Jul
7
2018

Principle-Driven Skill Development

martial principlesA 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 how to get the most content from the “external” world into your “internal” brain (the true “internal” style). Instead of focusing on just series of techniques, this book concentrates on things like gate control, penetration, timing, unified movement and more. If you are in any phase of teaching martial arts, there are many “lesson plans” to be had here.

Some of the variations in fighting technique might make you nod your head and suddenly see a new angle. By the same token, a previously hidden correlation that you have suspected for years may show you just exactly why some movements “fit together so perfectly.

Jun
27
2018

A Gathering Indeed

kung fu gatheringFriday, 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.

Sifus Don Hamby and Fenton Fong (Fu Jow Pai)

Sifu Hamby, widely known and recognized as a master teacher of the Hung Gar system,  created a powerful exhibition—more of an appreciation—showcasing a huge array of traditional performers with exceptional levels of skill. Read more →

About Comments

We’re having a minor problem with the ability for readers to leave comments. If you would like to comment on an article, please click here and we can add your comment to the article.

Jun
18
2018

Triple Irony

three sectional staffMartial 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 versions to confuse you with what you are studying now vs. what you thought you’d absorbed from the Cenozoic period when you first picked up the weapon.

Given my personality, I often pick up the one weapon that matches the origami crinklings of my brain: the triple irons, or three sectional staff. Read more →

Jun
10
2018

More Living Treasures from China

Adding nine new DVD from the estimable China’s Living Treasures series.

These include some excellent instruction on the Wu/Hao branches of Tai Chi, which is very rare in the west. Also included are instructional DVDs showing smooth and graceful performances by Yang style master Ye Xiao Long. George Xu returns with an advanced form of the Chen classic Pao Chui. Finally, a two-disk set on Wild Goose Qigong, a nice way to start your day.

All of these can be found on this same page.

May
29
2018

Jeet Kune Do & Wing Chun: Inexpensive Intro to Bruce Lee’s art

We’ve just added to our hurt books division one of the best explanations of Jeet Kune Do, its working and goals, that we’ve ever seen—Basics of Jeet Kune Do. This is one of the special series on Basics (we also have one by Sifu Paul Eng of Praying Mantis style) relying more on detailed explanations of the total system than simplified instructions on the mechanics of basics kicks and punches. A nice, conversational approach; this would be a perfect explanation of the system, or just a lot of tips for delivering movements you probably already know.

As noted, this new acquisition is in our “hurt book” section. We have about thirty of these so-called “hurt” books (which, as in this case, look like they just came off the bookstore shelf). You can pick up this book from us for $7.95, instead of the regular price of $16.95.

While you’re at it, don’t forget that we are now restocked in the great Randy Williams DVD series (now, at a lower price, and discounted for multiple copies). And if you are looking for a more detailed description of Wing Chun’s Kicking Methods, we highly recommend Osmond Lam’s extraordinary and well-reviewed Evolution of Wing Chun Kung Fu Kicking Techniques.

May
26
2018

Look Who’s Back!

Just a quick note to let you know that three books have returned to Plum. The first two—Paul Eng’s Kung Fu Basics, and Brian Kennedy’s Chinese Martial Arts Training Manuals—can be found in our wildly popular (and ever-changing) “hurt books” section, where you can pick up some real gems in near new condition for whopping discounts (most between 40-50% off the retail price). We sometimes run out quickly, but when they’re available they’re a true bargain. (See below for our most recent customer feedback concerning these titles).

Of course, the Shaolin 10 Animal Form is a classic text for Southern Kung Fu. These old Hong Kong books are becoming harder and harder to find in print; a number of them have disappeared, but when we find them we grab them for our Plum customers. Just so happy to see this one return.

Click each image to go to its page.

kung fu books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(about Plum’s hurt books) “Everything arrived in great condition. Your hurt books are in better shape than most regular books. Also, great job packing the order, with the cardboard. I usually don’t leave feedback or comments, but everything far exceeded my expectations.”

May
22
2018

Sunday, After the Tournament

Kung Fu tournamentPacking 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 easily when the subject shared is close to heart. The activity was energetic: sifus such as Liang Shou Yu, Scott Jensen, Byron Brown, Yang Jwing Ming, Bryant Fong, William Dere, and Wu Bin criss-crossed the floor; students bumped into former teachers, colleagues engaged in catch-up; we even got to meet up with a few of our own former students. The ear-assaulting booming music compelled an intimacy, where listener and speaker leaned in closer while recounting their tales. And of course, many numerous folk stopped by us to commiserate on the loss of Kwong Wing Lam, commenting on how much he had done promoting the martial arts community. Read more →

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 traditional Shaolin. This may resolve the question of just what, exactly, is Shaolin, by offering two separate but similar visions of the style.

These two divisions are distinguished by geography. First, we have the SongShan mountain and Temple, along with local students numbering in the thousands. In contrast, is Bak Sil Lum (Bei Shaolin, in Mandarin), a style that, though it migrated from the North, did not earn full recognition until it reached the South; thus, NORTHERN Shaolin. Much of this transportation was due to the efforts of iron palm master, Ku Yu-Cheung.

A comparison of these two branches holds up well under our gaze. The SongShan look has a rough, almost magical, shape and movement. The key sets are performed with a raw power. In contrast, Bak Sil Lum looks like it has been sanded down, smoothed, sharp edges removed.

But the kicks, the timing, the power, the poses…all show a family resemblance that deepens in the way quirks and similarities show themselves as you chat with your newly discovered cousin. Lineage can mean a lot more than a vase given to you by a wacky aunt, which you keep buried in a closet for 1500 years.

History is a told tale. It is not a fact. That’s why it is so important. This family reunion is an important step and suggests turning the focus to similarities rather than trivial differences. Having studied and taught Bak Sil Lum for a number of years, I can say that Shaolin has it own presence, in any of its manifestations.

 

May
13
2018

Coming Events

Plum will be travelling in May and June to a couple of kung fu tournaments:

kung fu tournaments

10th Annual Tiger Claw Elite Kung Fu Magazine Championship,
May 19-20, 2018, San Jose, California

This year’s 2 day event will feature a NEW EXTERNAL DIVISION dedicated exclusively to Songshan Shaolin – the Kung Fu directly from Shaolin Temple alongside Traditional Kung Fu, Modern Wushu and internatl divisions in such arts as Tai Chi, Bagua Zhang and Xingyiquan. On Sunday, three Showcase Championships—the WildAid Tiger Claw Championship, the Year of the Dog – Top Dog Championship, and the Ku Yu-Cheung Bak Sil Lum Championship will preside.

 

Third Annual Gathering of the Masters

Hosted by Grand Master Donald Hamby
Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Federation (TCMAF)
Monterey Park, CA
Saturday, June 23, 2018, 1 pm to 5 pm

Teachers and students are invited to participate in the Third Annual Gathering of the Masters. Demonstrations of hand and weapon forms, combat techniques, sparring, sword or stick fighting, push hand, chi sau, and other specialties will be highlighted and promoted.

For more information, email Sifu Hamby.

May
7
2018

The Gift of a Teacher

kwong wing lam Yesterday we attended the memorial for Wing Lam, my teacher for a number of years. Over a hundred students and family gathered in the chapel to pay last respects. Many people crowded the middle aisle, most of them dressed in black or white, as per the formal instructions for a Daoist ceremony. The middle aisle was barely large enough to hold the river of people crowding forward, first to take the incense stick then to bow or gesticulate as did the man on his knees right in front of me. Finally people walked to the coffin to view and bow. I turned back, though, unable to allow myself to change all those images I already kept in my head.

Debbie and I re-seated ourselves. We listened as a line of people stood and addressed the audience while two TV screens showed images to highlight the spoken word.

Again and again, students and family stood to speak their peace. Some insights about Wing Lam’s humor, kindness and knowledge brought sparkle like the sun on ocean waves. The illumination was as scattered as bursts of fireworks.

And the same message kept coming through again and again: how much they owed Lam Sifu as a teacher and as a person. How much he promoted his arts. How, finally, near the end, he did not want to bother anyone. This was his shy side. I remember him telling me about a photographer flying up from Burbank to take his picture for the cover of Black Belt Magazine. It seems he was a frustrating model. The camera man wanted Lam to show some technique like subduing his opponent with a nasty “grimace” on his face. I asked him what he did about this. “I told him,” he said to me, straight-faced, “in Kung Fu we don’t grimace.”

And now, the next day, I get a package from Hong Kong, a new book detailing Hung Gar in media, including 3-D glasses and photos, wild colors, and many famous masters of the Hung style. Beautiful illustrations, movie posters, scenes from advertising. Original photos of Lam Sai Wing. My teacher would have loved these. It’s not an instructional text, but here it is, as a reminder. I am sure there will be many more. Those eulogizing him kept saying, “You are all part of Wing Lam. Your teacher is always in your life.” With absolute serious I can say I have never seen so many people, especially men, break down and cry as they testified.

A little later we burned “money” to help his spirit billow upward to the sky.

Apr
25
2018

Wing Lam Passes: April 25 2018

kwong wing lam Sifu Kwong Wing Lam passed away today from kidney failure following a period of illness. His study, beginning at age 8, brought him instruction from top notch practitioners such as Sifu Yang Shang Wu and Zhao Jiao.

Training with him for more than a decade, I recognized a teacher truly concerned for his art. His martial background was exceptional, and his practice was unfailing. He was, without a doubt, one of the most faithful and dedicated of all the practitioners I have ever met. His attitude was strong and clear, a physical, moving inspiration to his students in Tai Chi, Northern Shaolin, Hung Gar and other satellite fields. His was one of the first video courses of good quality and wide range, expanding the extended membership of these arts.

His martial interest took him down many paths. Convinced that Kung Fu weapons were too light and flimsy he started reconditioning and re-designing traditional weapons to the point of making an arsenal of superb and highly sought after instruments.

His fidelity to Kung Fu itself, minus politics or gossip, created a safe space in which students could practice and improve.

The pictures, conversations, teaching and inspiration he left behind cannot help but remain for years to come.

Goodbye, Sifu.

Apr
15
2018

Daoism, Sleeping Meditation & Beyond the Battleground

DaoismTom Bisio, Founder of Internal Arts International, offers us two texts dedicated to the study of two extreme opposites, both seen through the eyes of Daoism.

A Daoist Nap:
The first, Chen Tuan’s Daoist Sleeping Meditation,  is concerned with the relatively unknown practice combining meditation with sleep.

Battleground: The book on principles of warfare, Beyond the Battleground, Classic Strategies from the Yijing and Baguazhang for managing Crisis Situations,  uses both western and Asian sources to try and untie the knot that is war. Click images for fuller descriptions and Plum’s nicely discounted prices.

Friends! We have been posting a little less because we are working on new improvements to the site which—it is our hope—will make browsing, reading and buying just that much faster and more accurate. Just bear with us. 

Apr
5
2018

Four Things Hard to Believe

martial arts principles At the start of your training, if you’d asked: “What do I need to be a good martial artist?” you might have gotten a list which included strength, endurance, patience, humility, Ben-Gay, and a good pair of shoes. What would probably have been missing is the word “faith.” But anyone who’s done any kind of long-term training knows that that pinch of faith can often be all you have to guide you forward. You can’t check out every situation or problem that your chosen endeavor might involve—sometimes you just have to rely on those well-tested “rules of the road.” 

Martial arts training creates dozens of these moments: whether the actual technique is functional and tested, or just a vague hunk of indigestible advice; when the move defies logic, physics, or just plain gravity; where that grain of truth is obscured by wrong usage, tall telling, or the attrition of time.

I’ve had my own concepts that—though now resolved in my mind—were troublesome and doubtful for the longest time. I realized one reason it took so long, was that my teachers didn’t always explain the concepts behind these counter-intuitive ideas. I’m all for tradition, but in my own teaching I vowed to reverse that. So here are four of my favorite puzzlers. In each one, I’ve ended with the solution, no matter how improbable. Read more →

Mar
27
2018

Tutorial: Tai Chi Tips, Stepping

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at Plum, you know how highly we prize basics as the foundation of good movement. ‘Stepping’ in Tai Chi, is one of those fundamentals that you might learn on the first day of class, and which you might be refining well into your advanced practice.

We prepared a short, 3-part tutorial with Tai Chi tips on just this subject, with a special section for those players who may need to compensate as a result of injury or physical limitation. It’s not just getting older that affects our stride—Debbie’s 5 month recovery from a fractured tibia is testament to that. Tai Chi, as an aid in that recovery, had to be modified to her condition, and the first step was in the stepping.

For those just starting, you might find a few Tai Chi tips to set you on the path; for those already knowledgeable, maybe a reminder or two to keep you there.

 

Mar
14
2018

LiuHe Tanglang: The Short Strike Form

LiuHeDuan ChuiWe’ve added a new DVD to our collection: LiuHe Duan Chui, the second installment from Teacher Jian Gao, exhibiting one of the rarer styles of Praying Mantis—Six Harmony Praying Mantis—or what some might call a mantis variation of Liu He Quan (Six Harmonies Boxing).

This style incorporates key points from many others, such as Monkey, Tong Bei and Liu He Quan. It is, what you might call a highly tactical style, with San Ti movement, whipping hands and, as in this case, strong Xing Yi-like movement.

 

Mar
9
2018

The Yi Bone’s Connected to the Qi Bone

Tai chi intentQ: I started reading a book which examines the 5 major Tai Chi styles and uses quotes from the classics to show what they all have in common, and what is unique to each style. Anyway, lots of repetition of “yi leads the chi” and “chi leads the body”. I kind of always thought that, in general, it meant don’t let your mind wander when doing a form, but I’d like to hear your take.

~GS

A: This is a key strategy for Tai Chi.

Imagine two people given the task of hitting different targets, and the first person is a boxer. What he feels when he gets ready, among other things, are the muscles of his arm and his torso.

Next to him is the other fighter, an archer. As he gets ready to shoot at the target, what he feels is the projection of the tip of the arrow; and his string hand building energy as it stores explosive jing by pulling back.

When the crucial time comes and the judge shouts “Fire!” the fighter activates and launches his body toward the target. And the archer does nothing, just releases everything, letting his Yi aim the arrow.

Mar
5
2018

What’s Old is New: 3 Traditional DVDs

Despite the fact that Plum has built a catalogue containing almost ma shen wu4000 books, dvds and vcds (!) we are actually quite picky about our products. We review a lot of material, choosing only what we believe will add to the martial conversation. So imagine how pleased we are when we are able to offer three new additions from the same series. Ma Shen Wu

These new DVDs all derive from some of the surveys conducted during the 70’s in China, a time before the contemporary wushu wave washed over the traditional. The first two present a teacher whose performance awed many of us when we first saw him, Ma Shen ma shen wuWu. His lithe, expressive performances always thrilled; these two new DVDs—an Arhat routine containing a catalogue of twisting movements; and a wonderful Traveller’s staff set with unusual legs—are great examples of his abilities as both a traditional and tong beimaster performer.

Finally, a fast Tong Bei routine from Sifu XuKuiSheng. This is quite a long set with great variation, and fast ‘tangling’ hands.

Feb
23
2018

C.S.Tang Tells the Story of XingYiQuan

xingyiquanPlum has worked with CS Tang for a long while. And after meeting and spending time with him a few years ago, our admiration deepened when we found that his breadth of information was made that much better by the thoughtful depth he brought to his subjects.

His recent and new-to-Plum book, “The Mysterious Power of Xingyiquan: A Complete Guide to History, Weapons and Fighting Skills” is a perfect example of this. It is ambitious in scope, yet does not suffer from being a shallow survey; it includes Tang’s insights plus much source material to support its claim of being “complete.” Its language is clear, and its photos are many. We recommend it highly.

And, for a limited time, we’ve discounted it 20%, to encourage you to add it to your martial library (right next to his essential book on Yiquan).

 

Feb
22
2018

Some Long-Awaited Restocks

It’s been a few months since we have been fully stocked on our “En Face Books” (the books in this series have English text ‘facing’ Chinese text). They are among our customer favorites, because they have so much to offer: A book and accompanying VCD showing complete routines in both Chinese and English. What more could you ask for?

The ever-popular titles shown below are now available again—as a matter of fact, the entire series is in stock as of this posting. They are scattered around the site, relative to their styles, so you can find them when you are checking out your favorite sections.

An even easier way to find them all is to check out our comprehensive list HERE, which is worth visiting on the off-chance you missed any of these great titles first time around. Enjoy!

 

kung fu books

Pigua

kung fu books

Fan Zi

kung fu books

Wu Song

kung fu books

Tai Yi

kung fu book

Tong Bei