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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not Parlor Tricks - September 12, 2016
The following aren't actually tricks. They are exercises that you demonstrate once to show a deeper truth. Most will not work on people a second time. Some will learn to game it.
Brain Damage: Do Football Helmets Help? - September 5, 2016
Recently, the National Football League is facing a 765-million-dollar lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 4,500 former players regarding the concussions and potential chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) sustained during their careers. Similar lawsuits are underway against the National Collegiate Athletic Association as well as the National Hockey League, and football helmet maker Riddell is facing multiple lawsuits over claims about the effectiveness of their helmets at protecting athletes from concussions.
DRILL: The One-Step - August 29, 2016
The one-step arose as a useful accident. Many years ago I was reading George Mattson's The Way of Karate and I completely misunderstood his description of ippon kumite. I thought, "That's brilliant—unscripted but safe, just looking at this whole thing as a meat geometry problem…"
Training for Sudden Violence - August 15, 2016
I teach about violence. As I left “the life” I discovered that my niche wasn’t so much teaching cops as I had expected, or even teaching civilian self-defense. The material seemed to resonate most with experienced martial artists who were coming to discover how little they really knew about violence.
Defending Against Multiple Assailants Part 2 - July 25, 2016
The axiom that street violence is volatile and unpredictable could not hold truer than when facing multiple assailants.  Facing multiple assailants, let alone multiple armed assailants, is an extremely dangerous proposition.  Try to recognize the situation as soon as possible such as if two people are walking towards you and they suddenly fan out to your left and right.  Running and escaping is your best solution.
Defending Against Multiple Assailants—Part 1 - July 18, 2016
Street violence is volatile and unpredictable.  An attacker will seek every advantage including ambushing you in concert with multiple confederates.  You may well find yourself in a "negative five" position or initially unprepared for the fight of your life.  Krav maga (Hebrew for "contact combat") developed for the Israel Defense Forces will provide you with the instinctive tools and ability to fight for your life and win.
Self-Defense: A Unique Teaching Challenge - June 27, 2016
There are six very important distinctions that make self-defense different from almost every other subject we teach. Rarity. Emergencies are extremely rare, complex, and varied. Rarity means there is very limited experience available on how to deal with such an event.
Use of Force and Law Enforcement - May 9, 2016
My opinions on the use of force (UOF) are based on twenty-five years of service with the New Jersey State Police. For ten years I was assigned to the NJSP Training Bureau in roles including lead academy instructor; assistant unit head for the Firearms and Self-Defense Training Unit; use of force instructor; and lead defensive tactics instructor including training recruit, advanced, and in-service members.
Optimizing Force Using Krav Maga - April 12, 2016
A combative strike will have optimum force if you accelerate your strike in combination with correct body mechanics. Principally, this involves a total body weight shift through the target. Physics teaches that acceleration times mass equals force. Your strike will generate more force if you accelerate your speed as you extend your arm and put all of your body weight (mass) behind your strike. This requires proper body positioning and technique.
The Krav Maga Advantage - March 29, 2016
The key is your mind-set: to neutralize an opponent quickly and decisively. In fighting sports, the following tactics are generally banned: eye gouges, throat strikes, head butting, biting, hair pulling, clawing, pinching or twisting of the flesh, striking the spine and the back of the head, striking with the tip of the elbow, small joint manipulation, kidney and liver strikes, clavicle strikes, kneeing or kicking the head of an opponent on the ground, and slamming an opponent to the ground on his head. These are exactly the combined core tactics krav maga emphasizes.
Some Krav Maga Guidelines - February 22, 2016
Footwork and body positioning combined with timing, whether standing or prone, allow you to simultaneously defend and attack, leading to seamless combative transitions essential to retzev or "continuous combat motion."
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).
Krav Maga's Training Philosophy - January 25, 2016
Krav maga is designed around a few core tactics to counter a myriad of attacks. Defenders get tools for their toolboxes along with a general blueprint for how to use them. Imi's goal was survival in any defensible situation. While there are no set solutions for ending an armed confrontation, there are preferred methods using violence of action combined with retzev, or "continuous combat motion."
Foam or Knuckles—Navigating the Illusion of Safety - January 18, 2016
If you really want to understand how gloves contribute to the safety of our athletes, especially when it comes to their brains, take a closer look at the physics behind taking a punch with a bare fist or a glove.
Hooks in Violent and Non Violent Encounters - January 12, 2016
Dealing with people who routinely used violence to get what they want, they often sought a "hook." A hook is an excuse to act out or a rationalization that will allow them to excuse their actions later.
Physical Reaction to Information - December 14, 2015
Our right to physically defend ourselves is widely accepted in the contemporary world. Most countries have laws protecting the individual from prosecution when he or she is under direct threat and must defend against bodily harm or even death. What is less clear, though, is the degree to which we are allowed to protect ourselves in that narrow window when an aggressor has decided to attack but has not yet attacked.
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.
Nonphysical Reaction to Information - November 2, 2015
We all have the ability to use our instincts. The problem is that we often bury that inherent skill under a lot of what we need to learn to get along in contemporary society. So sometimes we may get a warning message about a potential threat, but then we choose to ignore it, perhaps out of doubt in ourselves, and our feelings, or perhaps because we just don't want to believe we may be in danger. The first task, then, is to hone our instincts through improving our ability to experience anxiety and to proficiently process the information coming in from our environment.
Motivation of the Warrior - October 12, 2015
The motivation of the individual or group plays an integral role in determining the final outcome when facing a combative or self-defense situation. Intention that is positively grounded increases focus, strength, speed, and endurance. Think of a mother lion defending her cubs. She experiences anxiety but is fearless in protecting them. People are the same. Through my years of experience, I am convinced that when we are motivated by what is good, we will eventually prevail over those who are not. We all choose to live by either service, which we might even call love, or power.