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Challenge Of A Lifetime: A Ten Year Martial Arts Mastery Program

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 center.

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 dsilver@ymaa.com), 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.


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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.


To find more articles of interest, search on one of these keywords:

YMAA,YMAA California Retreat Center, Yang Tai Chi Chuan, taijiquan, White Crane Kung Fu, Shaolin Long Fist Kung Fu, Martial Arts Qigong, Chi Kung, Wu De, Yang?s Martial Arts Association, Gen-Gsao Cheng, Chin Na, Tamkang University


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