Challenge Of A Lifetime: A Ten Year Martial Arts Mastery
By Christopher Caile
Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming, one of the most celebrated and respected masters
of Chinese martial and healing arts today, has issued a bold and audacious
challenge. It also represents a career opportunity.
Dr, Yang is looking for about 15 dedicated volunteers from around the
world for a 10-year full-time total immersion program of the study of
Chinese martial, meditation and energy arts together with academic courses.
Training will take place at a newly-created YMAA California Retreat Center,
located on 240 acres of remote forest.
The length and depth of training roughly equals a Ph.D. path in an institution
of higher education, but instead of high college tuition, students accepted
into Dr. Yang’s program will be given full scholarships. Graduates
of the program will be awarded a Masters Degree in Traditional Chinese
Martial Arts. The training will outfit graduates with the physical,
educational and language skills to be outstanding teachers and educators
in their field.
“The goal is to preserve and transmit in-depth Martial Arts and
Qigong (Chi Kung) knowledge to a new generation of teachers,” says
Dr. Yang. “We hope to raise the standard of Chinese martial arts
training in the West and train future teachers. Not only will they have
the highest levels of skill, but the discipline of training will also
instill morality, humility and spirituality qualities in initiates. This
way we can help restore the level of Chinese martial arts seen years ago.”
Yang's Students during practice at the retreat
Training will be conducted directly under Master Yang, including Yang
Style Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan), White Crane, Chin Na and Shaolin Long
Fist Kung Fu, and meditation. There will be extensive training in the
Chinese art of energy, or Qigong, used both in martial arts and as part
of Traditional Chinese Medicine healing arts. The curriculum also includes
history, theory, teaching skills, creative capacity, writing, martial
morality (Wu De), financial management and business planning, Chinese
language and culture, English literature and writing. In the later years
of the program, other masters will be invited to pass on knowledge of
their own martial styles, such as Baguazhang and Xingyiquan.
The program requires dedication and commitment. Training will be conducted
nine months a year for 10 years. This program parallels similar academic
calendars of colleges and universities. The education, however, is specialized
in the Chinese Arts, culture and language, although other academic courses
will be offered.
Students will live in a similar environment as in ancient times. “Students
used to train and live together with a Master for an extended length of
time, training in his style for many years and absorbing his knowledge,”
says Dr. Yang. There will be no TV, computers, or external distractions,
no outside social pressures and luxuries will be minimal. “The
idea is to perfect a model which demonstrates the possibility and method
for preserving Martial Arts. In the process we can plant the seed for
a future generation of teachers and masters who will follow the correct
path.” Graduating students will be encouraged to go on to establish
their own training centers, and continue to offer the intensive training
experience of the Retreat Center.
The students selected for this program will be selected from worldwide
applicants including those drawn from YMAA (Yang’s Martial Arts
Assoc.) schools currently active in 18 countries. Applicants should be
men, 17-22, in great physical condition and willing to dedicate themselves
completely to the training for 10 years.
Dr. Yang and the Retreat Center staff are accepting and reviewing applications
throughout 2007. Complete applicant information can be found at: http://www.ymaa.com/retreat-center.
Participants will not be charged for tuition, lodging or meals. Instead,
costs will be covered by contributors through donations to the non-profit
YMAA CA Retreat Center. Instead, students will annually accumulate a security
deposit loan as collateral, to ensure their completion of the program.
If a student quits early or is asked to leave, he forfeits the loan, and
is required to pay for the training he received. However, this security
loan is refunded entirely to all students upon graduation. This collateral
is to ensure that Dr. Yang does not waste his efforts in his last ten
years of teaching. He does not have a second chance to spend ten years
transmitting his knowledge.
Dr. Yang chose an isolated training area in the mountains for training,
because in modern society life and attention are too fragmented. “Even
my dedicated students can’t find the time and focus to fully learn
the depth of their arts,“ says Dr. Yang. “China is the same
way. Even today, ancient knowledge is all but lost.”
Dr. Yang acknowledges that Hollywood Kung Fu portrayed in TV and movies
has popularized the martial arts. But at the same time Hollywood Kung
Fu has also commercialized the martial arts. “What has been lost
is not only martial morality, but self- discipline and spiritual development.”
Dr. Yang shows off a solar panels that convert
the Sun's energy into electricity at the YMAA Retreat Center.
“We will live simply and train hard, away from the distracting
factors of the modern lifestyle,” states Dr. Yang. “This way
I can pass my knowledge down directly and fully so these arts can be preserved
and will continue to develop.”
Dr. Yang established the YMAA CA Retreat Center in 2005 with the goal
of raising the standard of the traditional Chinese Martial Arts. It will
be supported through grants and contributions. Contributions and a substantial
investment by Dr. Yang of over $200,000 is funding construction of facilities
including two gyms, lodging, cafeteria and a training field. Construction
will be completed before training begins in August 2008.
Total funding for the 10-year project is projected to be upwards of $5
million. Individuals or institutions wishing to make financial contributions
can contact Project Manager David Silver (617 953-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org),
and visit http://www.ymaa-retreatcenter.org.
Preserving the traditional Chinese arts and their spiritual components
has been a long time dream of Dr. Yang; something he is committed to for
the rest of his life. Another related project of Dr. Yang is to establish
a Qigong Public Research Foundation. Its goal is to translate ancient
Qigong documents, and promote Qigong healing arts and spiritual cultivation
in the West.
Dr. Yang was born in Taiwan and started his training at the age of 15
under Master Cheng, Gen-Gsao in White Crane Kung Fu. Master Cheng encouraged
him to study Yang style Tai Chi Chuan under Master Kao Tao in order to
heal an ulcer. He also learned Shaolin Long Fist style with Li,
Mao-Ching, now a Grandmaster, who still attends annual YMAA Summer Camps
to oversee the training. Dr. Yang's training included barehand sequences,
push hands, chin na, weapons, massage, meditation and Qigong. At 18 years
of age Dr. Yang entered Tamkang University in Taipei to study physics,
later to become a physics professor. In 1974 he came to the United States
as a student and achieved a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue
University. In 1982 Dr. Yang established Yang’s Martial Arts Association
in Boston with the goal of passing on the Traditional Chinese Arts that
he learned from his own masters.
Dr. Yang has been the subject of hundreds of articles in various martial
arts publications. He has also published many books, videos and DVDs about
his martial arts and qigong and his works have been translated into many
languages. Throughout the year, he travels extensively, teaching through
his association of more than 55 YMAA International Schools in 18 countries,
and in various seminars.
Author’s Note: Dr. Yang’s
10-year training program is a once in a lifetime opportunity. He is one
of the most skilled and ablest teachers in martial arts today. The depth
of his understanding of Chinese martial arts and qigong is remarkable.
To write this article and a follow-up interview I was invited by YMAA
to meet and train with Dr. Yang over several weekends in New York, New
Jersey and Boston in Chin Na and White Crane Kung Fu. I was very
impressed with his skill and knowledge. Those students who are lucky enough
to be selected for his program will get a unique and highly skilled in-depth
training that will serve them for a lifetime.
About The Author:
Christopher Caile is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of FightingArts.com.
He has been a student of the martial arts for over 50 years and a teacher
of karate since 1962. He is the author of over 300 articles and columns
on the martial arts and editor of several martial arts books. Over the
last 20 years he has conducts seminars on street self-defense to community
and student groups in both the United States and Canada. His seminars
topics also include his specialty areas of kata applications and joint
locks and other jujutsu-like techniques found within karate. Caile started
his martial arts career in judo. Then he added karate as a student of
Phil Koeppel in 1959. Caile introduced karate to Finland in 1960 and then
hitch-hiked eastward. In Japan (1961) he studied under Mas Oyama and later
in the US became a Kyokushinkai Branch Chief. In 1976 he followed Kaicho
Tadashi Nakamura when he formed Seido karate and is now a 6th degree black
belt (Sei Shihan) in that organization's honbu dojo (NYC). He is also
Sensei in Wadokai Aikido under Roy Suenaka Sensei. Other experience includes
diato-ryu aikijujutsu, Hakuho-Ryu Aiki-jujutsu, kenjutsu, kobudo, Shinto
Muso-ryu jodo, kobudo, boxing and several Chinese fighting arts including
Praying Mantis, Pak Mei (White Eyebrow), Wing Chun, Chin Na and Shuai
Chiao. He is also a student of Zen. A long-term student of one branch
of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong, he is a personal disciple of
the qi gong master and teacher of acupuncture Dr. Zaiwen Shen (M.D., Ph.D.).
He holds an M.A. in International Relations from American University in
Washington D.C. and has traveled extensively through South and Southeast
Asia. He frequently returns to Japan and Okinawa to continue his studies
in the martial arts, their history and tradition. In his professional
life he has been a businessman, newspaper journalist, inventor and entrepreneur.