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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 […]

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 […]