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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).
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.
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.
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.
The Sword Structure - July 20, 2015
The sword consists of two parts: the blade and the hilt or handle. Both edges of the narrow-blade sword are sharp; the handle and sword body are always straight. The hand guard is always flat and perpendicular to the blade, rather than circular or oval.
The Different Jing and Their Applications - July 6, 2015
Jing can be expressed by the hands, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees, legs, or even the body itself. Taijiquan emphasizes the upper limbs and the body, and uses the legs and feet as secondary weapons.
Interpreting The Kanji - June 2, 2015
Studying an Asian martial art can be a daunting task for a non-Asian student. Not only do you have to learn the physical postures and how to move from one to the other, you also strive to master the seemingly endless number of techniques. As well, the cultural milieu in which the martial art developed is often confusing. Many times the task you undertake is compared to climbing a mountain, and for good reason.
Gichin Funakoshi (1868–1957):  The Gentle Teacher of Shuri Te - December 1, 2014
Perhaps it was always Funakoshi's destiny to shed light on a part of Okinawan culture that had for centuries remained hidden from the gaze of the general population. He shone like a bright star in a dark sky and pointed the way forward for the many millions around the world who would take up the challenge of learning.
Fond Memories About Okinawan Cuisine - November 3, 2014
I once asked a Japanese friend of mine, who had flown down from the mainland to Okinawa to meet me, if she was enjoying her visit to this part of Japan. Her reply surprised me at the time, as she confessed it was like visiting a different country. The food in particular was very different from the type of dishes she ate on a daily basis with her family in Osaka.
Different Levels of Qin Na Techniques - October 27, 2014
As with most Chinese martial arts, qin na is composed of many different levels, according to different criteria or standards. I would like to define these standards according to several different systems of categorization.
About the Sword - July 14, 2014
Many martial artists, even those who have studied Chinese martial arts for many years, still have a number of questions about the structure, use, history, and geographical background of the Chinese straight sword (jian).
Bunbu Ryo Do: The Way of The Karate Martial Scholar - March 10, 2014
In the early part of the twentieth century, when Okinawan karate teachers were first asked to provide names for their karate by the Butokukai in Japan, they struggled to come up with a name that did justice to the martial art they practiced.
Teaching Kung Fu to Kids and Teens - January 6, 2014
I teach primarily in my own kung fu studio. I am the owner, head coach and program designer. I pay the bills, open the doors in the morning and lock them at the end of the day. It's very much 'my house'. More recently, I've also been teaching classes at a local middle school.
Difficult Research in Developing Karate—Part 2 - November 11, 2013
Personal research requires you to look inward towards your own nature, and to take responsibility for your karate; to step out of your comfort zone. You can do this by attending events like open courses if you like, but in truth, such challenges do little to aid your progress.