A Rare Weapon and Its Mates

Black Tiger Claw Tiger Fork Sifu Paul Koh has added a new volume to his series on Black Tiger Claw Kung Fu, this one on the Tiger Fork. Honestly, we’d be surprised to learn that there were even 3 other books in English on this uncommon weapon, and none that match the look of this one.

Although this new text offers a recently derived authentic hand form, demonstrated in dynamic full-color photos, what makes it even more special are the inclusions of several lengthy sections on the traditional mates for the Tiger Fork: Rattan Shield and Saber. The photos in two of these sections actually come from the archive, from a project that Sifu Koh started with his teacher, Sifu Tak Wah Eng, more than 20 years ago. These show a younger Koh and Eng demonstrating a two-person form. Then, the last section shows usage with these same tools.

The Tiger Fork, though no longer used to slay tigers (thank goodness), is a powerful teacher among the long weapons, with emphasis on balance and angle. Click the image to learn more about this book.


Adam Hsu’s Baji Xinfa Available Again!

Adam Hsu Bajiquan

It’s back!

Exceptionally good news!

We have gotten in some more copies of Adam Hsu’s book, Baji Xinfa: Traditional Bajiquan, Modern Training Method. This is one of the few authentic books on Bajiquan, and it contains a good selection of QR Codes for online access to Hsu Sifu performing Bajiquan.

We had been told it was out of print, so we’re not sure if this is the last of them, or if they have been renewed with the printer.



Tiger Tail Three Section Staff

Oh boy! This is a great new book from Sifu Paul Koh, this time on Black Tiger Claw’s Three Sectional Staff.

Books on the ‘soft weapons’ are not that common, and books with this presentation value are even rarer still. In what is becoming almost a trademark, Sifu Koh has once again made a book that is both beautiful as well as containing valuable material inside.

This is one for the shelves.



Bridging: Engagement in Traditional Kung Fu

Comes a moment in every martial student’s practice when their focus shifts from attaining perfect posture to one effecting meaningful transitions. Or, better to say: There SHOULD be a moment in each martial student’s practice when their intent moves from picture-perfect postures to efficiently applied transitions.

Don’t get me wrong: the pre-structure of postures — from the correct weighting of the stance to the lowering of those shoulders around the ears to the intentional bend of the elbow and wrist — are all important. But I have seen teachers who put way too much emphasis on attaining these perfect mannequins — even to the point of blowing up old book illustrations to human-size for comparison, while de-emphasizing the movement between the postures. Those transitions are where kung fu often happens; everything else is voguing.

Probably the most significant feature that distinguishes the sophisticated from the beginning student is the skill of going from here to there and back. The study of these transitions is the gift that keeps on giving. The subject is too large for one short article, so I will restrict myself to just one method, “bridging.” In these almost magical moments, bridges reveal themselves as a kind of prestidigitation, the truth that actively shapes what they create, including the postures themselves. They catalogue the human highway with its hundreds of connected byways.

Bridging, simply, uses your and your opponent’s body to close the gap between you. The amount of power should be negligible — it is not a bump, shove, or strike. It relies on touching, continuing, sticking, wrapping, checking. As with the most effective kung fu movements, bridging is both defensive and offensive.

In a recent Kung Fu Skills class at the studio, I taught a lesson on bridging, and caught footage of some examples. You should be able to see sticking — following and shaping along the opponent’s body; contouring — using the opponent’s shape against them; leaking and sealing — recognizing and taking advantage of openings in the opponent’s structure. The sound is not perfect (it was a spontaneous shoot) but we hope you enjoy some highlights from this class.


Grand Master Johnny Lee and My Jhong Law Horn (Mizong Lohan)

Sifu Doug Opbroek, author of the recent book, “Footsteps of the Masters: Following in the Path of My Jhong Law Horn,” sent us this nice article about his teacher, GM Johnny Lee, just published in a local Shreveport, LA newsmagazine.

Sifu Opbroek’s book records the cultural context, folklore and oral tradition of the kung fu style, My Jhong Law Horn (Mizong Lohan). The book documents three grand masters carrying on this tradition; Grand Master Lee, who is celebrating 50 years of teaching, is one of the three teachers documented.


Sun Xikun’s Authentic Transmission of Baguazhang

Well, well, well. Here we were just praising Chen Faxing’s translation into English of The Subtlety of Xingyi Boxing, when he delivers to us another important translation.

Sun Xikun’s Authentic Transmission of Baguazhang, now translated into English, is another significant volume in the martial canon. His detailed insights into Baguazhang, along with Xingyiquan and Taijiquan (his earlier studies) provides practitioners with advanced level insights into how to practice.

As we continue to report, the type of material that is now being translated and reprinted has moved beyond the basic “step into a left bow and arrow stance and punch.” For those not reading Chinese (that is, the majority of martial artists) there is the great good fortune of receiving these texts for ‘the first time,’ as exciting as browsing the market bookstores in the 1930’s, when they first appeared. We are so happy to be part of making these available.


Second Look: The Subtlety of Xingyi Boxing

The Subtlety of Xingyi BoxingYou’ve heard us say this before, but we get so many interesting books to review at Plum, we don’t always have the time we’d like to really get into and thoroughly read each volume before cataloguing and posting.

But sometimes, in what we laughingly refer to as our ‘spare time,’ a specific book or dvd catches our eye and we get to go back and take a Second Look.

We’ve been particularly enjoying Chen Faxing’s translation of Liu WenHua’s Subtlety of Xingyi Boxing. One of the things we like is that it approaches its subject not as an individual collection of punches and kicks, but as a whole art. Liu gives so much about the “feeling” of doing Xingyi by giving insight into each of its animal’s characteristics. 

For instance, this excerpt on the Horse:

The horse farm manual says: horses have the skill of leaving tracks with their hooves. When running at their fastest, the hind hoof can surpass the front hoof multiple times. This is their strength. When training the horse form, the rear foot should be pushed back while the front foot moves forward. Then, with great effort, the rear foot is pulled forward. This step is called the “Fast step.” Practice with the opening move of hacking fist: clench both fists, advance with the left foot and then the right foot, quickly advance and stand still. The right hand strikes out while the left hand retracts, the left foot lifts up in this level with the right shin bone.

Liu continues with each animal’s contribution to the performance of Xingyi.

As we’ve mentioned, we are in a renaissance of translated martial material right now. There will be better and worse, but this one definitely shelves on the side of “better.” We highly recommend this book.


My Jhong Law Horn: Douglas Opbroek’s New Book on a Different Branch of Mizong

Mizong Luohan (My Jhong Law Horn)A little while back, we received a new book to review, accompanied by a nice note from Sifu Douglas Opbroek, which read in part: “…As I have scrolled through your site and others over the years, I have yet to find a book or video on the combined system of the Yip family of Mizong Luohan (My Jhong Law Horn)…I just thought you might enjoy some insight into another branch of Mizong.”

And enjoy we did. Sifu Opbroek’s volume on the system is great! While it is not instructional, it gives great insight into the style itself — its nature, characteristics, even a song — along with its history and lineage, and interviews with its masters.

We are so happy that Sifu Opbroek has produced this beautifully designed labor of love, and we encourage you to take a look.


The Shipping News

Some of you may have noticed that we have adjusted our shipping options a bit over the last few months. We wanted to try them out before announcing the changes, but we are confident that these are now working well.

Domestic Customers:
The post office has removed First Class as an alternative, replacing it with Ground Advantage. Orders using this option tend to move a little faster than media mail, a little slower than Priority, and the PO is keeping the rates reasonable (so far). The service seems to be working well.

International Customers:
Great news! We have been able to add Fedex as an option to most countries, at an astonishing discount to regular published rates (most are at least half off). We realize that Fedex is not always a favorable option (in a few countries, their customs and handling charges, once arrived, are ridiculous) but for most, Fedex will deliver our packages within a week’s time.

For those preferring our less expensive and regular tracked airmail, delivery is averaging about 12-20 days. We use a consolidator to also receive exceptional prices; the only downside is that it can take about one week to get the tracking number to you (even though the package is on its way).

Never hesitate to contact us if you have questions!


Daniel Mroz on “Energy”

Over the 30 years that Plum has been in business, we have made countless dear friends and estimable colleagues, most of whom we have never actually met in person. One of these is Daniel Mroztheatre artist, martial artist, writer and a professor in the Department of Theatre at the University of Ottawa. He is also the owner of a blazing sense of humor and a generous good heart.

A few weeks ago, he appeared on Paul Bowman’s Podcast, Martial Arts Studies, discussing “Energy.” We were so taken with the discussion that we asked if we might share it here, and he agreed, with the stipulation that we mention he would “…like to thank Simon Cox for sharing so many great ideas and sources. A lot of the material shared in the podcast came from following up on Simon’s suggestions.”



The Eagle Flies

Eagle Claw Kung FuWe have a stack of new material to present over the next few weeks, but wanted to get this one posted without waiting to catalogue others.

Sifu Benson Lee, senior student of Grandmaster Leung Shum in Eagle Claw Boxing, has released a stunning new volume specifically targeting Tactics and Applications for Self-Defense. Intended to highlight and preserve the training techniques of Eagle Claw, this oversized, profusely illustrated text is written for intermediate and advanced students (so, you beginners have something for which to train hard). What this means is that there is no dilution, no holding back, on the information generously given. Sifu Benson works through the forms to highlight the usage throughout, with drills, theory, Eagle Claw principles, and even weapons work.

A great and needed addition to the library of this fierce system.


Masters Write — (I’m Looking At You)!

Martial Arts Notebook

You know how we tell you all the time to keep a martial notebook? How important that can be at every stage in your development? How happy you will be if you do?

No? Well, it’s ok to repeat oneself when the suggestion is this important, but even better when we have something to back it up: Masters: A Blank Book for your OWN Martial Writings.

And what a nice book it is: fine paper, photos on almost every page showing masters from many different styles; plenty of space to jot down your own secrets (or the secrets of your partner in that last sparring session); places for your observations of mantises, monkeys and bears.

We can just about guarantee that you will be the envy of all your classmates and colleagues, and when they ask, “Where did you get something that cool, you can say, “Plumpub, of course!”


Another Classic Returns: Grandmaster James Mitose on Self Defense in Kenpo

James Mitose on Kenpo

What Is Self Defense?

Although Plum, almost exclusively, represents books and videos on traditional Chinese martial arts, there are times when we bow or nod to important works from among our cousins; in this case, it is GM James Mitose’s classic treatise on Self-Defense techniques and theory, What Is Self Defense, that strongly influenced the development of Kenpo (often referred to as “Kenpo Karate,” “Chinese Karate” or, on the book, “Kenpo Jiu-Jitsu”).

This book is not historical fluff, but an important document of methods and techniques that built the self-defense movement in the latter part of the 20th century. There is also a decided Buddhist bent to his writings, with many admonitions to only use these techniques when absolutely necessary. This book has been difficult to find for a long while, and we are happy to have some copies available at Plumpub.


Qigong: 10 Points for Body Control

A very long while back, we published a 30 minute video on 10 points for controlling the body in Qigong. Over the years, this was one of our most popular DVDs — it is simple, accessible, and provides solid information for any martial artist wanting to understand basic Qigong structure.

The information is ageless, but videographic technology is not so compliant —thankfully, our skills and equipment have improved over time — so when it came time to reproduce a new batch of DVDs, we decided instead to offer this Plum vintage video for free. Yeah, there is a blue tint to some of the film, and it definitely qualifies as lower-res compared to the quality gotten from newer cameras and even phones. Still, we hope you enjoy it.

By the way, if you are interested in Blossoms in the Spring, the book/DVD mentioned in this video, we have it on sale at the moment, HERE



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The Dao of Shipping

Daoist writings (and I liberally paraphrase here) teach us that ‘Nature is not kind.’ This does not mean that Nature is unkind; more like Nature is not a Disney movie.

At Plum, we recognize a variation of this wisdom: ‘The post office is not kind.’ In all honesty, the vast majority of what we send to customers arrives in beautiful condition, mostly due to Linda’s shipping kung fu. If we awarded titles, she would be Grandmaster.

But, despite the care taken by our vendors, some boxes reach us in less-than-perfect shape, the bad news being that we end up with a pile of mildly and minorly dented, barely scrunched books. The good news is, we can discount these puppies and pass a little savings on to you.

Here is our current offering; Click the TITLE to read about the book, and click the IMAGE to add it directly to the shopping cart (you can add other items too!) You cannot order these from the regular pages; if you do, they will add them at full price. Except for the Xing Yi Quan Xue, we only have 1-3 copies of each. We’ll add more as we have time.

Xing Yi Quan Xue $24.95 $19.95

Chopper Knife $13.95 / $12.55

Complete BaJi Quan $51.95 discounted to $43.95


Yes, The Saber!

Black Tiger Claw Single SaberAnother great weapons book, Black Tiger Claw Single Saber, from the prolific Paul Koh, this one on Tiger Claw’s Single saber.

One of the many things we appreciate about Sifu Koh’s books is his emphasis on foundation as well as form and usage. A reader can easily learn and apply much from this text, even if not a Tiger stylist.

Weapons can be so easily passed by as tools to also develop empty hand technique, but in this text Sifu Koh actually has a section for the saber against a weaponless partner.

Much to see here, and as always, a beautiful layout and presentation.



A Martial Renaissance (再生 — Zaisheng): Xingyiquan, Taijiquan

There is a Renaissance going on in martial arts, and it is not purely physical. We are talking about the quantity of high-quality martial writing in English, which includes translations of Chinese origin.

This unexpected level of cogency delights us. We are seeing the maturity of an art, along with the rooting of well-planted seeds from earlier teachers.  The considered and well-tested appreciation of traditional skills and principles have found voices in both newly written texts as well as translations of older material, a good deal of the latter coming from the previous martial literary blossoming of the 1920’s, and 1930’s.

Some of these well-written volumes offer a broad survey of their master styles. Others expand on techniques or more advanced principles, the types of things you usually get only from working directly with a teacher as guide. And the translations — now aided by, though not restricted to, the newest technology — provide gems of insight from our fore-teachers, no longer out of reach of those who are not scholars of martial Chinese.

Take a look at some of these recent texts and translations — some are familiar, some new. Over the next period, we will rotate and highlight authors below and, to encourage you, add a discount to sweeten it up a bit.

Here is our next batch of titles to celebrate!

We have two NEW translations from Chen Faxing, both on Tai Chi. The first is on the lesser known Wu (Hao) style, wirtten by the well-respected teacher, Hao Shaoru. The second is Sun Jianyun’s famous text, compiling some of her father’s work (Sun Lutang) accompanied by photos of herself performing the set. Chen continues to pick put noteworthy texts for his offerings, and I am sure we’ll have more to come on Plum.

The last is also a translation, plus interpretation and explanations of some of the most well-known texts from Xingyiquan. Byron Jacobs, a disciple of Di Guoyong in Beijing, has been working on this book for at least 10 years, and it is one of those labor of love master pieces that enrich the canon. Before Byron had even had the chance to let us know of its coming, we had already heard from Andrea Falk, who praised the work and its importance, encouraging us to seek it out. You can read more about it in its separate post.

Use code “Zaisheng” in the Shopping Cart to get an additional 10% off these texts until August 20.

Small Frame Taijiquan: The Tradition of the Wu-Hao Style

Sun Family Taijiquan

Dragon Body, Tiger Spirit: A Translation and Explanation of the Classic Text of Xingyi Quan



Phoenix Eye Fist

Phoenix Eye Fist Kung FuIt is said, “All good things come to those who wait.” At Plum, this is not exactly our motto, but it is a part of our reputation for which we take particularl pride. It brings us great pleasure to seek out the treasures that have disappeared, as well as those that are just coming to print for the first time.

Anyway, this post is about Phoenix Eye Fist: A Shaolin Fighting Art of Southern China, by Tjoa Khek Kiong & Donn Draeger. This classic text, one of the cornerstones of the literature in English on southern kung fu,  has been out of circulation for quite a long while, and we are thrilled to have found a stack just waiting for the right home.

To read more about it, and to purchase, click on the link above, or the image to the left.

Happy reading!

P.S. Thanks to Elliott Monds for catching our typo, and writing “…Northen China” Yikes!


Tiger Claw’s Long Pole

Sifu Paul Koh’s tiger Claw Eight Diagram Longpole

Yet another excellent book from prolific writer and instructor Paul Koh, this one on the Tiger Claw Long Staff. Each of Sifu Koh’s books offer a step in the evolution and development of the Tiger Claw style he learned from Sifu Tak Wah Eng. Both have contributed a great deal to the modernizing and creation of a 21st century Kung Fu, without any loss of traditional principles.

The Tiger Claw Eight Diagram Longpole differs from other staff routines in its target precision. The book, as are all in this series, is colorfully vibrant and generous (a word we have used more than once for Sifu Koh’s volumes) in its offerings: a single person set, a matched set, lots of applications and, of course, basics and history.

Click the image to see more, and to purchase.


Tom Bisio’s Old Eight Palms of Master Wang Shi Tong

Tom Bisio's Old Eight Palms of Master Wang Shi Tong Bagua book

Click to see more and to purchase

What excitement! Books have arrived!

Tom Bisio has just published a new book on Master Wang Shi Tong’s Old Eight Palms of Bagua Zhang. Sifu Bisio, the only American disciple of Master Wang, details the forms, principles, training methods and many applications he learned directly from the Master himself.

Almost every style of Bagua Zhang has a version of Lao Ba Zhang, or “The Old Eight Palms,” and Master Wang’s version is  rooted in the skills of practicality and effectiveness. Each of the eight palm changes introduces a different energetic signature set of tactics, power dynamic and varied techniques.

As always, Sifu Bisio has done a remarkable job on this book, and adds yet another important work to the Bagua Zhang canon.