Caylor Adkin’s Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands Training

kung fu iron ball Caylor Adkins is a well-known instructor, recognized even outside his art of Shotokan. His contribution, “Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands: Understanding Structure, Flow and Maneuver is Martial Arts,” is a well laid-out book of methods utilizing these traditionally used kung fu training aides.

More and more we see cross-training and instrument exercise as important contributions from the martial arts to normal exercise methods for health, not to mention special methods for improved martial skills. With just these three instruments he introduces his own research of 50 years, including numerous resources which he has assimilated in his dedicated and long study.

In a related note, and, coming soon, is a long out-of-print Chinese text on Iron Ball Training Exercises (referenced by Adkins in his book) by Lu Wen Wei. Stay tuned for this and more!


Evolution of Wing Chun Kicking Techniques

wing chun kickingHappy to announce the arrival of an important new text in the Wing Chun canon: The Evolution of Wing Chun Kung Fu Kicking Techniques.  Osmond Lam’s beautiful book not only shows us some of the principles behind Wing Chun’s special and only sporadically known kicking methods, but adds a good portion of background technique on the famous Yip Man and his disciples, many of them well-known teachers. As an added benefit, there is a well-illustrated section from the author’s teacher, Stephen TK Chan, showing the Shortened 13 Legs with body shifting and appropriate hand positions.

This full color, oversized and fully English edition comes right out of Hong Kong. Color photographs break down the movements and—something unusual—almost every one of the photos taken over many years is individually dated for reference freaks.

Why wait to discover more about Wing Chun kicking techniques? Click here, or the link above to see more information on the book, and to order.



10,000 Times Answers All

The Real Meaning of 10,000 Repetitions and What You Can Do While You Are Doing Them and Whether or Not You Need to Do 10,000 repetitions Before You Are An Expert.

10,000 repetitionsThis is a piece about the old saying that it takes 10,000 repetitions to really master anything and the huge number of people who believe this because they were told it. And this calls on people, including myself, who have actually done 10,000 repetitions of something or even of more things.

And not just done the repetitions over a long period of time and then they decide that they already deserve credit for 10,000 unconscious repetitions even though they did not actually count those many repetitions like one, two, three counting…

But some people—who do not mind repeating a thing or an act—set themselves to do 10,000 repetitions in a row, without any practices that were not 10,000 repetitions of the same movement or sequence. Just a kind of repeating and drowsing at the same time without distinction. Read more →


A Little Bit of Hakka Boxing, A Few More Restocks

Hakka Unicorn Boxing DVD
by Tyler R. Rea

hakka boxingHakka Boxing style Kei Lun Kune (Unicorn Boxing) is a famous form not only in Chinese Kung Fu, but also in boxing styles from other countries, such as Malaysia. This DVD offers a rare presentation of this form, aided by some innovative breakdowns and demonstrations. Every action is “do-able” but the transition of practice to mastery will take some time. A very straightforward, and relatively clear execution, with some quizzical points, especially in the Yee Sei Wooden Dummy segment.


Some Restocked Goodies

Always happy when we are able to restock our Chinese editions. Top-quality Chinese source material is becoming a little more difficult to find, and definitely harder to hold on to. We’ve got a slate of new arrivals, and some old friends, returning over the next few months; here are some of our favorites. Click images to go to their sale pages.

Yang Style Tai Chi True Narrative-ever popular

Feng Mo Staff:  Chinese/English with a VCD!

Xin Yi Fighting Secrets

Wow, Never thought we’d see Southern Mantis Fighting Forms again!


George Xu: Pioneer

Normally we reserve these weblog spots for a quick teaser, and designate the product pages for fuller reviews. However, since the works of George Xu often attract our special attention, we thought that this time, with his new DVD on Reeling Silk Energy, we would post our more in-depth interview along with our usual product information, here in kaimen.


“…and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

reeling silk energyWith few exceptions, I can see a very small group of people in these last  decades who have contributed as much to the spread and development of classical Chinese martial arts as George Xu (Xu Guo Ming).

His new double DVD, Tai Chi Silk Reeling and Martial Applications, shows a fuller face to the architecture he is designing. Everything about his approach over the last few years has been like a great painter opening another route of exploration; like Picasso’s blue period or Kandinsky’s dancing colors. That’s probably the reason he felt compelled to create his new style. (See last Xu post.)

Are you talking about traditional martial arts, or what?

Contrary to what so many think, following the old masters can be a source of tremendous knowledge. But you must be willing to own and change what they began, a task not many want to take up. None of this bothers teacher Xu at all. Tradition, in his case is, reborn fresh. Read more →


Martial Meets the Road


It’s been just a few days, and we’re still shaking a bit. A week ago, Debbie and I were struck by the same automobile while walking home from the market. The car took a sudden jump from a quick turn. Immediately, the driver started too fast on the new street. Nothing looked to stop in time. When he saw us in plain view and mid-street, he must have lost it and commenced to waffle even more.

I knew that I was going to get caught. Then I spotted the vehicle’s low hood and determined to try a body roll. Read more →


A Final Contribution: Joanna Zorya’s Martial Power

martial powerWe are gratified to announce a new Joanna Zorya DVD, Martial Power. Before Joanna’s untimely death several years ago, she told us of several unfinished projects that she was working on. Sadly, she did not have time to finish them all, such as the anticipated second volume to the Xing Yi series. But her friend and partner, Julie Hinder, contacted us with the good news that at least one of the un-produced DVDs was viable, and asked us to publish it, along with the others we had acquired earlier.

With a theme of power through physics, Joanna employs extremely relaxed arm and waist exercises to loosen the shoulders, and support the proper relationship for “soft power,” striking with muscles just tense enough to align all your force.


Joanna Zorya joined our Plum offerings a long time ago. She and her partner, Julie Hinder, mailed a DVD to us. The video showed them demonstrating and teaching—once the furniture was cleared to the sides of the room—a number of principles of Tai Chi. Read more →


The Fierce Eye: Focusing on Martial Focus

Martial Focus

I think this is true everywhere: there’s always someone giving advice, or rules of thumb that drift downward from earlier days and, lo and behold, these become watchwords of inherited intelligence. Verifiability is not even an issue because these ingrained insights constitute that thin yellow line between truth and—certainly not evil, but at least—superstition.

In martial arts there are a number of sayings about “where to look” to anticipate your opponent’s strike. As the years have passed, I’ve heard countless instructions, suggestions, tricks and insights. The basic idea will start your martial focus on some general spot that will supposedly inform you where a blow is coming from. This can be almost anywhere in the body. Read more →


Six Harmony Praying Mantis: That Was Then, This Is Now

Six Harmony Praying Mantis BoxingTHEN: Several years ago, Plum contacted Sifu Jian Gao, disciple of grandmaster Ma Han Qing, to represent his excellent DVD on Liu He Tang Lang. There is not very much information on this system (as those who practice it can attest). So we were happy to be able to add to our collection. Only one problem though: Sifu Jian lives in Australia, where DVDs are in PAL format. For those with the right equipment, it wasn’t a problem, but for the rest…

NOW: Plum has retained the rights to convert and distribute the NTSC version of Sifu Jian’s Six Harmony Praying Mantis DVD and, after a too-long wait, we have copies available HERE. Yes! And even more: in a few weeks we will have a new DVD from Sifu Jian on Duan Chui.

We never give up acquiring or publishing great material, whether it’s new, or rescued and returning for a second time. We can’t guarantee success every time, but we can guarantee we’ll do our best to bring the best to you.

(By the way, for those still wanting the PAL version, we still have copies available, at a 20% discount).


Why Relaxation is Not Easy

The problem posed in the title is a constant concern in all CMA (Chinese Martial Arts) training. Of course, one immediate answer recognizes that relaxation and exercise are just plain difficult to coordinate. This is especially true when you add thinking to the mix. But the true approach, like all martial training, is both more sophisticated and more foundational.

For an example of this dilemma, I’ve decided to focus on Tai Chi Chuan, where many people automatically assume relaxation. In fact, Tai Chi Chuan is pretty much the poster child for relaxation. Yet even this “most relaxed” of all martial styles can be surprisingly difficult to learn. Read more →


QiGong and Healthy Eyes

Qigong for the Eyes

Ma XuZhou ‘Qigong for the Eyes’ DVDs  aimed at health and improved eye sight.

Teacher Ma XuZhou begins this DVD training series with an in-depth discussion on the origin and diagnosis of eye problems from the standpoint of a Chinese Medical practitioner. All methods are related to opening and controlling meridians (an energetic network in the body) and you do not have to know these precisely. The eyes are massaged gently with counting and vocalizations. Her instructions are explicit and well phrased. If you know a little about Chinese medicine, you will find a lot of instruction here; it is modular, and that’s a help. Additionally, Ma Sifu covers other health considerations, such as foundational Qigong, and “middle-aged exercises” in the rest of the DVD series.

The benefit of some of these specialty Qigongs—Ma XuZhou’s eye routine, or Wu style Tai Chi from a wheel chair, or some of the Taoist series such as Feces Exercise—is that they offer self-taught methods. Of course, these carry no guarantees. But QiGong itself is receiving more validation as a general system for self-care and health care. As a John Hopkins researcher in Chinese methods once told me, “There is something real there.” 

All this adds up to a series of Qigong routines spread over 6 DVDs with detailed instructions and, in the first few, a major emphasis on eye health.


3 Southern Styles

Southern Kung FuSouthern Kung Fu styles are under-represented in martial literature, as almost any Southern practitioner can tell you. So we make a special effort at Plum to seek out the best material we can offer.


Which is why an announcement of two new products and a long-waited restock is a bit of a celebration:

A long-out-of-print return of Alexander Co’s classic, The Way of Ngo Cho;

A new text, translated into English and the first of its kind, on Quanzhou TaiZu Quan

A great text from Sifu Willy Pang, Pak Mei Kung Fu: Martial Concepts & Training Methods.

Click the texts to see more about each book.




Mei Flower Boxing

Here’s a reprint of a popular article on Mei Hua Quan I wrote for Kung Fu Wushu magazine. 

This was one of the first explanations of “Plum Blossom” style in English.

The Mei flower is a delicate thing. The slightest breeze stirs its petals. Against the hardness of bark its softness shines like spots of moonlight. Its delicacy is a dab of beauty in the world.

But sometimes delicacy hides strength, beauty blends with tenacity. The Mei flower, the Flower of Winter, blossoms in the first month of the lunar year, bursting through while the snow is still on the ground. It symbolizes the reemergence of hardy life. This is one reason it is the national flower of the Republic of China. It also demonstrates the much esteemed ability the Chinese term “chr ku”, eating bitter, yet thriving.

Ambush Fist: The willow hand and the hook hand must be kept stretched out in opposite directions to teach the student bi-directional control.

The Mei flower is also a famous Chinese kung fu system, about which very little has been written in English.

Part of its “ability to withstand bitter” was first exhibited by Feng Keshan, during the first quarter of the 19th century. Feng, a rebel plotting to overthrown China’s Manchu masters, recruited citizens to join the insurgent group, the Ba Gua Jiao (Ba Gua Sect), under the pretext of teaching martial arts. Eventually the sect grew strong enough to participate in an anti-Manchu uprising. However, things went badly, and in 1814, Feng was among the captured rebels. In punishment, and to set an example, Feng was dismembered and killed. So went the fate of a famous Mei Hua practitioner.


Read more →


Instructor’s Notebook: Revelations

martial revelation

Revelation: “Something revealed or disclosed, especially a striking disclosure, as of something not before realized.” Collins English Dictionary

Sometimes, words that once held deeper meanings are now expressed in shallow terms. It’s just “aaawesssomme.” For instance, when people use the word, “revelation” they are probably pumping up some slight thing, like office gossip, or promoting the discovery of the correct word in a crossword puzzle. But the core meaning of revelation has more charge than this. It is a fierce kick that cuts right through your daily defensive space and lands you a dozen feet off the road, sitting on your rump. Read more →


A Martial Stance

Plumpub is a site for traditional Chinese martial arts practitioners, and in this guise it is “not political.” We assume that our customers and readers come from all positions on the political spectrum and are, thankfully, brought together in community by a shared love for the art.

To pointedly decry white supremacism, naziism, and other hateful acts that occur in this country—the most recent being the rally in Charlottesville—is also “not political.” It is a human, not a political reaction. Frankly, the only way to politicize it is to say nothing, thus giving it fearful power over reason.

Although we hope that our actions make it unnecessary to say this, all people are welcome and cherished at Plum. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance…these types of exclusions run counter to martial virtue, as well as Plum’s core values.

And let us take a minute to name and mourn the brave warrior who lost her life in this most recent battle, Heather Heyer. May her memory be a blessing.


Secrets of Bagua Zhang, Volume #3

Superlatives these days, like cliches, are a dime a dozen. Everything is AMAZING!! AWESOME!! ASTONISHING!! ASTOUNDING!! (and that’s only the A’s). So what are we to do if we actually offer something that deserves exclamation marks?

Bagua ZhangAdam Hsu’s Secrets of Bagua Zhang, Volume #3, is just such a product. This 4 disk set, comprising over seven hours of instruction, is an entrance to the temple that you never expected. It is like going behind the scenes to see how the magic is really made, how the end result came about, step-by-step.

Using the Eight Changing Palms (which he teaches in depth) as his base, he takes the student through hours of practice—on the Bagua poles, in partner training, in applications, in discussions of principles—all the while circling back to the core palms (it IS Bagua, after all). He even opens the series with instructions in the 8 Animals Form.

This is truly unique among DVDs; we’ve said it before about this larger series that Hsu Sifu is developing, but the closest equivalent to these courses would be to spend years with a traditional teacher. Hsu’s confidence is evident: he truly believes that a student who applies herself or himself will be able to learn and even master Bagua Zhang.

For a more in-depth look, and to purchase this new set, click here.

It’s just AMAZING!


The Taiji Ruler System

Every once in a while, we at Plum discover, to our embarrassment, that an article that appeared in our old weblog somehow managed to escape the transition to WordPress. This one by Rich Mooney is a classic, not to mention a generous and concise discussion of the Taiji Ruler in practice. We (re)represent it below.

We all expend energy; at home, at work, and at play in the daily activities that make up most of our lives. As Martial Arts and Qigong Practitioners, we understand the inherent need to conserve strength, and replenish energy as well. One answer to the question “How do we replenish energy?” is found in the ancient practice of Tai Ji Ruler (The Chinese term for ruler is Chr).

Ruler is an excellent exercise of Taoist origin, and has been shown to have a healing effect on diseases relating to the digestive system, among others. The exact history of the origin of the Ruler system, a 7 stage system of qigong, is clouded in myth and legend, as are many of the stories concerning things Chinese. Suffice it to say that during the Sung Dynasty (960-1278c.e.), a famous Taoist hermit by the name of Chen Hsi Yi (also known as Fu Yao Tzu and Chen Tu Nan), was asked by his long time friend, the Emperor Chao Kang Yan, to teach him esoteric methods to develop his inner powers, so that he could be a better and wiser ruler of his subjects. The exercises that were taught to the Emperor were passed down as a family treasure, a secret, for many centuries. One of the descendants of Emperor Chou was called Chao Chung Tao, and he brought the Ruler method into the public during the last years of his life.

Master Chao was born in 1844 and died in 1962. He attributed his long life to the practice of the Ruler System. Read more →


Muslim Kung Fu: The Fist of the Bodyguards

Comment: Of the over 700 articles and opinion pieces on the martial arts I’ve published, this one on Muslim Kung Fu has probably gotten the most reactions. Letters and question from all over the world have flooded in. There is a lot of interest there in Jiao Men, Islamic martial arts. Here is the first article of its kind…

(Originally appeared in the September 1999 issue of Inside Kung Fu.)

Practitioners of Muslim Kung Fu have overcome persecution and constant reprisal to carve an important niche in modern day history.

China is a dish spiced by many cultures. There are over 50 minorities among the Chinese besides the Han people themselves. A significant number, over five million of these, are Muslims – known in Chinese as the “Hui” people. In the tenth century large numbers of Persians and Arabs extended the Muslim trade routes deep into China. Many settled and widely dispersed through the country; some living among the general population, some sticking close to concentrated communities of believers.

Known for toughness, courage and high spirit the Muslim population of China has not been passive in its growth. Often exploited and suppressed they maintained a stubborn reliance on their beliefs and fighting skills. Butreprisals often came. In the Ch’ing dynasty (1644-1910), for instance, three Hui people walking together with weapons could be punished. If caught committing a crime they might even had their faces branded Hui Zei (Muslim Rebel). Such was the discriminatory treatment of Muslims throughout the empire. On the other hand, in the 13th century Muslim generals rallied under a new banner and helped establish the Ming dynasty – a high point of Chinese history. Unceasingly, Muslim martial artists adopted and perfected the indigenous arts of China. They developed a number of fists that are still practiced with honor today. But at the base was one particular exercise known as … Read more →


Taiwan’s Kung Fu Heart

Porf Jou Kung FuFew “elders” in the art of Kung Fu give as much to their performance as Porf Jou (Jou Po Fu). We are definitely not talking about a sanitized, overly controlled performance, but one with a little grit and a large dose of character.

We ADD three new offerings to Plum From Sifu Jou, each bearing his inimitable stamp.

First is his very individual approach to Qigong, sectioning the body and directing the Qi in each quadrant. The martial component to this particular Qigong instruction is evident and welcome.

Next, follows a famous Mantis form from the Six Harmony Praying Mantis branch: Hidden Flowers. This is probably one of the more ferocious versions of Mantis you will every see.

Northern Mantis Sparring techniques finishes up this new batch with a systematized approach that incorporates contact, fast hand combination, and an authentically Kung Fu approach to the art of fighting.

Coming soon: much in the over-filled Plum pantry at the moment, but a quick glimpse reveals Sifu Adam Hsu’s newest on Bagua Zhang, a rebinding of two Lionbook classics into one text, TWO books on the use of the Ball in Kung Fu, and an unexpected entry from a late, beloved teacher. This is just a small part, so watch this space.


Who Are You?

tai chi solutionA foundational idea of western culture, a platform for all our perfections and trials, is the Psychological Self (PS). It is constructed of qualities supposedly as solid as building blocks. It is the motivating force behind much of our fiction and all of our worries. Many of us have been conditioned to see the PS (Psychological Self) as the key to our characters. We suffer and overthrow our traumas, appetites and secrets, all of which add up to what we think of as our core soul.

But there is an alternative story, sometimes presented as a knotty puzzle. Read more →