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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Qin Na in Chinese Martial Arts - September 16, 2013
Nobody can tell exactly when Qin Na was first used. It probably began the first time one person grabbed another with the intention of controlling him. Grabbing the opponent's limbs or weapon is one of the most basic and instinctive ways to immobilize him or control his actions.
Fundamental Sword Training and Practice - September 2, 2013
Jian is the king of the short weapons. Skill in the use of the Jian is built on a foundation of skill with the saber, which is called the root of the short weapons. Any martial artist who wants to master the Jian should first master the saber; otherwise it will be extremely difficult to understand the applications of the techniques and the source of the power in sword practice.