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Aug
4
2018

8 + 8: Bagua plus Baji

Happy to announce the return of a couple of hard-to-get items: Sifu Su Yu Chang’s rare DVD performance and instruction of Liu Da Kai (Six Great Openings) Baji, detailing this important form, including applications with some atypical additions such as tie-ins to Chinese medicine, courtesy of Chang Sifu’s training as an acupuncturist. Sifu Sun Zhi […]

Aug
2
2018

Foundation Building: Two New Bagua DVDs

Without a doubt the work of Bagua stylist Sun Zhi Jun has been one of our most requested and purchased teaching series. The forms and shapes are extensions of Chinese medical theory. Now, after Sun’s passing, his disciple, Li Chun Ling, has taken up the banner and is issuing two pruned and simplified forms, one […]

Jul
20
2018

Tai Chi’s Long Bow

Addressing its reputed character, we get the impression that every earnest instructor tries a different approach to proclaim Tai Chi as a martial art. Considering those instructors who do try and make the point feasible, the spectrum of possible arguments is endless. For instance, one common example has the instructor picking a bystander on whom […]

Jul
11
2018

Celebrating Skill and Friendship

Last week, we wrote about Sifu Donald Hamby’s Gathering of the Masters kung fu exhibition, showcasing some of the best traditional kung fu teachers and performers. This week, we have some video footage that we shot while there. These three videos feature a smapling of the rare and unique forms we saw there—many of which […]

Jul
7
2018

Principle-Driven Skill Development

A book like Principle-Driven Skill Development was inevitable. The western attraction to de-construction can be highly functional and, as demonstrated here, is particularly applicable to martial principles. In this book, teacher Russ Smith not only presents solid information but dissects years of experience to show the foundational principles of martial studies. He really thinks about […]

Jun
27
2018

A Gathering Indeed

Friday, we drove south, over 350 miles to Monterey Park, in Los Angeles, in answer to Sifu Don Hamby’s invitation to attend his 3rd Annual Kung Fu Gathering of the Masters. Despite expectations based on decades of tournaments and events, we could not have anticipated what we encountered once the drumming started. Sifu Hamby, widely […]

Jun
18
2018

Triple Irony

Martial artists always have something to do. In my case I have been reconstructing and improving my weapons skills—at least, I hope so considering the practice put in. It can be a slow process. It’s tough enough to fight through the quirks of each weapon. You also have to overcome the tendency for former ghostly […]

May
22
2018

Sunday, After the Tournament

Packing up over a hundred books and DVDs, we departed the Convention Center Sunday, about noon. The two-day spread of the TC Media Kung Fu tournament had allowed us to schmooze with a lot of teachers, students and fans. We felt like we’d been talking continually for two days, but then again, conversations spin off […]

May
16
2018

Family Resemblance

I’ve been asked to judge at the annual Tiger Claw tournament this coming weekend. One of the things unique at this event is that it will feature, in its traditional column, not one, but TWO, Shaolin divisions. This is particularly significant because, for the first time, these two competitions will offer double examples of true […]

May
7
2018

The Gift of a Teacher

Yesterday we attended the memorial for Wing Lam, my teacher for a number of years. Over a hundred students and family gathered in the chapel to pay last respects. Many people crowded the middle aisle, most of them dressed in black or white, as per the formal instructions for a Daoist ceremony. The middle aisle […]

Apr
25
2018

Wing Lam Passes: April 25 2018

Sifu Kwong Wing Lam passed away today from kidney failure following a period of illness. His study, beginning at age 8, brought him instruction from top notch practitioners such as Sifu Yang Shang Wu and Zhao Jiao. Training with him for more than a decade, I recognized a teacher truly concerned for his art. His […]

Apr
5
2018

Four Things Hard to Believe

At the start of your training, if you’d asked: “What do I need to be a good martial artist?” you might have gotten a list which included strength, endurance, patience, humility, Ben-Gay, and a good pair of shoes. What would probably have been missing is the word “faith.” But anyone who’s done any kind of long-term […]

Apr
3
2018

Spring Into Summer with New Classes in Santa Cruz

Just a quick announcement for those in the Santa Cruz area: New 6 week and 13 week classes starting at our Academy in April and May. Here is a great opportunity to train with Narrye Caldwell in Tai Chi Chuan, and Ted Mancuso in Tai Chi Chuan, Bagua Zhang, and Adam Hsu’s Kung Fu Linking […]

Mar
27
2018

Tutorial: Tai Chi Tips, Stepping

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at Plum, you know how highly we prize basics as the foundation of good movement. ‘Stepping’ in Tai Chi, is one of those fundamentals that you might learn on the first day of class, and which you might be refining well into your advanced practice. We prepared a […]

Mar
9
2018

The Yi Bone’s Connected to the Qi Bone

Q: I started reading a book which examines the 5 major Tai Chi styles and uses quotes from the classics to show what they all have in common, and what is unique to each style. Anyway, lots of repetition of “yi leads the chi” and “chi leads the body”. I kind of always thought that, […]

Feb
5
2018

206 B.C.E.: THE DANCING ASSASSIN

Just a short excerpt from Professor Kang Ge-Wu’s martial history, The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts. If you are interested in the broader view of Chinese Kung Fu, this is a must have. It is the first—and only— book issued in English on the 5000 year history of Chinese Martial Arts, and Plum’s first […]

Jan
31
2018

Verses & Thoughts

Geometry The shortest distance between heaven and earth is a straight spine – Peter Thelin                    Swordtip   Sticking simply to the point, the sharpened sense which in us moves, that subtle probing of the blade might flick aside this dunce’s crown – Simon Cowper

Jan
17
2018

Chinese Year of the Earth Dog

Every January, we look forward to the New Year post from Narrye Caldwell, Plum’s resident Chinese astrologer. She describes this one as “quirky and irreverent.” This year, we add something extra: A colorful PDF version you can download to your computer, or even print out and give to friends. Click link above for PDF. The […]

Jan
15
2018

Being Off Balance, For All It’s Worth

When you lose your balance, you can also lose orientation. When you don’t know which direction to turn, can’t determine the ceiling from floor, feel as though your are on a mile-long fall, you are disoriented. We are told, from the earliest lessons, to keep our balance and preserve our orientation. We do forms that […]

Jan
7
2018

Gary Shapiro: Looking Back

In the past, I’ve written some articles for Plum detailing my Tai Chi adventures on cruise vacations. After nearly 40 years of work as a physical therapist, I decided that it was the right time to take a permanent vacation. On Aug 4, 2017, I made my last patient visit, went to the “big” office, […]