Q&A: The Yoke Punch in Tan Tui: North and South

Q: I’d like to ask why is there a different alignment of the arms with the Yoke punch as demonstrated in the Tan Tui 12 Road and the 10 Road forms respectfully?

In the 10 Road video Sifu gives specific details about the arm alignment (90° in one instance and 135°? In another instance… depending on which arm is punching) but in the 12 Road presentation the arms are effectively in alignment pointing forward and back.

Thanks so much,

A: Great question! As a matter of fact, it inspired us to videotape our answer for all of you, which you can see below.

At Plum, we represent many different versions of Tan Tui, a Muslim Kung Fu gift to both Northern and Southern styles. Below are links to just a few of our favorite Tan Tui presentations. Enjoy!

12 Road Tan Tui Video Tutorial (this is a free, full-length series on this Southern form, including applications)

10 Road Tan Tui DVD (Ted Mancuso)

Tan Tui: 4 Disk DVD set (Adam Hsu)

3 Steps of Tan Tui: DVD (Adam Hsu)

Cha Style Kung Fu 10 Road Tan Tui VCD (Liu Hong-Chi)

Tan Tui: Gateway to Kung Fu Book/DVD (Jason Tsou)

Coiling Dragon 12 Road Tan Tui VCD (Sun Xiang)

Gansu Style Tan Tui VCD (Zhou Jian Rui)


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Sifu Hamby’s 4th Gathering: Expertise & Camaraderie, Side by Side

Once again, Sifu Don Hamby has indeed “gathered the masters” in the 4th exhibition of long-studied and highly trained lovers of Chinese martial arts. Watching the skills displayed we are reminded of the power and beauty in this vast art.

This well-attended showcase in Monterey Park (Los Angeles), sponsored by the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Federation, offered top level teachers displaying a rainbow of styles, a few of which are Hung Gar’s dynamic and powerful forms, Bagua’s Sleeve Knives, Hakka Boxing, a staff set from Pigua, Internal Training showing advanced folding and unfolding, the most famous Yang Tai Chi sword. The audience was treated to not only Chinese forms, but a re-enactment of Praying Mantis’ origin, the Indonesian Art of Pencak Silat, a mixture of Escrima and Wing Chun, Kung Fu weapons, martial applications from different styles and more. We also enjoyed a performance of a “hard Qigong” rarely seen, by Vincent Yu, displaying excellent power and body control.

We would be remiss in not also saluting, alongside the inspiring demonstrations, the incomparable attitudes of friendship and support this Gathering exudes; certainly, one must bow first to Sifu Hamby for imbuing every moment with grateful and gracious acknowledgement; but all of the participants—whether performers or audience members—displayed authentic enthusiasm for their own styles as well as others’. The spirit of competition was overwhelmed by the spirit of cooperation.

As this event grows, we look forward to seeing an even greater audience and longer roster of traditional participants.

If you have only attended tournaments, or never spent an afternoon watching teachers and senior students share their arts, do yourself a favor and circle the date for the 5th Annual Gathering next year. It can never be too early to anticipate a Gathering like this.

And please enjoy a video we made of many of the performances.



The Evolution of Forms Practice

evolution of forms practiceA form is a traditional set of significant actions where you can shine brilliantly in impeccable performance, or balk so that nothing moves. Forms are what you work to perfect, aware that form is not perfectible; aware that there are countless wrong turns possible; aware that the forms themselves improve you, even if you are not aware of how they do it.

Here is your entire school, struggling to synchronize one form; here you are working your solitary disoriented practice, turned inside-out like a sock, vainly trying to visualize what’s next when you can’t remember what was last; here you are on stage—how did you get here?—in front of a huge audience, each pause garnering applause, each landing reminding you of the beginning.

When you started martial training you practiced forms just because they were required; you were expected to jump into the game even though you had never performed anything more than a momentary shudder before taking that first, tentative step onto a moving escalator, assuming the worst. Read more →


4th Annual Gathering of the Masters

Heading down to LA this weekend to attend Sifu Donald Hamby’s 4th Annual Gathering of the Masters, hosted by the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Federation.

traditional chinese martial artsFor those in the area, we highly recommend stopping by; we attended last year’s event and were pleased and delighted, not only by the great performances, but even more so by the feeling of comradeship among the fellow teachers and practitioners. In these days, what could be better than watching, without competition, a group of dedicated, supportive and traditional Chinese martial artists performing for other dedicated, supportive and traditional martial artists?

Hope to see you there!

4th Annual Gathering of the Masters
440 S. McPherrin Ave (Clubhouse)
Monterey Park, CA

2pm – 6 pm


Two Views of Sifu John Leong

John Leong Jung GarAt Plum, we are lucky to represent not one but two views of Hung Gar Kung Fu Sifu John Leong, in two new books added to our collection: Beginning Hung Gar Kung Fu, a classic text, and Living Kung Fu, a recently released photo collection of Sifu Leong’s martial journey.

“Beginning Hung Gar Kung Fu” shows the wheels and bars that make Hung Gar so effective. The special photographic tribute of “Living Kung Fu” is a light show of visual testimony that showcases the martial life, celebrations, Lion dancing, and studio floors filled with mixed generations, just like a true family.


System, Not Style

di guoyong on xingyiquanWe are pleased to offer this presentation—long overdue by us—of Di Guoyong on Xingyiquan, Sifu Di’s systematic explanation of that deeply loved and appreciated style, Xing Yi Quan.

Contained in these three volumes is a full roster of forms along with comprehensive descriptions, from  basics all the way to weapons forms and partner practice. We have represented Di Sifu’s Xing Yi VCDs and DVDs for years, and find these books complement with principles, thoughts and even personal asides, sturdy companions to the videos themselves.

Many practitioners show good familiarity with Five Element Boxing, but we have only seen a few take such a direct and clear approach to the Art as a system. We are impressed, not only with the material itself, but also with Sifu Andrea Falk’s excellent translation of the Chinese (which is also included) into English. (Watch this space for the announcement of Sifu Falk’s new and expanded edition of her Wushu dictionary.)


Slices: Running Horses

Every style has a story. We like to give  readers a glimpse, a scene, a taste of the classical fighters and teachers who gambled in a deadly game of skill and courage.

In the 1920’s, houses in Beijing were heated with coal, which came from the mountains to the west. One day, a coal seller brought coal into town. He had a car full of coal and three horses pulling it. They were riding down the main commercial street of Beijing, called Chian Men Da Jie. There were lots of people around, including Master Wang (Wen Kui). For some reason, the horses bolted and began galloping down the street. The driver fell out of the car, and it looked like there was going to be a serious incident in which many people could get hurt, especially women and children. So the driver called out, “Help, anyone! Help!” Master Wang happened to be standing near the path of the galloping horses. When they came near, Master Wang raised his hand and let out a big yell, which startled the horses and slowed them down. Then, quickly, Master Wang stepped to the side of the first horses and pushing it from the side, using Yan Zhang…The horse fell down, and the other horses and the car came to a stop, preventing a disaster.   The driver thanked him profusely and said that Master Wang had saved him…

Liu Bin’s Zhuang Gong Bagua Zhang: South District Beijing’s Strongly Rooted Style
Zhang Jie et al.


Back in Stock: Sun Zhi Jun

sun zhi junWe know you are supposed to love all your children books equally, but some you just love a little more. And Cheng Bagua stylist Sun Zhi Jun’s masterpiece, “You Shen Ba Gua Lian Huan Zhang” (Swimming Body Bagua Linked Fist) is one of those. What’s not to love? It is a complete illustrated English language translation of his six forms, plus history and principles, and it is accompanied by a DVD, also in English, also with Sun Shifu instructuing.

Well, we’ve raved about it on pages before, so just let it be known that it is finally back in stock and can be found HERE.


Many Great Titles

Plum has seen an upsurge in English language texts for Chinese Martial Arts. Great! However, this has taken some energy from the site’s mirror-side of Chinese texts. Not that we don’t have a pile of those, too, to catalogue, but they take a little more time due to translation, acquisition, etc. Still, we will try to energize our presentation of these interesting—and, increasingly, en face (English and Chinese)—offerings.

This week we talk about three books, two of which are entirely new, with one rejoining us in traditional characters (the previous being in simplified characters).

wan lai shengThis first outlines the work of Wan Lai Sheng, a reality-combat proponent dating back almost one hundred years. Wan is best known for Ziranman and LiuHe, and also as a no-nonsense fierce fighter. This text contains great old photos of Wan.Kung Fu books

There follows a traditional Xing Yi sword text in the Li Cun Yi lineage—also well-photographed—teaching a set which contains a lot of dropping and angular movements. Good sword work, with a lot of lower level attacks.

praying mantis kung fuFinally, a small book on Tang Lang (Praying Mantis), which we feel to be an under-appreciated style. This rendition of the Lan Jie set, represented in photos by a teacher and his son alternately posing, is slight but solid; an unusual presentation in this world-popular style.


The Faces and Fists of Wong Jack Man

Since posting the sad announcement at the beginning of this year, of Sifu Wong Jack Man’s death, we’ve had the opportunity to speak to and hear from several of his students, each with his own story. For instance we—along with, apparently, many other people—did not know that Wong Sifu practiced the additional styles of Xing Yi and Tai Chi, along with his more famous Bak Sil Lum.

When a teacher has been teaching for many decades, myths and legends will naturally abound. In Wong Sifu’s case, the legend most associated with him concerned his famous fight with Bruce Lee. But I remember hearing another myth, that he taught in complete silence. However, some of his students report something far less exotic: that he was a teacher of sparse words and great actions—in other words, a classical teacher.

From some who trained directly under him, Wong’s exceedingly “heavy bones” were not an outgrowth of either Iron Palm or Golden Bell practices; there is little evidence that he practiced either. Does that mean that Wong Sifu did not know them, or merely that he did not give them much credit? Opinions on both sides, here.

All this in hand, Wong Jack Man was known as a high level practitioner of kung fu, thoroughly familar with his varied systems and teachings. There is no doubt that his memory will live for a long time in the hearts and hands of players and students.

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Jiang Rongqiao’s Bagua Zhang—Now in English AND Chinese

Jiang RongQiao BaguazhangAndrea Falk is doing wonderful translations.

Actually, she has been doing wonderful translations for a long time, but now she is going back, revising and improving on some of her earlier works to make them even better. We are still awaiting the massive expansion and rewrite of her earlier Wushu dictionary (this one promises to be almost double in size) which, she tells us, should be available through Plum shortly.

In the meantime, we have just received her new edition of Jiang Rong Qiao’s Baguazhang, and the delight is that she has added the original Chinese text. For those studying or even fluent in Chinese, this encourages and assists in understanding not only the original text, but also how a master translator works.

Look forward, in the near future, to her dictionary, as well as her three-volume translation of Di Guo Young’s texts on Xing Yi (we have a couple of those sets in stock now, and are awaiting more. If you would like a set, CLICK HERE).


Fun Stuff: Bruce’s Older Kung Fu brother

Secrets of Kung Fu—a popular publication, especially during the Seventies—hosted a huge variety of topics. For this issue, we have a drumming platform, a wooden man, a banner dance, an ancient arms dealer, Bruce Lee’s senior classmate, Ancient Chinese rocketry, a 20 year old exponent of Chou style, Kneeling to a Kung Fu teacher, and more…


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Anatomy of the True Teacher

martial arts teacherMy first taiji instructor, Lin Shih-Kuang, told me a story about a tragedy in his family. His father, involved in the government of Taiwan, suddenly fell from favor-in a hard way. Soon after this, Shih-Kuang had a birthday party. The usual friends and family were invited. Not one of them showed up—no adults, no children. Except for one person, his kung fu teacher.

The martial teacher is not special. He or she is like many teachers all over the world in all walks of life. But though a professional teacher, he is rarely a member of an organization. He is the old kind of teacher, as Aristotle was to Alexander, the person-to-person teacher.

Even in teaching physical movements or teaching flower arrangement or teaching science, a bond forms between teacher Read more →


Liang Zhen Pu, Together Again

Liang Zhen PuAs we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we are in the process of republishing several out of print titles, and the first one has arrived: Liang Zhen Pu Eight Diagram Palm, by Li Zi Ming, compiled by Vince Black.

This authoratative book was written by Li, the last living representative of the third generation in Bagua founder Dong Hai Chuan’s lineage. Having begun his life long study of Eight Diagram Palm in 1918 with his teacher Liang Zhen Pu, Master Li drew from over 60 years of experience in writing this work.

We at Pum are so pleased to have the opportunity to keep these important works alive and accessible.


Su Yu Chang’s Passing: April 29, 2019

SU YU-CHANG (1940-2019)

su yu chang Su Yu Chang started his training in martial arts at a early age with the famous Kung Fu style known as “Lost Track.” Master Chang Te-Kuei also introduced him to the art of Praying Mantis.

When he was 17, in Taiwan, he continued his studies there with Wei Xiao-Tang and Li Kuen Shan, both showing him the vagaries of Praying Mantis. He also kept an active interest in Lost Track so he contacted Li Yuen-Tzu. Sifu Li also initiated Su to the powerhouse of BaJi and the grappling art of Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling).

As time passed Su’s Baji experience was further enriched by Tong Chong-Yi. Yu-Chang expanded his Baji training by Ma Ying-Tu, a direct disciple of the famous Li Shu-Wen.

With his own skills rising, Su became an instructor at the Central Institute. In 1960-62 he was occupied teaching at a military school. At one point he decided he wanted the complete curriculum of Baji and PiGua, so he asked Li Yuen-Tzu, but this teacher was disabled so Su was sent to learn from Li Shu-Wen’s disciple, Liu Yun Chiao.

Su Sifu helped to bring his repertoire to the world with seminars in localities like USA, Japan, Spain and more. He also brought a puckish humor and enthusiasm to his art.

“Praying Mantis is so unique that your opponent will say, that even if you kill him, it was worth it to see these techniques.” 

My own dealings with Su Sifu were friendly and made somewhat familial, I think, by my having studied with Adam Hsu. Even in his later years, Su’s technique lived up to “lightning hands,” as he was known. He had a special ability—sometimes dizzying to students—to alternate instruction between Spanish, Japanese and English, all languages he spoke along with Chinese. It is said that he studied more branches of Mantis style than anyone who has ever lived. I don’t know about that, but I can spot a lifelong enthusiasm when I see it.

While watching a well-circulated video with my class one time, one of my students commented that the film must have been sped up. I asked him to pay attention to a man smoking a cigarette, who sat along the wall of the small room in which Su performed. You could see that his actions were at regular speed, proving that the film ran normally. Su Sifu was the fastest performer I have ever witnessed.

Read more →


INB: Instructor’s Notebook—A “Perfect” Lesson

Layers of Teaching

Martial arts hands us examples of the close relationship between what we teach and the way we teach it.

Chinese martial arts lessonAs a sifu, I have experimented with many approaches. Years ago, when I opened my martial arts studio, I tried to orchestrate topics as best I could. Each class was planned like a bank robbery or a wedding: details covered, ideas scrawled in the notebook, library information stacked and shelved.

Of course, none of my classes ever proceeded in so orderly a manner. In the brief moment following each class, I would evaluate my efforts and discover that about 80% of the presented “information” just went whizzing by. On top of that, there was always a richer, deeper batch of information that I never touched on.  Too different, too advanced. How would I ever get to it?

In this Instructor’s Notebook, my plan is to show at least one version of a teaching breakdown that pulls together, in a simple way, diverse and seemingly unconnected information. Read more →


Vince Black on Li Zi Ming’s Bagua Zhang

pa kua chang journalOne of our favorite items at Plum is the Pa Kua Chang Journal CD, containing the entire 38-issue run of more than 1,000 pages. The original journal, published by Dan Miller, is a treasure for the martial and Bagua community. In many cases entire issues are devoted to a single topic, and contain interviews with and articles by some of the great teachers, including Sun Lu Tang, Li Zi Ming, Tim Cartmell, Adam Hsu, Xie Pei Ji, George Xu, and so many more. The full run of the PKJ covers major topics, instructor profiles, training tips and historical scholarship. These focused articles, were and remain a great impulse to Bagua studies throughout the English speaking martial world; in many ways, it was ahead of its time.

That said, we are happy to announce acquiring permission to display occasional selections from this weighty work. We start with this article below, from Volume Five, Issue One, which is devoted to Li Zi Ming.

This first entry is particularly timely in two ways: first, its author, the renowned teacher Vince Black, passed away in February. Second, Liang Zhen Pu Eight Trigram Palms, one of Bagua’s famous texts edited by Li Zi Ming (Liang Zhen Pu’s student) and compiled by Vince Black, has been out of print for quite a while, but Plum is in the process of bringing it back. We hope to see it mid-May.

For those interested in the whole run of the Journal, click here. For those waiting for Liang Zhen Pu’s return, watch this space!

Click link below to load pdf article.

Pa Kua Journal Li Zi Ming


Hit Medicine Revealed

martial hit medicineThere is a whole branch of Chinese medicine associated with the martial arts, and to say that much of the information is secret would be an understatement.

But now, author Tom Bisio hands us an invaluable text, A Pearl From the Dragon’s Neck, comprehensively detailing revival methods, using vital points, cupping, moxibustion, massage, and pressure. He also includes herbal remedies to increase vitality and other approaches toward treating illness. As Bisio says, you can flip through the book and satisfy your own needs or curiosity—it’s that easy to use this text, and to apply it.

This book should be included in every martial first aid kit.


Where is Bruce?

bruce lee

The curious distortion of Lee’s airbrushed body says something about his cinematic popularity.

Is he still with us? Should we light an incense stick to his memory? Why not?

Bruce changed the world. He revised the image of the downtrodden who re-emerges and makes his way to victory. He brought a pair of cultures together—internally and externally—at just the perfect moment in history. And, some will say, he made a significant leap forward when he introduced the yellow jump suit into costumery.

Bruce brought humor, galantry, wit, physical excellence, tactical intelligence and more to his screen image and to his public presentation. In short, he crushed just about every “old man of Asia” image he could. As in the Chinese Connection, he took on so many opponents that,even as it exceeded cinematic plausibility, he nonetheless made it all somehow believable.

He was such a force of nature that it was difficult to define him or his message. Was he the “bad boy?” Superman? Robin Hood? Little trashy books, like this “Big Book of Karate—Best Issue Yet,” came into existence entirely to spotlight him.

Just reading the Table of Contents shows the strands of modernity beginning to entangle themselves to create the Blade Runner street market culture that is even now rolling itself out with steamed buns at midnight. Read more →


Two Passings

Liang Zhen PuBack in February, the martial world lost two of its pillars.

Vince Black died on February 26 at the age of 68. A practitioner of Chinese martial arts as well as Chinese medicine, Sifu Black had a lifelong relation with his studies, students and teachers. Among other well known instructors he studied with Li Zi Ming, Hsu Hong-Chi, Liao WuChang, Fu Shu Yun,  and Wang Shu Sheng. He was deeply involved in Xing Yi, KajuKenBo, Bagua and other arts such as Monkey Boxing. He left many students along with a wide range of material passed to new generations, such as bone setting, martial skills and internal practices. One of the gifts that Sifu Black gave to the martial world was his compilation, in English, of his teacher Li Zi Ming’s writings, a book entitled Liang Zhen Pu. This book has been out of print for a long while, but Plum is bringing it back within the next couple of months.

The day before Sifu Black’s death, on February 25, the esteemed Ralph Castro, one of the world’s top KenpoRalph Castro practitioners, passed away. He was 87 years old.

He was friend and student of such martial artists as Ed Parker, James Lee, Wally Jay, Jhoon Rhee and Bruce Lee (Sifu Castro being the only man to block Bruce’s back fist).

Born in Hawaii, he moved to the mainland in 1958 and opened the first Kenpo Karate studio in Northern California. He was a devoted family man, including his children in his lifelong love and practice of Shaolin Kenpo Karate.

May their memories be blessings.

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