Dec
21
2021

First Reviews of Hawk Split Sky Have Landed

Our new book, Hawk Splits Sky: Jibengong Practice, Bagua Zhang Mastery, is selling well. This is always good news to us as both authors and publishers, but the truly great moment comes when the first few reviews come in. Here they are:

The Hawk splits the sky arrived this morning. I have to compliment both Sifu Ted and you for a wonderful book. Very well written, informative, well done instructions and then beautiful photography. The Learning Bagua Zhang book has been my starting out recommended Bagua book.  This new book will now be right beside it for any and all Bagua folks as well as any practitioner of martial arts.   

All right, I’m done gushing for the moment. I will start on the DVDs next. (You know that as a “book guy” I had to start with the book!).

My thanks to you and all the Plum folks.

~TK

 

Received the BOOK today! Only a brief session with it but I can assert that the layout and photography are magnificent. My only regret is that it is not in hardback as it certainly has the look and feel of a very special edition!

The text is intriguing and really had the feel of a private lesson with a very senior and highly articulate practitioner. The tone of the text is excellent. I can almost hear a voice of someone who is extremely qualified yet does not talk down to the students but gives them high quality instruction in hopes that they will work earnestly to absorb it and integrate it into their capabilities.

~WC

 

Just received my copy. Just flipped through the pages, it’s a beautifully done book. Nice paper and great photography.

~PT

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Dec
15
2021

It’s Alive!

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor covid has been able to stop our new book by Sifu Ted Mancuso, “Hawk Splits Sky: Jibengong Practice, Bagua Zhang Mastery,” from publication. But it’s not like the forces of nature haven’t tried really hard.

Nonetheless, the boxes of books and the spindles of DVDs are now arrived, and you can CLICK HERE to read more about our project, and to order at our introductory price.

Woohoo!

Oh, and for the first month (until January 15), if you would like an autorgraphed copy, just ask.

Dec
13
2021

Our (hopefully) Last Pre-Announcement of Plum’s New Bagua Project

It is storming today in Santa Cruz, California, where we live and work. Except for one small detail, the rain is welcome in our drought-starved area. That one small detail? The storm is delaying the arrival of the DVDs we await to complete our new Bagua Book/DVD package.

In the meantime, here is a short interview with Ted Mancuso on the project. With any luck, the next post you read after this one will be our shout-out that it’s now available.

Q: Your new Bagua book, “Hawk Splits Sky: Jibengong Practice, Bagua Zhang Mastery” is finally about to come out. I know you’ve been working on it for quite a while. How does it feel?

A: To be honest, I’m very happy that it’s over, but I also have a little trepidation. Of course, that’s true with all the books that I produce; I always wonder: Are they good enough? Did I explain clearly? Do the pictures work? Or, is someone going to read it and say, “This guy Mancuso is an idiot?” That kind of stuff.

But this book especially concerns me. (Jiben)Gongs in martial arts can be difficult, because so many think they know them already as, say, Basics, so they process the concept intellectually before they practice the Gongs physically. In other words, if I say, “This is a book on Jibengong,” some are going to say, “Of course. That’s what you need to get good at Bagua — that and walking the circle of course; Basics are everything!” But Jibengongs are not Basics.

The gongs that I chose for this book come right from my classes; they’ve worked for years. Some of the Gongs may not initially resemble Bagua — possibly more like Xingyi. Some of them may embrace too large a concept, such as Open-Close. Others, of course, will be easily recognized. But because Gongs are both practice and concept, they can be difficult to wrap your mind around.

Q: Well, in addition to the book, you also include more than 3 hours of DVD.

A: That was our idea from the beginning: to give practitioners enough real-life examples of using the Gongs in order to play with the concepts.

The two DVDs are meant to do several things: first, of course, to teach the Gongs themselves, then to employ Usage to incorporate the Gongs into practice. But the usage DVD…I have to tell you — I’m going to be interested in seeing what people think about it, because it is definitely not what most martial artists are used to seeing on DVD. Now, if they are part of a school, that’s probably exactly the way they see it practiced. The word “practice” is key to this: on the DVD you’ll see our two senior students practicing and working out usage; that means that there are lots of hits, but also misses and fumbles; not everything is immediately accurate. Nonetheless, everything is going towards how to use these gongs, or even the concept of Gongs, to get better at Bagua. So, I’m excited about it, but I’m also apprehensive.

I’ll give you an example: You will see that one Gong emphasizes verticality; another might emphasize Open-Close. You’re not going to see the typical “ ‘A’ punches, ‘B’ Blocks,” in other words. Gongs are practiced concepts, and to get towards ‘correct’ you have to travel in the land of ‘incorrect’ for a long while (not unlike Bagua itself).

Q: Well, the book will be here in a couple of days, so we’ll see soon, I guess.

A: Yep. Can’t wait.

If you would like to read or view a little about this project and Jibengong, click links below:

Jibengongs and the Bear Palm Gong in Bagua

What Is Jibengong?

Bagua Zhang’s Jibengongs

The book is not yet in our catalogue, but if you would like to be contacted when available (and you have not already done so) fill form below.

Dec
3
2021

Kittens, Newbies, and an Old Favorite

Sort of hard to believe it is already December. In-between projects and cataloguing and writing articles, we have been keeping an eye on our two new wrestlers, Uxmal and Notte, a 6 month old (kitten) sister act who have taken up permanent residence in our home (and hearts). When they are not sleeping or eating, they are playing kung fu: slapping, blocking, pinning, rolling…each encounter is a lesson. And their spine flexibility is the stuff of dreams…But enough about kittens.

Xiang Xing Pictograph Boxing

We have also been adding books! In this batch, we have a mixture in Traditional and Simplified Chinese characters: four newcomers, and the return of a much-requested oldie, Xiang Xing Pictograph Boxing, by Xue Dian. Check out the original “psychedelic” cover.

What else? The reprint of an ancient classic on Spear Play, Revealed Records; a book on a relatively rare style of offensive fighting, Ba Quan; a small text covering some of the Secrets of Shaolin Acupuncture; and, finally, one on the lesser known branches of Yin Style Bagua Zhang, a Cao Style Baguazhang Manual (Joseph Crandall writes about Cao in his translated book on Yin Style Baguazhang). Click the pictures below to go to more information on each book, and a link to purchase.

Much more to come before year’s end (including, it seems, the long-awaited new book on Bagua Zhang’s Jibengongs, by Sifu Mancuso. Shhh…don’t want to jinx it, but it’s REALLY close!)

Secrets of Shaolin Acupuncture

Secrets of Shaolin Acupuncture

Xiang Xing Pictograph Fist

Xiang Xing Pictograph Fist

Ba Quan

Ba Quan

Revealed Records

Revealed Records

Cao Style Bagua Zhang

Cao Style Bagua Zhang

Nov
10
2021

Sifu Paul Koh’s Tiger Crane Matching Set

Southern Shaolin Tiger Crane Matching Set

Southern Shaolin Tiger Crane Matching Set

So happy to see another volume in Paul Koh’s expanding series on Southern Shaolin Tiger Claw.

This one is special, in that it is instruction and background for a matching set, in this case the famous Tiger Crane Two Person Routine. As with Sifu Koh’s other books, the set is traditional in its approach, while containing newly arranged elements, maintaining both contemporary and authentic aspects.

See it here!

Nov
4
2021

Liu YunChiao’s Bagua Zhang

Liu YunChiao's Bagua ZhangWe received several requests for this book before we even saw it, so we are pleased to actually have it in hand. And what a book!

We have seen other memorials to Liu YunChiao, all admirable, but this book, Essence of Baguazhang, honors him especially by including both written remembrances, by those who studied with him, and actual instruction in his Bagua Zhang lineage. The color photographs are well-done and, unusually, muhc of the non-instructional text in this book is peented in Chinese as well as English, Spanish and Japanese.

A real treasure. Click image to read more, and to order.

Oct
28
2021

Zheng Zi’s (Cheng Man Ching’s) Taijiquan

Cheng Man Ching's Tai Chi Complete

Click to see more

Well, here is an event!

We have just added to our site this beautiful book from Lionbooks on Zheng Man Qing’s) (Cheng Man Ching’s) teachings, presented by Hong WuCheng. Included, in full-color photgraphs, are the 37- and 72- routines, plus the complete Tai Chi sword. There are also sections on Zheng’s fundamentals, and basics, approach to practice, foot patterns, notes from senior teachers, and even a section at the end showing his elegant calligraphy and paintings.

 

Oct
13
2021

Oct
12
2021

Sep
30
2021

Continuing Our Hung Gar Week

Tid Sin Kuen Iron Wire Fist Lam Chun FaiFinally, finally!

Yesterday we received our long-delayed and even longer-anticipated GORGEOUS copies of Lam Chun Fai’s Tid Sin Kuen book. To be perfectly honest, we were a bit disappointed in the printing of the first set, so we went back and reprinted.

To remind: Plum has become the official publisher of this important text; for those who have ordered previously, this is the same edition so no need to order anew. But for those who have been waiting for it to come back, now’s the time!

Click image to go to sale page for more information, and to order.

Sep
26
2021

Who Doesn’t Love a Price Drop?

Prices are going up EVERYwhere. It is undeniable. So the chance to announce a price reduction brings us real pleasure, and when it is attached to a fine series of products, that makes it all the better.

Sifu Donald Hamby has dropped the prices on all of his Hung Gar DVDs to $29.95 each, which makes them an even better deal. These represent classic Hung Gar forms and fighting techniques, and are some of Plum’s more popular DVDs on the subject.

CLICK HERE to go to the DVD page.

We also learned (shhhh…!) that there may be another DVD in the wings, along with a new book. Can’t say any more right now, but we are looking forward.

And here is a brief recent interview with Sifu Hamby about his early training and entrance into the arts.

And, just a mention that FINALLY FINALLY we are expecting the new reprints of Tid Sin Kuen from Sifu Lam Chun Fai THIS WEEK! As many know, Sifu Lam is Sifu Hamby’s Hung Gar teacher.

Sep
24
2021

Paul Koh’s Butterfly Knives Flash!

Southern Shaolin Tiger Claw Butterfly KnivesAnother great book just landed from Paul Koh: Southern Shaolin Tiger Claw Double (Butterfly) Knives. This beautifully presented text, with full-color, full-page photos, includes History and Origins, Fundamentals, Techniques, Maneuvers, a full routine developed for him by Master Tak Wah Eng, and a beautifully told story of a young man’s encounter with the knives.

As with all of Sifu Koh’s books, there is a good deal of consideration in this volume, for both form and function. It is highly readable and accessible. and we recomend it.

Click image to go to page with more information, and to purchase.

Sep
5
2021

Hands and Swords

Practical Qin Na Zhao Da YuanAdam Hsu's San Cai SwordAs promised, we have finally added the two latest great books to our catalogue: Adam Hsu’s San Cai Sword, and Zhao Da Yuan’s Practical Qin Na (translated by Tom Bisio).

A recent customer mentioned that it is not just the books themselves, but the types of books that Plum represents that excite him. We’re prejudiced, but the same kinds of things stir us and inspire us to (hopefully) add titles that really contribute to the Chinese martial canon. These two books are a perfect example.

The San Cai sword book is both beautiful and rich with important content: Hsi Shifu demonstrates the single and the partner routines, as well as usage, and it the perfect companion to his 4-DVD series on this weapon.

And the 3rd volume in the Practical Qin Na series goes deeper than any other book on the subject, including routines and weapons, elements not normally found in Qin Na texts.

Click each image to get more information and to purchase.

Sep
5
2021

Two Great Wrestlers

It’s been 5 years since our beloved cat, Carthage, died. She was 19.

It took a while for the time to be right, but we are happy to announce the new wrestling team of Uxmal (whitish) and Notte (blackish) to Plum. These sisters spend endless hours tussling, rolling, pinning down, chasing, attacking (brooms, mostly), defending and all those things that kittens do to apprehend the world.

In addition to the pure joy they bring to the house, they also add some true martial energy to our day.

 

Aug
24
2021

Forthcoming, and Then Some

A brief pause in our cataloguing work to tell you about a few items coming up that would be here sooner if we didn’t keep pausing to tell you about them…well, you get the picture.

Adam Hsu San Cai SwordAnyway, a little while back we added a gorgeous new Chinese book from Sifu Adam Hsu on Tan Tui, this being the companion text to his remarkable DVD series of the same name. Well, through some diligent investigation, we were able to track down the much-requested companion to his DVD series on the San Cai Sword. Anyway, we’ll let you know when it is available on the site. Should be soon.Practical Qin Na

Another important title is Tom Bisio’s translation of Zhao Da Yuan third and final volume in the Practical Qin Na series. We are really excited about this one; just need a little more time to do it justice when posting it to the site. Also, should be a short wait.

And the project keeping us busiest right now is an oldie but goodie: Plum’s newest book/DVD package on Jibengong Practice in Bagua Zhang. Well, today we agreed to finalize the cover, so I can give you a peek. A little longer off than the above two books, but it is breath-on-the-neck close to being a finished project.

Of course, if you would like to be notified when these come, Click HERE (or, better yet, just check this page, or facebook, or Twitter for the announcement). And if you are just aching to order the first two before we formally announce, click HERE for San Cai Sword book, or HERE for Practical Qin Na Volume 3, which will directly add them to the shopping cart for immediate purchase.

Aug
10
2021

Kent Howard’s Essentials of Bagua Zhang

Thrilled to announce Sifu Kent Howard’s newest book and companion DVD, Introduction to Baguazhang: From Circle Walking to Advanced Practice.

Sifu Howard includes the essentials of any Bagua practice, generously teaching routines while also emphasizing Basics and other lesser addressed topics such as response time in stress situations. His clear instruction already makes him a favorite among Bagua practitioners, and in these latest offerings we find that he is as good an instructor with his own material as when translating Wang Shu Jin, his teacher’s.

Watch his short introduction below, then click here to read more and purchase. (As always, Plum’s got a great discount for the book plus an additional discount for the set purchased together.)

Aug
6
2021

Sifu Sam Chan’s Mantis and Wooden Dummy DVDs

Wing Chun Wooden Dummy Sifu Sam Chan DVDBonk Bo (Beng Bu) Praying Mantis Sam ChanLast week we pre-announced a gaggle of goodies about to be released into the Plum catalogue. Here are the first two: DVDs from Sifu Sam Hing Fai Chan — one on the Wing Chun Wooden Dummy, the other on Praying Mantis Bonk Bo (Beng Bu).

Sifu Chan is best known on Plum for his excellent series on the under-represented art of Jow Gar Kung Fu. His DVDs always offer comprehensive information, including applications, which are not always that easy to find. In the new Bonk Bo Mantis DVD for instance, along with those applications he offers front and side views, plus slow and moderate form execution. The Wooden Dummy DVD pairs moves on the device with Chi Sau applications.

Click the images above to go to the sale pages. And, oh! If you buy two or more of any of Sifu Chan’s DVDs, there is a 10% discount.

Jul
29
2021

Coming Soon!

We are in our typical state of “too much coming all at once,” so we thought we’d offer an appetizer of what to expect in the next few weeks. We’re already getting questions about a couple of these, so consider this your official update. And, of course, as soon as we post this, more will arrive…

Tid Sin Kuen

The official Plum printing of Sifu Lam Chun Fai’s exquisite book on Hung Gar’s Tid Sin Kuen (Iron Wire Fist) is finally on its way. We hope to see it in about one week, and will definitely announce it when it arrives.

Sifu Kent Howard has just released his newest book, “Introduction to Bagua Zhang,” with a companion DVD to follow, hopefully, in a couple of weeks. With any luck, we will have the book in our catalogue within the week, but if you want/need your copy now, just click here. Book is $18.95, discounted at Plum to $16.95. We’re just writing the review and description now, so stay tuned.

We will be adding two DVDs from Sifu Chan Hing-Fai, whose Jow Gar DVDs we have represented at Plum for a while. The two new ones are on Bonk Bo (Beng Bu) Praying Mantis, and the Wing Chun Dummy. More to say about these when we post them.

And, continuing in our ever-growing Chinese language library of important texts, we have a stack that is making its way through the Plum cataloguing process. Here are some of the tantalizing front covers:

Dai Style Xing Yi

White Crane

Li Hanzhang’s Martial Arts and Cross-body Training

Xin Yi Liu He

Baji Quan

Shaolin Acupuncture Points

Even MORE on the way, but we’ll keep that for the next post!

Click HERE to reserve any of the above

Jul
24
2021

Paul Koh Interview Part 3: Present and Future Approaches to Kung Fu

This is the third in a four-part interview with Sifu Paul Koh, who has just released a series of beautifully designed books on traditional forms.  Sifu Koh was gracious enough to grant Plum an interview, which turned out to exceed our expectations in terms of length and depth. Since the interview is lengthy, we decided to print it in 4 successive parts—this being the third—but for those who want the read the entire interview as a whole, without waiting for the separate parts to appear, you can download it here.

“Kung Fu In A Minute” looks like a great idea; how does it work, and how is it working?

KUNGFUINAMINUTE, oddly enough, was inspired by a YouTube channel that I had stumbled upon in regard to teaching and learning Cantonese called Cantonese in a Minute. This young man would pick a word or two, but most likely one word, and expound on its meaning, its usage and its application in everyday situations. I found it extremely useful and entertaining as well as educational, and I said, that sounds like a great idea. Why don’t we try to emulate something like that and tailor it for Kung Fu where we can take a movement, a technique or a series of techniques from a form and distill it into its functionality, which seems to me the most difficult aspect that most students have, just like the Chinese language or Cantonese is difficult for the Westerner to comprehend because it’s not written in an alphabet or syntax that they have familiarity with or capacity to understand. Read more →

Jul
7
2021

Paul Koh Interview Part 2: On Masters and More

This is Part 2 of a 4 part interview with Sifu Paul Koh, who has recently published a series of beautifully designed books on traditional forms. Although we know Sifu Koh to be a thoughtful teacher and good writer, we were delighted by the unexpected depth and breadth he applied when addressing our questions. Since the interview is lengthy, we decided to print it in 4 successive parts—this being the second—but for those who want the read the entire interview as a whole, without waiting for the separate parts to appear, you can download it here.

 

In your time, you have studied with some great Masters. How do some of those early experiences compare with how you teach, and students learn, today?

Yes, I have had the honor and privilege to be taught by some of the best Kung Fu masters. It’s a humbling experience because trying to live up to the quality of their skill level and teachings has always been something in the forefront of my mind. The early experiences training with these masters has definitely left an indelible mark on me in many good ways and in some not so good ways. Training with these Sifu was thrilling and exhausting at the same time because the requirement that they established for the aspiring student to achieve is high quality and pristine execution of every single movement that I found, as a youth, so exacting, so particular, so focused and disciplined almost in a perfectionist kind of way that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. That did leave a big impression on my teenage mind, and it’s carried over and never left. It’s a yardstick that I use to measure myself and my students by and I routinely fall short of it. This attitude of trying to perfect one’s technique is one thing towards your own personal training, but does, in this modern day and age, make teaching more difficult, because, as some would say, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. I understand this concept, but, for me, not having that hardcore, old school challenge put in front of me may not have allowed me to get to the stage that I am today. Now, I do see the value in it. That old school mentality had a purpose. It ensured that those that learned and learned properly would be able to maintain it and have it for the remainder of their life, and those that couldn’t, would be weeded out. It’s very plain and simple. Kung Fu is a very unique art that cannot mass produce high level practitioners as other arts do.

I feel that the old school training is more about diamonds in the rough. The concept of Kung Fu training was aptly explained to me by one of my teachers using this example. How do you create a diamond? Lots and lots and lots of pressure over a really long period of time, and then, a lot of those presumed chunks of coal that go through that pressure crack and never make it to the diamond stage. Even those that make it to the diamond stage have to go through the selection process of clarity, color and carat. Once all those parameters are met, then you still have to get cut, polished and set. So, from a pile of rocks, how many of them actually end up becoming a real, full-fledged diamond that is worth millions? Very few. That’s the process which students learning Kung Fu go through. You can come back to me and say, well, wow, if that’s the case then why should I even bother? I’ll just go do something easier. And you have that choice, but that’s the crucible that we were put through. Every class was rough. Every class was hard. Every class, you were sweating buckets, and the higher you rose in rank and ability, the more you got crapped on. In every class, you had to asset your willpower. Never knowing that severity of discipline coming from a relatively loving homelife was a shock. There’s much to be said about that discipline and getting that in certain formative years leaves quite an imprint on you. Read more →