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Juji Gatame: The World’s Most Popular Armlock
April 29, 2019
There are, fundamentally, two core ways of “locking” an arm. You either bend it over a fulcrum to cause pain or you straighten and stretch it over a fulcrum to cause pain. Juji Gatame is one of four primary armlocks that attack the elbow joint (as well as shoulder joint).
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).
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.
The First Rule of Self-Defense
April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
The Three Building Blocks Of Learning And Training In Judo
April 1, 2019
In any field of study, there has to be some kind of structure so that the contents of that particular area of study can be logically understood, taught and learned, and ultimately passed on to others. This structure or framework must have a firm theoretical and philosophical foundation based on practical application and, just an important, allow for innovation to take place. It must be fixed, yet flexible so that the activity (in this case judo) has room to grow.
Sumo: David vs. Goliath - February 10, 2017
In Malcolm Gladwell's very popular book David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, the author deeply explores the lessons behind the three-thousand-year-old Biblical story of how the small young David defeated the giant warrior Goliath.
Simple Drills Worth Knowing - January 30, 2017
The following are important things, some little, some major, that lend themselves well to simple drills or exercises. Backing up is almost never the answer. Unless you are excellent at reading and remembering tactical terrain, you might not know what or who is behind you.
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. 
Footwork and Figure Eights with a Staff - January 18, 2017
Footwork is essential to hitting your opponent without getting hit yourself, which is really the whole point of staff fighting. The general rule on footwork is to keep your body weight balanced over a stable, but fluidly mobile base, staying light on the balls of your feet at all times.
YMAA Student, Michelle Lin, Earns Role in Assassin’s Creed Movie - January 9, 2017
Occasionally someone asks, "What’s the point of competing in Kung Fu tournaments?" Well, it might just land you a role in a major Hollywood motion picture. But not just any movie, this is the worldwide launch of a potentially massive film franchise, based on a globally-successful videogame brand, and starring Oscar-winning and A-list actors.
Preparation for Beginning a Tai Chi Sequence - January 5, 2017
Before you begin the sequence it is good to stand in wuji for a moment to focus your intent and your qi.
MMA Champion, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, Incorporates Sumo into his Fighting Style - January 5, 2017
A prime example of how a MMA fighter has incorporated sumo into his game is former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida. He has a strong sumo background, but his primary style is traditional Shotokan karate.
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.
The Importance of Posture in Taijiquan - November 29, 2016
Since taijiquan is an internal qigong martial style, correct posture is essential. Incorrect postures can cause many problems: a tight posture can stagnate the internal qi circulation, wrong postures may expose your vital points to attack, and floating shoulders and elbows will break the jing and reduce jing storage.
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.
Tai Chi for Women - November 18, 2016
Tai chi originated in China as a martial art, and has been known for centuries as a mind-body practice that brings practitioners fitness, health, and wellness.
Sumo: A Case Study in Size vs. Technique - November 7, 2016
Sumo is the fusion of honored ritual with unbridled power. Even in a combat sport like sumo, where great body mass and girth are often winning factors, superior technique can overcome size and strength.
Evaluating Drills—Part 2 - October 31, 2016
I get especially annoyed with weapons. Unarmed defense against a weapon sucks. Never, ever, ever practice dying and do not train to be killed. The stakes are too high to blindly imprint a habit, even a habit as simple as handing a weapon back once you have disarmed someone.
Evaluating Drills—Part 1 - October 24, 2016
I'm not a big fan of most drills. There is a fine line, but conditioned reflexes are crucial in a fight and habits will get you killed. Conditioned reflexes are things you do without thinking about it. They are essentially trained flinch responses. If something suddenly comes at your eyes you WILL do something: block, move your head or, at the very minimum, blink.
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.
Experience Tai Chi Fitness - October 10, 2016
Tai Chi Fit is a unique workout that I have developed after decades of traditional tai chi (taijiquan) practice. It is an effort to make tai chi more fun and accessible, while making your fitness more graceful and holistic. It’s a ride along the wave of your inner power, like surfing on your own life energy (Qi).
The Hidden Roots of Karate and Jujitsu - October 5, 2016
This article will discuss several martial arts to illustrate how different looking martial arts are apparently closely related and how the idea of hidden historical roots applies to many martial arts. First the origins of karate and Okinawan sumo will be explored. Then the root of jujitsu will be uncovered.
DRILL: The One-Step - September 26, 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.
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…"
Analysis of Taijiquan Techniques - August 22, 2016
It is important to understand how martial sequences are created and what purposes they serve. Sometimes people who lack this understanding tend to view the taijiquan sequence as a dance or abstract movement. A proper understanding of the root of the art will help you practice in the most effective way.
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.
Introduction of Yang Style Lao Liu Lu Taijiquan - August 8, 2016
In the time of Qing Dynasty, taijiquan was quite popular in the royal palace due to Prince Pu Lun Bei Zi, a man of great power and wealth, who appreciated the fighting technique of Yang-style taijiquan. He recognized the martial applications disguised in the slow, graceful movements, as if there were needles hidden, wrapped in cotton.
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.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does)—Part 2 - July 1, 2016
With an estimated 50 million karateka in the world there are no figures that I am aware of to demonstrate what percentage have been training for more than a few years. Certainly, given the direction of karate's growth over the past fifty-years, it wouldn't be too outrageous to suggest that a greater value has been placed on quantity over quality. So what happened?
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.
Getting hit doesn't hurt (But love sometimes does) - June 15, 2016
Getting hit doesn't hurt...that's not only the name of this article: it's a fact! It was also a discovery I made many years ago when, as a young man caught in a downward spiral of violent behaviour, my life was heading to the bottom faster than a rock in water. Unable to take control of the rage that burst to the surface with increased regularity, my teenage years bore witness to a boy broken by his inability to alter course. Appreciating that it was my fear of being hit, and not the actual pain I might feel when a blow landed, was a massive turning point in my sprint to the bottom. It was a fear that lay at the heart of my hesitation to start a fight; but once that fear was removed, my downward trajectory grew quickly steeper.
Reflections on Taijiquan—A Complex Art - June 6, 2016
One of the best decisions I ever made in my life is to learn Taijiquan. It is one thing that has always brought me great happiness. I cannot deny how much health I have gained, how balanced my mind has become, and how deeply I have pondered life since I began training it at 16 years old. Taijiquan enabled me to not only live a healthy life, but also a calm and peaceful one.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility. The three dharma seals are the general principles of truth, which guide the enlightened to "wisdom" and human beings to understand the "world" with its extensive and profound theories.
Taijiquan and Buddhadharma - May 30, 2016
The three dharma seals in Buddhadharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. In the sutras it is said that whatever is phenomenal is impermanent, everything is of non-self, and nirvana is perfect tranquility.
The Hidden Shaolin Taizu Chang Quan Roots of Chen Taijiquan - May 23, 2016
Shaolin Lohan (Luohan) Quan, Tai Tzu Chang Quan, and Taiji Quan (originating from Chen village), all represent a very ancient history of Chinese martial arts that are associated with health and mental well being besides physical fitness and self-defense. By the time the grand Emperor Chao Kuang-Yin had visited Shaolin temple during the early Sung Dynasty and gifted them with a series of books that contained his own Chang Quan and Hong Quan forms and other martial art ideas, Shaolin already had hundreds of years of chi gung and martial arts development under its belt via its creation of the Lohan style.
Redemption: A Street Fighter's Path to Peace - May 16, 2016
Being born the fifth child into a working-class family of six children guaranteed I had a fight on my hands from the very beginning. That my siblings and I grew to be productive members of society suggests that my childhood, although often chaotic, served me well. Dublin, Ireland, was not the attractive city in 1955 that it is today, so my birth on the fourteenth of May that year, in the upstairs front bedroom at 88 Kylemore Drive, rekindled thoughts in my father's head of returning to England. And in 1958, when I was three years old, the family moved to Manchester in the heart of England's industrial northwest.
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.
24 Hours of World Peace—Celebrate World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - April 20, 2016
David-Dorian Ross, an acclaimed international tai chi teacher, has worked for decades to bring tai chi to the mainstream. Ross is also a recipient of eight US Gold Medals, a World Silver medal and two World Bronze medals in tai chi. Now he is taking instruction to the next level by offering to the tai chi community the first interactive online streaming video.
Some Remarks About Sparring - April 18, 2016
Taijiquan is an internal style of Chinese martial arts. All Chinese martial styles, after a thousand years of practice and experience, understand that in order to have an effective way of fighting, they must acquire the four skills of kicking, striking, wrestling, and Qin Na.
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.
Tai Chi Sword Techniques - April 4, 2016
Generally speaking, due to geographical differences, northern Chinese martial artists have developed techniques, which emphasize long and middle range fighting, while southern martial artists focus on firm root, and specialize in short and middle range fighting. Sword techniques, which emerged, therefore differed according to this developmental influence.
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.
Key Points in Taiji Pushing Hands - March 21, 2016
Almost every Chinese martial style, both external and internal, has its own hand-matching training similar to Taiji's pushing hands. In southern external styles it is commonly called Qiao Shou (Bridge Hands) or Pan Shou (Coiling Hands), while in northern external styles it is called Da Shou (Folding Hands) or Dui Shou (Opposite Hands.)
What is Qi and What is Qigong? - March 14, 2016
To understand taiji ball qigong, first you must know what qi and qigong are.  Only then will you be able to comprehend how and why qigong is able to bring you health, longevity, and even spiritual enlightenment.
The Donkey - March 7, 2016
I am not, nor have I ever been, the most physically competent martial artist. It takes me inordinately more classes to attain technical proficiency in many areas than it does others. I am tall and fairly agile, but I do not have much muscle mass. And then, over the past few years, two significant medical challenges have crossed my desk. Couple all this with the fact that I am now in my 60s, and a potentially bleak image begins to materialize.
Tai Chi 48-Form Movements - February 29, 2016
The Tai Chi 48-form is traditionally taught divided into six sections, so you may focus on adding a small number of movements to your overall form gradually. The first section stresses basic hand and foot movements and the essential Peng, Lu, Ji, An (Ward Off, Rollback, Press, and Push).
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."
Tai Chi 24-Form Movements - February 19, 2016
These are the movements of the official Tai Chi 24-form, which is often referred to as the "Simplified" form. This list and the video included show this traditional form as it was originally intended to be performed correctly.
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.
Discover the Tai Chi 48 Form - February 1, 2016
The Tai Chi 48-movement form is ideal for those interested experiencing in the true essence of tai chi chuan, because it combines powerful techniques from all styles into a sequence embodying the spirit of relaxation and softness with circular, continuous movements.  There are over 250 million people worldwide that practice tai chi daily for health benefits. 
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).