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Three Ancient Chinese Teachings: Fo, Ru, Dao
May 10, 2021
Buddhism is an ancient religion based on the Buddha's teachings - the title given to the Indian spiritual seeker Siddhartha Gautama after he attained enlightenment more than 2,600 years ago. The Buddha's best-known teachings are the four noble truths and the eightfold path, which describe the nature of human suffering and a way to liberate oneself from the existential pains of life and reach nirvana.
Chinese Early Sword Development
March 22, 2021
The Chinese word for weapon, Bingqi originated as the word for a group of weapons including the lance, spear, halberd, pronged spear, sword, and saber. Chinese people certainly used more primitive weapons than these before the advent of the language to describe them. The prehistoric Chinese, like other societies, probably utilized the sticks and stones that lay about.
Needle Through Brick: A Postcard of Traditional Kung Fu from Borneo
February 11, 2021
Needle Through Brick is a documentary that poses these questions by taking an intimate look at some surviving traditional Kung Fu and Tai Chi masters of Malaysian Borneo, particularly Sarawak and Sibu. There’s a large Chinese population here, a diaspora of masters who fled the Japanese occupation and the communists. Needle Through Brick presents insightful interviews of Borneo’s unique elder masters as the precious disciplines that they have dedicated their lives to face extinction.
A Brief History of Stick Fighting and Why Learn It
March 9, 2020
There are many practical reasons to learn how to fight with sticks. Stick fighting is a healthy, competitive activity that has real world applications. Stick fighting skills are very practical for self-defense, while stick fighting also serves as a sport, offering both entertainment and fitness. It appeals to all types of people, of all ages and ability levels.
Essential Stick Fighting: Crossing the Gap
February 24, 2020
The human mind can be very predictable. Our brains have a natural tendency to look for patterns, and you can use this knowledge to trick your opponent into doing what you want him to do. This is called programming. Programming is an exceptional method of setting up your techniques, maximizing the probability of eluding your opponent’s defenses in order to land a decisive, disabling strike.
2020: Enter the Rat! The First of the Twelve Chinese Zodiac Signs - January 20, 2020
The Chinese year 4718 begins on January 25, 2020. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Rat (鼠年 - “rat year”; pinyin: shǔnián). 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.
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).
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.
Karate: Is There Equipment That Can Help Me? - July 23, 2018
Much of modern karate training can be done simply by refining one's technique through careful internal reflection. The only thing required is a karate uniform or do-gi. However, there can be great benefit to using equipment in training. The use of equipment can be vital for developing a method of direct feedback regarding the execution and delivery of power into a target. To this end, equipment can be used for two primary purposes: (1) understanding the internal feeling of the body as a technique impacts an object, and (2) developing focus and power delivery through correct alignment to a target outside the body.
Kung Fu Body Conditioning - Upper Body - February 26, 2018
Body conditioning. It is painful and time consuming, yet it is essential for reaching high levels in martial arts. The upper extremities are used for striking, blocking, sensing, grabbing, breaking, lifting, etc.
The Eum and Yang of Traditional Taekwondo, an Interview with Grandmaster Richard Chun and Master Doug Cook - Part 2 - December 19, 2017
In this article, both devoted martial artists were queried as to their views on the difference between sport and traditional taekwondo, the importance of poomsae, training in Korea, and sought their opinions on the future direction of taekwondo.  Here are more questions from the interview with Grandmaster Richard Chun and Master Doug Cook.
The Eum and Yang of Traditional Taekwondo, an Interview with Grandmaster Richard Chun and Master Doug Cook - Part 1 - December 11, 2017
Sadly, Grandmaster Richard Chun passed on November 15, 2017. In honor of his memory, YMAA is reposting an abbreviated interview about Grandmaster Chun's life and Master Cook's written by Stuart Anslow and published in "Totally Taekwondo” July 2013. Master Doug Cook was recently named successor to Grandmaster Chun. He is now president and CEO of the United States Taekwondo Association whose mission is to “promote the traditional and evolving art of taekwondo.”
Unity or Something Like It - November 21, 2017
Let this be known: I cannot stand running. I ran a lot when I was younger, mainly because somebody was always trying to beat me. Why? Acerbic wit was my weapon of choice.
Introducing a new YMAA author, Donivan Blair, bassist for the Toadies and author of Even If It Kills Me: Martial Arts, Rock and - October 17, 2017
I had the great pleasure of meeting Donivan Blair at the Beach Ball Buzz concert last month in Kansas. I enjoyed the adventure of being back stage in the thick of things. And also the Toadies are a really good rock and roll band. The audience adored them and would have liked to have heard more of their music. They are entertainers extraordinaire.
Keri: Kicking Techniques - April 10, 2017
One difference between martial arts styles developed in Asia and many of the Western arts is the refinement of the legs and feet as striking weapons. In Shotokan karate in particular, kicking techniques, or keri are seamlessly integrated into the curriculum and are one of the six major classes of techniques (zuki, uke, uchi, nage, keri, and dachi).
Four Fundamental Requirements of Martial Arts - March 20, 2017
Karate-do, or any other martial art, is, at its core quite simple. However, it can be made far more complex than what it actually is. The multitude of techniques, combinations, kata, and partner drills—combined with nebulous concepts like "use your hips," "lower your stance," "do budo karate," "make more kime," and "use your ki"—can make martial arts seem overwhelming.
The Karate Science of Wrist Rotation - February 27, 2017
I was reading through one of my martial arts group news feeds the other day on Facebook, and I stumbled across a question posed by one of the members. The question was based on the fact that, as we all know, a block is not a block, but rather a receiving technique.
Fighting Physics: The Mechanics of the Staff - February 13, 2017
Physics is one broad brushstroke of a topic! If we got technical, we could talk about how the atoms of the staff and the arrangement of the wood fibers along its length give the staff its unique characteristics, capabilities and combat effectiveness.
Easy Training Equipment for Staff Fun - December 5, 2016
Here is your opportunity to become the "Lord of the Rings" (sorry, I just couldn't help myself!). Training rings allow you to develop accurate, penetrating thrusts as well as circular techniques used in manipulation of an opponent's weapon. They are useful for training both staff and spear.
Combat with the Staff: The Moment of Truth - November 25, 2016
It is not unusual for sparring with the staff to feel awkward at first. There is a big difference between doing drills with a partner, and the chaos of combat against a non-compliant opponent who is trying his best to hit you. Stick with it.
What is Staff Fighting? - October 17, 2016
The staff has been a common weapon among the many cultures of Earth since ancient times. Over the ages, humans have used this basic weapon for self-defense and for contest.
The Art and Science of Staff Fighting - September 19, 2016
The staff, or bo, is one of the most common weapons in the martial arts.  Many karate schools include bo forms in their curriculum. I am here with Master Joe Varady, martial artist and weapons specialist, to talk about the staff.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does)—Part 2 - July 1, 2016
With an estimated 50 million karateka in the world there are no figures that I am aware of to demonstrate what percentage have been training for more than a few years. Certainly, given the direction of karate's growth over the past fifty-years, it wouldn't be too outrageous to suggest that a greater value has been placed on quantity over quality. So what happened?