The Shaolin Temple and the Shaolin Diaspora
November 27, 2023
With the Abbot of Shaolin Temple visit to California in November 2023, Staff Writer Gene Ching ruminates over the distinctions between some Shaolin styles of Kung Fu practiced around the world and the curriculum propounded at the original Shaolin Temple of China today
Preserving the Legacy of Two-Person Forms in the Chinese Martial Arts
July 31, 2023
In the wake of Michelle Lin & Quentin Lopes chat with Gene Ching about their new "Barehand vs Staff Sequence", Staff Writer Gene Ching explores the legacy of two-person training sequences in the Chinese martial arts.
Wing Chun is Alive and Well
July 17, 2023
The new China had turned its back on the glorious past. But the martial arts were a part of that past that could not easily be destroyed.
Why my Lianbuquan is Different from Yours
July 25, 2022
There are countless kung fu forms across innumerable schools and lineages, but sometimes different schools share the same form. While reviewing the Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu Complete Collection, YMAA Staff Writer Gene Ching discovered some overlapping forms between his Northern Shaolin tradition and YMAA’s curriculum and discusses the shared roots and divergences.
The YMAA Kung Fu Curriculum
April 18, 2022
This is Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming's official YMAA External Arts Curriculum, which outlines his recommended order of study for Kung Fu students.
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.
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).
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 Roll - 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.
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?
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.
Sai Design and Fighting Theory - January 27, 2016
The correct length and weight of the sai varies from individual to individual. Of course, as with any weapon, the longer and heavier it can be without compromising the handling, the better it is in a combat situation. As the proverb goes, "One inch longer, one inch stronger" (一寸長, 一寸強, Yī cùn cháng, yī cùn qiáng).
Sai: Ancient Marvel of a Weapon - December 7, 2015
Sai (釵, chāi) is perhaps most commonly known in popular culture today as the featured weapon of choice by the comic book characters Raphael of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Elektra of Marvel Comics. While it is not entirely clear how the sai was created as a weapon, it is widely accepted that the sai originated from mainland Asia several thousand years ago.
Protecting the Brain from Trauma: A Home Experiment to Show We Can Do Better - September 7, 2015
If you put on a football helmet right now and smacked yourself in the head with your hands, you might notice you can hit yourself pretty hard before you start to feel pain. You could even grab a stapler or a coffee mug and hit yourself with that. If you are like me, smacking yourself in the head is the first thing you do when you put a helmet on, just to test it out.
Purely Offensive Jing - July 27, 2015
Wardoff jing is a strong yang jing that is used offensively even in defense. In principle, it behaves like a large rubber ball—when pressure is applied, it compresses, and when a certain point is reached, it bounces the outside force away.