Thoughts on YMAA/Dr. Yang style of Kung Fu
I wanted to know what some of you advanced Kung Fu Practitioners think of Dr. Yang's style of Kung Fu. I know it's based on Shaolin Long Fist and White Crane, but not educated enough to what to think of it. I was wondering how practical it is or if it would be a good idea to supplement training in this style. I was always interested in learning a traditional martial art.
Are you thinking of going to his retreat-style school where you basically live with him? That's some pretty rigorous stuff. If you're just popping into the Boston school, well, it depends. By most reports, his crane is very good. Yang has the annoying tendency to take a few lessons in some other style, co-write a book on that style, and then start teaching it though. And, shocker, they all tend to look like white crane!
I took a number of weekend seminars and weekly classes from master Yang between '98 and '05. From my experience, he was always very clear that White Crane, Northern Shaolin and Yang Taijiquan were the three styles that he had studied since he was a teenager, and those were the only styles he knew in depth. He would occasionally teach classes on other styles (I took some classes from him in Liu He Ba Fa), but he always made it clear that he wasn't a master of those styles, and he was just giving you an idea as to what it was like. I never found him to claim expertise that he didn't have. In fact, he said that his generation of White Crane students didn't compare to the generation before, because the previous generation didn't go to school, lived with the master, and just trained all day. He said that he and his fellow students still lived with their own families and went to school full time as kids, so they weren't able to spend as much time training. I think he said that he figures he learned about half of what his White Crane master knew.
Also, yes, he sometimes brings some White Crane stuff into his Taiji and Shaolin, but from my experience, this wasn't because he was ignorant of Taiji and Shaolin, but rather was because he felt some of the crane stuff (particularly the spine and shoulder movements) were so important that they SHOULD be in the other styles. From my experience, he wasn't a purist when it came to styles---he would modify them slightly if he felt he had good reason to.
I was focusing mostly on sword stuff towards the end, and I went elsewhere to do more heavy contact sword sparring with realistic-weight weapons, which he didn't seem to emphasize too much. But, from my time there, I have nothing but good things to say about him in regards to his knowledge, skill and character. He's also a very funny, good-hearted guy--definitely worth studying with if you get the chance.
Yea I was talking about a location in MA. I know Dr. Yang is out in CA now in his retreat,but once in a while comes out. Thanks for the advice I've been hearing mixed things. I'll check it out.
Any other tips on judging Kung Fu classes in general?
His retreat is 45 minutes from me. I dont have the funds to train its like $600 a month just for drop in. $ 30 a day unfortunately. But i do see some of his students practice in Miranda every now and then.