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May
8
2021

A Brief Lesson on Reeling Silk Energy in Bagua Zhang

In this short response to a video sent to us by Steven, a Bagua student, Ted Mancuso briefly describes one of the most—if not THE MOST—important elements of Bagua Zhang: reeling silk energy, or Chan Ssu Jin. Reeling silk energy is in the DNA of all of the traditional Chinese martial arts, but is particularly […]

Apr
14
2021

Tai Chi Training Secrets: How Do You Practice Martially, When You Are By Yourself?

A recent letter from one of our favorite correspondents, Gary Shapiro, put the question: “We spoke about how practicing taiji with the martial aspects in mind enhances it’s health effects. So— how does that work?  Can one practice “martially” solo? (and how?).” In our newest video, Sifu Ted answers this and offers some training tips […]

Mar
7
2021

From Basics to Mastery: Jibengongs and the Bear Palm Gong in Bagua

As we have mentioned (more than once, I’m thinking), I am working on a new book/dvd project on Bagua Gongs, those special exercises that teach by principle and really infuse your practice with the flavor of your style (in this case, Bagua Zhang). The project keeps growing, and looks like it is veering into one […]

Feb
28
2021

Recommended Seminars

As a longtime teacher, I do not get much opportunity to actually be a student myself. So I was delighted to be invited to take a seat (well, take a stance) in Ken Cohen’s recent online zoom class on Yiquan. Cohen Shifu is all that one could hope to find in a teacher; everything from […]

Feb
14
2021

Two Paths, One Road

Praying Mantis Fist (TangLang Quan) is a famous style with a distinctive hand position known as a “Hook.” Although I shouldn’t write “a distinctive,” when, actually, this famous style has TWO versions of the key hand style, each to represent the same special hook shape for the hand. The first and most iconic version starts […]

Feb
5
2021

Year of the Metal Ox: Narrye Caldwell’s Annual Outlook

One sure thing: as soon as the calendar page turns from December to January, we start to get inquiries about when people will see Narrye Caldwell’s post for the Chinese (Lunar) New Year. Well, here it is! As always, enjoy.   Year of the Metal Ox—February 12, 2021 Let me start with a true story. […]

Feb
3
2021

Dispelling Some Myths

Sifu Lorne Bernard reminds us to be thorough in our consideration of the Arts,  and to think reasonably. Don’t be duped! Here are 11 great points to set you on your practice. Time to dispel some myths and have some fun! Misinformation and lack of understanding have affected all spheres of human activity since we […]

Jan
1
2021

Sage Advice for Martial Artists

Sifu Lorne Bernard, Director of the Shaolin White Crane Academy in Quebec, shares with us his short article on the importance of keeping a martial journal. We highly recommend Sifu Bernard’s Shaolin White Crane book and DVDs, all available on Plum, and look forward to his new DVD in the series, that should be available […]

Dec
7
2020

A Perspective on Chi

More than 50 years have gone by since I began studying martial arts. In those Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris dark ages, all of us who practice Kung Fu knew of this thing, “Chi” (vital energy). Few of us suspected it would ever become so widely known outside the training halls. Of course, “known” and […]

Nov
26
2020

Tai Chi Is the Fastest Martial Art

Q: OK, I’m intrigued—what makes Tai Chi the fastest martial art. A: Of course, we have to first admit that speed is relative, but let’s come back to that. There are some very simple reasons that Tai Chi is so fast and, really, being the “fastest martial art” isn’t all that big a deal. But […]

Nov
11
2020

Becoming A Sifu

When do you become a Sifu? The simple answer is you become a Sifu when other people start calling you a Sifu. A more legitimate answer is you become a Sifu when your Sifu says you’re a Sifu. However, like many aspects of Chinese culture, there’s simple answers, and then there’s a deep dive. At […]

Oct
31
2020

Bagua Zhang’s Ji Ben Gongs—Plum’s New Project

    Here is a short interview with Ted Mancuso, Plum’s director, on his upcoming book/DVD project. Covid slowed us down, but now we are back at work again, and hope to have this finished in the new year.  Q:    Your new book is on Bagua Zhang Gongs. What is a Gong? Ted:     In […]

Sep
17
2020

Instructor’s Notebook: The Art of Forgetting

 If there’s an art to forgetting forms, then I am a master. I’ve forgotten entire systems of martial arts. Remembering didn’t seem as crucial during the early days of my career, in the flurry of Kung Fu training that let everything Chinese be associated with martial arts. During that time, a plentitude of people teaching […]

Aug
22
2020

Fire!

Hello all, Sorry we have been absent for the last week. As many know, we live in Santa Cruz (California) and there are fires in and around our town. We are safe so far, and it seems that we will continue to remain so, but just dealing with preparing to evacuate (in case it comes […]

Aug
8
2020

Adam Hsu Tan Tui

Decades ago, when I taught franchise information to a group of fledgling martial school owners, I was exposed to a process known as “total immersion.” This was an unstructured method of  training where a manager might be awakened at 3:00 am by “some potential student” pretending to want information in the middle of the night. […]

Jul
29
2020

Better With Age

After class the other day my student Harvey, who has studied with me for more than 15 years, asked me a pointed question: “How and why does a longtime practitioner maintain his or her interest in studying Tai Chi?” This caught my attention immediately, because he asked me to consider it from the advanced study […]

Jul
23
2020

Heads & Tails: Adam Hsu on Martial Marketing

Plum’s new series, Heads & Tails, presents the thoughts, experiences and points of view from top martial teachers and practitioners (CMA). It is not meant to be a passive offering—these are ideas to wrangle, consider, argue for and against. This first excerpt comes from Sifu Adam Hsu’s newest book, “Life Is Too Short For Bad […]

Jul
11
2020

Wang ShuJin’s Swimming Body DVD

Some things take a long time to materialize, but when they finally show up, they are worth the wait. Such is the case with Kent Howard’s Bagua Swimming Body Palms DVD, companion to his excellent and popular book of the same title. Howard’s style is clear and clean, and one realizes that he sincerely intends […]

Jul
2
2020

Chang Gong

Whether you are the ancient hermit of the Dark Forest or a week-in week-out practitioner, martial training always rewards perseverance with increased skills you have gathered and accumulated like rain. Skills like these come mostly from just hanging in there and that’s the reason they stay in the shadows, unnoticed. The results of CHANG GONG, […]

Jun
6
2020

Stretching For The Art

 You’ve finished your workout and the idea comes to you: why not stretch a little? It can only help, right? But immediately your brain floods with questions: How important is it to stretch? If I have just worked out, is stretching necessary? Which is the best for me and, even more importantly, which should I […]