KUNG FU - General

Below is a collection of books of many descriptions: self defense, forms, exercise, practice: all showing more faces of this fascinating art.

Click on pictures to see bigger versions

Masters: A Blank Book for Martial WritingsKM025 Masters: A Blank Book For Your OWN Martial Writings
100 pages, softbound, all text in Chinese

Your mother gave you a lot of "advice" over the years: "don't talk with your mouth open," "eat all your vegetables", "wash behind your ears," "don't slouch, stand up straight," ...

Plum, on the other hand, has given you only one piece, but we repeat it because it is important: KEEP A MARTIAL DIARY! You might not appreciate it immediately, but you have no idea how much you will thank us later.

And now we have something delightful to help you with your new task: a simple and tastefully designed blank book, appropriately called "Masters." Almost every page is headed by a photo of, yes, a Master, with his style indicated in light gray below, and plenty of space for you to develop and keep track of your own mastery. A few pages insert series of photos, demonstrating a famous sequence, or maybe a photo of a martial song. There are even short biographies for some of those highlighted.

The paper is high quality, and you can expect to be the envy of your classmates and colleagues once you pull this out of your pack. This is a real class act.

Get writing!



Essential Anatomy for Martial ArtistsKS071 Secrets of Chinese Karate
Ed Parker
239  pages, softbound, Reprint of the 1963 by Prentice Hall edition

Ed Parker's Secrets of Chinese Karate gained tremendous popularity when it first came out. Written by Mr. Parker (possibly with an aid by historian William C. Hu), with a foreword by writer Joe Hyams, this book hit the shelves right at the beginning of the “craze phase.” Kenpo and Karate were attracting a growing number of celebrities and this very readable text was the punch that landed in the right place at the right time.

The book itself is an interesting mixture of practical movement, sprinkled with more theoretical subjects like Buddhism. For instance, the book almost starts with a Theorem of Training.

All the figures in the book, which are clear and good-sized, are rendered drawings which make for a surprisingly clean presentation.

If you have been in the martial arts for any length of time, you might feel a strong sense of familiarity with many of the concepts outlined. Parker introduced certain martial theories that still stand today, even if some have mutated. Here you will find “Three Star,” the famous conditioning exercise for forearm strength, followed by a section on Breathing and Conditioning; Stance Training work in various positions, followed by arrangements of the stances into a series, sort of an 'armless' form, called “Running the Horse.”

There is a chart showing relative lengths of body parts, then a two-person set whose interest lies in the fact that it is the opposite of most partner
sets: in this form, the strikes are not blocked but meet their goals. I remember one teacher telling me that this was for untutored observers so they will understand what is happening.

This is more than a "back in the day" kind of book, and for those who are less familiar with Ed Parker, you might be surprised by his nuanced martial instruction.

One more interesting note: the last page of Modern Kung Fu Karate, below, sports an ad for this book!



Jimmy Lee Modern Kung-Fu Karate

NEW! Modern Kung-Fu Karate: Iron, Poison Hand Training
by James Yimm Lee
112 Pages, softbound, English language
Illustrated with photographs and illustrations

J. Y. Lee spent his early years studying, among other styles, Southern Shaolin. As the story goes, he was Jimmy Lee Modern Kung Fu Karateattempting to develop his own “young forest” style and to accomplish this, he fearlessly attacked the issue of skill. He was already widely known, having published a basic book on Kung Fu, leading to this second book, Modern Kung-Fu Karate, which focuses on training techniques such as iron palm, and poison palm.

He developed an audience: as a publisher of popular texts; an inventor of a “striking post; and a creator of important body conditioning and self-defense techniques which he hand-illustrated in small 2 X 2 figures.His information on Iron Palm and board breaking were unusual back in the day, and became widely accepted alongside his variations and “tricks.”

In this way, “Modern” became a pivotal issue at that time.

Much of the ‘solo flying’ disappeared when he met and started working with Bruce Lee. The two of them, along with others, exploded with creativity and ideas, everything from “Break brick in 100 days,” to principles highlighting martial creativity, followed by appreciative anecdotes from those with needed perseverance.  

The photos in this reprint edition are not perfect, but add that feeling of ‘being there,’ featuring Ed Parker, Ralph Castro, Wally Jay, and William C. “Thunderbolt Chow.” And, of course, the book displays those wonderful hand-illustrations that Lee was famous for.

Click the page to the left to read the moving introduction to the book by Sifu Lee's son, Greg; and CLICK HERE to see a vintage interview with Greg Lee on Tat Mau Wong's Kung Fu Theater.



Adam Hsu

NEW! KS070 The Secret of Kung Fu
by Ark Yuey Wong
331 Pages, softbound, English language
Illustrated with photographs and illustrations

The turn of the 20th century brought many stories about the cultural transmigration of the Chinese; the wide spread of Kung Fu into the Western milieu; encircling Tong Wars; the unimagined benefits of a different medical paradigm; and, of course, this man, Ark Yuey Wong, sometimes referred to as the "Father of American Kung Fu".
In martial circles he has been well-known since the early 1920’s, if for no other reason than as the first Chinese teacher to accept non-Chinese students. He was a groundbreaker in so many ways, with his distinct style, and his ability to incorporateChinese medicine into his Kung Fu.

For years, we at PLUM tried to locate a clean enough copy of his seminal text to sell, but it has been out of print for decades.

Happily, this newly discovered reprint affords a complete copy of this famous book. Over 300 pages, including original drawings and somewhat darkened photographs, this is both a manual and a history of Sifu Wong’s “secrets,” with him and his students shown actively going through their paces.

A survey of 100 or more photos of Sifu Wong and a whole family practicing—especially, self-defense actions — give that strong feeling of community he was so well-known for. He demonstrates many Southern Kung Fu styles hardly seen to this day: Chicken style, Elephant hitting, Snake form, Monkey boxing and more. In addition, there is that which can only be assumed to be a series of Nei Gong performed mostly flat on ones back, with spread arms.

In its own way this book chronicles an era. There are so few volumes like this.
Click on the Table of Contents to the right to get a good look into the depth and breadth of this remarkable book.

And here is a link to a fine video of Sifu Wong performing.


Adam Hsu
NEW! KB030 Beijing Bittersweet: Foreign Exchange Student in Wushu at the Beijing Physical Culture Institute
by Andrea Falk
242 Pages, softbound, English language
Illustrated with photographs, and charts
(If ordered with Falk's new book, Shadowboxing in Shanghai: A Memoir and a Guide to the Traditional Chen Taijiquan from Dragon Park, 10% discount on both titles.)

Andrea Falk was the first foreign exchange student at the Beijing Physical Culture Institute. Her distinct accessibility allows her to offer a unique view of what was happening, not only in the reconstructed world of martial arts, but in China as well. One of the book's strongest points is the way it discusses so many aspects of Chinese life through the storm of social variations and changing rules. We live in a Beijing of parks, activities and gathering relationships.

Falk sets the scene for us, literally, by including street maps of Beijing as she begins the book. She outlines the thoroughly complex situation of political involvement reflected in every aspect of Chinese life, sometimes with devastating effect. Farmers and officials, teachers and technicians, all touched in some way, matter how they might wish to see themselves, as Falk writes, as a "screw in society's machine."

The Performance Wushu section is a huge resource, providing a serious discussion on the tug-o-war between Contemporary Wushu and Traditional Wushu. These have been hot topics for decades, but Falk's book shows that this was not a straight line process, taking the history into more detail. Whole lifetimes were spent in a twilight zone of power and politics and art, and she deals with this rare information in a straightforward way, while placing it in the martial environment. The search for Wushu skill is also prominent, here. Falk's diary includes her own experiences, as well as a wealth of stories from her friends and fellow students, from sparring practice to minute details on forms usage — a lifetime of martial knowledge and memories where art and life share everything.

This book is everything a reader would hope for in the diary of a long time and respected martial artist. In addition to the lifetime relationships she established with friends and students, she also goes into detail about the various teachers she was privileged to study under, all with their own methods, quirks, and wisdom. While her experience was probably more intense than ones had by most martial students, the acquisition and discoveries of martial principle and practice are well-described. Falk, always a good writer, now also gives us a glimpse of the sincere student and teacher she's become.


Adam Hsu
KL018 Life is too Short for Bad Kung Fu
by Adam Hsu
332 Pages, softbound, English language
Illustrated with photographs, including Sifu Hsu demonstrating Goose Feather Saber
Regular price: $38.95, Plum Price $34.95

Over its 5000 year history, Kung Fu as an art has met adversity.

For instance, 250 years ago it exited the battlefield due to the introduction of “hot” weapons, and in doing so, it retreated from its core purpose. Its shift into civilian life meant that historically brilliant strategies scaled for war morphed into self-defense techniques for individuals; the renowned stamina of soldiers, which required daily regimens for strength training, transformed into individual concerns of health and longevity. Its examination became the work of scholars instead of generals.

Adam HsuEven so, Kung Fu thrived, experiencing intermittent periods of sophisticated growth and attention. Teachers taught—great, and otherwise; students trained—both frivolously and seriously; styles developed; Kung Fu’s myths and legends expanded. Expertise travelled outside of China—mostly through the hands of laborers and cooks who scattered to every country—but also to those foreigners who visited and took up with teachers practicing in their own dusty courtyards. People without previous experience picked up weapons—once battlefield tested, now used for training and entertainment—to carry Kung Fu forward. Information was both shared and withheld. Knowledge was gained, and also lost.

Adam HsuToday, Kung Fu suffers another existential challenge—this one potentially fatal. The combination of new wealth and advanced technology threatens to supplant the traditional power that comes from touching hands. Simply said, as daily existence grows easier, the ability to focus and sustain authentic practice becomes harder. 

In this book, world-renowned martial arts teacher and writer Adam Hsu, proclaims his expert reckonings on the state of Kung Fu. For over six decades, he has acted as one of Kung Fu’s greatest proponents and contributors, as well as one of its greatest critics. In “Life Is Too Short For Bad Kung Fu”—his first English Adam Hsutext in more than 10 years—Hsu Sifu employs aphorisms, boldly and honestly evaluating Wushu's perilous path toward its questionable future. He focuses on current-day training, teaching and practice, offering harsh criticism as well as genuine solutions. He never swerves from the foundational, millennial idea of basics as Kung Fu’s true power. He is not shy about reiterating their importance, nor about the ways they are disappearing from the traditional curriculum. Like a doctor watching a patient slip away, he is neither calm nor sentimental in his many attempts to keep Kung Fu alive.

There are those whose excitement will lead them to sit down and read this book cover to cover. To our mind, it is better appreciated in small and measured draughts—there is so much to consider—both inspirations and warnings—and the aphorism format is perfect for separating each idea into thoughtful portions.

Read an insightful review of this book


Shaolin 12 Road Tan TuiNew! KP035 A Pearl from the Dragon's Neck
Secret Revival Methods and Vital Points...
Regular price $28.95, Plum price $26.00 English, 302 pages, drawings and photos

A Pearl From The Dragon's Neck is dedicated to “hit medicine,” a useful and some might say essential branch of Chinese martial arts.

Tom Bisio's book concentrates on subjects to cure diseases, to speed healing of injuries, to maintenance of health. What distinguishes “hit medicine” is its attachment to martial injuries and cures, and there is good historical indication that this medical branch predated (as a matter of fact, contributed to) the later more sophisticated systems of Chinese medicine. The text offers instruction on how to locate and stimulate points and channels, then apply that knowledge to classical structures such as revivial points, San Cai points, Five Intersections, 12 Miraculous Points, etc.

As Bisio writes, "Although A Pearl from the Dragon's Neck has a sequential structure, one can pick up the book and begin almost anywhere. You can literally page through the book, find something that catches your interest and begin there."

"Revival methods are very important, not only in martial arts settings, but also in the context of sports, and first aid situations in daily life. Revival methods do not just restore consciousness. They are also reactivate the internal Qi Dynamic, and immediately begin undoing the damage that begins to accrue immediately following a blow to a vital point during an acute event like a stroke or heart attack."


Xing Yi Internal StrengthKI008 Iron Ball, Wooden Staff, Empty Hands
Understanding Structure, Flow, and Maneuver in Martial Arts
by Caylor Adkins
276 pages, regularly 24.00

This book boldly demonstrates the result of decades of research by the Shotokan teacher and student of Sensei Ohshima, Caylor Adkins. Compiling fifty years of experimentation, he has developed a special set of aids for martial training, utilizing a ball, empty hands and a stick.

He takes cues from writings by top teachers Lu Wen Wei and Wan Lai Sheng, and some insights gained from his brother’s study with Han Ching Tang. These movements are very concentrated; you will have to get used to his tight, contracted rolling.

Activating one’s body with a ball like this heightens the unified sensation in each movement. These patterns introduce special exercises and observations that can be repeated independently, one at a time. Many actions explicitly show key principles also found in Chinese martial arts. What is dynamically shared here is a unifying thread in these crucial principles. He generalizes his findings with the ball to empty hand and stick work, generously citing many of his sources. He also introduces some Kata, performable in any of these three modes. Stemming from Sensei Adkin’s deeply fight-oriented approach are some outstanding martial anecdotes and stories.

Here is the link for the original Chinese book on circle training.


 Kung Fu NEW!! SC241 Yan Qing 6th Routine of HONG QUAN
Eng/Chinese text and VCD, simplified characters
Compiled by Lu SuLing
$18.95, 66 pages, Photographs, Soft bound


Hong Boxing is said to have arisen during the Chin Dynasty. Its fame blossomed during the Ming and Qing times. Among Chinese minority culture, Hong Boxing is strong in ShanXi, Hebei, and Henan provinces where it is a major form of the art. Its content is rich, with numerous forms, comprehensive techniques, and a high level ethic, especially for family virtues. It gives a miraculous presentation with techniques including sticking and leaning, fierce legs, sly striking and attacking.

If you want a truly Long Arm style, this is it. Wide ranging whip punches mix with squatting and “lift the curtain” movements. The foot work matches the growing and shrinking of the swing punches; not always easy to find in some versions of Long Arm—actually, a little unusual but welcome. This is a good example of Long Fist’s diversity and adaptability. You can almost sense an invisible spear between the hands. This form follows, generally, the traditional “one step, one strike” structure of many Long Fist forms.

The book itself has both Chinese and English and is well illustrated; the English is minimal. On the other hand, this should be an easy form to acquire for someone with experience. It comes with a companion VCD, with English subtitles.

Plum Flower Pole style Kung Fu

KG003 The Green Dragon
Four Images/Four Directions Form Volume 1:
by Jonty Kershaw
$24.95, 144 pages, softbound,

Teacher Jonty Kershaw has produced one of the first books in English with a set from the Kun Lun system. Though rare outside of China, Kun Lun is a large system like Shaolin, with many branches. Kershaw teaches from a Taoist perspective and this form, which he learned from Jason Baaht, is a short and relatively simple introduction to the Kun Lun curriculum. It makes use of a lot of sweep blocks, as befitting the dragon arts. The pictures are a bit small but give enough for instruction. Every page has a “footwork box” for stance and weight distribution. There are no applications because Kerhsaw states that he did not want to encourage that one dimensional idea that every move in a form is representative of limited, specific technique.


Xing Yi Internal StrengthKS002 The Science of Internal Strength
by Zhang Nai Qi
Translated by Marcus Brinkman

$24.95, 72 pages

This is a translation of a book originally published in 1933. It is a thin but very interesting volume: essentially an essay on the practice of internal arts. Most books in the martial field are instructional but there are a few such as Adam Hsu's and Daniel Furuya's which are reflective, based on an self-awareness of the nature of practice. This book is one of the best we've seen attempting to explain the rationale of standing practice, relaxation, internal studies etc. It originally garnered some ire from that other outspoken group, the Yi Quan members. But many of the ideas have been adopted since its initial publication. Still, there is much fresh and honest material here.

Excerpt: "In fact, the so called dan tian is neither a point of concentration or a point of tension. Disciples of the Tung Shan sect, while in sitting meditation concentrate upon the area between the eyes, therefore their dan tian is between the eyes. For others who practice cultivating qi and internal strength boxers who concentrate upon the tension of the abdomen, it is therefore located below the navel...."

See our "second look" review here



Plum Flower Pole style Kung Fu

KF002 Five Ganzhi Meihuazhang Techniques (Plum Blossom Fist)
Wang Zhi-Zhong
$12.00, 209 pages, softbound

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Printed in Hong Kong this neat little book is EN FACE, that is, both Chinese and English versions are represented. Not only a nice set with clear illustrations but a good book for those wanting to improve their martial translation skills.

"Ganzhi Meihuazhuang (Plum Blossom Pile Boxing) is one of Chian's ancient boxing schools. It had its own unique style and attack-defence art. According to senior wushu masters, previously Meihuazhuang was practiced on stumps. In line with routines, several hundred stumps, each for one step, were planted on a rectangular ground. Stumps were heightened as practitioners improved their skills."



Muslim style Kung Fu

KW030 Wushu among Chinese Moslems
by China Sports Editorial Board
184 pages, softbound, illustrated

This is probably the first book translated into English on the Jiao Men (Cha) group of Kung Fu branches. The books starts with a short introduction to the history of Muslim versions of Kung Fu. Next is a section on Wang ZiPing then on Zhang WenGuang. This is followed by three sets and an exercise section illustrated. The first, simply titled Zha (Cha) boxing is in reality a version of Road #4. The next is a 10 road Tan Tui (Spring leg). Third follows a 20 exercise section developed by Wang ZiPing himself. Finally there is Yong ZhanQuan of "Boxing for the Brave" which is composed of kicks, strikes and grabs and has some simple applications thrown in for good measure.



Fan Zi Kung Fu Kao Shou Boxing

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KK001 KaoShou FanZi Quan Kung Fu
(Cuffed Hang Tumbling Fist)
By Wen JingMing
$15.95, 215 pages, Illustrated, Soft bound

First of all Fan Zi or Ba Fan Shan is an old and respected school of Kung Fu. It is also "well married" in that it has been teamed to other significant styles through the ages. Two of these would be Chuo Jiao (Penetrating Foot) and Ying Jiao (Eagle Claw) both of which have added Fan Zi to become hybrids. This particular form of Fan Zi goes back in one form or another to Qi JiGuang the famous general who was a martial arts connoisseur. The hands are held together as though manacled for most of the set. This book also discusses the "flavor" of Fan Zi and then, for the final section, gives many forms of usage especially emphasizing the cuffed hand position. A good clear text with a learnable well organized set and many applications. See the Chinese version of this text.



Wu Song Breaks Manacles

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KW021 WuSong Breaks Manacles
Kung Fu
By Cai LongYun

WuSong has long been one of the favorite characters out of the Chinese Heroic novel: Water Margin (also known as "Outlaws of the Marsh" and "All Men are Brothers"). WuSong is escorted by official guards but, even though manacled, defeats his opponents and escapes. He is also famous in the novel for fighting a tiger. WuSong Breaks Manacles is a single person form. There are well known and popular multiple opponent versions where the player has to fend off attacks by armed assailants. Much of this form is demonstrated with one hand grasping the other wrist as though the hands are cuffed. As a figure from Water Margin WuSong actions might relate to Liang Shan style or MiZong, though the author of this book was a specialist in Hua Boxing. Clear illustrations and instructions.

Click HERE to see another text on this form, in both Chinese and English, and with a VCD!