Why your teacher is not God - The infallibility illusion in traditional martial arts
December 18, 2023
It is easy to fall into the trap of seeing our martial arts masters as infallible or near-invincible in skill. However, this mindset is not just erroneous, but downright dangerous too. The following article will explain why.
Good Retribution of a Kind Heart
November 20, 2023
It’s easy to talk about righteousness. Living it is difficult.
Myths, Legends, Archetypes and Stereotypes in Martial Arts
November 13, 2023
While both myths and legends possess an undeniable appeal, transforming mundane truths into powerful stories, these tales also serve a martial function.
Working Together: Teaching Online
March 26, 2021
Online teaching has been trending throughout the pandemic. YMAA instructors Jonathan Chang and Michelle Lin share their experiences providing virtual teaching pre-pandemic until now, as well as hosting a global Martial Arts Virtual Camp. I sat down with them recently (virtually of course) to discuss all this and what they are planning for the future.
Bam Commandments: Spiritual Principles
February 15, 2021
It’s the first of the month in the tough ghetto neighborhood. It’s payday for the poor. The welfare check has arrived, and the drug dealers can’t wait. It’s also their payday, and they can easily estimate $20,000-$50,000 in income. This might seem exaggerated, but it’s not. This dealing goes on every day, and with this business comes violence, guns, and murder for those in top positions of power.
Know the Land, Know the Martial Arts History of Vietnam - September 28, 2020
Vietnam has a land mass close to 332,000 square kilometers, it borders China to the north, mainland Southeast Asia to the west and has hundreds of kilometers of coastline. As a result, the region has long been seen as a strategically and economically valuable resource. The modern incarnation of Vietnam was first amalgamated by military expansion southwards throughout the seventeenth century, giving the country its distinct "S" shape. Meanwhile, the northern borders have had very little modification since the withdrawal of the Song Dynasty in 1070.
Vietnamese Martial Arts and Their Role in the Modern World - July 24, 2020
The land we now know as Vietnam has been defined by centuries of conflict. Within the modern-day borders of the country, countless battles for dominance, resources and survival have taken place, thus ensuring the development of many unique fighting styles. Although there has been a long and intertwined history between China and Vietnam (the name Vietnam even stems from the Chinese "Nan Yue" which means "Southern Dwellers",) various geographical, cultural and physical differences have all coalesced to create combat systems that are distinctly different from their northern counterparts.
The Way of Wushudo - December 2, 2019
The highest level of martial arts training is to be able to perform beyond all boundaries, systems, styles, and techniques with total freedom of self-expression. You can achieve this only after you have developed a strong foundation in a particular style or system.
Sambo-Not for the Faint of Heart - November 25, 2019
The young newspaper reporter was looking for an angle on his story about the national sambo tournament I was hosting sometime back around 1985 in Kansas City, Missouri. I had given him the necessary background information on the sport; the rules, history, who was competing that day and the other bits of information that would give the reporter more than enough information to provide an interesting story to his readers.
Steps to Winning - November 11, 2019
Many people study martial arts because they want to develop their fighting skills, then have a chance to go one-on-one with other martial artists. It seems more refined and socially acceptable to them than going outside and picking a fight with someone on the street. Of course you don't get the same possible dire consequences, because there is always a measure of controlled fighting in the ring.
Structured Training in the Martial Arts - October 14, 2019
Structured training is not only necessary, it is essential and central to success in any field of endeavor, and especially so in the fighting sports that comprise the martial arts. A person has to train hard, but just as important, that martial arts athlete has to train smart. In most martial arts, there is a rational approach to skill development.
How to be a Complete Martial Artist and Discover the Champion Within - October 7, 2019
It took a 6-foot-wide and 8-foot-high jail cell for me to realize that I had the qualities of a complete martial artist. I struggled with the thought of the inside being like a tunnel and losing my breath from being claustrophobic.
Encountering a Bully - September 23, 2019
When you come across a bully, it is important to understand that there are several defensive tools you can use to escape a fight. To avoid these situations altogether, it helps to know what types of bullies there are and what weapons they will use to try to put you down.
The Pursuit of Do - August 12, 2019
There is a formula in Western civilization that many people follow, hoping for inner peace and happiness—a good education, plus a good job, plus lots of money and material possessions, plus family and friends equal inner peace and happiness.
A Fight of No Fight (無爭之爭) as told by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming - April 15, 2019
The best way to win a fight is without fighting. Often you can win a fight with wisdom, and this is better than physically beating someone up. Instead of aggression, use patience and endurance to succeed. Big successes always come from many little efforts.
Fables from the Dao in Action - March 25, 2019
There were two young friends who decided to leave their village and go to the city to make their fortune. They worked hard for thirty years and each friend successfully earned a good amount of money. They decided to return to their village to enjoy their earnings and the rest of their lives.
Judo Isn't Gentle - February 18, 2019
Is judo really the "gentle way?" In the popular meaning of the word, judo certainly isn't anything close to being gentle. To paraphrase the great martial arts writer Donn Draeger; "Judo isn't gentle." And while judo isn't gentle in the more common use of the word, it's certainly efficient; and because it's efficient, it's effective
2019: Year of the Pig! - February 4, 2019
The Chinese year 4717 begins on February 5, 2019. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Pig (豬年 - "pig year"; pinyin: zhūnián). 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.
2018: The Year of the Dog! - February 12, 2018
The Chinese year 4716 begins on February 16, 2018. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Dog (狗年 - "dog year"; pinyin: gǒunián).
2017: The Year of the Rooster! - January 23, 2017
The Chinese year 4715 begins on January 28, 2017. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Rooster (雞年 - "rooster year"; pinyin: jīnián). 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.
Chinese New Year Celebrations—Yesterday and Today - February 17, 2015
The days leading up to biggest Chinese holiday are palpable with excitement. Traditionally, Chinese New Year is marked with feasts, new clothes, red envelopes, performances, games, and lighting firecrackers late into the night. The two-week long celebration is the time to visit loved ones, welcome the spring, and wish for luck and prosperity in the New Year.
A Fight of No Fight (A Chinese Folk Story) - July 22, 2013
A long time ago, there was a family that owned a small farm. The father worked very hard to make the farm successful so that he would be able to leave it to his two sons when he died. The elder son, who was married, was named Der-Shin, while the younger son, who was not married, was named Der-Yi.
The Fox Borrows the Tiger's Awe (狐假虎威) - March 19, 2013
When I was a boy, my grandmother and my martial arts teachers told me many stories. This was very common in China, especially in the old days before television and radio, and especially in previous centuries when the vast majority of the population could not read. While these stories were a main source of entertainment, they also played an important role in the moral and cultural education of the children.
Martial Moralities - February 25, 2013
Martial morality has always been a required discipline in Chinese martial arts society. Before you learn any martial techniques, you should first understand this subject.
2013: The Year of the Snake - February 8, 2013
The Chinese year 4711 begins on February 10, 2013. According to the Chinese zodiac it will be the Year of the Snake, euphemistically referred to as the 'little dragon'.