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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).
Subtle Clarity—Yin and Yang Lao Tzu, Translation and Commentary
February 25, 2019
It is clear that in order to expand something, it must first shrink. It is the same when you want to weaken it: first you should strengthen it. In order to reduce it, you must first build it up. Also, in order to take it, first you must give. This is the theory of yin and yang, which always balance each other.
Fighting with Weapons
January 28, 2019
Weapons are simply an extension of the fighter. The Samurai even considered the sword to be an extension of their soul. The weapon assumes the character of whoever wields the weapon, as the weapon is simply a tool that extends the will of the fighter. The principles of fighting with empty hands apply to fighting with weapons. A fight is a fight. But there are some thoughts about these principles that should be noted.
Guiding and Leading (Humility)-Putting Oneself Behind
December 10, 2018
As a leader, humility is the most important prerequisite to lead the people. The book Shu (《書‧大禹謨》) said: “(Those) satisfied will cause damage and (those) humble will acquire benefits.” This is because those who are humble can take a low position, be open-minded, and be willing to learn; thus they gain. Those who are satisfied and proud of themselves will not listen and learn from others; thus they lose. The Book of Changes (《易‧謙》) said: “Those who are humble and again humble always use their modest personality to restrain themselves.”
Qi: Science or Magic? - November 26, 2018
Tai chi and similar exercises are yielding phenomenal results for a large variety of health concerns. When I began collecting case stories, I was amazed at the number of people who have benefited from these exercises, often in dramatic ways. That tai chi and various qigong exercises increase blood oxygen saturation indicates that it is no coincidence that the Chinese word "qi" (pronounced "chi") is so strongly associated with these exercises. Despite qi's common association with the metaphysical and energy work, at its most basic level qi is best understood from its literal translation as "air."
Qigong and Tai Chi Benefits - November 19, 2018
Now is the time to start your action and make things happen. We all have different plans even though we have similar goals. We must put theory into action. Without action, nothing works. As unique as each of us is, as individually tailored as each healing plan might be, there is one item that should be on everyone's list: exercise.
Doing Nothing—Be Nature - October 29, 2018
For those who wish to take over the world and act upon it, I can see that they cannot succeed. The world is a sacred vessel, it cannot be acted upon it and cannot be controlled. Those who act upon it will fail; and those who control it will lose.
Self-Nourishment—Commonality Translated and Interpreted Dr.Yang, Jwing-Ming - September 10, 2018
Humans have defined what beauty is and what it is not. We also defined what is good and what is bad. In doing this, we set up an emotional matrix and dogma in human society. Once we have these concepts, there exists having or not having, difficulty or ease, and other ideas in comparison to one another. Consequently, competitiveness arises and different classes are discriminated. Du, Guang-Ting (杜光庭) said: "What are beauty and goodness? They are initiated from xin (i.e., emotional mind).
Qi, the Dao, and Cell Biology - September 3, 2018
Both Western and Eastern medical traditions base their definition of health on the correct functioning of bodily systems. In the Western paradigm, this is considered optimal cellular metabolism. In the Eastern model, this is considered the smooth flow of qi. Which concept is correct? They both are.
Qigong Interpretation: Dao De Jing - August 27, 2018
In qigong practice, through a few thousand years of pondering and practice, the Chinese people have been trying to understand the grand universe (da tian di, 大天地), the small universe (xiao tian di, 小天地), and their mutual relationship. From this understanding, they hope to live long and to comprehend the meaning of life. Since The Book of Changes (Yi Jing, 《易經》), the Chinese have believed there are two dimensions coexisting in this universe.
Calibrating the Moral Compass - August 6, 2018
The value of life involves two distinct aspects: the physical—life itself or the actual human “being” of aliveness—and the metaphysical in orbit around it that is everything we consider worthwhile in life—our loves, ambitions, and desires, including our sense of oughtness referenced within morals, ethics, justice, and rights.
General Chinese Treatments for Back Pain - June 25, 2018
Back pain is not considered to be a sickness, but a pain caused by other sicknesses. Therefore, the usual treatment is first to stop the pain by using acupuncture, massage, or both in combination. The key to reaching this goal is to improve the qi and blood circulation in the pained area. Occasionally, herbs are also used to improve the circulation and stop the pain. However, all of these measures are considered temporary, since they are not able to cure the root of the sickness but only alleviate the symptoms. In order to have a complete recovery or cure the root of the problem, a healthy and strong foundation must be rebuilt. Naturally, this usually takes a long time, but it is a long-term solution.
The Way of the Warrior - June 18, 2018
In the witching hours of night, after a softball game with friends, police officer Stacey Lim was returning home. As she parked, a vehicle carrying five members of a local gang crept behind her. A young man emerged from the vehicle. He meant to murder her and to steal her car. He wanted to prove himself to fellow gang members. Officer Lim stepped out of her vehicle and turned into the looming barrel of a gun.
Good People Who Want to be Better People Get Trained - June 4, 2018
"I'm at Laughing Man Tavern in Washington, DC." This is the last tweet of Kevin Joseph Sutherland. It's dated July 3, 2015. In the early afternoon of July Fourth, Sutherland boards the Metro Red Line to meet friends downtown to watch fireworks. He is twenty-four, has recently graduated from American University, and has been hired as a digital strategist for a DC firm.
Qigong Theory—The Roots in the Garden - May 28, 2018
Many people think that qigong is a difficult subject to comprehend.  In some ways, this is true.  However, you must understand one thing: regardless of how difficult the qigong theory and practice of a particular style are, the basic theory and principles are very simple and remain the same for all of the qigong styles. 
The Protector Ethic - May 21, 2018
Take this true story of a young man who went to the aid of a young woman—she was being beaten. This fellow tried to thwart the attack by attacking her attacker. But, unbeknownst to our hero, the aggressor's friends were not far behind, and when they came on their comrade receiving a knuckle sandwich, they served up several of their own. Whatever happened to the girl is anyone's guess.
No, Fairy Tales Are Not Morally ‘Ambiguous,’ And That’s Why They’re Worthwhile - May 14, 2018
“Darth Vader was seduced by the other side of the Force.” Actually, it was the dark side, not the other side. Vader was seduced by a set of values in contradiction to what Jedi took for granted about the Force and its usage.
Discipline: Keep Cool - May 7, 2018
One of my teachers frequently used the phrase, "Keep a cool tool." Samurai Miyamoto Mushashi expressed this a bit more eloquently centuries earlier, saying, "You must remain calm at all times; in this way you can control the attack."
Qigong for Arthritis - April 30, 2018
I would like to discuss the attitude that you need to adopt in your practice. Quite frequently, people who are ill are reluctant to become involved in the healing process. This is especially true for arthritis patients. Both Western and Chinese physicians have had difficulty persuading them to become involved in regular exercise or qigong. The main reason for this reluctance is that the patients are afraid of pain, and therefore believe that these kinds of exercise are harmful. In order to conquer this obstacle to your healing, you must understand the theory of healing and the reason for practicing. Only then will you have the confidence necessary for continued practice. Remember, a physician may have an excellent prescription for your illness, but if you don’t take the medicine, it won’t do you any good.
Winning Fights is Based on Principles—Not Techniques - April 9, 2018
Technique is important. But techniques change, adapt, and evolve. Principles are timeless. Bruce Lee recognized this truth, and advised to “absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” To Lee, there was no single superior style of fighting. He even referred to his methods as the “style of no style.”
Winning Fights - April 2, 2018
Everyone knows that any fighter can win or lose on any given day. There is even a saying among fighters that there is always someone bigger and better. No one can consistently predict the outcome of two fighters facing each other who possess equal skill. The Navy SEALS have the same problem. Men of all sizes, body types and different skill sets wish to enter SEAL training.
Can We Win the War on Terror? - March 19, 2018
Terrorism and Rapid Mass Murder seem to be permanent, lurking shadows darkening the stage of modern politics. Experts weave a nest of causes, from untempered religious orthodoxy and the moral queasiness of the West to historical grievance and the Internet as a mechanism for radicalization, among others. All, perhaps, carry their measure of truth. I would like to suggest that whatever volatile mix of causes accounts for the menace of terrorism, as a practical matter, the problem is intractable. The prevailing structure of our institutions offers no response to it.
The Spirit of the Warrior - March 12, 2018
The spirit of the warrior touches many across time and place. It is not exclusive to those professionals who devote their lives to it. It touches the mother who, with blinding ferocity, protects a child against danger. It touches the young man who blazes like a flame and charges forward when an armed terrorist storms onto the train that carries him.
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.