Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - The beginnings of Yang's Martial Arts Association Poland. Thirty years of activity

Background, Aims and Objectives. The purpose of this work was to investigate and describe the circumstances surrounding the founding of YMAA Poland (a subordinate to YMAA International) and its activities between 1986-2016. Yang’s Martial Arts Association (YMAA) was founded by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming. The author of this paper proposes to reconstruct the events preceding the establishment of YMAA Poland on the basis of available material, and briefly analyze and present its activity with special focus on its early years. For this purpose, the first part of the paper presents a profile of Dr. Yang Jwing Ming. In a separate section, a summary of the position of martial arts in Poland prior to1986 is presented. At that time a successful attempt was made to contact the Chinese Kung Fu/Tai Chi Master, Dr Yang Jwing-Ming, and is described. This contact, thanks to the efforts of the Polish instructor Tadeusz Gacki, this contact, culminated in the founding of YMAA Poland. The early years of the organisation’s activities, and the main directions of its development up to 2016 are described in the last part of the paper.
Methods. A qualitative analysis of the sources and the materials collected during the library and archival research was applied. Tadeusz Gacki’s private archive provided the primary sources. The most important material was the correspondence between himself and Master Yang, some YMAA documents (including the founding files), video cassettes and photographs. All this material is of historic value and is published for the first time (with the permission of Tadeusz Gacki). The other main source is Tadeusz Gacki the founder of YMAA Poland himself, whom the author interviewed in 2016 and with whom constant contact was maintained while this article was being written. Another important informant was the current president of YMAA Poland, Robert Was (interviewed in 2015), who provided particular information on the current direction of the organisation’s development. Information collected during participant observation (YMAA member since 2005) has been used as a supplement.
Results. A view of the circumstances of the creation of YMAA Poland emerges from the analysed material. The collected material facilitated the recreation of the historical background to the events preceding the founding of the organisation, and highlighted the main problems the Polish instructors had to deal with in organising such an ambitious project. Thanks to the archival material, supported by interviews with Taduesz Gacki and Robert Was, a more complete insight into the process of establishing the first international Chinese martial arts organization in Poland has been achieved.
Conclusions. YMAA Poland was established in 1986 after the first visit of Master Yang Jwing-Ming to Tychy, Poland. It was the first YMAA school outside the US. Since that time, Polish martial arts enthusiasts have benefitted from the opportunity to contact and learn from the world’s leading specialists. YMAA Poland has been actively promoting Chinese martial arts in Poland during the 30 years of its activity and has trained many high ranking instructors. It is a dynamic institution, and an important component of the YMAA International community.