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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 […]

May
26
2020

Adam Hsu on Chen Style Taijiquan

It is no secret that we at Plum greatly admire Adam Hsu (Hsu Ji) and his teachings. We have published some of his books and DVDs, excerpted and reprinted articles, and referenced his many principles and theories. He is also our teacher. Although many have read his works and seen his videos, it’s not exactly […]

May
22
2020

Sanshou: Partner Practice in the Age of Quarantine

Why is partner practice so different from solo practice? In my daily Taijiquan practice in a time of sheltering-in-place, the answer of course is quite obvious. As a martial artist, I find I am missing the feedback I feel, the energy from a partner’s response, and our discussion as we explore via push hands, partner […]

May
20
2020

Practiced Intent

Internal martial practice is an important step to deepening and improving your kung fu. In this video, Sifu Ted Mancuso demonstrates and teaches a short exercise learned decades earlier from Sifu Wing Lam, for developing and incorporating intent into movement. Following the instruction is an interview with Ted, where he further elbaorates on these concepts. […]

May
17
2020

Telescoping

This guy has a huge jaw! A damned big jaw. By far, the largest jaw I’ve ever seen. At least, that’s what twirling around my brain as I face my sparring partner. Of course, the truth is that his jaw—in real life—is just average size; but in my imagination, his jaw has an appetite of […]

May
9
2020

Xingyi Sheltering

Practicing in isolation due to Shelter in Place orders has me reflecting on the time-honored tales of incarcerated Kung Fu masters. There is a story of when Xingyi Grandmaster Guo Yunshen (1829–1898 郭雲深) was imprisoned for accidentally killing an opponent in a duel. By some accounts, he was shackled in handcuffs and leg irons, limiting […]

May
7
2020

Reflections of a Changeling

We wanted to share this thoughtful article written by one of our longtime students for our studio in Santa Cruz, California. As I sit in reflection over the last two months I am impressed by the power exchanged through change and adaptation. Surfing during this time has also informed my impressions on these subjects. Many […]

May
5
2020

Staying on the Path During Quarantine

During the great Coronavirus Lockdown of 2020 through which we are all now living, we find ourselves reluctantly gifted with a different perception of time. Amid the constant anxiety and uncertainty over employment, insurance, imminent death and the dreaded disruption of the supply chain, a certain opportunity may at least be found in chaos (though […]

Apr
28
2020

Why I Like Bagua

Everything is spinning crazily. The fact that facts are scarce does not prevent them from flying at us, relentlessly.  We spend our hours looping and diving, just to keep upright. In times like this, Bagua sounds just about right. It is no wonder that people recognize that Bagua is the truth-speaker of a relatively untruthful […]

Apr
24
2020

Kung Fu Training: You Always Hurt The One You Love

Over my years of teaching martial arts, I’ve had quite a good time explaining some of the more obscure switches of Kung Fu’s winding pathway: the splits, front and side; gyrating and rolling children, long past their bedtimes; and the fine art of setting things on small altar stacks, then crushing them. And that is […]

Apr
23
2020

Shaolin Sheltering: Weird Weapons

Among the first commandments for stifling COVID-19 is ‘do not touch your face’. This was extremely difficult for me. Spring is allergy season. It makes me cough and sneeze, and the last thing I want to be right now is a coughing sneezing Asian. What’s more, my nose is always itchy. To keep from scratching, […]

Apr
21
2020

The Simple Art of Breathing

This simple method of breathing works well for people practicing Chinese martial arts, Chinese medicine, meditation and what is commonly referred to as Qigong (Chi Kung). We call it simple, but it is also profound; as it relates the physical act of inhalation and exhalation with the mind’s intent, keeping a special focus on a […]

Apr
11
2020

Copper Whiskers

    This is an article about one of the great weapons, a weapon that has been employed in real combat but which is also considered an instrument of beauty and style. People react variously to a two-edged straight sword; some see its performance as art. This is rare. Traditionally, scholars wore a straight sword […]