Jan
25
2021

New Sha Style DVDs

Sha Guo Zheng Liu He Tong BeiIn between our filming and editing of our new Bagua Zhang book/DVD project, we have also been doing some cataloguing of material we have neglected. Two of these DVDs are from Sha GuoZheng style, on Liu He Tong Bei Roads 1 and 2.

From our experience, Sha’s work is always an interesting and, at times, deep dive into traditional Kung Fu.

More to come, but for now, enjoy!

Jan
6
2021

Chen XiaoWang Tai Chi DVDs

Chen XiaoWang Chen Taijiquan Lao Jia

Lao Jia

Chen XiaoWang Chen Taijiquan Lao Jia

Internal Practice

A quick note to let you know that we have a couple of returns back in stock…sort of.

About a year ago, two of the VCDs from the popular series by Chen XiaoWang went out of print, one on Lao Jia and one on Internal Practice. Well, we have finally restocked those two, but in DVDs this time. We only have a few each, and you can click on the images to get to the page for ordering.

And don’t forget! The January 10% off sale (for the entire site) goes until January 15, using the coupon code January21.

 

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 here soon.

One of the things I appreciate greatly about my Shifu Lee joo-Chian was how he insisted I learn and write down the names and steps of all my routines. He argued traditional styles have names for a reason and that writing down routines was essential. So, I painstakingly learned “kung fu Chinese” if you wish and made up my own way to Romanise or transcribe the words. We wrote down every single routine I learned. My Shifu often said that this was a key to training as it forced us to reflect upon the routines and the art.
Now that he is gone, I realize what a treasure this is as without these notes a great deal would have been lost. When I forget a routine, I can just brush up with my notes its very easy to do…
 
These notes or books are central to our knowledge as are (this is important) the secret details (or keys) not openly shared. Old school Chinese masters were afraid to write it all down so one had to know the little details or keys that were implicit in the written word. Of course training mind, body and spirit are also necessary. After all talk is cheap.
 
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Une des choses que j’apprécie beaucoup au sujet de mon Shifu Lee joo-Chian était la façon dont il a insisté pour que j’apprenne à écrire les noms de mouvements de toutes mes routines. Il a soutenu que les styles traditionnels ont des noms pour une raison et que l’écriture des routines était essentielle. Donc, j’ai soigneusement appris le chinois nécessaire pour le kung fu s et créer ma propre façon de romaniser ou de transcrire les mots. Nous avons écrit toutes les routines que j’ai apprises. Mon Shifu disait souvent que c’était une clé de la formation car cela nous obligeait à réfléchir sur les routines et l’art.
Maintenant qu’il est parti, je me rends compte à quel point c’est un trésor car sans ces notes beaucoup aurait été perdu. Quand j’oublie une routine, je peux juste rafraîchir avec mes notes son très facile à faire ….
Ces notes ou livres sont au cœur de nos connaissances, tout comme (c’est important) les détails secrets (ou clés) qui ne sont pas ouvertement partagés. Les maîtres chinois de vieille école avaient peur d’écrire tout cela ainsi on devait connaître les petits détails ou les clefs qui étaient implicites dans le mot écrit.
Bien sûr, la formation de l’esprit, le corps et l’esprit sont également nécessaires. Après la pratique est importante!😎
 

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Dec
28
2020

Xiantian Bagua Zhang: Gao Style Bagua Zhang Circle Form

C.S. Tang's Xiantian Bagua Zhang: Gao Style Cirlce FormThis may be one of the Bagua books you did not know you were waiting for.

C.S. Tang has produced another excellent and comprehensive text, this time on Gao Style Bagua Zhang. Tang Sifu, known and respected for his martial scholarship, has produced a large fine volume, inclusive of everything from origin stories to advanced training techniques.

As if that were not enough, Sifu Tang gives instruction on the little-known Circle Form from Gao Style Bagua Zhang.

Click the image to see much more about the book (and to purchase it at Plum’s delightfully discounted price) and click HERE to get a gander at the two-page Table of Contents.

A nice end-of-the-year gift to Bagua practitioners.

Dec
23
2020

Dennis Rovere’s Chinese Military Combat Series

Happy to announce the addition of Dennis Rovere’s 2 Volume (3 Disk) DVD series, Secret Fighting Skills of the Chinese Military.

Mr Rovere, an Independent Scholar who has both trained and taught widely in Combat Techniques, is also represented on Plum by his popular and authoritative book and DVD, Xing Yi Quan of the Chinese Army.

Check out his new material and Plum’s great price!

Dec
9
2020

Plum December Sale Catalogue

We thought we would try something different this year, and pick out some of our favorite books and DVDs—a few older, many more recent—to highlight for a December sale. Plum carries over 3000 books, VCDs and DVDs, so choosing among them is not easy, but we at least made sure we have enough copies to satisfy demand—many of our regular offerings are in short supply due to scarcity.

Click each picture and it will take you to the page to order.

Wujishi Breathing Exercises, Reg $16.95 / Sale $13.95

Blossoms in the Spring, Book & DVD, reg $34.50 / SALE $29.95

Liu He Tang Lang (6 Harmony Mantis 3-DVD set, reg $90 / SALE: $80

Spirit of the Stars: Navigating Your Fate With Polestar Astrology, Reg $38 / SALE $32.95

Mizong Jia, Reg $38 / SALE $32.95

Evolution of Wing Chun Kicking Techniques, Reg. $38.95, SALE $33.95

Ted Mancuso’s Weapons Book/DVD packages: Spear, Bandit Knife, Saber, Staff. Reg $27- $35 / SALE: 10% discount for individual volumes or $110 for the set of 4

Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu, Reg $34.95 / SALE: $29.95, or buy with Lone Sword and get the set for $45

Lone Sword Against the Cold Cold Sky, Reg $22.45 / SALE $20, or buy with Life Is Too Short and get the set for $45

Malaysian Masters 2-DVD set, Southern Kung Fu, Reg $40 / SALE $32

You Shen (Swimming Dragon) Bagua Zhang, Reg $62.95 / SALE: $56.95

Falk’s Dictionary of Chinese Martial Arts Deluxe ed Reg $56 /SALE $50; Hardcover ed Reg $80 / SALE $72.95

Spirit of Five Animals Reg $19.95 / SALE $16.95

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 “understood” are two different things. We live in a predominantly western culture, a scientific culture. But how many of us have a good basic grasp of science?

And Chi is even more slippery.

Of course, hard-headed, skeptical people want to know where Chi is, in much the same way advertisers ask, “what’s in your wallet?” On the other hand, some people with less intellectual rigor except Chi as easily as children accept the Easter Bunny. Read more →

Dec
1
2020

Let The Sales Begin!

Hey, we’ve made it to December! Yes, this has been a tough year, but 2021 is almost here, so let’s celebrate with some discounts.

Use coupon code December10 to get a 10% discount on any  orders through December 7, and we’ll email you another 10% coupon that you can use in January.

Out with the old, in with the new.

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 to think of a style that moves slowly and ends up being one of the fastest martial arts—that’s a special technique.

Q: What is it?

A: Let’s see if we can mine it for clues. The first reason is that Tai Chi’s attempts to go slowly help it to create a perfect map. Like an engineering drawing, everything’s got to be right; or an architectural drawing—there can be no sloppiness. Now, you will find the same thing in, say, Shaolin, but you have to wait longer, and if don’t have such a great teacher, you may not get it at all—that kind of precision isn’t for everyone. Read more →

Nov
11
2020

Becoming A Sifu

sifu

Sifu Ted, Sifu Linda, me and Sifu Lam, along with fellow students, Phil, John and Jerome after we did a Kung Fu demo at the County Fair in the mid-80s.

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 the Academy of Martial and Internal Arts, we like those deep dives.

The title “Sifu” is a fine example of simple answers versus deep dives. On the simplest level, it’s the Chinese term for ‘master.’ It gets complex when you go deeper. “Sifu” is the Cantonese pronunciation, which sounds kind of like “sea-fu.” Master Ted Mancuso’s lineage has both Cantonese and Mandarin influences. Among his masters are Grandmaster Adam Hsu from Taiwan where they speak Mandarin and Grandmaster Kwong Wing Lam from Hong Kong where Cantonese is spoken. In Mandarin, it’s “Shifu,” which sounds a bit like “sure-fu.” Although Cantonese and Mandarin use the same written characters, there are regional dialect distinctions and vast idiomatic differences, so the comparison isn’t always an X=X relationship. This gets even more complicated, deserving of an essay of its own, so we won’t dwell on it too much here. At the Academy, we generally default to the Cantonese, most likely because that set the precedent in the 70s and 80s when Kung Fu was beginning to cross the Pacific. Read more →

Nov
9
2020

Bagua Zhang and Xin Yi Quan

Got in a short stack of great books—limited copies on each, at the moment, but thought we would let you know about them.

One of them, the book on Dai Style XinYiQuan, incorporates those QR Codes instead of including a packaged DVD, so that with a simple scan from your phone’s camera, you can watch video material online. Here you go!

dai style xinyiquan

The Secret Techniques of Dai Style XinYiQuan

Bagua Sword

Bagua Sword and Dragon Shaped Sword (with DVD)

Bagua Swimming Body

Bagua Swimming Body from Gao YiSheng lineage

Nov
9
2020

Beware The Rabbit Punch

From our astute and ever-watchful correspondent, Gary Shapiro

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 Andrea Falk’s incredibly useful Chinese martial arts dictionary, she defines Ji Ben Gong as “basic skills, or basic abilities.” In our new book and DVD, we expand a little on the term Ji Ben Gong, or “Gong” for short, by saying that it has three components specific to the style you’re studying:

~A Gong is an elevation of a basic (ex: The Gong, Hawk Splits Sky has drilling and upward punch as basics.)
~A Gong is a physical representation of a concept (ex: Hawk Splits Sky has verticality as one of its concepts.)
~A Gong is a pathway to usage (ex: One of the usages for Hawk Splits Sky is infighting.)

Bagua Zhang bookQ:    How do you present this information?
Ted:     We present the Gongs from several different points of view: on the DVD, we demonstrate both instruction in how to perform the Gongs, plus we have added an unusually large section of Bagua usage related to the Gongs. In the text, there is additional information on walking the circle, plus articles on what Bagua actually is.

It’s a problem with most traditional styles these days—but even more so with Bagua—that players can look pretty good performing a form, but when they actually move, the key elements are ‘lost in transformation,’ so to speak.

Q:    So, the idea is to maintain the Bagua ‘flavor’ throughout your Bagua practice?
Ted:     Yes, and Gongs help you to do that. They are short exercises, or loops, that through practice help you to understand the attributes and qualities—the essence, essentially!—of your style. Honestly, I think just about every traditional Kung Fu style has a series of Gongs; Bagua, certainly, is rich with them, which makes it curious to me how little they are taught. In some senses, they are the true secrets to a style.

Q:    Certainly, it is common to see a student doing the form, say, a praying mantis routine. But as soon as you see the application or the usage or the exercises, they look very generic. Would you say that the Gongs keep the movement of Bagua from being generic, and make them specifically Bagua?
Ted:     Yes, I think that’s true, but it’s not because of the attempt to keep it pure. I mean by that, the Gongs help maintain the particular energies, strengths and movements of a form or of a style. However, even if they don’t move or hit or strike they still can persevere, because they can also feed the meditative aspects of our nature.

Q:     Would you say that that, even though you don’t emphasize this in the book, there’s also a qigong aspect to each of these Gongs?
Ted:     It’s somewhat like Adam Hsu says: if you want to erect a 10-story building, you start by digging.

Q:     That’s interesting, I think I see what you mean. So, the inclusion of Gongs into your practice builds the foundation of the style that you’re studying—in this case, of course, Bagua Zhang?
Ted:     Yes. This guy goes to his sifu and says, “I don’t want to stay in this style,” and the sifu says, “No problem if you decide to leave, but first wait five years so you know what you’re leaving.”

Q:     Let’s go deeper on this. We know that Bagua is circular—
Ted:     Circular, yes, but what does that mean? Imagine a student who has been practicing Bagua for a while, does her circle walking, etc. But does she have ‘circularity?’ I’m not trying to be cute or esoteric, I really mean it. How does she represent circularity? Has she incorporated the idea of 360 degrees multidimensionality? Does she defend her back as well as her front? Do her straight punches incorporate chan ssu jin? Does her torso move, and does she have twist? So, the Gongs actually teach you how—as in this example—to be circular, how to have Bagua-ness in every Bagua move.

Q:     And usage?
Ted:     In a way, that is the most exciting part of the project. We think we have done something different here—most instructional media, of course, is scanty on any usage at all, but those who do include it, most often do so by showing a move and then 1 or 2 applications of that move. Not bad, but also very stiff and, to my mind, a too-simplistic wrong approach, especially for something as sophisticated as Bagua.

To me, first, it is important to emphasize usage, not applications (yes, I know, you have heard this from me before!) Applications give a false impression, that there is a 1-1 relationship between a move and its attack or defense. Insert tab A into slot B. That’s lazy and, frankly, disrespectful of the traditional arts.

Every move—and this is especially true for Bagua—contains a myriad of so-called applications. Applications are good for belt-testing: “Show 3 applications for the spinning side kick.” Usage, on the other hand, demonstrates an understanding of the concepts inherent in each move. “Hawk Splits Sky,” the first Gong in our book, contains the qualities of piercing, drilling, verticality. Train the Gongs, incorporate the concepts, and you will be doing Bagua.

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Oct
9
2020

Short Stick Superior: The Whip Stick

One of the questions readers most ask us is , “What short stick videos do you recommend?” People love the short sticks. We do actually represent quite a few on our site, and among the best is Sifu Jack Yan’s Whip Stick book/dvd combo. So we are always happy when our customers agree! Thanks to H.A. for his unsolicited review that arrived in our inbox today:

Jack Yan’s Whip Stick DVD

“I’ve learned some whip stick stuff before. Yan’s presentation is quite clear and has very useful reminders of things like basic drills to practice and their purpose in becoming fluent handling the weapon…during the routine instructional section, he reminds us of important details like prepping the hand position for the next move and seeing that as the end of the move, rather than seeing the point of impact part as the end.
 
Because of my previous instruction, I’m not worried about usage, which isn’t featured here. Still, the patient presentation is well worth the price to own!”
Oct
7
2020

The Newest Great Items

Today’s diverse selection of new material available is really all about the classics: two DVDs of an older master presenting the rarely seen style of “Xin Boxing;” a completely redone and reimagined instructional DVD on Water Boxing (LiuHeBaFa) from Helen Liang, whose original work on the subject was one of the first; and the original Chinese text from Sifu Wang FengMing, student of Master Feng ZhiQiang, on the Bang (also known as the Special Taoist Stick and Ruler).

While it is true that material of this quality is becoming more ephemeral at this point—coming into print then going out of print with a sad regularity—we are always so pleased at Plum when we are able to find and offer it when it is actually available. Enjoy!

water boxing liuhebafa

Water Style (LiuHeBaFa) with Helen Liang

Tai Chi Ruler Bang

Taoist Stick and Ruler

Xin Fist 7th Routine

Xin Fist 4th Routine

 

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 Kung Fu assured us of a never-dry fount of available material, even if there was a dearth of instructors in any consistent style. As a matter of fact, we basically took whatever was offered in our neighborhoods (our neighborhoods often encompassed 50 to 150 miles circumference). Or we just waited. I remember a teacher from the midwest who stood about 6’ 4”. He had one Kung Fu option in his neck of the woods: Monkey style. So, every time he sparred and correctly dropped his stance, he’d find his face and the senior students’ fists on the same line. Ouch! That alone would be a good reason to forget at least certain parts of any form, if not the entire style. Read more →

Sep
1
2020

A New Book Bevy

Well, we are happy to mark ourselves safe from the devastating fire that, over the past two weeks, destroyed over 80,000 acres in and around Santa Cruz county, the place we call home. Several friends had to evacuate, but none lost their homes or lives, although almost 1000 residences were destroyed, and it will take a long while to put all the pieces back. On a positive note, many of the trees here are redwood, which have natural fire repellent properties; as a matter of fact, there are actual benefits to them from fire, so most of these treasures still stand strong.

Now that we can once again concentrate on work, we have a well-rounded offering of new books into our Chinese books sections. Added to that, we have restocked a few hard to get items, which we will announce as soon as we can get to it. For now, below are the 5 newbies to welcome to the neighborhood.

Baji Collection

Bajiquan Collection: A good comprehensive text on Baji

Hand Arm Record

Hand Arm Record: Nice expanded edition from Lionbooks

Monkey Style Bagua

Bagua Zhang Monkey Palm: A recommended text on this little discussed Bagua animal

Single Ring Monk Sword

Jin YiMing’s Classic on the Single Ring “Monk” Sword

Bagua Zhang and Xingyi Quan

An unusual book on the Ruyi Kung method of Bagua Zhang, incorporating health practice with the martial

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 to that) has upended all work. We are also hosting our friend and her puppy, who had to evacuate from her house in the mountains.

We will be back soon with new book and DVD announcements, articles and a good lot of stuff. In the meantime, stay well and safe!

Our best,

Ted and Debbie

P.S. The sky at sunset these days

 

Aug
8
2020

Adam Hsu Tan Tui

Adam Hsu Tan TuiDecades 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. Though somewhat stressful, this concentrated approach often produced surprisingly good results.

This immersion method can be easily applied to martial training; a cluster of related methods and experiences become essentially positive, nature’s contribution essentially transforming. Most students have heard at least one story about the dedicated student who lives with his master, sleeping in the courtyard to capture any and all of the style’s wisdom. In these times,  such stories are less frequent or tenable, but this does not mean that the approach is less powerful—we just need to be creative and disciplined in how we focus our studies.

If a student asks me how to deepen her Art, I ALWAYS tell her to find a good teacher—one teacher. This is, of course, not always easy to do, but it is one of the many reasons we started Plum. Because, although distance learning will rarely equal the experience of touching hands with expertise, at least we can indicate those instructors who are not only top-of-the-line, but also who encompass enough depth to plumb (no pun intended).

Then it should come as no surprise that one of those teachers we often promote is Sifu Adam Hsu, so we are always happy when we can add a new offering from him—this time, specifically, a beautifully designed new book dedicated to 10 Road Tan Tui, one of the most popular Long Arm forms in the world. This is a companion volume to his popular DVD series on this form. In addition to the content—a good instructional breakdown—it is also a graphic delight. You will immediately note the square size with a striking grey cover wrapped by a green paper belt, an atypical elegance not often associated with martial texts. The photos are excellent and fit, along with the text, in the distinctive square format.

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 point of view, not the more common basic level.

wu tu nan

Wu Tu Nan

After 50 years practicing Tai Chi, I admit that the shoe may be old, but it still fits. 

I went home and wrote this question at the top of a page of wide-ruled yellow paper: “What is the attractive secret of Tai Chi that encourages people to play the game without getting bored?”

I immediately filled the page with notes outlining all the remarkable qualities of Tai Chi; for example, how the slow pace encourages curative postures and uniformity of movement, and how this allows us to craft our life instead of violating it. Tai Chi adjusts you to rhythms of action rarely seen in daily life. Conforming to an attack also teaches you to conform to terrain, timing, other classmates—a rainbow of patterns. Read more →