Xiang 'Torako-san' Yao:
Don't grab this tiger by the tail!!!

The life of world famous martial artist Xiang Jing Yao is a more exciting story any Hollywood writer could ever conjure. Xiang (pronounced “Shen” was born in southern Japan. Xiang (a.k.a. Yo Yojimbo) was the 12th of 16 children born to her nomadic cat herder parents. Her first few years were carefree and joyful, living off the land and following the annual cat migrations. However, shortly before her 5th birthday, a bad batch of salsa left her seriously ill. Because she was unable to continue the arduous nomadic life, Xiang’s parents left her at a nearby monastery, in hopes that they could use their secret arts to restore her to health. Indeed, the monks took her in and healed her. In the years to follow, they taught her their healing arts, their fighting arts, and their knowledge of international pharmaceutical regulations. When she was 17 years old, she successfully grabbed the pebble from her master’s hand and set off in search of new adventures.

Her first goal was to find her parents. After too many adventures to detail in this abbreviated biography, she found her parents had settled down in a small farming village in central Hyogo. While the reunion was joyful, she was outraged to discover that the villagers had been living in fear plagued by bandits who stole their crops, spray painted their animals and called the villagers bad names. She vowed to restore peace and dignity to the village. Based on the number of bandits the villagers had seen, she figured she would need 6 other skilled fighters to help her protect the village. However, times were hard and she was only able to recruit 3 martial artists, a chain saw juggler, a Rambo wannabe and a banjo player who had seen Enter the Dragon 28 times. She was undeterred. The day finally came when they faced off with the bandits. They were out numbered 4 to 1. A light wind blew across the fields. The bandit leader sneered at them. Xiang confidently stepped forward and boldly declared, “Please don’t hurt me. I’m a girl.” This confused the leader for a moment, but that was all Xiang needed. She neatly demolished him with a 24-count combination. A battle royale between the bandits and Xiang’s fighters erupted. The battle lasted for 3 hours, but through their superior fighting skills and the clever use of jello, Xiang’s fighters were victorious. However, the victory was bitter sweet. Although peace had been restored to the village, Xiang felt strangely out of place. She had missed out on her childhood with her parents. Now that she was grown up and had found her parents again, she also found that a warrior had no place in a small farming village. Seeking to leave this grief behind, she booked passage on steamship bound for America.

As everyone does, she arrived in America with just $17 and the clothes on her back. She needed a job quickly. She found a job working for Totally Unbelievable Computer Classes, Incorp. However, this turned out to be a poor match to her level of skill, and her boss was arrogant and controlling, thus she found herself scanning the want ads again. In an unprecedented stroke of luck, she found a job as Beanie Baby appraiser for the U.S. Government. The job was intense and she found she had little time for outside pursuits. Her job kept her mostly desk bound, but she still yearned for her old days of training at the monastery. Over time, the voice of the warrior within reduced to a whisper, but never completely went away. November 2000 would bring another twist to her life. She had intended to vote for Al Gore, but confused by the complex ballot, she accidentally signed up for a 5-year contract at MAK instead. Her initial dismay turned to joy when she learned that “MAK” actually stood for “Martial Arts Koncepts”, not "Multitudes of Antagonistic Kangaroos." At Martial Arts Koncepts (motto: Fight first, spell later), under the guidance of Guro Mike Krivka, she resumed her study of martial arts and returned to the warrior ethos. Since then, she received instructor certifications in multiple systems. She also has earned the “Most Fearless Driver” award. She won the vote for “Most Colorful Stick Taping Job” 2000,2001, 2002; “Most Colorful Boxing Gloves” 2000, 2003; “Most Colorful Training Shoes” 2002; and “All Time Best Looking MAK Instructor in a Kimono”.