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Article

Feb
13
2019

The Righteous Blade

INTRODUCTION You grip the Kuan Dao but you haven’t lifted it yet. Something is different here. The blade is thicker than a saber and yours may have more edges; at the butt end, the metal or wood shaft may be capped with bronze. Your Kuan Dao looks fierce as well as heavy, the kind of […]

Feb
3
2019

(Almost) Hot Off the Press

The Spring 2019 issue of Kung Fu Tai Chi magazine is dedicated to Shaolin, and will feature, among many other fine articles, a new piece on Long Fist Secrets Revealed by Plum’s director, Sifu Ted Mancuso. We received our advanced copies, but if you would like a copy for yourself they will be available soon […]

Jan
21
2019

Year of the Earth Pig: Feb. 5, 2019-Jan. 24, 2020

Plum’s resident Chinese Astrologer, Narrye Caldwell, once again graces our site with her annual post on the upcoming New Year—this year’s party is hosted by the Earth Pig. The year of the Earth Pig arrives on February 5, 2019. If you’re feeling a bit, well, dog-eared, after last year, I’m happy to tell you that […]

Jan
19
2019

Speed and…uh…Timing

I tell my students over and over to “go fast, but don’t hurry.” In the martial world, too early can be as bad as too late. After all, how long do you want to wait for the plane to land? On the other hand, who wants it to arrive maddeningly early? Timing is a necessity. […]

Jan
12
2019

Stand Still, Be Fit

The CDC released some disturbing data on falls for the year 2017. More than one in four seniors experienced falls. Among Americans, falls were the number one cause of injury and death from injury. The CDC recorded 29 million falls, 3 million emergency room visits, resulting in $31 billion in medicare costs. Most alarming was […]

Jan
2
2019

The Passing of Wong Jackman

We are sad to announce the passing of Northern Shaolin Sifu Wong Jack Man. Known long before his famous fight with Bruce Lee, Wong Sifu had become a major proponent of Bak Sil Lum, Iron Body, and Golden Bell skills. With the death last year of Kwong Wing Lam, Gu Ru Zhang’s lineage has lost […]

Dec
23
2018

Personal Practice

What is a practice? What can it do? Practice is not just a workout. It is a recognition of engagement at that moment. It records, immediately, every nuance expressed in your story, laying those tiles piece by piece. Often, workouts sidestep the mind and can barely be remembered by dinnertime. From practice we recall the […]

Dec
19
2018

Caylor Adkins

We recently learned of the passing of Caylor Adkins, who died in November at the age of 84. Mr Adkins was well-known for decades as a Karateka, but his work bridged both Japanese and the Chinese martial arts, most specifically in his insightful text on Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands. We mourn his passing, […]

Dec
18
2018

The Dragon in Bagua Zhang

One of Plum’s longtime favorite and recommended books is Tom Bisio’s “Essentials of Bagua Zhang.” Below is an excerpt dealing with his view of the Dragon’s influence on one of China’s greatest masterworks in the world of martial arts. You get an actual ‘two-for-the-price-of-one’ in the passage below, in that Bisio himself quotes Francois Jullien […]

Dec
14
2018

How Legends Grow

After 5000 years, an ocean of rumor and a mountain range of myth still proscribe the land of Kung Fu. And the stories that most attach themselves are often related to the origins of weapons. Not every weapon has a backstory and a legend. But the folk stories that accompany weapons—believable or not—range from the […]

Nov
27
2018

The Sophistication of Simplicity

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to work with a group of beginning Tai Chi students. A few hours later, I met with another group of students in my advanced Tai Chi class. Now, relaxing at the dusty end of the day, I realize that what I had taught to these two classes was essentially […]

Nov
24
2018

Q & A: Single Move, Same Way?

Dear Plum, I have been thinking a lot about repeated moves in Tai Chi Chuan sets. In Chen style, for example, Single Whip is done in Eighteen Movements, 7 times in Lao Jia (Old Frame), 7 times in Xin Jia (New Frame), once in Lao Jia 2 (Cannon Fist) and one in Xin Jia 2. […]

Nov
23
2018

Q & A: Yi (意-Intention) and the Levels of Tai Chi

I have been told that tai chi can be done on three levels: up high and lightly for stress relief, down low working the muscles for health, and in the middle for combat. But as I was drawing a diagram for my students, it didn’t seem complete. The more I looked at it the more […]

Oct
24
2018

The Lightest Touch, the Heaviest Load

Kung Fu hides many of its secrets in terms of opposite qualities such as fast/slow, open/close, light and heavy. But don’t let the words obscure the story. The names are significant, but it’s their entwined relationship that holds the real stash. Take heavy and light. In the martial arts community, especially the Chinese branch, there […]

Oct
21
2018

Bak Sil Lum Sash Event

Today there are nine new Black sashes in the martial art of Bak Sil Lum (Northern Shaolin) style. At an event hosted by Sifu Scott Jensen a contingent of his senior students were awarded black sashes, a solid rank requiring years of training. Each candidate demonstrated skills, starting with a set from the empty-handed division […]

Oct
12
2018

Adam Hsu on Sparring

In my own teaching, I frequently apply lessons derived from Sifu Adam Hsu’s observations. Having trained with Hsu Sifu, I have had the experience, more than once, of “aha” moments. Sometimes the “aha” was not pleasant, but in every case the thinking was logical and truthful. So it is with great pleasure that I announce, […]

Sep
28
2018

A Maze of Seminars

We are starting some new seminars at our school in Santa Cruz, California and I can feel my negativity to the topic returning. I’ve had my doubts about seminars, my own and others, in the past. But when I think more about them I see good attributes and also some shaky ones. One of the […]

Sep
9
2018

Speed: Unpunch & Unkick

The following simple techniques will drastically improve your martial speed. My confidence in this teaching tip stems from the fact I have used it so many times and it always delivers.  It is based on a key concept in what people call “reptile response,” or conditioned reflex; in other words, actions that are hard-wired to […]

Aug
30
2018

Help Us Help You

We got an email from a kind customer, who wanted to alert us to the fact that a link he was clicking did not bring up the intended information. After a few minutes’ investigation, I would say he was putting it mildly: we had provided clips—many clips!—for each of the DVDs in China’s Living Treasures […]

Aug
28
2018

Listening to the Wind: On Internal Practice

About a week ago I asked my Tai Chi class if they ever get bored doing the form. They unanimously answered “No,” their explanation being that the form always provides new material to concentrate on, things to master. This suggests that the act of repetition can be either boring or freeing, and leads me to […]