About YMAA White Crane

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About YMAA White Crane

Postby nyang » Fri Sep 16, 2011 3:01 pm

Hi everybody:

Thought I'd share my answer to this question about YMAA White Crane, since others may have similar questions and I took the time to write it out:

KT Asks:
"Can you please tell me how many hand' and weapons' forms Dr. Yang's White Crane has?
How long does it take to learn a form? As usual, how long does it take to learn a complete system?
Are the DVD12 and DVD34 just a beginning? Does Dr. Yang plan to publish more?
Thank you very much for your time.

Hi KT:

First, I'd like to point out that nobody every truly "completes" a system. It is a lifetime endeavour, and it only gets deeper and deeper every year and every decade, only through consistent and uninterrupted practice. This applies to even the most basic forms and sequences you learn. You need to keep this mentality in mind when you train, otherwise you will be limiting yourself, the style, and the overall art. The only way for future generations to improve upon the last is to have no finishing point -- to always push farther and farther regardless of your current skill level. The Chinese saying goes, "Before you can learn anything, you have to empty your cup." If you one day consider your "cup" full, you will have failed yourself, your teacher, and future generations. You will find that students who fill their "cup" too early also tend to stop training, because they feel a false sense of satisfaction.

Second, remember that learning is one thing, doing is another. The amount of time required for learning any specific item will always depend primarily on the student. "Having learned something" is a relative thing. Students can learn merely the movements and motions, but that of course, doesn't make them an expert. Just because a student knows how to move their hands and legs, it doesn't necessarily mean they can apply a punch, block, or kick properly. To me, "learning" is only the first part. The inseparable part of actually *training* will take a lifetime.

Everything students test and pass are truly only a snapshot of a certain part of their training. Even the contents I list below have much deeper and deeper levels of reaction, sparring, footwork, and intermediate-to-advanced techniques that we don't formally test students on, but students should explore when they are ready. Passing a test is not a tell-all measurement of a student's fluency in the art, much like a college diploma does not necessarily denote clearly the level of one's expertise in their concentration or overall knowledge and intelligence. So remember that when students have tested through an entire system at a school, their journey has really just begun.

The success of your training will of course also depend partially on the teacher and the exact nature of the content being trained. Sometimes a student will find that they specialize in a few select things very well and that those parts of the training come much more naturally than others. Instead of merely learning those things fast, students with such talent should exploit their talents further and develop those skills deeper.

Third, don't forget that every curriculum, whether academic, or in martial arts, is really just a guideline to your progress. Oftentimes, what you learn and/or are tested on is just a subset of what teachers hope for you to know. In the formal YMAA Shaolin curriculum which we test our students in, the White Crane portion of it consists of:

* Fighting Forms (Bridge Hands Training Patterns) (10)
* Shang Xia Zhi (Barehand matching set)
* Qi Mei Gun (Staff)
* Qi Mei Dui Gun (Staff vs. Staff)
* Staff Fighting Forms (5)
* Kong Shou Dui Gun (Barehand vs. Staff)
* Sha Shou Jian (Killing Hands [Short] Rods)
* Gun Dui Shuang Jian (Staff vs. Short Rods)
* Qi Xing (Seven Star)
* Bai He Sequence: combination of Shan He (Fanning Crane), Gong He (Arcing Crane), Qi Xing (Seven Star)
* Ba Mei Shou (Eight Plums Hands): combination of Da Yao (Large Shaking), Ti Gua (Kicking Trigram), Ba Mei (Eight Plums)
* Yao Gu (Shake the Drum)
* If you include Chin Na, there are also roughly 120 techniques in the formal YMAA curriculum.
* This list also excludes Shuai Jiao techniques.
* This list also excludes some sequences that students are expected to construct themselves to demonstrate their competency in understanding and applying the style.
* This list also excludes advanced forms that Dr. Yang has taught to very few students, if any. For example: Chuan Zhen (Threading the Needle), Shuai He (Swinging Crane), Dou Zhan (Shaking Battle), Chai (Double Sai). Advanced forms cannot be trained or taught unless students reach a certain level. That is one of the reasons Dr. Yang is running the 10-year program at the Retreat Center now. Possibly more than half of his White Crane knowledge remains untaught at this point, simply because students do not train enough.

Again, don't forget there are deeper levels to the training. For example, in just Shang Xia Zhi alone, although we only test students on the Simple part and Complex part, it is assumed that students will continue training it so that they can reach a competent level to train Hooking Punch, Linking Punch, Straight-Line Hopping and Footwork Variations, Footwork with Angling, Sealing and Coiling, Fakes, integrating Chin Na and Shuai Jiao, variations in Strikes, Distance Training, Kicking, Elbows and Knees, Bumping, Jin, Adding Sense of Opponent, Randomness in Techniques, Fighting Strategies, and Sparring training. Unfortunately, the majority of students who pass a test never train it that far, because the common mindset is that once you've passed the test, you're "done" with it --- but of course that is far from the truth.

Most sequences, including other styles, will also always tend to focus on one side, often neglecting the left side, for right-hand dominant people. That is an incorrect way to train because sparring involves two hands and two sides, not one.

Some of the Crane sequences you see above are compiled from several sequences together. Each invididual sequence alone can easily take up to, in my opinion, an average of 3-7 months to learn, and 5-10 years to really get a proper feel for. Once the feeling is there, *then* intermediate to advanced training begins. That is assuming the student actually trains a certain number of hours everyday, not just a few hours during the week. White Crane, especially, is not a style where you can just learn from watching. You have to learn from doing, from that experience you can only get from training for years upon years upon years. That process is optimized when you have proper guidance (i.e. a teacher). When you reach an independent state, you can take it farther and farther on your own, explore newer and better methods of training, and all while staying true to the art's roots, origins, principles, and theory. You need to reach that threshold first, though. Otherwise, the art you develop will just become shallow and void.

Don't confuse quantity with quality. Even if one day you master only one sequence in the style, it is better than learning 50 sequences with no substance. One sequence with quality can create hundreds of good sequences. 50 bad sequences creates nothing.

DVD12 and DVD 34 were intended to be just the beginning. I am sure the disciples at the Retreat Center will reach a level one day to take that further.

Let me know if you have further questions. Good luck!


Nicholas Yang
President, YMAA International
Director, YMAA Boston
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2003 10:45 pm

Re: About YMAA White Crane

Postby ufateh » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:01 pm

This was an such an enlightening post. Thanks for the detail Nicolas. The below statement from the above post sums all this up extremely well.

"The only way for future generations to improve upon the last is to have no finishing point"
Forum Contributor
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 8:29 am

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