The “YMAA 25-Year Anniversary” DVD compilation is a fascinating look at Dr. Yang’s life and the progression of YMAA as it materialized from a distant dream into an international martial arts community and network. This tribute DVD set is presented on two disks and contains video footage, photographs, and interviews.
The material includes a short bio of Dr. Yang and an interview where he shares the motivation of wanting to preserve what his masters taught him, and why he has written so much and why he has taught in so many DVDs. Then the program includes performances of solo and group kung fu and taiji sequences, demonstrations, and interviews. Video footage includes Taijiquan, Baguazhang, Xingyiquan, Liuhebafa, Shaolin Long Fist, White Crane, and many weapons.
The quality of the DVD is excellent as with all of the products I’ve received from YMAA. The DVDs have an easy menu system and also included is an eight page booklet that includes all of the chapters presented on the DVDs. This guide is very nice to have to assist in finding a particular segment you wish to view. Some of the older footage is just that, older. So the quality is not the same as those that are filmed in YMAA studios. Sometimes lines are present, lack of focus, lack of color, etc. But that is what you get from older video footage.
The great thing is to actually have that old footage and get to see Dr. Yang and students of his perform various demonstrations. They did an excellent job of transferring that old footage to the DVD to preserve it. So when I say the quality is excellent it refers to the way YMAA put all of the footage together and created menus to find things. The various segments differ in that sometimes the camera is moving, focus, etc. It’s not a studio video but a collection of many clips from demos spanning the last 25 years.
Disk one includes the bio of Dr. Yang, school demos and Taste of China demos from 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, demonstrations from the 1994 China tour, some footage from the expansion of the Boston school in 1991, documentary of YMAA from 2000, forms from 2000 YMAA summer camp – Hungary. There are a lot of demonstrations on this DVD. Personally, I found the ones by Dr. Yang and some of the older masters the most interesting, but I also enjoyed seeing some of Dr. Yang’s younger students perform. There is a wide section of material covered in the demonstrations including many forms, various weapons, and even some self-defense applications being shown.
Disk two picks up where the first disk stopped with demos from the 2002 YMAA summer camp – Hungary. There are then demos from the 2002 YMAA 20th year anniversary, 2002 YMAA summer camp – South Africa, 2003 YMAA summer camp – South Africa, 2004 summer camp – South Africa, 2005 YMAA summer camp – Portugal, 2006 YMAA summer camp – South Africa, a 2007 interview with Dr. Yang and finally a short piece from the 2008 Nicholas C. Yang ceremony. Disk 2 also contains the standard YMAA extras, including video clips of other titles and the YMAA catalog.
If you like martial art demonstrations or if you would like to see the history and progression of Dr. Yang and YMAA, you should check out this DVD. I really enjoyed watching it, seeing the older footage, and gaining some extra wisdom from Dr. Yang. I especially found his words during the final segment of the 2008 Nicholas C. Yang ceremony regarding when you age and what you do very poignant. Very interesting and entertaining tribute to YMAA’s first 25 years!