Photography by Ron Reyes
"What does Willpower mean to you?"
Willpower means having the focus, discipline, and spirit to set one's sights on goals-or a direction in life- and follow through with the actions and attention to detail needed to realize that goal. It helps progress down one’s chosen path and not get distracted or dissuaded by irrelevancies.
"Who is Chris Young?"
I’m a martial artist, actor, and model living in Pittsburgh, PA, but originally, I’m from Northern California. My family, however, is based in Honolulu, Hawaii. My mom is from New Mexico, but I don’t really know much about that side of my family.
To me, each martial art is a philosophy: a perspective on life as well as an approach to fighting. They provide different ways of understanding the world and solving problems. I bring them together in my own personal view as seems appropriate for what I am doing at any given time. Ultimately, martial arts is the lens through which I see the world.
I’ve been practicing martial arts on-and-off since I was a little kid. I took some time off to try to concentrate on gymnastics, but I would say the last ten years have been the most serious.
In addition to martial arts, I practice Ying Jow, BaiYuan TongBei, Xing-Yi, BaGua, and Tai Chi. I also do Chinese Lion Dance and Dragon Dance, which is based in large part on kung fu skills. Capoeira Angola is also a major activity for me. It can be seen as a game and a dance. I just started learning Samba dancing too which is a blast!
Everybody has the ability to practice martial arts, to become better and more true to themselves, and acquire some ability to defend themselves - if they have a good teacher. However, the path for each person is different. People like me are made complete through martial arts whereas others might use music or science or something else. To me, that’s what makes the world great: the truest, most positive self is a little different for each person. It makes it so much more interesting to exist in the world!
My advice to beginners is to try out a few schools and see which one clicks for you. These days, people train martial arts for different reasons: fitness, sport, self-defense, or some combination. Different schools will be more oriented in one or another direction. Some schools are more rigid, some are more traditional, and some are more laid back. There is a lot of variety within martial arts, so try out different schools for a few classes and go with the one that suits you.
Also, it is common for beginners to want to wait until they are at a certain point in their physical condition. They say stuff like “I’ll start when I can do ten push-ups.” They never end up making it to training because they are always trying to train so that they can train. You have to start where you are and go from there. If the school is good, they should be able to accept you at whatever stage you are in and help you advance from there.
Sometimes, I reflect on my experiences and what my teachers have taught me, and the ideas just ring so true for me in my life that I want to share them. Sometimes, it’s a little realization I have as I go through life or an experience that I had that day. I also like to share the words of certain people I have read that left an impression on me like Rumi, Paulo Coelho, and Neil Gaiman too.
One of the most significant opportunities is training with my Capoeira group via zoom. Normally, I would go to the academia in New York City every other month to train with my mestre. But now, via zoom, while I don’t get to physically train with a partner, I get a lot more classes. Also, many classes are all over the world. I get to train with people from Chicago, Brazil, and Kenya which I could never afford to do physically. That’s been very cool.
"Acting & Modeling"
Actually, I was scouted when I was registering voters one day. I started taking acting classes just to get better at modeling. I ended up getting hooked on acting because I had an amazing teacher. Now, I want to be in a movie where I can show my martial arts skills in a fight scene and also credibly portray a character as a legitimate actor.
My martial arts intersected with my modeling when I saw a photo where the model didn’t know how to properly hold a sword. So I asked the photographer if he would like to shoot somebody who does.
"What is next for Chris Young?"
That’s a really good question! I plan to reopen the martial arts school as things open up, do a few fashion shows both here and overseas, and then some of these film projects that are on hold will start to move forward, and I will be a part of them! And just keep moving forward from there!