May
26
2017

Hung Gar Boxing: Clarity and Effectiveness

Here is another fine “workshop” session DVD from Sifu Don Hamby. This time his Hung style takes him to the topic of classical form and fighting. And he responds with sequences taken directly from Hung’s famous forms applied to unarmed combat. As is characteristic of the style, there are some powerful blows and even a few techniques that would be deadly if employed.

Hung Gar

If you keep a close eye, you will not only see the “big moves” performed with precision, power and accuracy, but subtle wrist flicks, angle changes and readjustment that make the big moves work.

A clear and yet sophisticated presentation that echoes the style itself.

May
25
2017

Plum Attends Its First Tournament

kung fu tournamentWell, we had a great weekend at the first tournament/demonstration we’ve attended in years (and our FIRST as PLUM representatives).

Friday started with a nice spread in the patio of the gorgeous and refurbished California Theater in downtown San Jose. The place was a-buzz with so many well-known teachers, such as Lily Lau, David Chin, Chan Pui, Mimi Chan, Yang Jwing Ming, and John Leong, to name only a few. Following the get-together, we all filed to our seats to watch the Grandmasters Live demonstration, starting off with many representative forms of Tai Chi, not to mention intriguing new mixtures such as Tai Chi Bagua. The Northern and Southern section of the program was particularly energetic, with the exhibitions of Hung Gar and Jow Gar being far-too-short measured by the excitement of the audience. A Wah Lum routine performed by Chan Pui (who, we understood, had come out of retirement to do this) was enthusiastically received.

We set up our Plum table on Saturday and, unlike our regular interactions with customers over the internet, we actually got to see each person face to face. Over and over again people passed the table, turned around, back-tracked, then came to our table to squint at us. A few seconds would pass and then they would say “Plumpub!” It was a great experience because, frankly, I wonder, occasionally, if we are just yelling in the forest. The number of people and the friendliness we felt really recharged our battery.  There are not that many times in life where you can feel immediate kinship and talk to a friend you didn’t know you had before. And all this is not to even mention some of the great conversations we had with teachers such as Benny Meng, Don Hamby, Willy Pang, Peter Pena and other sifus about their schools and styles. (We might also have some great new books and DVDs to offer, rooted in these chats.)

On Sunday we met even more teachers and readers. It all reinforced not only a recognition that Plum is doing something in the martial community, but also that there still IS a strong community. The masters demonstration closing the 3 day event showed as high a level of quality as you might see in Taiwan or Mainland China, plus a youthful burst coming from the talent of the next generation.

There is much for us to process from this little excursion, and we are grateful to those of you who came up and said “hello” to us. The state of the traditional arts appears to be fragile, swinging (like the 300 pounds of weight from the “iron crotch” demonstrator) between past and future. We often despair that these arts are disappearing like the rainforest, but weekends like this one, filled with exuberant performance and curiosity, make us feel a little more hopeful when traditional teachers and a new generation of practitioners exchange ideas and touch hands.

May
16
2017

Appreciation: Double Swords, Flying Blades

There is at least one weapon in Kung Fu practice that is generally taught only to women. In fact, I have never—that I recall—taught this to a male practitioner. Leaving aside the irony of a male teaching a “female only” weapon (I’ll discuss how THAT works at the end of this article), I think it might be interesting to consider the character of this weapon.

Start with the single straight sword. True, it is as thin and graceful as those women with flowers in their hair who wield it. Besides the beauty of its design we scrutinize its functions. It is a two-edged weapon. A perfect instrument for embodying yin and yang, the straight sword is as dangerous in the back stroke as it is in normal cutting.

  1. To be so easy to command, forward or back, the sword needs to be relatively light. There are “war swords” of greater weight requiring more strength to execute back and forth, but these are generally wielded by men and rarely doubled.

    Read more →

May
11
2017

Iron Wire Fist Book Has Arrived

iron wire fistFinally. At last. The wait is over.

Lam Chun Fai’s Iron Wire Fist book/DVD, Tid Sin Kuen, has JUST arrived.

The 240 page book is bound in a heavy, textured paper wrapped cover, with both black-and-white and color interior pages. It also contains a bonus 9 minute DVD of Sifu Lam performing key movements from the set, including several of the 12 Bridge Hands. The entire package is beautifully done, and we are so excited to have this for you.

This is an exquisite book on many levels: the attention to aesthetic detail is just the start. The layout is well-considered, with a nice fat color-coded section in the middle where Lam Sifu teaches the form. There are also sections on health benefits of this internal form (no applications, since it is not a fighting form). The photographs are large and clear, and the bonus DVD shows Lam Sifu demonstrating several of the 12 Bridge Hands that make up this important set in the Hung Gar system.

We know you’ve been waiting, so here is your chance! Click here or the book’s image to read more about this fine entry into the literature of Southern Chinese martial arts, and to buy copies.

May
5
2017

Meditation’s Secret Treasure

One person's unexpected journey in an unsuspected world. Meditation’s Secret Treasure, by Steve Strasnick, is the story of someone who was not already indoctrinated with mystical assumptions, who did not bring a cosmology (at least, not a religious one) to the table. Yet, he found himself  “Awakening to the Mystical World,” despite his feeling about himself that he was not “inclined” in that manner. How would it be for you to abruptly find yourself in an “alternate reality” without prior experience?

There is nothing predictable in Strasnick’s experience or studies—he has been a graphic designer and taught political science at Stanford; he has extensively studied psychology and practiced martial arts and dance—that prepared him for this journey. He was simply chosen and this is his story.

Apr
23
2017

Plum & the 25th Anniversary Kung Fu Tai Chi Tournament

Join us for the Kung Fu Tai Chi 25th Anniversary Festival and tournament in San Jose on May 19-21.

We don’t get out much—certainly not as much as we would like—but this year we are showing up to celebrate Tiger Claw’s Anniversary, by attending the festivities, including the Grandmaster’s demo on Friday night, the Saturday and Sunday tournaments, and the 8th annual WildAid Tiger Claw Championship on Sunday. Plum’s entire crew (yes, all three of us!) will have a table with some of our exclusive books and DVDs, and we hope to meet face-to-face with you—our customers, readers and friends.

Of course, the weekend itself will bring its own excitement. Tiger Claw is well-known for their professionally-run events. Additionally, Kung Fu Tai Chi is pleased to announce its cooperation with the International Wushu Sanshou Dao Association (IWSD) as they are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. Finally, this year’s Friday night performances will highlight a special roster of traditional masters, many of whom do not perform regularly.

If you are in the area, or thinking of travelling to visit, drop by and see us.

Kung Fu Tai Chi Tournament

FRIDAY
Grandmasters Exhibition and dinner
California Theatre
345 S 1st St, San Jose, CA 95113

SATURDAY
Kung Fu tournament and demonstrations

SUNDAY
Taekwondo and Tai Chi competition.
8th Annual WildAid Tiger Claw Championship

Apr
14
2017

Kung Fu Saber: The Tiger Leaps

Kung Fu Saber Book DVDA long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, Plum pre-announced our newest book/DVD package by Ted Mancuso on the Kung Fu Saber. Needless to say, it took us just a bit longer to produce these than we expected, but we are thrilled to say, THE SABER IS HERE!

This is the third in the four part series on the Grandfather weapons of Kung Fu: Staff, Spear, Saber and the one still-to-come, Straight Sword. But with all projects at Plum, very little follows the straight commercial path. Although those old standbys of yesteryear, which dutifully exposed a hungry audience to uncommon routines and weapons, served a good purpose, martial literature has actually matured a bit since then. At least, that is what we intend for our own publications.

The Pigua Saber routine is taught on the 80 minute DVD accompanying this text, but the book itself is devoted more to the essence of Saber play. A weapon is always more than a weapon in Kung Fu, especially since its original purpose for fighting is rarely exercised these days. But weapons are also masterful teachers and training devices, for both other weapons and empty-hand practice. And each weapon carries its own real calling—saber play, for instance, is probably the most definitive example of Chan Si Jin. Not the highest, but the most definitive. On another level, the saber offers benefits by maximizing torso involement. And it also strengthens the interconnectedness of the body. These are just a few of the lessons taught by Saber.

As always, Ted includes lengthy passages in both mediums on basics, structure, spirit. This volume also contains an in-depth argument on the differences between usage and application, followed by examples of both. A good part of the book, and some of the DVD, is devoted to explicating these two, especially against the Saber’s famous enemy, the Spear.

The wait is over, so go HERE for more information and to order. Also, Ted will autograph the first 25 we send out.

Apr
8
2017

Who is Your Audience? Martial Consciousness

Martial arts can be a mirror. Like Alice, I stick my hands out and they sink into the loking glass.  The nature of martial arts encourages looking inward, staring outward and trying, somehow, to get audience and self-perception to agree.

It’s important to know just who and what you are looking for. It’s important to know who you are demonstrating for, who is watching your form, who you are trying to impress, or even scare.

 Of course, when you start your martial training you have an audience:  your instructor. You want to show him just how good you can be. You may be a blossoming Bruce Lee or, when you slip and fall, a Jackie Chan in the bud, but you want him to be there witnessing the event.

At home you try to show your parents but it is difficult. They may demonstrate a titanic lack of interest in what you are doing. Sometimes this can hurt, but the thing to remember—when relatives are the audience—you may be doing something they just can’t understand. Breaking a board they can understand. Standing in a peaceful, almost meditative, state might be a bigger stretch. Read more →

Mar
30
2017

The Wiry Iron Wire

Iron Wire FistYES (almost)!

We have been waiting, patiently and impatiently, for the new Iron Wire Fist book (Tid Sin Kuen) written by Sifu Lam Chun Fai. This will represent the third in his exquisite series of Hung Gar books, and this new one has the special advantage of an accompanying DVD.

It is almost here. We got notice from the publisher (in Italy) that they are waiting on the DVD and then they will ship this to us. We will have a limited quantity sooner (shipped airmail) and then a larger quantity later, in a couple of months (shipped seamail). If you want to make sure to get your copy sooner than later, please contact us (below) to reserve your book(s).

As with Lam Sifu’s other two titles, this one will be hardcover with beautiful production values, not to mention, of course, the invaluable information on this important form.

* indicates required field

Mar
28
2017

Three New Chinese Texts

Three new books added to our Chinese language section, a couple accompanied by video resources.  Today’s emphasis is on intestinal fortitude or, as some people say,  “internal style.”

internal martial arts booksWang Pei Sheng’s Nei Gong Xin Fan Tai Ji Quan
This book, compiled by one of Wang’s students, pictures Wang himself performing his movements with great precision. Diverse sections cover important practices such as the Eight Primary Energies, methods of footwork, etc. The VCD accompanying the text shows the 37 move form of Wu Tai Chi which Wang helped make popular. There is also a pleasantly informal section on Tai Chi Chin Na, with some effective throws and not a little amount of joking.

Chen Family Hong Branch Tai Chi Boxing
This book/DVD package is from that special branch of Chen Tai Chi known as Hong Jun style, a form that emphasizes grace and Chin Na moves. The book is accompanied by a DVD packed with information: complete instruction on a 24 manner set, two person practice in the form of both Push Hands and applications, basic Chi exercises, and a bonus Short Stick set. The book itself offers complete instruction in the 81 move Long Form, with clear photos illustrating each move.

Xing Yi Strong Body Practice (Xing Yi Qiang Shen Gong)
Xing Yi is one of the strongest styles with a unique exploration of the relation between shape and movement. The very name of the style reinforces this idea. This unique book takes this balance quite seriously, adding strength to the mixture. Lin Jian Hua’s approach is to combine action and position, almost like a Qigong, to find exactly the correct posture for each move, and demonstrates this in very clear breakdowns throughout the text.

Mar
25
2017

Site Delight!

I’m watching over you

If you notice any funny warnings on our site over the next few days, pay no mind! We are upgrading our site security to even higher standards, tucking all pages under the security blanket  (even those that do not need it, like sales pages).

Plum has always taken security very seriously, and this will just add one more layer. Rest assured that, even if you see these intermittent warnings, the shopping cart and ALL sensitive material is fully secure. You will notice the closed padlock once you get to the shopping cart, where it really matters.

UPDATE: As of late Saturday night, we think this is resolved. If you find any trouble pages, do let us know.

Mar
23
2017

Special Kung Fu Training Equipment

Here’s another in our series of inexpensive, mobile, customized kung fu training equipment.

kung fu trainingHere’s the pic of the “training pole”. I use it for staff, sticky hands and punching through the rings, left low, right high and right low left high. It’s ABS 3″ pipe concreted into the bucket with a threaded connection (for removal) and an ABS 2″ pipe for the body and rings.  About 7′ high.   
Regards, John

 

Great! And I assume those are garden pot holders? Versatile and portable, nice combination.

Click on the picture to see it enlarged, and HERE to see a previous contribution from Jed in Australia. And we would love to see any additional ideas! Homemade training tools and rigs are as traditional as the practice that uses them.

Mar
19
2017

Random Circles—The Synergy of Taiji Quan

by Jason Tsou and Art Schonfeld

By necessity, there are many levels of martial arts training. A person must develop foundational work before he can go on to more advanced work.

One essential training method often overlooked today is that of Random Circle training. While this is not the highest level of training, it provides the necessary underpinnings to reach the higher levels of skill. Random Circles teaches strategy, teaches us how to use Ting Jin (listening energy to sense your opponent), Hwa Jin to divert and avoid your opponent’s sensing, and it allows you to collect and connect the techniques contained in forms in order to get a taste of usage in those techniques. Random Circle Exercises is one step beyond the Tui Shou (Push Hands) exercises most people practice. Often, we see Tui Shou limited to the movements of Grasping Bird’s Tail. While it is important to understand Peng Lu Ji An, being able to use all of the other moves in the push hands process is also crucial. In addition, Random Circles Exercises introduces combat footwork and begins to train the student in how to use momentum when issuing Fa Jin.

The term “Random Circles” traces back to Yang Ban Hou, the uncle of Yang Chen Fu. In a poem attributed to him, the phrase “trap your opponent within the Random Circle and four ounces of energy will move a thousand pounds of force” appears. Much of the same idea can also be found in writings attributed to Wang Zhong Yue, who also talks about the four ounces of energy moving a thousand pounds of force. The Random Circle allows one to find the point at which the four ounces can be applied. Random Circles can be easily incorporated into the framework of the Taiji Quan forms and can be used as Da Fa (combat training). Read more →

Mar
12
2017

Mizong Jia: Shaolin Mizong Kung Fu style

Here’s a pop quiz (Mizong Jia Kung Funo cheating!)

What style is the inspiration for the two films, “The Chinese Connection” (with Bruce Lee) and “Legend” (with Jet Lee)? Want a hint? This style is associated with Kung Fu Master Huo YuanJia, Head Instructor of the famous Ching Woo Association.

Ok, so the title of this post gives it away. Of course, you might not have known this because it is rare to see a new book and DVD in English on Mizong Quan (Lost Track Boxing), and even less common to have such a work on the important Jia, or Structure, form.

Which is why Plum is proud to announce that we are publishing a new work on Mizong by Sifu Lu Junhai—a full-color instructional text packaged with a 50 minute DVD. This is one of the few books and DVDs on Mizong published in English (the DVD is in Chinese, but well-subtitled). The text is clear, and the DVD contains at least 30 minutes of applications, another rarity these days in martial literature.

You can click HERE, or on the image, to go to the book page and read more about this work, and why the Jia Form is such a crucial form for Mizong practitioners.

Mar
6
2017

Plum ♥︎ Mantis (and here’s some proof)

Wong Han Fun MantisGuess who’s back! Wong Han Fun Mantis

OK, the book covers probably give it away, but in case you want a name, it’s Wong Han Fun (Huang Han Hsun). We have restocked, FINALLY, 13 nicely-done reprints of some of his hard-to-find titles. And when we say “nicely done”, what we mean is some of the clearest, crispest photos that we have seen in decades.

Click the books to go to the newly revised page, and see what we have.

Feb
24
2017

The Hidden Power of Kung Fu Slapping

Can you explain the reason some styles like Tong Bei Quan and Kenpo use so much slapping? A fellow martial artist recently asked me about this. Little did he know was that I used to lecture obsessively on this subject to black belts and teachers. Even now, I still incorporate some of this technique in my Kung Fu. I’ve been grilled by many a fellow practitioner who thinks that slapping is a little silly. In cases of performance beating out function, I agree; but when executed, with proper understanding, this can refine a valuable skill.

 


1. To create swing power instead of opposition power.
There are two basic striking patterns in any Martial Art, oppositional and complementary. We were all taught that if you throw a chop you can increase its power by pulling back your other hand in the opposite direction. However, you can also augment force by moving both hands in the same direction, as in the Double Swing shown. Swinging the slapping hand in the same direction as the chop can create power at close quarters. Slapping assures that both hands are tied together.

Read more →

Feb
17
2017

One Good Return Deserves Another

This addition (or should I say re-addition) contains a few books that have been unavailable for years. We know that our cutomers are loyal, but even so, we’ve been surprised that people who’ve had these on their want list for more than five years (!) still want them the moment they become available again.

Mantis, Ziran and Chin Na booksThese first three—returned after years—are from noted master Gao Tao Sheng. These include the valuable Long Fist training that is still a part of Praying Mantis mastery.  We are also reinstating a Chin Na book containing a two-person set, a lot of ground fighting and endless locks and counter-locks.

 

Next comes Tai Tzu Boxing (Tai Tzu means Great Ancestor, referring to the soldier who founded the Song dynasty).  Though said to be a rough-and-tumble style, we have our doubts. The techniques in this book are well-executed, all for fighting, but suspiciously like so many applications from other styles We’ll let you judge for yourself.

We also have a nicely done book on ZiRan (Tzu Ran) or Naturalness Boxing. This was a breakthrough style (also linked to the Six Harmonies Boxing) that encouraged a kind of revelation approach as well as strong and unusual training. Among others, this style was a favorite of Wan Lai Sheng, a famous boxing teacher—in fact, the full title of this new volume is Wan Lai Sheng Ziran Men Studies.

Feb
10
2017

Coloring in the Picture: Bubishi and Hakka styles

The Colorful Bubishi…
We now carry both the Bubishi and the new Lion Books, General Tian’s Wubeizhi, with painted figures. This special copy is unlike all other copies presently known. In an amazing confluence of facts, we just happened to read the following footnote in Patrick McCarthy’s Book on Bubishi:

… According to Mr. Yoza [one of the people interviewed], there was a colored facsimile made from the Bubishi owned by his uncle Go Kenki. Originally, the picture of the Busaganashi [Protective Deity] is said to have been colored. Since Mr. Yoza’s painting [of one of the door Gods] is very similar to the Busaganashi found in the Bubishi, it is presumed that the original (edition of the Bubishi) was brought to Okinawa together with Go Kenki’s edition from which the facsimile was made.

Read more →

Jan
27
2017

The Hakka Testimonial

Hakka Kung Fu book300 Years of Hakka Kung Fu is definitely a gift book for a martial collector/scholar.

Last year Hong Kong, after having erected a statue of Bruce Lee, sponsored an exhibition of 300 years of Hakka Kung Fu. This was a good decision because the cluster of Kung Fu styles that make up the constellation of Hakka WuShu is gradually dimming, and may even blink out of existence.

There are no techniques, forms, or sparring sessions in this text. It is a book about a certain people—the “vagabonds” of China—their culture, and a connecting chain of love for Kung Fu. The book is extra-sized, hard backed and beautiful. Some great photos, mostly of teachers and beautiful landscapes, printed on excellent paper.

The book covers the Hakka history, then moves to individual portraits and expositions of specific masters, their backgrounds, thought and hopes for Kung Fu’s future. This is a book about families, blood-bonded or not. They are family because they share the same ideas. Hakka Kung Fu

 

 

 

 

 

Jan
17
2017

Year of the Fire Rooster–January 28, 2017

Year after year, Narrye Caldwell’s annual Chinese Astrological analysis has been one of Plum’s most popular and requested topics. We are happy to once again offer it here.

Fire RoosterAll Chinese wisdom traditions, including medicine, divination, astrology, and feng shui, are systems of pattern identification that guide us in adapting gracefully to change. A world in flux is assumed; it is the one constant feature of life. Astrology is best viewed as a tool to discern where we are in the shifting cycles of time so we can adjust our expectations accordingly and therefore, from the Chinese point of view, cultivate longevity by not wasting our qi trying to swim against the current.

Last year’s current schooled us all in crisis management as the Fire Monkey’s erratic impulsiveness and dramatic flare produced an unprecedented bit of theater in American politics. Read more →