Chenhan Yang

Internal Martial Arts: Chenhan Yang

Building Better People Through Martial Arts

Martial arts training is good for many things and most readers, whether they've trained for a few months or a few years, are aware of the many benefits, including, the physical, spiritual, and psychological. Chenhan Yang is no exception and he tells how his years of training have benefited him, "Martial arts training has taught me about focus and perseverance. It also taught me one thing: that if you want to be better, there is no other way than to train hard and try hard. If you want to achieve something, you can't be easy on yourself. The best teacher is yourself. You decide your altitude, you decide where your limit is." Yang elaborates further, "Martial arts taught me to look at our world more objectively and yet to be grateful, and accept who we are and how things are happening around us, and to make peace with the world. It's about acceptance and harmony."

MMA and Iron Shirt

The popularity of MMA has made traditional arts seek to find their place in the martial arts landscape. Is there a place for them in modern martial arts? Yang expounds, "Mixed martial arts is a platform where all kinds of techniques are welcome to be used within minimal rules. In my opinion, when it comes to martial arts applications, there shouldn't be a boundary for styles. We don't need to limit ourselves to be a Tai Chi practitioner, Xing Yi practitioner, boxing practitioner, or Karate practitioner. Every style is great, all the techniques you learned become a part of you and become one of your weapons in your weapon collection. In a fight, you should find the most suitable techniques that work best for you instead of styles. As Bruce Lee said, be shapeless and formless. Don't let styles limit us, instead let ourselves decide our limit. So to answer your question, there will always be a place for traditional arts."

Seeing Iron Shirt on Yang's resume compelled me to question him about it. It is a rare style of Qigong and I knew Black Belt readers would want to know more about it. Yang provides an excellent explanation, "The type of Iron Shirt Qigong that I've learned is called Dapeng Qigong. Dapeng is a big hawk that stays next to Buddha. It's the Buddha's protector. It's very strong. Dapeng flies ninety thousand miles in just one flap of the wings. What makes Dapeng Qigong unique is its breathing techniques, it's like an enhanced version of reverse breathing (abdominal breathing). When we inhale we absorb as much oxygen as we can. When we exhale, we quickly release the air, contract the energy in our body, and lock our Huiyin. Instead of contracting the muscle, we are contracting Qi and we make our body bulge out like an inflated tire that is filled with air. A tire is made of rubber, and when it's flat, it's very soft. When it's inflated, it becomes very strong and can support tons of weight. This is the same theory for Dapeng Qigong and this type of training of quickly inhaling and exhaling generates great energy to massage our internal organs and promote Qi circulation in the meridians. This not only makes us stronger physically, allowing us to withstand strikes from outside forces, but it also strengthens our internal organs. When putting this breathing technique to use, it allows us to be able to push, pull or lift heavier objects as well as generate more power in every strike we throw."

Tomorrow and Beyond

Chenhan Yang is a talented martial artist and teacher. As the President of the Shouyu Liang Wushu Taiji Qigong Institute and Vice Chairman of the International Wushu Sanshou Dao Association, Yang has a lot of responsibility. What goals does he have for himself and what does he see for the future of Chinese internal martial arts? "Live from the moment is what's important to me. I am grateful I have lots of students who like to follow us. I will continue to provide them with the best quality teaching and help promote Chinese martial arts in every way I can. After the pandemic is over, I am looking forward to traveling and teaching workshops, meeting other friends, teachers, and new students at different places. I am looking forward to bringing students to different cities or nations for tournaments, or just even touring around."

The future of the organization? Yang describes his plans, "Our new gym is ready and we can offer many different classes in different formats like never before. We plan to continue offering online classes as well as in-person classes in the new gym. We plan to film more teaching materials and offer them in various formats such as DVD, Online streaming, or Pay Per View. The new gym, in the future, will be our training center for traditional and modern forms, internal and external forms, combat training, conditioning training as well as a filming studio. We will be adding many new mats, kickboxing bag tracking systems, fitness equipment, and more. We are very excited about this new home."

And the future of Chinese internal martial arts? "Chinese internal martial arts is like a good cup of tea on an afternoon in the spring. The preparation for making good tea is like a formality yet very enjoyable. You get it ready, you sit down in a nice chair, in a nice home garden with friends, you sip it, and close your eyes. The fragrance slowly fills inside your mouth and you feel life is such a joy. Tea is more than quenching your thirst, it's philosophical, cultural, and has many health benefits. I can see that people practice it because they love its profoundness. This is the essence of Chinese internal martial arts and the popularity will rise as people are more and more aware of it."

Click here for classes, articles, and more from Chenhan Yang.
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Photo Courtesy: Dawson Holt via Instagram

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