Mar
27
2020

Inner Circle Tai Chi Daily Neigong

Our illustrious and accomplished colleague and friend in Sacramento, Sifu Robert Nakashima, has generously created and shared his daily Neigong routine.

Running about 20 minutes, even just watching this video provides calm and comfort, although getting up and trying it yourself is highly recommended. The setting, the presentation, even the light chirping of birds in the background—along with, of course, Robert’s smooth and beautiful performance—all contribute to a real gift.

Mar
24
2020

Bong Bo Kuen (Beng Bu Quan)

Really exciting news!

We have been working with Sifu Tak Wah Eng to bring some of his valuable, out-of-print material back to our world, and we are happy to announce that his long-gone DVD on Bong Bo Kuen (Beng Bu Quan) is once again available at Plum. Bong Bo is considered to be the foundational form of Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and his DVD is one of the most requested on our site.

And that’s not all—we have been able to recreate the original poster that came with the DVD, a step-by-step chart with each posture of the routine performed by Sifu Paul Koh. A code for free access to the poster (downloadable at full-size) will accompany the DVD.

 

Mar
22
2020

Safe, Sound and Shipping

Dear friends,

Just a note to let you know that we at Plum are all healthy and safe and still open for correspondence and business.

We are monitoring the shipping situation around the world and, so far, packages are being delivered, although it may take a few extra days to receive them.

Having suspended classes at our studio, we have some extra time at home so, hopefully, we will be able to catch up on some cataloguing, articles and videos we have been wanting to post. We are also trying to produce some short videos for our local students, and we will post them here when completed. This first one takes advantage of the Rattan Ring as a training tool.

Please stay safe, and keep in touch!

Ted, Linda and Debbie

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Mar
21
2020

Chen Style Taijiquan—A Tangled History

chen style taijiquanHappy to announce the arrival of a new book to our Plum catalogue, Mark Chen’s Chen Style Taijiquan: Collected Masterworks—The History of a Martial Art.

Chen has done wide and deep research on the origins of Chen Taiji, not an easy matter. His main focus is Chen ZhaoPi, but he incorporates other voices in the Chen tradition. He also follows Chen ZhaoPi’s life, with its many turns and trials. Not surprisingly, the story of this famous Taijiquan style is a bumpy one, replete with disagreements, claimants, rich recollections and foundational secrets of training.

Here is a quote from the book by Chen WangTing, who many believe to be the creator of six sets of Taijiquan: 
“Ah, in those days, I went forth in full readiness for battle…. I faced disaster many times! The imperial favors bestowed on me are all in vain! Now, aged and on my dying breath, with only a scroll of HuangTing to accompany me. When troubled, I invent boxing; when busy, I till the fields. I take advantage of my spare time to teach disciples and descendants to become outstanding people in fulfillment of their duties.”

We recommend the scholarship of this book; this appears to be a time of great opening up of these old scrolls, and if for no other reason, it is a wonderful opportunity to read the biographies of a Chen master.

Mar
19
2020

Free Livestream Qigong Class, Thursday, March 19

Next session, Sunday, March 21, at 10am PDT, on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/953395301

Our friend and colleague, Sally Chang, sent this to us this morning…

With news in a nosedive, I decided to offer this Qigong class FREE for EVERYBODY. No experience necessary, I’ll guide you the whole way.
Invite a friend, and show up with whoever you’re holed up with. I think it’s important to have a spirit of generosity in these times.
(don’t ask me for toilet paper though..) 😉 It’s a stretch for me, for this introvert, to be so public. But my feeling is, if someone joins in and feels even a little bit more grounded and sane, then it’s worth opening the doors wide.

Let’s hold each other in a safe, coronavirus-free space, move and breathe and have a laugh together, and feel more balanced in a changing situation. It’ll be my first time doing a livestream so please be patient and forgiving if there are any bumps; hopefully the interweb tech spirits will be with us 🙂

Join Me and Invite a Friend Today, Thursday @ 5pm-6pm (PDT)

https://m.facebook.com/SallyChangAcupuncture.EvergreenTaijiAcademy/

Mar
19
2020

Intent

This is maybe not entirely martial, but is a beautiful demonstration of Intent.

I think it will also take your mind off of your worries for a few minutes! Enjoy.

“Meet the enemy head-on, and oppose them like a great cannon shot.”

Mar
17
2020

Southern Shaolin Fists and a Pole

southern shaolin

 

 

Three energetic offerings from the Southern Shaolin Temple: a ‘light’ fist (Golden Arhat Light Fist), a ‘heavy’ fist (12 Pound Fist) and a Shoulder Pole shaped like a long thick cigar (sometimes a cigar is only a shoulder pole).

By the way, these inexpensive VCDs ($7.95 each!) come with english subtitles.

Click each image to see more.

Mar
14
2020

3 Minute Qigong For Lung Health

Our good friend and colleague, Sally Chang, created this short video of a simple qigong to strengthen lungs. Thanks, Sally!

Sally Chang is Chief Instructor or Evergreen Taiji Academy, a seasoned Acupuncturist and Martial Artist. She integrates Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into her teachings, providing a whole health perspective. Sally brings a warm, focused presence to these healing arts. You can find her at

www.evergreentaichi.com

Mar
10
2020

Lost in Translation: The Hidden Gems of Kung-Fu

 benefits of kung fuIn speaking with another shifu a few weeks ago, he brought up something that I took notice of quite some time ago, something that has always stood out to me, something that I have always made it a point to rally against in my Kung-Fu training and teaching.

He spoke of today’s state of affairs with the Chinese martial arts community, and how the various styles and systems were being taught, but that none of these people could actually fight, or use it effectively, or in most cases, even use it at all. And we have all seen it… someone who has spent years in a given martial arts style, day in and day out, knows all of the sets, and can spout off tons of theory and martial sayings… only to get into a fight (not even an actual altercation, but a tournament situation), and everything they ever learned goes right out the window, and what remains is essentially a generic kickboxing style.

Now, if you train kickboxing, that is fine. But your Baguazhang, Choy-Li-Fut, or what have you IS NOT kickboxing.
Read more →

Feb
28
2020

Lofty Mei Hua Quan

plum blossom boxingWe’ve all seen the pictures: stealthy practitioners holding postures (usually single-legged) atop wooden poles. These, my friends, are the iconic images most associated with the under-recognized style of Mei Hua Quan (Plum Blossom Boxing).

But under-recognized no more! This new book, Mei Hua Quan Tong Yi, adjusts the balance of how little (or much) is known about this great style. At over 450 pages, it is a comprehensive look at the history, culture, theory, and people of Mei Hua.

Although the one thing it does not contain is instruction, the book below it on the page DOES serve up quite a banquet of routines and instruction, including the famous pole work.

Feb
26
2020

Pakua Journal: Vince Black on Li Zi Ming

pa kua chang journalLiang Zhen Pu Li Zi MingOne of the richest resources we represent on Plum is the CD compilation of Dan Miller’s Pakua Journal. This CD contains ALL 38 issues (over 1000 pages) of this extraordinary magazine that ran from 1990 to 1997.

CLICK HERE for a complete article from Volume 5, written by Vince Black, on the remarkable Li Zi Ming, the last living representative of the third generation in Dong Hai Chuan’s lineage.

For those interested, Plum also represents Li Zi Ming’s Liang Zhen Pu Eight Trigram Palm.

Feb
19
2020

A + B = PUNCH

kung fu punchI woke up thinking about a property in math: that between any two points on a number line*, there are infinitely many points between them. Now, I know I have used the scary word—“math”—but if you are still with me, let me go on and give you the second part of my morning thought: that this important concept relates strongly to martial training. Read more →

Feb
15
2020

A Take on Adam Hsu’s “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu”

Adam Hsu Kung FuGrand Master Adam Hsu’s new book, Life Is too Short For Bad Kung Fu, is a call to arms to save Chinese martial arts.  In this book he examines the current path Chinese martial arts is taking.  There may be some ruffled feathers at some of his profound statements on areas of needed improvement to rescue Chinese martial arts away from what today’s society, current practitioners, and teachers perceive as Chinese martial arts. As the book states, kung fu movies, novels, and video games are not the heart and soul of Chinese martial arts.  They glorify heros and personify hollow usage without demonstrating the basics of the art.  As the grandmaster states (paraphrasing here), basics are the foundation upon which the art was built.  And repeated over and over in this book is basics, basics, basics… Read more →

Feb
12
2020

Yue Family SanShou 18 Forms

yue family sanshouA new translation for the New Year by Joseph Crandall, this one on Yue Family SanShou 18 Forms, one of the foundational styles from the ancient Yue Family Boxing.

Yue Style is pretty much the Mixed Martial Art of its time, related to Chuo Jiao, Fanzi, and fundamental Shuai Jiao. Unvarnished.

Feb
7
2020

6 Harmony Mantis DVD Back In Stock

Yeah!

These exceptional Liu He Tang Lang DVDs have returned. All placed orders will ship by Monday, and we are able to accept and ship new orders.

Click image to be taken to more information, and to order; if you see a notice that they are out of stock, pay no attention. It just takes a few hours for the site to re-cache.

Feb
2
2020

How To Change (A Tire)

daily kung fu  Last night, driving home from teaching, my mind filled with ideas, I cut too sharply on a left turn, and bumped over a curb. The mishap arrived with an explosion of sound, followed by a consistent galug-galug-galug as I limped through the last two miles of my trip. My wife, Debbie, and I have a promise of full disclosure, so when I walked in the house, I said, “I think I broke the axle.” Since it was late and dark, we had dinner and decided to look at it in the morning.

The morning light brought some good news: no matter how dire it had sounded the night before, all I had done was blown the left front tire. No big deal: we had a never-used spare in the trunk, and the equipment to change it. The tire iron and the lift had come with the car, which meant they were not top of the line, and I soon found myself struggling with levers that were too short, and tire irons that fit sloppily over the lug nuts. What was a martial artist to do? Read more →

Jan
19
2020

Second Look: Wisdom of the Taiji Masters

Wisdom of the Taiji MastersOur renewed look at Nigel Sutton’s “Wisdom of the Taiji Masters,” was inevitable. Like a good British murder mystery, there is more to the search and intuition than to the closet full of clues. Despite the wealth of time spent by professor Cheng’s and other Tai Chi students on the secrets and questions posed by his practice, the fun is in the continuing pursuit of solutions that claim to point in the right direction.

Cheng Man Ching’s legacy seems, at first glance, to be an indisputably positive assessment of Professor Cheng and his disciples, along with the specific fighting aspects and their relation to the seemingly huge network of practitioners. Opponents and players march a spectrum across the playing field. The book highlights players and teachers who good-heartedly receive their licks with no complaints, although it does not thoroughly reveal how some of the “magic” was performed. We sometimes get the feeling that there are hidden tricks and obscured prestidigitation.

This truly engaging profile of the art highlights the clear belief that, despite opposition from practitioners of some Chinese and non-Chinese styles alike—Tai Chi is not just another style, not just some conglomeration of whatever happens; that Tai Chi embraces a systematic approach to matters martial and exploratory. One of the things we most like about this book, is that we have never read so many descriptions of matches and defeats, such a wide variety of techniques and linked skills.

This book is a testament to that elongated journey, imbued with a deep martial sensitivity, which happens when a whole community—even a scattered community—works with one another to explore a core practice like Push Hands. Professor Cheng’s legacy may arguably lie in his emphasis on a Push Hands curriculum; however, while the many voices in this book speak to that issue, the chorus is not entirely resonant.

Jan
9
2020

Book Review: Adam Hsu’s “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu”

Adam Hsu kung fu bookTraditional Chinese Kung Fu is dying. When it dies it won’t be a homicide but a suicide. Shifus are peddling tricks to kids. Shifus that are preserving Kung Fu can’t find students to undergo the hardship of practice. Students that are willing to undergo the traditional training can’t find a Shifu to train them. Kung Fu has become the accumulation of forms without meaning. Basics and usage have been discarded in favor of Chinese gymnastics or western floor routines. Sadly, we all know this to be true.

Shifu Adam Hsu has put together a book of a handful of essays that traverse hundreds of aphorisms. It is at once a validating, invigorating and despairing read. Shifu Hsu is clearly distraught about the state of Kung Fu. His main argument for the demise of this cultural gem is the lack of understanding of both the essence of Kung Fu and the path to achieving that essence. We’ve all seen it: practioners and Shifus that have vast knowledge that rings dry since they do not put the time into daily practice. The knowledge is hollow.

And that is the essence: Practice. Shifu Hsu asks us to tear apart the forms, find the basics, understand the usage. Everyday. Twice a day preferably.

“Martial practice is an attitude of life.”

In this book Shifu Hsu lays out a clear path in how to approach both the learning and teaching of Kung Fu, with an emphasis on learning. It is a call for true practioners to continue the refinement of themselves and their art. He gives thoughtful direction on both the purpose of Kung Fu and how to walk its path. He gives detailed instructions on how to approach forms, how to extract basics from the forms and encourages one to figure out the usage. At its best, he delves into how martial practice is meant to better one’s self, to make you a better person.

“Martial technique is to train for better fighting skills. Martial Dao is to become a better person.”

One of the strongest themes in the book is how Kung Fu can solve both physical and mental issues. He calls for more study into using Kung Fu to address mental health issues while at the same time despairing at the state of a technological society that just may well be incapable of daily physical and mental practice. He calls for the modernization of Kung Fu yet doesn’t really seem to get his arms around how that might be done, from ranking systems to tailoring it to this modern society. These sections seem more to push and encourage further research.

I walked away from this book with a smile. It validated my path while giving me new ideas for my daily practice. I’m going to keep it around. There are days that I, like anyone, don’t really feel like standing or doing post work or working the giant spear or running the basics or working forms. It will be days like this when I will pick this book up and refer to some of the many aphorisms I’ve marked. It will give me that needed encouragement to continue on this path of practicing Kung Fu, of growing my inner-depth.

“The training of inner-depth consists of learning to let go of delusion and cultivate persistence. Nothing more.”

 
Travis Rath has been studying traditional Kung Fu for 25 years and, when conducting classes, can often be heard strongly suggesting to the students: “Basics, people! BASICS!”

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Jan
5
2020

Year of the Metal Rat–Jan. 25, 2020 to Feb. 11, 2021

Once again, we delight in posting Narrye Caldwell’s column on the upcoming year, seen through the perspective of Chinese Astrology. Narrye is a longtime practitioner and teacher of Tai Chi, as well as her other pursuits, and has published two books with Plum, “Blossoms in the Spring: A Perfect Method of Qigong” (co-authored with Ted Mancuso) and her latest from 2019, “Spirit of the Stars: Navigating Your Fate With Pole Star Astrology.”

year of the ratI almost didn’t write this year’s Chinese astrology column. In late December when it was time to buckle down and get to work, I determined that, finding our world in a state of despair and on the brink of apocalypse, there was just nothing to say that would be helpful. So, in true cowardly fashion, I retreated to my cave, dove under the covers and refused to be cajoled. Anyone brave enough to inquire about the state of my writing life risked losing a limb. Of course, it didn’t help that my winter read was a book about the plague years in the middle ages. I know, bad choice on my part. But I bet there are a few of you out there who can relate just a little bit.

Then something happened. I had a recurrence of some excruciating neck pain that I had thought was tamed long ago. That took me to my chiropractor. In the course of our check in she cheerily noted that my “doom bone” was misaligned and I must be feeling a bit gloomy and anxious. My doom bone? What? Well, apparently this particular cervical misalignment often causes people to go emotionally off the rails, feeling as if the world could end at any moment. With a few gentle expert moves, she nudged the errant bone back into place and bam, it felt like the sun had just come out. Upon returning home, I began to peek out of my cave and consider the possibility that what had looked to me like the apocalypse was actually, well, just winter. And I, who should know better, had made the crucial mistake of pushing myself too hard, when the qi of Winter insists that we retreat and rest. Lesson learned. So, with a bow to my chiropractor, let’s get on with it.

General outlook

On January 25, 2020 we welcome in the Chinese Year of the Metal Rat. The transition we can all look forward to, and must negotiate with care, is worth noting. 2019 was the Year of the Earth Pig. The Pig is the last of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. So, it’s been a year of endings, of things coming apart, the end of a 12-year cycle. From my current vantage point in the Ox month, which is the last month of the last year of a 12-year cycle, the unraveling looks complete, and the glimmer of light we all long for, that spark of yang qi that starts a new cycle, is not yet visible. Read more →

Jan
2
2020

Six Harmony Praying Mantis (Liu He Tang Lang)

Six Harmony Praying MantisSeveral months ago, Plum published Sifu Adam Hsu’s significant book, “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu,” in which he outlined some crucial methods to save traditional Wushu from extinction. He might have had Sifu Tsai Yong Huang’s new DVD on Liu He Tang Lang (Six Harmony Praying Mantis) in mind when he reiterated the dire need for more attention to basics; a ‘graduated’ curriculum; and a serious respect for traditional forms (but not to the exclusion of modernization). So it comes as no surprise that Sifu Hsu, in his lengthy introduction to this 3-disk set, recommends Tsai Sifu’s DVD and his approach to developing and teaching this lesser known soft mantis style.

In this remarkable DVD set, Sifu Tsai presents the six simplified forms he developed based on the traditional principles of Liu He Tang Lang incorporated in the original routines. These routines create step-by-step accessibility for students to bridge the basics of the system and the more advanced forms. He then demonstrates generous usage from each of the new forms, again, maintaining techniques specific to Liu He Tang Lang. Finally, Tsai Sifu honors the traditional by demonstrating the six original forms.

There are many uncommon aspects to this DVD set, not the least of which are the two meaty introductions by both Sifu Hsu and Sifu Tsai. One aspect of the introductions that particularly struck us was the emphasis by both Sifu Hsu and Sifu Tsai that this is an ongoing project—still in developing stages— and that both are actively seeking both contribution and criticism. This refreshing humility is rare these days, and encourages us even further to recommend this DVD.