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 to blend the literary with the martial. It is said, that Confucius wore a sword for just this reason. It is not typically a battlefield weapon, but those who protected their villages commonly wielded the two-edged blade with authority. Today, most who pick up this weapon say they are “playing the straight sword,” and, despite their concentrated practice, its simply for the pleasure of moving it. And there is more I want to say about the straight sword, but I’ll put that off until later.

There’s a certain level of elevated skill that comes with each weapon. Here’s a comparison of the straight sword to its fellows: Staff 100 days; Saber 1000 days; Sword 10 000 days. Read more →

Apr
10
2020

Shaolin Sheltering

L-R Sifu Ted Mancuso, Sifu Linda Darrigo and Gene Ching with Sifu Lam. Photo is from a Kung Fu demonstration they did in the mid 80s.

Master Ted Mancuso, the proprietor of Plum Publications and founder of the Academy of Martial and Internal Arts, is my elder Kung Fu brother, or my Sihing (師兄) in Cantonese. We both trained in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu (Bak Sil Lum 北少林) under Grandmaster Kwong Wing Lam and our friendship spans nearly four decades now. Master Ted graciously allows me train alongside his students, my martial nieces and nephews, or my Sijat (again in Cantonese 師侄 – it’s not the same in Mandarin), and I’m very grateful to be part of his Academy. Thanks to Ted’s foresight, the Academy closed just ahead of California’s Shelter-in-Place order, so it’s been several weeks since we’ve held class. The Academy sits across the street from Dominican Hospital; During our last sessions in April, we could see them setting up emergency tents in preparation for the inevitable crisis. So we knew this was coming. We just didn’t fully understand the impact yet. And we still don’t.

What I do know is that the order has had a tremendous impact on my practice as I’m sure it has for everyone. Staying healthy and being out of work is a more pressing concern, but I really miss class. Ideally, isolation should not inhibit Kung Fu, especially not for Shaolin proponents because our roots lie in renunciates. The lone monk studying snakes, cranes and mantids to penetrate mystic martial secrets while living a solitary life high atop a sacred mountain is a romantic image we all share. While I’m no monk, I do have a daily regimen that I practice in solitude like any serious martial artist. And now that I have more time, I’ve expanded that to fill the gap. Unfortunately, I’m not on a mountaintop. I’m sheltering at home where I don’t have a yard that works for working out, but I’ve rearranged the furniture in my living room to make more space. At Shaolin Temple, it is said that Shaolin can be practiced in the space it takes to lay down an ox. I was raised in the suburbs, so I have no idea how much space that is. Nevertheless, the forms I learned at Shaolin Temple fit, along with some others, just not many Bak Sil Lum forms. Bak Sil Lum left the temple centuries ago and has expanded into its own unique system that takes up more floor space. Be that as it may, this solo training at home just isn’t the same as class at the Academy. Read more →

Apr
2
2020

A Martial Artist Washes His Hands

Right now we’re all awash in the best methods of sanitizing our hands, so why not have some fun with it? We did! Get down and dirty (um, I mean clean) with a kung fu teacher who knows his hand positions.

Apr
2
2020

From Principle to Practice

Hello out there. We hope this finds you all safe and healthy.

12 animal xing yi

12 Animal Xing Yi Lecture

10 Animal Xing Yi Lecture

Feng Zhi Qiang

Complete Introduction to 24 Move Taijiquan

Wu (Hao) Style Taijiquan Self-Defense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s offerings range from theory to practice: two DVD lectures from the George Xu group on 10 Animal and 12 Animal Xing Yi, presented by Qian Zhao Hong and Jiang Bao Kang, respectively; two instructional texts, one on Wu (Hao) style and the other on Chen style Taijiquan. The two books are actually restocks that were unavailable for a long period, but we have found once again. The one by Sifu Feng Zhi Qiang has been particularly popular when available.

The two DVDs derive from the camps hosted by George Xu and his group in Colorada and California. These DVDs, whether featuring Xu himself, or hs colleagues, stand out in general as presenting high-level information from important teachers.

We are still operating and shipping daily, both domestically and internationally. As many of you have written to us, this self-quarantine at least provides some additional time for practice. We’d like to hear (and share) how you are getting along. You are dear to us.

Mar
30
2020

Beng Jin: Kung Fu’s Hidden Skill

Here’s a new short video on Beng Jin (Beng Energy) that we created for our local sequestered students.

If you are a Tai Chi student, you have most likely heard your teacher lecture on this special quality, and are undoubtedly practicing this right now! But Beng Jing exists in all styles of Kung Fu, and is worth exploring, especially when your temporary opponent might be that nice fig tree in your backyard.

 

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NOTE: There is an annoying glitch in our “comments” section that does not allow for the normal comment process. Please leave your comments on the form below. They are important to us.

Mar
27
2020

Inner Circle Tai Chi Daily Neigong

Our illustrious and accomplished colleague and friend in Sacramento, Sifu Robert Nakashima, has generously created and shared his daily Neigong routine.

Running about 20 minutes, even just watching this video provides calm and comfort, although getting up and trying it yourself is highly recommended. The setting, the presentation, even the light chirping of birds in the background—along with, of course, Robert’s smooth and beautiful performance—all contribute to a real gift.

Mar
24
2020

Bong Bo Kuen (Beng Bu Quan)

Really exciting news!

We have been working with Sifu Tak Wah Eng to bring some of his valuable, out-of-print material back to our world, and we are happy to announce that his long-gone DVD on Bong Bo Kuen (Beng Bu Quan) is once again available at Plum. Bong Bo is considered to be the foundational form of Praying Mantis Kung Fu, and his DVD is one of the most requested on our site.

And that’s not all—we have been able to recreate the original poster that came with the DVD, a step-by-step chart with each posture of the routine performed by Sifu Paul Koh. A code for free access to the poster (downloadable at full-size) will accompany the DVD.

 

Mar
22
2020

Safe, Sound and Shipping

Dear friends,

Just a note to let you know that we at Plum are all healthy and safe and still open for correspondence and business.

We are monitoring the shipping situation around the world and, so far, packages are being delivered, although it may take a few extra days to receive them.

Having suspended classes at our studio, we have some extra time at home so, hopefully, we will be able to catch up on some cataloguing, articles and videos we have been wanting to post. We are also trying to produce some short videos for our local students, and we will post them here when completed. This first one takes advantage of the Rattan Ring as a training tool.

Please stay safe, and keep in touch!

Ted, Linda and Debbie

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NOTE: There is an annoying glitch in our “comments” section that does not allow for the normal comment process. Please leave your comments on the form below. They are important to us.

Mar
21
2020

Chen Style Taijiquan—A Tangled History

chen style taijiquanHappy to announce the arrival of a new book to our Plum catalogue, Mark Chen’s Chen Style Taijiquan: Collected Masterworks—The History of a Martial Art.

Chen has done wide and deep research on the origins of Chen Taiji, not an easy matter. His main focus is Chen ZhaoPi, but he incorporates other voices in the Chen tradition. He also follows Chen ZhaoPi’s life, with its many turns and trials. Not surprisingly, the story of this famous Taijiquan style is a bumpy one, replete with disagreements, claimants, rich recollections and foundational secrets of training.

Here is a quote from the book by Chen WangTing, who many believe to be the creator of six sets of Taijiquan: 
“Ah, in those days, I went forth in full readiness for battle…. I faced disaster many times! The imperial favors bestowed on me are all in vain! Now, aged and on my dying breath, with only a scroll of HuangTing to accompany me. When troubled, I invent boxing; when busy, I till the fields. I take advantage of my spare time to teach disciples and descendants to become outstanding people in fulfillment of their duties.”

We recommend the scholarship of this book; this appears to be a time of great opening up of these old scrolls, and if for no other reason, it is a wonderful opportunity to read the biographies of a Chen master.

Mar
19
2020

Free Livestream Qigong Class, Thursday, March 19

Next session, Sunday, March 21, at 10am PDT, on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/953395301

Our friend and colleague, Sally Chang, sent this to us this morning…

With news in a nosedive, I decided to offer this Qigong class FREE for EVERYBODY. No experience necessary, I’ll guide you the whole way.
Invite a friend, and show up with whoever you’re holed up with. I think it’s important to have a spirit of generosity in these times.
(don’t ask me for toilet paper though..) 😉 It’s a stretch for me, for this introvert, to be so public. But my feeling is, if someone joins in and feels even a little bit more grounded and sane, then it’s worth opening the doors wide.

Let’s hold each other in a safe, coronavirus-free space, move and breathe and have a laugh together, and feel more balanced in a changing situation. It’ll be my first time doing a livestream so please be patient and forgiving if there are any bumps; hopefully the interweb tech spirits will be with us 🙂

Join Me and Invite a Friend Today, Thursday @ 5pm-6pm (PDT)

https://m.facebook.com/SallyChangAcupuncture.EvergreenTaijiAcademy/

Mar
19
2020

Intent

This is maybe not entirely martial, but is a beautiful demonstration of Intent.

I think it will also take your mind off of your worries for a few minutes! Enjoy.

“Meet the enemy head-on, and oppose them like a great cannon shot.”

Mar
17
2020

Southern Shaolin Fists and a Pole

southern shaolin

 

 

Three energetic offerings from the Southern Shaolin Temple: a ‘light’ fist (Golden Arhat Light Fist), a ‘heavy’ fist (12 Pound Fist) and a Shoulder Pole shaped like a long thick cigar (sometimes a cigar is only a shoulder pole).

By the way, these inexpensive VCDs ($7.95 each!) come with english subtitles.

Click each image to see more.

Mar
14
2020

3 Minute Qigong For Lung Health

Our good friend and colleague, Sally Chang, created this short video of a simple qigong to strengthen lungs. Thanks, Sally!

Sally Chang is Chief Instructor or Evergreen Taiji Academy, a seasoned Acupuncturist and Martial Artist. She integrates Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) into her teachings, providing a whole health perspective. Sally brings a warm, focused presence to these healing arts. You can find her at

www.evergreentaichi.com

Mar
10
2020

Lost in Translation: The Hidden Gems of Kung-Fu

 benefits of kung fuIn speaking with another shifu a few weeks ago, he brought up something that I took notice of quite some time ago, something that has always stood out to me, something that I have always made it a point to rally against in my Kung-Fu training and teaching.

He spoke of today’s state of affairs with the Chinese martial arts community, and how the various styles and systems were being taught, but that none of these people could actually fight, or use it effectively, or in most cases, even use it at all. And we have all seen it… someone who has spent years in a given martial arts style, day in and day out, knows all of the sets, and can spout off tons of theory and martial sayings… only to get into a fight (not even an actual altercation, but a tournament situation), and everything they ever learned goes right out the window, and what remains is essentially a generic kickboxing style.

Now, if you train kickboxing, that is fine. But your Baguazhang, Choy-Li-Fut, or what have you IS NOT kickboxing.
Read more →

Feb
28
2020

Lofty Mei Hua Quan

plum blossom boxingWe’ve all seen the pictures: stealthy practitioners holding postures (usually single-legged) atop wooden poles. These, my friends, are the iconic images most associated with the under-recognized style of Mei Hua Quan (Plum Blossom Boxing).

But under-recognized no more! This new book, Mei Hua Quan Tong Yi, adjusts the balance of how little (or much) is known about this great style. At over 450 pages, it is a comprehensive look at the history, culture, theory, and people of Mei Hua.

Although the one thing it does not contain is instruction, the book below it on the page DOES serve up quite a banquet of routines and instruction, including the famous pole work.

Feb
26
2020

Pakua Journal: Vince Black on Li Zi Ming

pa kua chang journalLiang Zhen Pu Li Zi MingOne of the richest resources we represent on Plum is the CD compilation of Dan Miller’s Pakua Journal. This CD contains ALL 38 issues (over 1000 pages) of this extraordinary magazine that ran from 1990 to 1997.

CLICK HERE for a complete article from Volume 5, written by Vince Black, on the remarkable Li Zi Ming, the last living representative of the third generation in Dong Hai Chuan’s lineage.

For those interested, Plum also represents Li Zi Ming’s Liang Zhen Pu Eight Trigram Palm.

Feb
19
2020

A + B = PUNCH

kung fu punchI woke up thinking about a property in math: that between any two points on a number line*, there are infinitely many points between them. Now, I know I have used the scary word—“math”—but if you are still with me, let me go on and give you the second part of my morning thought: that this important concept relates strongly to martial training. Read more →

Feb
15
2020

A Take on Adam Hsu’s “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu”

Adam Hsu Kung FuGrand Master Adam Hsu’s new book, Life Is too Short For Bad Kung Fu, is a call to arms to save Chinese martial arts.  In this book he examines the current path Chinese martial arts is taking.  There may be some ruffled feathers at some of his profound statements on areas of needed improvement to rescue Chinese martial arts away from what today’s society, current practitioners, and teachers perceive as Chinese martial arts. As the book states, kung fu movies, novels, and video games are not the heart and soul of Chinese martial arts.  They glorify heros and personify hollow usage without demonstrating the basics of the art.  As the grandmaster states (paraphrasing here), basics are the foundation upon which the art was built.  And repeated over and over in this book is basics, basics, basics… Read more →

Feb
12
2020

Yue Family SanShou 18 Forms

yue family sanshouA new translation for the New Year by Joseph Crandall, this one on Yue Family SanShou 18 Forms, one of the foundational styles from the ancient Yue Family Boxing.

Yue Style is pretty much the Mixed Martial Art of its time, related to Chuo Jiao, Fanzi, and fundamental Shuai Jiao. Unvarnished.

Feb
7
2020

6 Harmony Mantis DVD Back In Stock

Yeah!

These exceptional Liu He Tang Lang DVDs have returned. All placed orders will ship by Monday, and we are able to accept and ship new orders.

Click image to be taken to more information, and to order; if you see a notice that they are out of stock, pay no attention. It just takes a few hours for the site to re-cache.