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.
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 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.
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?
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does) - June 15, 2016
Getting hit doesn't hurt...that's not only the name of this article: it's a fact! It was also a discovery I made many years ago when, as a young man caught in a downward spiral of violent behaviour, my life was heading to the bottom faster than a rock in water. Unable to take control of the rage that burst to the surface with increased regularity, my teenage years bore witness to a boy broken by his inability to alter course. Appreciating that it was my fear of being hit, and not the actual pain I might feel when a blow landed, was a massive turning point in my sprint to the bottom. It was a fear that lay at the heart of my hesitation to start a fight; but once that fear was removed, my downward trajectory grew quickly steeper.
Redemption: A Street Fighter's Path to Peace - May 16, 2016
Being born the fifth child into a working-class family of six children guaranteed I had a fight on my hands from the very beginning. That my siblings and I grew to be productive members of society suggests that my childhood, although often chaotic, served me well. Dublin, Ireland, was not the attractive city in 1955 that it is today, so my birth on the fourteenth of May that year, in the upstairs front bedroom at 88 Kylemore Drive, rekindled thoughts in my father's head of returning to England. And in 1958, when I was three years old, the family moved to Manchester in the heart of England's industrial northwest.
The Donkey - March 7, 2016
I am not, nor have I ever been, the most physically competent martial artist. It takes me inordinately more classes to attain technical proficiency in many areas than it does others. I am tall and fairly agile, but I do not have much muscle mass. And then, over the past few years, two significant medical challenges have crossed my desk. Couple all this with the fact that I am now in my 60s, and a potentially bleak image begins to materialize.
Celebrating Chinese New Year, the Year of the Monkey - February 8, 2016
For thousands of years, celebrating the New Year in China is always the biggest event of the whole year. During the lunar New Year celebration, every family makes the best food, wears their best clothes, and shoes, and keeps up their best spirit and mood. Family and friends get together to enjoy eating, laughing, chatting, and friendship. Another very important element of the celebration: fire crackers.
Political Turmoil in Taekwondo - August 18, 2014
On December 31, 2013, Grandmaster Kyu Hyung Lee, taekwondoist extraordinaire, formally resigned his post as president of the esteemed Kukkiwon after holding the position for a mere matter of months. Quickly replaced by Man Soon Jang, Lee claimed his startling decision was founded on irreconcilable differences between two leading factions; one consisting of officials whose behavior is largely motivated by politics, and a second group of martial artists, spearheaded by Lee, with the purity of taekwondo at heart.
The Art in Martial Arts - July 28, 2014
For many practitioners, the phrase “martial arts” doesn’t do a particularly good job of encompassing the complexity of the systems we study. There is also a certain oxymoronic tension between things martial and things arty and serious trainees often prefer to emphasize the physical efficacy of these systems.
The Heart of Taekwondo - July 7, 2014
When the heart of taekwondo beats, it gives life to the advancement of supreme discipline, the achievement of noble character, and the cultivation of an enlightened worldview. It breaks the bonds that bind us to the Earth and again, as adults, allows us to feel the wind beneath our feet rather than merely around them.
Chinese New Year "The Year of the Wooden Horse" Interview with Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming - January 27, 2014
Most non-Chinese people (Westerners) call the Spring Festival 'Chinese New Year.' The 2014 Chinese Spring Festival falls on January 31 continuing through February 6. According to the Chinese zodiac it is the Year of the Wooded Horse. In Chinese Five Element theory, Horse is in the Fire group, which is the strongest fire animal in twelve zodiacs.
History and Philosophy of Taekwondo - Part 2 - August 5, 2013
Similarly rooted in Chinese culture, the Baduanjin routine, or Eight Pieces of Brocade, a medical qigong therapy whose performance is professed to impart a silken quality to the body, dates back to AD 1300 where it appears in the Xiuzhen shi-shu (Ten Compilations on Cultivating Perfection).
History and Philosophy of Taekwondo - Part 1 - July 29, 2013
Long before the advent of sport sparring and the invention of modern safety gear, in a time when to fight meant to defend one’s life from almost certain death, an ingenious method of transmitting martial arts skills from venerated master to loyal disciple was developed.
The Evolution of Tae Kwon Do Poomsae, Hyung and Tul-Part 2 - June 17, 2013
Throughout the 1950s and early 60s, when Tae Kwon Do, still referred to as taesoodo, tangsoodo and kongsoodo in many circles, was in its infancy, poomsae practice consisted largely of exercises derived from these Okinawan, Japanese and Chinese disciplines.
The Evolution of Tae Kwon Do Poomsae, Hyung and Tul-Part 1 - June 10, 2013
Long before the advent of sport sparring and the invention of modern safety gear, in a time when to fight meant to defend one’s life from almost certain death an ingenious method of transmitting martial arts skills from venerated master to loyal disciple was developed.
The Traditional Way to Celebrate Spring Festival or Chinese New Year - February 4, 2013
Daoist monk Zhou, Xuan-Yun grew up in a small village, Liu Gang Zu, in Henan Province with about 100 residents. The following are his memories and comments about the Spring Festival.
Surrender! Clear Your Mind To Learn A New Skill - January 14, 2013
After teaching taekwondo for many years, I have come to some concrete observations. As an instructor and school owner I have noticed that many new students have a difficult time acclimating to Eastern customs.
A Photo Shoot for the Ages - July 23, 2012
As digital publishing and electronic readers begin to eclipse the charm of the printed word, books of paper, binding, glue, and ink become all the more dear, particularly to those of us who still take great pleasure in holding the editorial contributions of an author in our hands while mindfully turning pages infused with academic thought, one at a time.
Taekwondo-A Powerful Tool for Self-Defense - May 14, 2012
The martial art of Taekwondo, literally meaning "art of hand and foot fighting," is more than two thousand years old. Yet its physical and spiritual content have never been so vigorously sought after and practiced as it is now.