Kathy Yang: Is it Time to Start Training Internal Arts?
The wide smile and palpable positive energy of Kathy Yang are the first things a student notices when watching her instructional videos.
Whether teaching White Crane or Long Fist styles of Kung Fu or Qigong exercises and sets, Yang conveys her instruction in a unique way that is easy to follow and packed with information.
Who is Kathy Yang?
Yang is an expert practitioner of multiple styles of Kung Fu, Tai Chi Quan, and Qigong, and is the daughter of legendary martial arts teacher and author Yang Jwing-Ming. Yang's base of operations is in Boston where she heads her own company, TCM Time, which offers programs that uniquely integrate Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Chinese martial arts and spirituality.
With a varied background of styles, Yang describes where she fits in the martial arts teaching landscape and how she puts it all together, "Because of my understanding from TCM, I see the body more from a health point of view - especially with regards to all the energetic flows of the meridians and acupuncture points. It gave me a whole new perspective on my original martial arts training."
Internal and External Arts
Traditional Chinese martial arts include internal and external styles. Though Yang teaches many methods of Qigong her initial training was with the external style of Long Fist Kung Fu. Yang then studied White Crane, Tai Chi Quan, and forms of Qigong. Does she have a preference in her training? "Qigong was always my love. There's just something about the internal side that I really love cultivating."
Quite often, especially in the West, internal arts and training are taught separately if not exclusively from external styles. With the inherent benefits to health and power, should they be taught together? Yang provides her perspective, "For the majority of students, when they come to me they're looking for health. What I try to introduce first are the different health benefits of Qigong, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu. I then try to explain how each one can benefit your health in a different way." Yang's method is evident in the many different programs that she offers and tying together seemingly disparate styles.
To better explain the soft to hard philosophy, Yang details how all the forms of energy change from one to another, "From my father's teaching of Qigong, I've always understood everything from an energy point of view. Energy manifestation usually falls into three categories: Soft,(internal, like Yang-style Tai Chi), Soft-Hard,(a mix of internal and external, like White Crane or Mantis), and Hard (external, like Long Fist or Tiger). They are separate but actually all part of the same line, the same spectrum. Qigong is energy expressed in different ways, but no matter the method, all are part of the same underlying foundation."
The Future is Now
There is a lot coming up in 2021 for Kathy Yang. The pandemic has only increased her output of quality products. Building on her already impressive body of work, instilling her philosophy in her students, and providing a variety of Kung Fu and Qigong programs, Yang is also working on a forthcoming book with a well-known co-author, her father Yang Jwing-Ming. The book is tentatively titled Health and Tai Chi Quan and will explore the relationship between TCM and Chinese martial arts. There is no date for publication yet, but it is certainly something to look forward to. Until then, look for a series of online courses in Medical Qigong, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu in the Spring from Yang's website TCM Time. Hopefully students will take the opportunity to explore the internal side.
Check out Kathy's links for great content and instruction:
Read Noel Plaugher's latest articles at Black Belt Magazine.
Order "Standing Qigong for Health and Martial Arts" by Noel Plaugher - Now!