Displaying posts tagged with

“martial arts”

Feb
13
2019

The Righteous Blade

INTRODUCTION You grip the Kuan Dao but you haven’t lifted it yet. Something is different here. The blade is thicker than a saber and yours may have more edges; at the butt end, the metal or wood shaft may be capped with bronze. Your Kuan Dao looks fierce as well as heavy, the kind of […]

Jan
19
2019

Speed and…uh…Timing

I tell my students over and over to “go fast, but don’t hurry.” In the martial world, too early can be as bad as too late. After all, how long do you want to wait for the plane to land? On the other hand, who wants it to arrive maddeningly early? Timing is a necessity. […]

Dec
23
2018

Personal Practice

What is a practice? What can it do? Practice is not just a workout. It is a recognition of engagement at that moment. It records, immediately, every nuance expressed in your story, laying those tiles piece by piece. Often, workouts sidestep the mind and can barely be remembered by dinnertime. From practice we recall the […]

Mar
27
2018

Tutorial: Tai Chi Tips, Stepping

If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at Plum, you know how highly we prize basics as the foundation of good movement. ‘Stepping’ in Tai Chi, is one of those fundamentals that you might learn on the first day of class, and which you might be refining well into your advanced practice. We prepared a […]

Oct
4
2017

The Fierce Eye: Focusing on 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 […]

Jun
14
2017

Daniel Mroz on Tao Lu: Formal Movements from the Martial Arts

 Here is something wonderful. Daniel Mroz, an associate professor in the Theater Department of the University of Ottawa and also a longtime friend, correspondent and Plum customer presented a lecture at last year’s Martial Arts Studies Conference in Wales. The subject of his engaging talk is Tao Lu, the martial art routine we call set […]

Apr
8
2017

Who is Your Audience? Martial Consciousness

Martial arts can be a mirror. Like Alice, I stick my hands out and they sink into the loking glass.  The nature of martial arts encourages looking inward, staring outward and trying, somehow, to get audience and self-perception to agree. It’s important to know just who and what you are looking for. It’s important to […]

Jan
9
2017

Stillness & Movement: Part Two

Thinking About Movement Learning movement–and therefore footwork–is a progression through four modes of stepping. First, when the beginner has just walked in off the street and you ask him to punch,  he will shoot arm first, before stepping. Envision tense shoulders, chest out and arm fully extended as he steps/falls awkwardly. Here’s the first, or […]

Aug
5
2016

Managing Forms

You’ve been practicing awhile. You are no longer a novice. Your belt or sash no longer wears stiffly as though it were just a larger version of a bow tie. You now have “rank” whether or not it is formally recognized in your style. You have accumulated some formal training, too. You may have collected […]

Mar
18
2016

Reprint: Stillness in the Martial Arts

Here is a piece I wrote for the now defunct Journal of Asian Martial Arts. A number of people have asked about the “myth” at the front of the piece. I believe it hints at the dialog between stillness and movement that can–and must– be found at the heart of martial practice. If nothing else, […]

Mar
6
2016

Another Modest Proposal

Through my entire martial career I have been listening to everyone’s questions and problems with traditional forms. For most people, it all centers on practicality. For some people, the answer lies in detailed analysis of the forms and what self defense and fighting treasures are hidden therein. For still others, it’s a lost cause and […]

Mar
6
2016

FISTS AND PETALS

No one understands because no one can understand. There is something. There is something about martial arts. Opening and closing. Like the wind rising then dying down again. Like the mind with a thought blowing past. Thoughts like the rustling of trees in the invisible wind. Mind pours through the trees and they shake, they […]

Nov
7
2015

Deep Practices

Learning Kung Fu can be a unique experience or, if you are not paying attention, it can be just another subject with the same tired educational template thrown over it. By a “unique experience” I do not mean the kind advertised on vacation posters. I mean an experience that shoots through your veins and hovers […]

Jul
27
2015

The Water Styles

The class is warming up, you can hear the uniforms snapping, the floor jumping; but you are in the office with a potential student. He called your studio, set up an appointment. Now he sits across from you hoping you will answer his burning question: which style should he start with? I sit back, think […]

May
5
2015

Adam Hsu Article: Black Tiger Steals the Heart

A Straight Talk about the Straight Punch: Technique, Principles & Usage You may not have realized it (how could you?) but PLUM has a brother we never told you about. This new addition is a site devoted to the works and writings of Adam Hsu. We have been feeding this site with much of PLUM’s […]

May
30
2014

Finding Freedom Everywhere

A good question to ask once in a while, knowing that the answer may be different this week from last week, is “What makes me feel free?” This varies a lot from person to person. It also varies a lot, if you stick with the martial arts for a long time, with your personal evolution […]

Sep
8
2013

Keys to Kung Fu

…if you teach long enough, you realize that special hints walk right through the studio every day, and many of them even leave muddy tracks.

Jul
23
2013

Spirit Training

We can mystify the whole question and explain esoteric practices in sophisticated terms but it is the simplest spirituality that is also most intriguing…

Jun
19
2013

Information vs. Knowledge

The Chinese doctor of old was trained on a very different mode than we use in current medicine…

May
22
2013

Retreat

There are times when the only way to advance is to back up…