bundles. Exclusions apply.

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mind Approach in Practicing Taijiquan - June 22, 2015
The Mind Approach in Practicing Taijiquan. The mind approach is a way of practicing with one's heart (mind and intent) as the guidance. It used to have no fixed patterns or rules; however, the mind approach I present has its principle based on the following six points.
Don’t Take It Personally - June 15, 2015
What does that even mean? In Conflict Communications the meaning is very specific. It takes history to hate a person. There must be a history of wrongs or perceived wrongs in order to get a deep and personal emotional bond, positive or negative.
The Why and Wherefore of Conflict Communication - June 9, 2015
How often have you found yourself in an argument with your wife, husband, or significant other and thought, "Here we go again"? Have you ever found the answer to a real problem and had it ignored while the person you are trying to help wastes time and energy picking at you, trying to create a personal problem from a good thing?
The Practical Problem of Teaching Self-Defense - January 19, 2015
Self-defense is unlike anything else humans train for. Unlike engineering or architecture, you can't have any idea of the problem you need to solve. An engineer knows if he will be building a bridge or a tunnel. A self-defense student will never know if they might someday face a rape attempt, a kidnapping, a drive-by shooting, or a simple assault.
Modern Trends: Reality-based Martial Arts - September 15, 2014
The rise in recent years of so-called ‘reality’ based martial arts reminds me of other great scams committed against the general public, like bottled water, and who can forget the panic that gripped the world in the 1990s over the Y2K dilemma that was supposedly going to see aeroplanes fall from the sky and shut down every computer on the entire planet.
Common Sources of Knowledge About Violence - March 31, 2014
We are, all of us, both teachers and students. As teachers, we give our students information. As students, we learn from our teachers. The teachers give us knowledge. This knowledge came from somewhere, from one of four sources.
Teaching Joint Locks - February 3, 2014
About 2003, the training unit at my old agency got some pretty disturbing numbers. Assaults against staff and hospitalizations had increased dramatically. The programs taught at the academy and approved by our agency weren't cutting it. The Training Unit tasked a few of us to redesign the Defensive Tactics program from the ground up.