Shaolin, Shaolin Kids, Tai Chi, and Pa Kua Classes starting in Late February.

We have several new classes starting in late February. More information HERE.

Master Belt Awards, February 4th, 2024

(Left to Right) Master David Graves, Grandmaster Hiang Th Master Ben Allen.

Master David Graves and Master Ben Allen were awarded their Master belts by Grandmaster Hiang Th at a luncheon on February 4th, 2024.

Rank Advancement, December 2, 2023

Twenty students in the Central Shaolin Martial Arts Club received rank advancement from Grandmaster Hiang Kwang Th on December 2, 2023.

(Left ot Right) Master Erik Ackerman, Senior Master David Cubine, Duane Corn (Yellow), Mariano Corn (Green), Jonathan Allison (Yellow), Orion Tallon (Blue), Liam Derbyshire (1st Black), ?, Jack Friedman (Green), Charlie Knapp (Green), Jane Wooley (1st Black), Charles Trumbo (Green), Quinn Teemant (Blue), Isaac Cheek (Green), Stirling Sampson (1st Black), Aya Hornsby (Blue), Lilah Teemant (Blue), Liam Wardle (Blue), Mya Rivard (Yellow), Andrew Daugherty (Blue), Master Ben Allen, Steve Farmer (2nd Black), Grandmaster Hiang Th

Jane Wooley (1st Black), Liam Derbyshire (1st Black), Senior Master David Cubine, Stirling Sampson (1st Black), Steve Farmer (2nd Black)

Rank Advancement, November 5, 2023

Several students in the Central Shaolin Martial Arts Club received rank advancement from Grandmaster Hiang Kwang Th on November 5, 2023. (L to R) Tiana Th - 3rd Degree Black, Master David Graves - 6th Degree Black, Senior Master David Cubine - 9th Degree Black, Senior Master Dean Hill - 9th Degree Black, Master Ben Allen - 6th Degree Black, and Master Henry Roig - 7th Degree Black.


Fire Bo Class

Several students from our Central Shaolin martial arts group had a great time learning the Fire Bo/Hua Loong Pang from GrandMaster Hiang Th yesterday. We'll do it again next week with a second group.


Frankie Ferguson, Master Dick Gabriel, Liam Bentley, Bill Bentley, Stacey Stone, Hollis Hilty, Grandmaster Hiang Th, David Graves, Tiana Th, Master Kevin Sullivan, Master David Cubine, Donna Byrum, Bill Meade, Kieran Derbyshire, Zach Derbyshire, Shea Wolford, Ben Allen, Master Larry Mattox, Master Henry Roig, Michael Cornett, Master Doug Byrum, Stephen Richie, Master Dean Hill, Selena Th

Rank Advancement Test, September 2, 2023

3 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, September 2nd, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test 9-1-2023 A

Left to right - Master David Cubine, Larry Hassebrook (1st Degree Black), Keith Hellyer (5th Degree Black), Kieran Derbyshire (1st Degree Brown), our newest Master Level member Erik Ackerman (6th Degree Black), Philip Fowler (5th Degree Black), Grandmaster Hiang Th


Congratulations to Erik Ackerman for earning his 6th Degree Master Rank.

Master David Cubine, new Master Erik Ackerman, Grandmaster Hiang Th

Rank Advancement Test, July 22, 2023.

6 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, July 22nd, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

Left to right - Master David Cubine, Larry Hassebrook (1st Degree Black), Heath Hamblen (1st Degree Black), Isaac Butler (1st Degree Black), Kyle Migneault (4th Degree Black), Bill Bentley (1st Degree Black), Keith Hellyer (5th Degree Black), Grandmaster Hiang Th

Rank Advancement Test, July 15, 2023.

18 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, July 15th, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

Front row - Grandmaster Hiang Th, Bratcher Underwood, Amanda Underwood, Quincy LoBue, Seamus Altheide, Christian Garcia Reyes, Cole Broderick, John Broderick, Liam Sweeney, Orion Tallon, Quinn Teemant, Liam Wardle, Lilah Teemant

Back Row - Lily McMahon, Kevin McMahon, Erik Ackerman (instructor), Travis Altheide, John Broderick, Kevin Sweeney, Ben Allen (instructor), Aya Hornsby

Rank Advancement Test, March 16, 2023.

29 students earned rank advancement this past Thursday, March 16th, in Cynthiana with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

Cynthiana Test Group 3-16-23

Front row - Nora shields, Judah shields , Paola Rojas, Christian Rosales, Vin McIlvain, Jonathan Smits, Jacob Baker, Langston reliford, Harlow Morris, Sifu Shea Wolford

2nd row - Grandmaster Hiang The, Heather Shields, Isaac Powers, Alex Dick, Casey Dick, JW Wyles, Max Carter, Eli Baker, Hadlie Crump, Michelle Rion

Back row - Master Larry Mattox, Master Kevin Sullivan, Jason Shields, Caleb Price, Lillian Pergsian, Josh Powers, Dana Doyle, Jason McIlvain, Camden Clay, Jennifer Baker, Jesse Crump, BC Wyatt, Chris Kinney

Rank Advancement Test, March 2, 2023.

16 students earned rank advancement this past Thursday, March 2nd, at the Whitaker YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

Whitaker Test Group_3-2-23

Left to Right Front Row: Jacob Patrick, Jahir Garcia-Reyes, Cameron Lambert, Alexa Mehnert, Parker Price, Cooper Nystrom.

Left to Right Back Row: Grandmaster Hiang The, Josiah Munyakazi, Charles Lambert, Charlie Knapp, Daniel Day, Blake Bowling, Danica Martel, Blake Flannery, RaShaun West II, Ben Allen (Instructor), Jacob Laver, RaShaun West.

Rank Advancement Test, December 17, 2022.

9 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, December 17th, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test 12-17-22

Left to right: Master David Cubine, Larry Hassebrook, Zach Derbyshire, Stirling Sampson, Isaac Butler, Kieran Derbyshire, Bill Bentley, Lucy Boudreault, Lisa Boudreault, Heath Hamblen, Grandmaster Hiang Th

Rank Advancement Test, September 15, 2022.

18 students earned rank advancement this past Thursday, September 15th, at the Whitaker YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test 9-17-22

Left to right: Grandmaster Hiang Th, Isaac Cheek, (back-row) Charles Trumbo, Lorianna Newman, Leslie Smith, Gina Smith, Mark Murray, Jack Friedman, Quincy Lobue, Lilly McMahon, Kevin McMahon, Justin Levens, Amanda Underwood, Erik Ackerman (instructor) (in front) Archer Allen, Grady Pridemore, Connor Dienst, Eli Tomlian, Felix Levens, Bratcher Underwood, Ben Allen (instructor)

Rank Advancement Test, June 21, 2022.

9 students earned rank advancement this past Tuesday, June 21st, in Cynthiana with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test 6-22-2022

Left to right: Grandmaster Hiang Th, Shea Wolford, Isaac Powers, Dana Doyle, Master Kevin Sullivan, Max Carter, Hadlie Crump, Jace Schwartz, Allyson Blanco, Jesse Crump, Josh Powers, Master Larry Mattox

Kevin-Shea-HT-Larry 6-22

Special Congratulations to Kevin Sullivan for earning his 6th Degree Master Rank, and Shea Wolford for her 3rd Degree Black Belt!

Left to right: Grandmaster Hiang Th, Master Kevin Sullivan, Shea Wolford, Master Larry Mattox

Rank Advancement Test, May 7, 2022.

11 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, May 7th, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test Yellow 05/07/22

Left to right: Isaac Cheek, Ayden Akins, Ben Allen (instructor), Charlie Knapp, (front to back) Blake Bowling, Blake Flannery, Daniel Day, Felix Levens, Bratcher Underwood, Justin Levens, Elijah Tomlian, Amanda Underwood, Grandmaster Hiang Th

Rank Advancement Test, February 24, 2022.

14 students earned rank advancement this past Thursday, February 24, at the Whitaker YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test Black 2/24/22

Front Row Left to right: Grandmaster Hiang Th, Charles Trumbo, Archer Allen, Danica Martel, Leslie Smith, Yushin Alvarez, Grady Pridemore, Connor Dienst, Lorenzo Villasenor

Back Row Left to right: Lilly McMahon, Kevin McMahon, Gina Smith, Steve Riggs, Chris Paumi, Steve Farmer (1st Black), Erik Ackerman (instructor), Ben Allen (instructor).

Happy 2022 from Grandmaster Hiang Th and Central Shaolin

Gym Group Photo 2021

Rank Advancement Test, November 13, 2021.

18 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, November 13, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

MA Test Black 11/13/21

Left to right: Master David Cubine, Paul Owen (1st), Frankie Ferguson (2nd), Tonya Leger (1st), Liam Bentley (1st), Keith Hellyer (4th), Philip Fowler (4th), Grandmaster Hiang Th.

MA Test Brown 11/13/21

Left to right: Master David Cubine, Larry Hassebrook, Harrison Hamblen, Heath Hamblen, Sue Hamblen, Marshall Hamblen, Zach Larson, Stirling Sampson, Wade Larson, Zoe Derbyshire, Bill Bentley, Kieran Derbyshire, Zach Derbyshire, Grandmaster Hiang Th.

Congratulations Master Enrique Henry Roig


Congratulations to Master Enrique Henry Roig on his receiving his 6th Degree Master rank on December 15, 2019. Henry has over 40 years of martial arts study with Grandmaster Hiang Th.

Rank Advancement Test, June 22, 2019.

MA Test 6-22-19 A-web

19 students earned rank advancement this past Saturday, June 22, at the Beaumont YMCA of Central Kentucky with Grandmaster Hiang Th. Congratulations to all.

Rank Advancement Test, May 4, 2019.

MA TEst 5-4-19

Master David Cubine had 20 students earn rank advancement with Grandmaster Hiang Th. From right to left, Master David Cubine, Stirling Sampson, Ricky Bray, Kayleigh Conner, Hayden Lummus, Omar Agha, Peter Patterson, Harrison Hamblen, Larry Hassebrook, Bill Bentley, Heath Hamblen, Marshall Hamblen, Susan Hamblen, Andrew Bentley, Emily Johnson, Claire Johnson, Jerill Johnson, Barrett Lummus, Landon Mattingly, Kiran Derbyshire, Grandmaster Hiang Th.

Celebrating 50 Years of Teaching Excellence 1968-2018

Congratulations to Grandmaster Hiang Kwang Th on his 50th year of teaching martial arts in the United States. He has touched thousands of lives in such a positive and meaningful way. Thanks to everyone for attending the celebration, especially Master Larry Mattoxs group for hosting the event, on September 22. 2018.


Grandmaster, Hiang Kwang Th announces the release of his new book and companion video teaching the complete Lee Family Tai Chi health and meditative exercise system. Now, more than ever, we all need to find a way to bring balance into our lives, says Master Th. From career, family, and social demands to the increased volume and way we ingest information, the pace of modern life can easily overcome our abilities to cope in healthy ways. So where do we look for this balance in modern times? I believe one of the best sources can be found in the past, with the practice of Lee Family Tai Chi.

The new book includes step-by-step instructions to learn the complete Lee Family Tai Chi form and includes over 120 photos of all the forms postures in sequence with descriptions. The book also provides a detailed guide for the proper breathing techniques, how to develop and maintain your balance and equilibrium, practice tips, and how to target your bodys vital organs for optimum health.

The companion DVD includes not only a demonstration of the complete form, but Master Th divides the 60 posture form into 11 individual sections where he details each posture, the stances, and the movements transitions. The video also includes a 50-minute interview with Master Th where he answers some of the most frequently asked questions about learning and practicing Lee Family Tai Chi.

Purchase the Book/DVD HERE:

Rank Advancement Test - November 17, 2018

Master David Cubine had 19 students earn rank advancement.


Master David Cubine, Isabella Johnson, Larry Hassebrook, Stirling Sampson, Kayleigh Coomer, Richard Churchman, Lucy Boudreault, Todd Mullins, Lisa Boudreault, Tim McCarthy, Lynn Goble, Heidi Brewster, Thomas Lewis, Eilas Soto, Erik Ackerman, Heath Hamblen, Harrison Hamblen, Suan Hamblen, Marhall Hamblen, Ian Martin, Grandmaster Hiang Th

Happy 70th Birthday to Grandmaster Th and 21st to daughter Tiana, May 20th, 2018


Congratulations On Rank Advancement


Ben Allen and David Cubine had 16 students earn rank advancement on Saturday, April 21, at the Beaumont Y with Master Hiang Th, including Kyle Migneault and Alexander Deitemeyer for 3rd Degree Black and Isabella Spielmann for 2nd Degree Black. Congrats to all.

Congratulations On Rank Advancement


Master David Cubine and Master Doug Byrum had 24 students earn rank advancement on Saturday, December 16, at the Beaumont Y with Master Hiang Th, including Michael Garen for 1st Degree Black and Keith Hellyer for 3rd Degree Black.

Master David Cubine and Ben Allen worked with a great group of at the Dunbar Community Center's Therapeutic Recreation Program in July practicing martial arts. An enthusiastic, dynamic crew.

Congratulations! Rank advancement test from May 20, 2017.

24 students of Master David Cubine and Ben Allen earned rank advancement on Saturday 5/20 at the Beaumont Y with Master Hiang Th, including Levi Kubale for his 1st Degree Black Belt. Levi started when he was 10 years old and has been studying with us for over 5 years. Congratulations to an excellent group.

In Memoriam: Audrey Robinson

5th Degree Black Belt

March 19, 1935- September 26, 2016

Flashback: Wave Pool Workouts

WKYTs and Central Shaolins Master Dick Gabriel produced this news spot from July 1986 on our martial arts group's wave pool workouts. Not a bad way to spend a hot, summer night even if it has been 30 years.

Congratulations: Rank Advancement in Lexington: Master David Cubine, Jason Russo, and Jamie West had 20 beginner/intermediate students test for rank advancement November 14, 2015 with Master Hiang Th at the Beaumont YMCA. Congratulations to all for their hard work.


Advanced Hsing-Yie Class

Our two-week Advanced Hsing-Yie/5 Elements class at Master Thes gym was very enlightening and instructive. Thanks to all who attended.

Hiang Th Featured in TOPS in Lexington's Fit, Fab and Over 40


Hiang Th, 66 | Martial Arts Instructor

In order to lead a long, healthy and productive life, Hiang has made wellness a top priority in his life. He and his wife Jeannie have put healthy living and fitness at the core of their marriage and family for over 32 years. All four of their children are black belts and academically successful, which Hiang believes is a result of their martial arts lessons of focus, dedication and patience.

Hiang stays active and focused through working on the familys farm, as well as through practicing Tai Chi, Qi Gong, martial arts and traditional Eastern-style calisthenics. He teaches 20 classes a week, as well as lifting weights and doing cardio at the High Street YMCA.

Hiang believes that martial arts provide a total spirit, mind and body workout. He teaches martial arts to students between four and over 80 years of age. I enjoy seeing all my students grow in mental maturity, physical strength and confidence, at every age level, Hiang explains. When you work on your spirit, mind and body, you build character.

Hiang will be releasing a Tai Chi book and DVD in 2015. For anyone seeking to become more fit with the New Year, Hiang recommends making it a family affair with one of his martial arts classes. Get in shape as a family, Hiang suggests. An activity like martial arts allows you to reach goals as a family; whether that is just getting healthy and starting a workout routine, or advancing through the ranks.

Tang Lang Chien Specialty Class


Three-week Tang Lang Chien/Praying Mantis class at Master Hiang Th's gym. Thanks to Master Dean Hill for his excellent instruction and insight. A 3 minute and 40 second "masterpiece."

Tang-Lang-Chien-B_web Tang-Lang-Chien-C_web

Congratulations: Rank Advancement in Lexington

28 of Master David Cubine's, Jason Russo's, and Jamie West's students earned rank advancement on September 20, 2014 at the Beaumont Y with Master Hiang Th, including seven for their 1st Degree Black Belt. An excellent group of dedicated students who have achieved a rigorous, long term goal. Special recognition to Jeremy Guyn for 3rd Degree Black and Ben Allen for 4th Degree Black.


Newest Black Belts: (Left to right) Michael Cornett, Master David Cubine, Instructor Jason Russo, David King, Connor West, Philip Fowler, Drew Campbell, Amanda Cornett, Alex Deitemeyer, Ben Allen, Jeremy Guyn, Master Hiang Th.


(Left to right) Back-Michael Cornett, Master David Cubine, David Bemis, Tory Bemis, Instructor Jamie West, Connor West, Kim Bemis, Instructor Jason Russo, Drew Campbell, David King, Andrew Ross, Philip Fowler, Alex Deitemeyer, Chris Murphy, Jessica Terrell, Terry Terrell, Heidi Brewster, Amanda Cornett, Jeremy Guyn, Ben Allen, Master Hiang Th. Front-Isabella Johnson, Max Baumgartner, Levi Kubale, Abbie Sloan, Owen Wampler, Emmanual Hernandez, Patrico Nanjera, Shannon Carrick, Ulises Hernandez, Chance Terrell.

Congratulations: Rank Advancement in Cynthiana


27 of Master Larry Mattox's students earned rank advancement on September 19, 2014 in Cynthiana, KY with Master Hiang Th. Blue Belt: Dakota Maxwell, Drew Wyatt, Alex Love, Taylor Fryman, Heather Fryman, Daniel Bowlin, Sarah Bowlin and Dana Bowlin; Green Belt: Trystan Thompson, Chad Price; 2nd Brown: Jacob LaFleur, Nicholas LaFleur, Nina LaFleur, Rachel Rion, Michelle Rion, B.C. Wyatt, Garrett Wilson, Walker Wilson; 1st Brown: Jon Hoskins, Addie Hoskins, Laura Winkle, Cathy Love, Carson Landrum, Chris Kinney, Ally Mattox; Eli Mattox: 1st Black; Keith Kinney

Congratulations: Rank Advancement in Cynthiana


Black belt - Michael Lewis, Parker Grob and Caden Maners, 1st brown - Keith Kinney, 2nd Brown - Chris Kinney, Jon Hoskins, Addie Hoskins, Eli Mattox, Ally Mattox, Laura Winkle, Lily Winkle, Jonathan Knapp, Carson Landrum, Cathy Love, 3rd Brown - Michelle Rion, Rachel Rion, Nina LaFleur, Nicholas LaFleur, Jacob LaFleur, Walker Wilson, Garrett Wilson, B.C. Wyatt, Will Wyatt, Blue Belt - Chad Price, Trystan Thompson, Addison Kearns, Lance Collins, Jacob Wolfe, Yellow belt - Dana Bowlin, Sarah Bowlin, Daniel Bowlin, Heather Fryman, Taylor Fryman

Central Shaolin Voted Number 1

Lexington Family Magazine's readers have named the YMCA's Central Shaolin martial program their "Favorite Martial Arts Program" in Lexington. Thanks to all the great instructors and students at the YMCA of Central Kentucky.


Happy 65th Birthday, Grandmaster The

We wish Grandmaster Hiang The a very warm and appreciative congratulations on his 65th birthday, May 20th, 2013. We are honored and thankful to have you as a teacher and friend for so many years.

2012 Central Shaolin Tournament & Demonstration

Held Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thanks to all the students, supporters, families, demo team, judges, and Y staff who helped make the 2012 Central Shaolin Tournament and Demonstration, held on October 20 at the Beaumont Family YMCA in Lexington, such a success. We were able to donate over $1000 to the Ys Open Doors Assistance Program that provides financial assistance for individuals and families.

View the student competition results HERE

Photo Slide Show

photos and slideshow by Mary Cockriel

Two-Day Outdoor Training Session at Master Dean Hill's

22 members of the Central Shaolin martial arts group had our annual two-day outdoor training session at Master Dean Hill's on May 19-20, 2012 (Photos by Dean Hill)

Congratulations: Rank Advancement at Beaumont YMCA

20 of Master David Cubine's students had a rank advancement test on May 26, 2012 with Grandmaster Hiang The. Congratulations to everyone.

Back Row (left to right) Amanda Cornett, David Bemis, Kim Bemis, Jade Bemis, Philip Fowler, Noah Wills, Robert Rumford, Amal Agarwal, Laura Glasscock, Alex Deitemeyer, Abigail Slone. Front Row: Alejandro de la Torre, Allie Cornett, Layla Cornett, Tory Bemis, Levi Kubale, Alexandra Smith, David Marshall, Anish Agarwal, Ryan Terry. Also shown, Master David Cubine (far left) and Grandmaster The (far right).

23 of Master David Cubine's students had a rank advancement test on December 17, 2011 with Grandmaster Hiang The, including five for 2nd and 3rd Degree Black Belt. Congratulations everyone.

Back Row (left to right) Abigail Slone, Michael Cornett, Ryan Hellyer, Mikal Kinley, Keith Hellyer, Alex Deitemeyer, Erik Ackerman, Ed Marshall, JD Wright, Amal Agarwal, Jason Russo, Ali Kpandja, Candido Dubon. Front Row: Drew Campbell, Logan Stivers, Levi Kubale, PJ Parker, Jeriah Walker, Isaac Fraser, David Marshall, Sebastian Zabala, Mason Eichhorn, Tatum Fowler. Also shown, Master David Cubine (far left) and Grandmaster The (far right).

(Left to right) Instructor Master David Cubine; Erik Ackerman, 2nd Degree Black; Sebastian Zabala, 2nd Degree Black; JD Wright, 2nd Degree Black; Jason Russo, 3rd Degree Black; Ali Kpandja, 3rd Degree Black; Grandmaster Hiang The

Congratulations: Rank Advancement at Cynthiana, KY

Master Larry Mattox had a rank advancement test on August 13th, 2011 with Grandmaster Hiang The, including Kevin Sullivan to 4th Degree Black and Conner Hutchison to 2nd Degree Black.

(left to right) First Row - Madeline Sparks, Max Sparks, Hunter Sparks, Noah Daily, Preston Roark, Danielle Kinney, Keith Kinney, Christy Kinney, Will Lucky. 2nd Row - Grandmaster Hiang The, Gunner Cole, Mason Hedges, Parker Grob, Nathan Maynard, Nycolas Conley, Kedrick Bacon, Matthew Norfleet. Back Row - Chris Hedges, Chandler Aulick, Jeanne Sparks, Matt Sparks, Dick Baugh, Rick Cole, Ethan Cole, Sarah Norfleet, Conner Hutchison (2nd Black), Kevin Sullivan (4th Black) Master Larry Mattox

2011 Central Shaolin Tournament & Demonstration

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thanks to all of the competitors, demo team, judges, spectators, sponsors, and the Beaumont YMCA who helped make the 2011 event such as success. We raised over $1400 for the Y's Annual Giving Campaign that provides financial assistance to families and kids in martial arts.

View the student competition results HERE

Congratulations: Dick Gabriel Master Rank Advancement

Congratulations to Dick Gabriel upon his promotion to 6th Degree Master rank. Born in Louisville, Dick has been studying Chung Yen Shaolin martial arts since 1977. Dick initially joined the club while attending the University of Kentucky in order to write a series of articles as Sports Editor of the Kentucky Kernel. A UK grad, Dick is a 22-year veteran of the UK radio and TV networks. He reports from the sidelines during Wildcat football games, periodically anchors basketball coverage on the Big Blue Sports Radio Network, and hosts "Sports Nightly" on WLAP 630 in Lexington.

Central Shaolin Masters

All the Central Shaolin Master rank members were in attendance at the 2011 tournament and demonstration. They are: From left to right, front row:. Grandmaster Hiang Kwang Th, Lexington; Master Stanley Barnes, 6th Degree, Lexington; Master Larry Mattox, Cynthiana, 6th Degree; Master Keith Murry, Paintsville, 6th Degree; Back row: Master Dean Hill, West Liberty, 8th Degree; Master David Cubine, Midway, 8th Degree; Master Kermit Shaffer, Nicholasville, 6th Degree; Master Doug Byrum, Lexington, 7th Degree. (photo by Dean Hill)

Grandmaster Th named YMCA's "Spirit, Mind, Body" Award Winner

The YMCA of Central Kentucky has named Grandmaster Hiang Kwang Th as its 2010 Spirit, Mind, Body Award winner.

Presented at the Y's annual celebration honoring its volunteers of the year on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at the Red Mile Clubhouse, "the Spirit, Mind, Body Award is given to a YMCA part-time staff member who has been with the organization for at least five years and goes above and beyond in their service to the YMCA and its members. Master Ths Central Shaolin Martial Arts program classes have become some of the most popular at the Y and serve as a model for martial arts programs nationwide," says the Y. A well-deserved congratulations to Master Th.


2009 Central Shaolin Tournament & Demonstration

Thanks to all of the competitors, demo team members, spectators, and support staff for a successful 2009 tournament at the Beaumont Middle School gymasium on November 14, 2009. Competitor medal results can be see HERE.

For the photo slide show below, click on the screen's play arrow. You can then mouse over the bottom of the photo window to select individual photos or click on the multi-arrow box on the bottom right to view full screen. For a larger image, you can also go directly to the Flicker site viewer HERE. Slideshow uses FLASH. iPhone or non-FLASH users click HERE.

Thanks to photographers Walter Palmer, Mary Cockriel, John Cockriel, and Lorri Terry.

Congratulations: New Black Belts

Congratulations to four new Black Belts from Master Larry Mattox's Cynthiana club. Along with nine other students, they are (left to right) Dylan Etienne, Thomas Thompson, Nycolas Conley, Allison Conley,
McKayla Cloyd, Becky Ammerman, Lauren Ammerman, Ethan Cole, Jo Banks (black belt) Wyatt Banks (black belt), Joe Graves and Josh Graves (blackbelt). Also shown, Master Larry Mattox, Instructor Steve Richie (far left) and Grandmaster The (far right).

Congratulations to (left to right) Gordon Fair, Lauren Hoyt, JD Wright, Adam Childress, Ben Childress, Connor Greenwell, & Cameron Childress for earning their 1st Degree Black Belt on November 29, 2009. Adam, Ben, Cameron, and Lauren started when they were 9 years old and have worked 5 years towards this goal. Congratulations also to Erica Allen (1st Brown) and Jeremy Guyn (2nd Brown). Also shown, Master David Cubine (far left) and Grandmaster The (far right).

Sparring Weekend at Master Dean Hill's

Twenty-four Central Shaolin Black Belts took part in a two-day sparring session at Master Dean Hill's outdoor training facility near West Liberty, KY on June 20th & 21st. The weekend also included dagger throwing practice and Nei Kung training with candles. Thanks to Master Dean for the outstanding class and the great hospitality.

Central Shaolin's Mary Cockriel named YMCA
"Volunteer of the Year"

Central Shaolin 2nd Degree Black Belt, Mary Cockriel, was named as the Beaumont YMCA branch's "Volunteer of the Year" for 2009. Mary has been assisting Master The for several years in his Shaolin Kids classes at the Beaumont Y along with help from her sons, Philip and John Cockriel. The YMCA of Central Kentucky held its annual celebration honoring its volunteers of the year on Thursday, May 14 at the Embassy Suites in Lexington, Ky.

Lee Family Tai Chi Chuan: The Book

We are honored and excited to announce that Grandmaster The has begun work on a book about Lee Family Tai Chi Chuan. Master The's lifetime of study and teaching of Lee Chia Tai Chi Chuan will offer an extremely in-depth and unique look at perhaps the oldest, rarest, and most health-oriented tai chi style. Since expanding his teaching to non-martial arts students through the YMCA in early 2000, Master The has spread his message of health and fitness to the benefit of scores of Central Kentucky community members. Not only will his book and the accompanying DVD help widen the Lee Family practice, but it will also give practitioners a much more in-depth guide for even greater knowledge and insight into their study.

In preparation for the book, we ask that any of Master The's Tai Chi students provide us with remembrances of stories or descriptions that may be useful or meaningful. We want to make sure the book contains the accumulated wisdom of the many classes Master The has taught over the years. Please email any comments to:

We ask that any of Master The's Tai Chi students provide us with remembrances of stories or descriptions from Master The that may be useful or meaningful in writing this book. Send to

"Be Like Water"

Master Hiang The's Sunday Black Belt class found a waterfall for a day of Nei Kung internal training
in late April of 2009.

photos by Dean Hill

Congratulations: Rank Advancement

Eleven students from Grandmaster Hiang The's advanced Sunday class were promoted on December 14, 2008. They are (from left to right) Master David Cubine/8th Degree Black Belt, Master Kermit Shaffer/6th Degree, Master Doug Byrum/7th Degree, Mark Lewis/3rd Degree, Audrey Robinson/5th Degree, Gayle Sherrod/5th Degree, David Graves (rear) 3rd Degree, Henry Roig (front) 4th Degree, Tim Francis/5th Degree, Master The, Master Dean Hill/8th Degree.

Shown right: Master Larry Mattox/6th Degree, with Grandmaster The.

What is Tai Chi Chuan?

By Michael Head

For years, at least once a day, the same routine: after a brief series of gentle warmups, I do Tai Chi Chuan.

I close my eyes for a moment, adjust to a balanced, vertical posture, and begin deep breathing. My weight sinks evenly into both feet, rooting me solidly to the ground. I imagine my head lifted from the crown by a thread, straightening the spine, opening up all the joints. I relax, all tension oozing out of every pore with each exhale.

From the beginning, all postures flow one into the next, like a gentle river on a summer afternoon--nothing hurried in the inexorable flow. Weight shifts to one foot, then the other, the body remaining erect. Movement emerges from the feet and twists up the legs and into the arms and hands, all directed by the waist. I breath deeply. Warmth floods my body. Muscles relax. My joints disappear from awareness. My whole body feels like a balloon--transparent inside with only slight changes of pressure as I move.  My inner energies unify, gently flowing and swirling unimpeded like mild breezes.

The sequence of postures is so familiar that awareness penetrates each minute movement without any thought of what is next. Movement is economized but powerful. Deep breathing continues, but awareness of it ebbs and flows. For thirty minutes I am in a hypnotic trance of motion. After this calming exercise, I emergeinvigorated!

There is no equivalent exercise in the westno exercise that develops the awareness of inner energies; none that strengthens and balances the body from the inside out; none that releases tensions; none that so directly brings about a natural state of health.

This is Tai Chi Chuan. 

Read more about Michael Head's Tai Chi journey to better health HERE

photos by Dick Gabriel

Tai Chi at Lexington's "Second Sunday" Health Fair

The Central Shaolin Tai Chi program held a Tai Chi participation demonstration at Lexington's first ever "Second Sunday" health fair in front of the main courthouse on October 12, 2008.

photos by Dick Gabriel

Tai Chi/Chi Kung Retreat at Furnace Mountain

A group of Tai Chi and Chi Kung students visited the Furnace Mountain spiritual community near Clay City, KY on Sunday, June 29, 2008 for a day of Tai Chi and meditation with Master Hiang.

Annual Outdoor Nei Kung Training with Master Dean Hill

14 members of the Central Shaolin club attended a two day outdoor training class on May 18, 2008 conducted at Master Dean Hill's home in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. The day included internal (nei kung) training, sparring, and condtioning, especially focused on using the surrounding environment. The participants were, left to right (Back Row): David Graves, Mark Lewis, Dick Gabriel, Master Doug Byrum, Master Dave Cubine, Gayle Sherrod; (middle row) Henry Roig, Alex Anderson, John Cockriel, Grandmaster The, Tim Francis, Master Dean Hill. (front row) Chetan Talwaker, Ali- Napo Kpandta.

Central Shaolin Featured in Keeneland Magazine

Shaolin Kids class at the Beaumont YMCA, Lexington, Kentucky

The Spring 2008 issue of Kenneland Magazine published an article "More Than A Gym" about the YMCAs of Central Kentucky, including the Central Shaolin martial arts program. Read the complete article (PDF) HERE.

Reprinted with permission from Keeneland Magazine, published by Blood-Horse Publications, Inc., Lexington, KY.

Chi Kung & Martial Arts

The following article is from an interview that ACE Magazine conducted with Master David Cubine for their January 2008 "Mind, Body, & Spirit Vol 3" issue .

Qigong (also Chi Kung, which is the older Wade-Giles spelling) is the science of cultivating the body's internal energy, or Qi (Chi). Translated as "Energy Work," Chi Kung practice has roots that go back in China at least 4000 years. The practice is based on the theory of Yin and Yang which describes the relationship of complementary qualities such as soft and hard, female and male, dark and light, or slow and fast, for example. According to this theory, nature tries to harmonize these qualities for balance. For us, achieving that balance can result in improved health, greater self-awareness, and overall fitness.

The concept of Chi is the foundation of traditional Chinese medical theory and Chi Kung. Like the Greek "pneuma" and the Indian Sanskrit "prana," Chi is considered to be the vital force and energy flow in all living things, circulating through channels in the body. Chi Kung theory says when this Chi flow becomes stagnant or stops, illness, pain, or mental and emotional problems occur. Chi Kung practices seeks to not only increase the level of Chi, but restore and improve its circulation. Accupuncture is also based on this theory.

Most researchers credit an Indian monk, Da Mo, also known as Bodhidharma, with not only founding the Chan (Zen) sect of Buddhism, but as the father of Chinese martial arts, incorporating Chi Kung practice into sets of exercises at the original Shaolin temple in Henan province around 550 A.D. The monks at the temple practiced these methods and found that they greatly improved not only their health, but increased their strength and power. The Shaolin monks continued to develop these techniques by integrating them with sets of martial arts forms that imitated the movements of animals known for their fighting prowess, like the tiger, dragon, snake, and crane. Later and outside the temple, other meditative martial arts practices that use Chi training, like Tai Chi Chuan and Pa Ku Chang, were developed 

Our present day Chung Yen Shaolin martial arts group often refers to the Chi Kung development area of practice as "internal" or Nei Kung. Not only does it include more typical still-type meditation and focused breathing, but also incorporates using the Chi Kung techniques with stances, punches, kicks, sparring, conditioning and endurance training. Our regular martial arts classes usually starting incorporating Nei Kung at the intermediate, Brown Belt, rank level, introducing a form called, San Nije or "Three Unity."

Our specialty Chi Kung classes are for both martial arts and non-martial arts students. Classes are usually held in 8 or 12 week sessions for one hour a week. We use some or all of Bodhidharma's original 18 position set of exercises to help with the practice. Though concentration and special breathing techniques, we first help students accumulate and increase their Chi. We then help train them to mentally focus on their breath and at the same time, imagine guiding energy to their vital organs and throughout the body while maintaining several different body postures. The postures and techniques are actually not very complicated and can be quickly learned with the proper guidance. It is through one's regular effort,  focus, and diligence in the practice of these techniques that brings the benefits. We also offer Tai Chi Chaun "moving meditation" classes to non-martial arts students.

I would like to add that one of the greatest benefits of Chi Kung practice is through the effort that it takes rather than something attained. The "Kung" in Chi Kung is the same as in "Kung Fu," which is a term often used to refer to Chinese martial arts, but is literally translated "energy-time." Some attainment is like inherited wealth; obtained without effort or discipline, and is often soon used up or loses its value. When something is earned through time, patience, and effort, it resides in you--you own it. The effort of self-study, searching, and self-cultivation is, I think, the pursuit of a better understanding of the meaning of our lives. 

Thanks to all of the participants, volunteers, demo team, and spectators for making this year's Tournament such as success. Demonstration photos HERE. Competition results HERE

photo by Mary Cockriel

Tai Chi Retreat at Furnace Mountain

A group of Tai Chi students visited the Furnace Mountain spiritual community near Clay City, KY on Saturday, March 31, 2007 for a day of Tai Chi and meditation with Master Hiang.

The "Character" of Martial Arts

From the YMCAs of Central Kentucky, December 2006 Newsletter: There are four important chinese characters, "Sang Wu Ching Shen," printed on the rank advancement certificates that Central Shaolin martial arts students receive. These four characters are also part of patch sewn onto the arm of the more advanced Brown and Black Belt student uniforms. Translated, the four characters mean "Excellence in Martial Arts Character/Spirit."

Notice that the characters say nothing about how fast someone can punch, how high they can jump, or how perfectly they do a form, although these skills are important in martial arts. But they speak about what is inside the martial artist. Perhaps not even what they possess today, but what they aspire to, what they hope to embody as a human being, and in turn, what they give to others.

Of course, a certificate or a patch cannot bestow character upon the recipient. It is developed by doing. In deed and in action. In the martial arts classroom, it is earned by the sweat running down the side of one's face in an effort to be the best you can be. By accepting the challenge of getting up in front of a packed gym by yourself and performing your material on test day or in a tournament competition. Or by helping your classmate who's having a difficult time with a particular technique, and even complimenting your sparring partner on a job well done as they help pick you up off the floor. And sometimes it's by picking yourself up from the floor by struggling or even failing on occasion. Outside of the gym, it grows from practicing when your teacher isn't there to watch you. And more importantly, it's when you choose to do the right thing in everyday life when no one else is looking--when no one or no law is telling you what to do.

Part of the YMCA's mission is to build a healthy spirit, mind and body for all through building strong families and relationships. While martial arts training can help develop self-defense skills, physical and mental health, self-discipline, and lead to a healthier lifestyle, the cornerstones of our program at the Central Kentucky YMCAs are about helping to develop excellence, character, and spirit. Whether you are an adult or child, man or woman, 7 years old or 70, the Y's Central Shaolin martial arts program is a great way to achieve these goals. Some current members have been practicing together nearly 30 years, building relationships that have lasted a lifetime. Head Instructor, Grandmaster Hiang Kwang The, has been teaching over 40 years. Parents, children, siblings, and families of all types make up a large portion of our group's membership. Many parents cheer their kids on in a sport. Many parents also help coach or officiate in their kids' sports, as well. But how many parents get to practice and compete in the same sport with their kids? Attending class together, practicing at home together, testing together, participating tournaments together. These shared challenges, successes and failures are more than precious memories--they're strengthening relationships against the pressures of a world that often seeks to unravel them.