YMAA (Yang's Martial Arts Association) is an international organisation founded by Yang Jwing-Ming to promote and spread traditional Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), Kung Fu and Qigong (Chi Kung). Yang Jwing-Ming is a renowned Chinese master currently residing in California. He is the author of dozens of books and dvd's on Chinese martial arts and qigong. YMAA has 50 schools in 17 countries in North and South America, West and East Europe, South-Africa and the Middle East. They all follow the same program.
YMAA was all conceptualized, established, and realized from the hard work of Yang Jwing-Ming. The organization began in the spring of 1975 at Purdue University where Master Yang was studying Mechanical Engineering at the time, as the "Purdue University Chinese Kung Fu Research Club". In May of 1978 Yang Jwing-Ming was awarded a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering by Purdue University. In 1980, he moved to Houston to work for Texas Instruments. While in Houston he founded "Yang's Shaolin Kung Fu Academy". In 1982, Master Yang moved to Boston and founded "Yang's Martial Arts Academy" on October 1, 1982. It consisted of a small group of students and friends training out of Master Yang's garage in Tewksbury, Massachusetts in the Greater Boston area. The Academy relocated to Huntington Avenue in the New England Conservatory Building in Boston for about 1-2 years before moving to Jamaica Plain, Boston in March of 1986. Master Yang established Jamaica Plain as the headquarters location of the new organization, "Yang's Martial Arts Association". Twenty-six years later, with more than 50 schools and thousands of students training around the world, YMAA continues to grow strong under the leadership of Nicholas C. Yang, Master Yang Jwing-Ming's son and the current President of YMAA International.
Yang Jwing-Ming (in Pinyin transcription: Yáng Jùn Mǐn ) is internationally recognized as a teacher, author and expert in Chinese martial arts and Qigong. He has 41 years of experience in martial arts and Qigong and has been teaching for 34 years. He learned two Shaolin Kung Fu styles: Southern White Crane Fist (Baihequan) and Northern Long Fist (Changquan). He also learned Yang Style and Chen Style Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Baguazhang, Liu He Ba Fa, Qigong, Chinese massage and herbal treatment. In 1984 he quit his job as an engineer in order to dedicate himself fully to the martial arts, as a teacher, researcher, and author of books and dvd's. He authored more than 30 books and over 50 videos and dvd's about Qigong, Qin Na (joint locks) and Chinese martial arts. He is the founder of YMAA International and was its president from 1982 till 2007. The current president of YMAA International is his son Nicholas C. Yang.
Erik Elsemans is the president of YMAA Belgium and represents Master Yang Jwing-Ming in Belgium, spreading the YMAA system there.
After practicing kickboxing for a short time in 1984 in Brussels, he started studying the Japanese martial art of Hakkō-Ryū Jūjutsu (八光流柔術 Eighth Light Style Soft Art) in 1992 and practiced it for three or four years. Hakkō-Ryū being a rare soft, internal Japanese martial art, the school's textbook mentioning Taijiquan as being a good way to develop one's internal energy aroused Erik's curiosity, and so in 1994 he started his study of Taijiquan, in parallel with Hakkō-Ryū. Growing increasingly disappointed and frustrated with his Taiji teacher's total lack of martial knowledge about Taijiquan, Erik started buying every book he could find on Taijiquan until he discovered Master Yang's books, upon which he immediately switched over to the YMAA system in May 1996. Eventually, really enjoying his study of Hakkō-Ryū but being more attracted to Taijiquan, he made the difficult decision of giving up Hakkō-Ryū Jūjutsu in order to be able to concentrate solely on Chinese martial arts. As there were no YMAA schools in Belgium, Erik regularly went to study with Pascal Plée, the director of the French YMAA Headquarters' school in Paris, where he also started studying Master Yang's external Shaolin Kung Fu styles. From June 1997, Erik started traveling to YMAA Headquarters in Boston to study with Master Yang personally. From 1997 to 2007 he went there 19 times for about three months a year. He also participated in five intensive working-training camps with Master Yang in his California YMAA Retreat Center from 2004 to 2007 and participated in dozens of seminars and summer camps with Master Yang in the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Hungary, Poland, and Portugal, often assisting Master Yang with teaching. Erik has also been teaching seminars himself in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Poland and Bermuda. He is recognized by Master Yang as a "YMAA Coach Instructor". YMAA Belgium was founded on November 29, 1997 and officially recognized as a YMAA school by Master Yang on March 1, 1998.