Dec
23
2016

A Tale of Two Texts

So here’s how the story goes. It’s just a small anecdote about Bruce Lee (off stage) and Jimmy Lee (right in the middle). It’s also about keeping secrets and paying odd debts, with just a bit of rectifying humor in the bargain.

It starts with one of the first English language books about Kung Fu, authored by a noted west coast Sifu of the Southern style, T. Y. Wong. He wrote “Chinese Karate Kung Fu Original Sil Lum System for Health and Self Defence” in 1961. He also ran a school—called Kin Mon— located at 880 Sacramento St. in San Francisco, in the fifties and sixties.

Wong was traditional, at least in some sense of the word. He taught a southern Shaolin style of relatively little fame. He taught forms and basics. His school uniform was a version of the famous Jing Mo style with black satin and white piping. His uniform coat was distinct, with the hem cut in zigzag sections.

Among his students was a young Jimmy Lee. This was before Bruce was on the scene and Jimmy studied diligently for a few years. From Sifu Wong he learned the basics of Iron Palm training and is actually shown in Wong’s book demonstrating the general form, and assisting with some self defense techniques. Read more →

Dec
16
2016

The Bible of Karate

What is the Bubishi? It is many things, but it’s most common attribution is “the Bible of Karate.”

Why should Chinese stylists take an interest in a book that is fundamental to an Okinawan art? Because a closer look at this remarkable text opens up a widely different estimation, one that is both more expansive, less secular, and most certainly pertinent to traditional Chinese Wushu.

It’s true that the word ‘bible’ might imply a proscribed code, the basis—in this case—for a style that traveled from Okinawa to Japan, and elsewhere. But a ‘bible’ can be more than that: a multi-authored text, a compilation of different voices, records and accounts, and not necessarily the same compilation in every edition.

This Bubishi closely resembles this collection of texts. Historically, it had no single name, sometimes going by The White Crane Records, or The Bubishi or, in the case of this newly discovered version, the General Tian Wubeizhi. Although we don’t know its common nickname, we do know that it was born in China and raised in Okinawa—in Ryukyu, to be exact, the center for Chinese learning on this island. It was originally written in classical Chinese, and contained simple but wonderful pen-and-ink illustrations of figures practicing martial arts techniques, two-person routines and, perhaps most importantly, medical information in the form of Chinese anatomical charts and hand-drawn herbal lists and identifiers. Read more →

Dec
16
2016

A Wire of Iron

What a year the monkey has been!

Now, we have so much good stuff coming in we can act like the Rooster Year is already here, and can start to crow a bit. In the next couple of months, we’re looking forward to adding more and more top quality books and DVDs, often in English. 

For instance, we have scheduled a beautiful book on Hakka masters; an original english translation of a new history and analysis of the Bubishi (Wubeizhi), plus a never-before-seen color edition of the essential text; an entirely new English language book and DVD on the Lost Track style and its key form; our own text in the Grandfather weapons series, this one on the Kung Fu Saber; not to mention recently posted items like Sifu Adam Hsu’s DVD course on Bagua Zhang. The Year of the Rooster is a good time for concentration and getting some important things done and that will be our goal and focus from this point on: more top-notch material on this great art, and more in-depth discussion about the core of the arts and each teacher’s response to it.

Another event enhanced this past month: we finally met one of our most popular instructors, Terry Dunn, after all these years. In four hours of non-stop talk we discussed everything martial, from our mutual Kenpo experiences to LiuHeBaFa; the skills of the Cheng Man Qing teachers; the proliferation of pseudo-Qi Gong; and much more. Known for his clarity of presentation on the subjects of Tai Chi and Qigong, you may expect more new materials onPlum, from Terry, in the coming months.

Hung Gar Iron WireAnother project just coming to publication is a rare event indeed: the Lam Family Hung Gar (Hung Kuen) version of the famous Iron Wire form, one of the pinnacles of Southern Kung Fu. This is the Lam family’s first presentation—in book and on DVD—of the knowledge locked in this exceptional form. Just to whet your appetite, take a look at the Table of Contents (you are the first to see this): Read more →

Dec
10
2016

A Welcome Guest: The Hakka Fist

hakka kung fuI have a friend, Tek Young Lin, who is a born storyteller. He can weave a tale with every nuance—the smell, the expressions, the details—all brought to life. He can twist a yarn about anything or nothing. In fact, he tells a wonderful Daoist story about collecting holes, and how his best friend almost tumbled down one that they were capturing and throwing onto a truck.

Tek’s storytelling follows in the footsteps of his tradition. He is a Hakka. Many people have never heard the name. It refers to a nation of nomads, a so-called “Guest People” composed traditionally of mathematicians, storytellers, astrologers, and doctors. The Hakkas are a great example of how social conditions affect martial reality. Through millennia, they have been pushed, squeezed and bumped ever southward. Huge revolutions and natural disasters drove them out of their traditional habitats. It made them clannish, too, even creating  “one-name-villages,” with everyone in a given town sharing the same family name. Typically Hakka—what they were forced to do actually became their method of self-protection. They kept all marriages inside their clan, developing a ritual to—occasionally—accept a non-clan member to the inner circle. This practice still lingers in the secretive inclusion ceremonies for some Southern styles of Kung Fu. Read more →

Dec
3
2016

International Shipping Rates Drop

birdsshippingWe’ve spent 20 years building a catalogue of hand-picked, traditional, rare books and videos. But every year the post office makes it a little harder to ship these fine products, at a reasonable rate, to our many international customers. The rise in prices has been so extreme that we’ve actually been subsidizing the costs. We also started on a long and winding road to find a cheaper rates.

And we have.

We found a shipping consolidator that provides, on average, about 20-30% lower prices than previous rates. And for larger, heavier orders, we can once again send packages surface mail, which is about 50% less expensive than any rates we have seen for a long time. Even FEDEX—2-5 days to most countries—is now affordable if you need it quickly. Read more →

Dec
2
2016

Bubishi Classic, Like You Have Never Seen Before (Updated)

bubishi

Plum treasures our close affiliation with Lionbooks in Taiwan, both for their extensive library of authentic, hard-to-find martial arts literature, and the exceptional job they do of making these books beautiful.

So, we are excited to announce their new english language study of the Bubishi, the foundational text of  Karate, including two Bubishi manuals, both in Chinese. The translator writes: “The first has been published before (in Japanese publications) but the second (which is in color) has never been published before. In fact, no one even knew it existed.”

And, of course, Plum will have copies!

When can I get them?

We expect these to land in about a week, and are accepting pre-orders right now. And we will post more information about the book and its heritage. International customers, this would be a great time to check out our new, less expensive postage rates!

UPDATE: First shipment completely sold out! That went fast. Second helping should be here around Dec 26.

How do I order?

Click the image above, or the link below to order. It may take a couple of seconds to load.

 

Dec
1
2016

Hung Gar booklets back in stock

LOTS of exciting new and returning titles coming over the next couple of months!

For right now, these three ever-popular Hung Gar booklets (below) are finally back in stock. Click each picture to go to the page.

Hung Gar Books

Shi Zi Mei Hua Quan

Hu Die Zhang (Butterfly Hands)

Hu Die Zhang (Butterfly Hands)

Liu Family Boxing

Liu Family Boxing

Back with more, soon!

 

Nov
29
2016

You Are Hired: Bodyguard Kung Fu

 art_bodyguartd_3_wuhuiqingPut yourself in the thick of it. What would you do? Your world is split into two—principals and enemies in a constant power struggle. Many hidden factions promote ninja-type fighting skills. You must protect your principal at all costs, yet not every situation requires deadly force so you have to be an expert at making lightning quick decisions. That flash of light may not mean a rifle, but it could mean a deadly weapon, in deadly hands.

Add one more level of strategy and pain: the very act of taking out one assassin might reveal a pathway for the bad guys to capture your principal. You have to keep all balls moving at the same time—your principal’s position, the number of attackers, escape corridors and types of weapons. And, on top of everything else, you may be guarding someone truly important, like the Emperor of China. What do you do? Despite modern scientific methods, many aspects of combat are still squarely resting on human potential and commitment. Read more →

Nov
24
2016

Who’re You Calling Hurt?

Sale priced Chinese Martial Arts booksWe just refreshed our “Hurt” books section and, boy, do we have a great selection of sale-priced gems—there are about 40 of them!

As we’ve said in the past, the title “hurt” is a little misleading, since 99% of these are indistinguishable from new copies of the same title. “Hurts,” in the book industry, are books that stores return to the publisher due to overstocking. Publishers decided a long time back that it was cheaper to sell them to “hurt book dealers” than to examine each one before re-selling them. Their loss is our big gain, since these books are half the price and still looking pretty.

We hand-pick these books like we do every single item at Plum. Our goal is to offer not only the best of breed, but titles we believe are relevant and important for a good martial library. As always, stock is limited on these, so head on over to our hurts book page and see if something delights. We added a few titles not previously represented at this price, in Tai Chi, Bagua, and Taoism, plus the return of some favorites we always run out of.

 

Nov
17
2016

Chen With Your Hands Full

Chen Tai Chi WeaponsA quick announcement of three new book/vcd packages in one of our favorite series; these are on Chen Style Tai Chi Ball, Double Maces, and Eyebrow Staff.

This series, which you will find scattered throughout the Plum site, gives you a book in both Chinese and English (en face) plus a VCD (in Chinese, subtitled in english) with the instructor teaching the routines. Their value is remarkable, and the work itself is above par for contemporary looks at traditional forms.

We’ll try to follow up in a while with an updated list of all those in the series, but in the meantime, check out these new and worthy additions.

Nov
8
2016

Adam Hsu’s Secret Files on Bagua Zhang

Adam Hsu Bagua DVDsThis, our third post on this new 2 Volume set of DVDs (6 dvds in all) on the art of Bagua, is to say that these outstanding DVDs are now available. If you want to read our earlier announcement, click here.

If you would like to read more about the series, and to order, click here.

Exceptional instruction, truly secret material, and enough training to inform any Bagua Zhang practiitoner’s practice for a long time to come.

 

 

Nov
3
2016

Understanding Basics, The Chinese Way

understanding bsicsEverything starts with basics. And when you are young or just beginning a long term study of expertise, or your taste runs to the piano or the basketball hoop, there is always a sentinel line of basics to be crossed before you get to the “good stuff.”

But the surprise—sometimes disappointingly painful or tedious—is that there is no end to the study of basics. When you have learned the most exotic parts of some discipline—let’s say martial arts, for instance—and mastered the strangest weapons, you will put them aside at various points, and return to basics.

People think they hate basics. But what they really hate is the repetition, an assumed implication of lacking skills (“You’re still practicing those moves?”) and the indication that mastery may well out-last your lifetime.

understanding basicsIt’s true. Basics are not always fun, unless you happen to be lucky enough to study Chinese Martial Arts.

Believe it or not, basics of Kung Fu and its sister arts, never get boring. As you learn more about this ancient tradition you realize that you may get bored but basics are not boring.  Basics are a test of consciousness, not of will. Read more →

Nov
1
2016

Fundamentals of Pakua Chang, Restocked

Fundametals of Pakua Chang Volume 1Just a quick note to say that we are now back in stock on the elusive and terrific Volume 1 of Park Bok Nam’s Fundamentals of Pakua Chang.

This book’s reputation from back in the day is still worthy; it was one of the first to detail Pakua Chang’s (Bagua Zhang’s) training, and is still valuable for its insights and methods.

Volume 2 to, hopefully, follow within the next couple of months, but for now, Volume 1 is here.

Oct
20
2016

Three Classic Training Texts Translated

Published anywhere from 50 to over 80 years ago, here are translations of Kung Fu books emphasizing applied technique and training. We now offer Iron Thread from Hung Gar, one of the crowning forms of this style. Then there is the popular text on Shaolin training methods,” which has been reprinted over and over for decades. Published in 1934 there are so many weird and clever skill challenges that at least a few must capture your whimsy. Shaolin Chin Na, among the first major books ever published on this subject (1936), showing a lot of very simple, straightforward locks and holds with great old pictures. And, finally,

Three reprint texts from a crucial period in Chinese and martial history.

Oct
12
2016

Deconstructing Yin and Yang

Deconstructing Yin and YangYou do not need to know anything about Asian philosophy to study Chinese martial arts. But that’s not to say that some understanding might not really enhance your experience. I hope that by deconstructing the parts of the famous Yin Yang diagram, I can show you some fighting principles and patterns of change based on the Yin Yang philosophy.

yy_halves1This school of thought influenced almost all of Chinese life.  Its symbol is recognized worldwide. But most people know next to nothing about it. I tell my students, this is not just a symbol, more like an equation—a picture worth considerably more than 1000 words—showing some essential patterns of change. Read more →

Oct
7
2016

This Is How Bagua Is Done

How Bagua Is DoneThere are two ways to make a DVD, irrespective of a particular style.

The first way is to follow your style’s structure: warm ups, basics, form and sampled applications. The second way, less common, is to offer, derived from your style, skills that might be universally helpful to appropriate seekers. Imagine a Long Fist practice that aids Shaolin, Hua, PiGua, Cha and more. On Plum, we represent some good sources for “fundamental” information about Bagua styles, such as Fundamentals of Pa Kua Chang, Bagua: The Art of Change, Kang Ge Wu’s A Course in Bagua, Tom Bisio’s 3 DVD set. Some are more style specific some are not.

How Bagua is DoneIn his new series, Adam Hsu has crafted a series of lessons able to heighten any practitioner’s Bagua performance. These DVDs really do “decode” some key concepts. Volume One concentrates on the valuable basics of footwork, drilling, spine exercises and other crucial points unique to Bagua. Volume Two goes into numerous applications of the palms, hi-mid-low stance training, a whole discussion on Bagua’s Qigong, pole work with multiple poles, marching practice and more. It concentrates not on the general Bagua walking circle and form, but on major twisting and coiling concepts, and other examples proving Bagua to be as exceptional a style as Adam Hsu contends. Some of these (the Kuen-Zhong-Zheng-Guo Four Hands, the pole exercises, etc.) inspired me, years ago, to include them in my own teaching DVDs.

THIS is how Bagua is done.

NOW AVAILABLE HERE!!!
This series is divided into TWO VOLUMES, each volume containing THREE DVDs (over 3 hours per volume).

Each Volume:
Regular Price: $105,  Plum Price: $95

Sep
24
2016

Letter to the Editor: Partner Drills

Quite often, we receive emails from customers whose comments are worth a post of their own.

Dear Debbie,

I really appreciate that you send the orders so fast!  It helps me a lot!

You are providing a very important service bringing traditional Chinese Martial Arts to people.  I, for one, see that a resurgence in the martial arts will come from the rich tapestry of Chinese martial artists, as world practitioners study this and synthesize it with what they already know and what makes sense for their context. 

Partner DrillsIn particular, I feel that the partner drills are deeply significant.  They offer an alternative to the mean mma stuff, while bringing people together, sharing energy and engaging them in amazingly varied “games”, or “dances” that have the potential (if done with proper guidance) to develop the somatic skills of self-defense in a nearly subconscious way.  Outside of children’s games like “paddycake” and partner dance, there is no parallel to these partner practices of the Martial Arts. When combined with the Qigong Grand Circulation, concepts of Taiji, Heqi and self-defense, we can see that these partner practices, once held more secretly, now offer the world something amazingly unique, fun, interesting and PRACTICAL!

Thank You so much,
BB

 

We couldn’t agree more!

And we sincerely encourage you to submit, through email or the weblog itself, comments or articles. Talk about what you are training, controversial topics, questions, observations, reports from tournaments. Plum was designed to be a garden where, among other things, traditional Chinese martial artists could gather after practice and compare notes, share stories, ask each other questions. So, speak up!

Sep
16
2016

Restocks of Rare Editions, North and South

You’ve proably seen our little “Want List” boxes throughout the site. And you may have also noticed that some of them stay in the “not available” state for months without being taken down. Are we really trying to torture people? No, it’s just that hope springs eternal.

For instance here are two products we thought we would never see again: The Five Family Fist of Grandmaster Ark Yuey Wong’s Grandson SeMing Ma, and the Triple Sticks Preying Mantis of Won Hung Fun. As items like these continue to creep toward oblivion we will keep drawing them back.

Ark Yuey Wong and Wong Han FunArk Yuey Wong and Wong Han FunA little context: Ark Yuey Wong was probably the first person in North America to open a Kung Fu school teaching non-Chinese, that was long before WWII. Wong Hun Fun was a main organizer of Northern Mantis and this is the only triple-stick in that style I have ever seen.

Sep
13
2016

Pa Kua Fundamentals, Circling Back to Plum

Park Bok Nam Fundamentals of Pa Kua ChangOne of the most popular series of books on our “want” list Is Park Bok Nam’s 2 volume set, Fundamentals of Pa Kua Chang. Both volumes have been out of print for several years.

A while back, Plum reprinted the 2 disk set, and we are happy to announce that we now FINALLY have, back in stock and fresh from the press, Volume One of the books. Volume Two will, hopefully, follow in several months.

For those waiting, wait no more! And for those unfamiliar, here is Volume One of one of the most recommended books on Pa Kua Chang (Bagua Zhang).

A Note for our international customers: After months of restructuring, Plum has a new system which makes shipping MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE. As of this time, it’s working: international customers are saving 20-30% on shipping RIGHT NOW!

Sep
5
2016

From Taiwan: An Old Frame and a Lost Track

Jou Bao Fu Chen Style Tai Chi Lao JiaThere are a lot of well meaning martial practitioners out there that have probably never posed in front of a camera. They make honest, traditional and studied demonstrations of each particular style. Despite the special qualities of the style, the survey of their forms may be tepid and self-conscious. No disrespect to them, they did not sign up to be actors, just teachers.

On the other hand there are teachers who are dynamic from the salute. Jou Bao Fu is one of these. His explanations are direct and even a little edgy. His performance is never lukewarm. He moves like he’s taking a chance, even on the simplest actions. There’s an old saying that the school is held up by the spirit of the teacher. Sifu Jou’s may dip occasionally, but it never sinks.

We have just received a rendition of his Chen style Tai Chi which, as you may guess, has Jou Bao Fu Mizong Quana lot of very martial movements along with some original insights and occasional applications. We have also added a DVD of his Mizong or Lost Track style and in that he really lives up to the name especially with the Lost footwork, crossing, leaning, twist, recovering. This would be a very difficult dance lesson.

 

We have a lot more coming but so far this year we have seen some of the best quality instruction and demonstration in a relatively short time. Let’s see what the rest of the Monkey year has in store.