Kung Fu: the fundamentals

Every one will tell you that the basics are important. They are, but not just for the principles of character and endurance. The basics of Kung Fu, all too often overlooked, are more than building blocks. Developed quite late in the history they are the method by which the student is turned into a Kung Fu artist. They are the marrow of the enterprise.

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Shaolin 12 Road Tan TuiKE018 Essence of Lien Bu Chuan
Continuous Steps Form
Regular price $29.95, Plum price $27.95 English, 143 pages, drawings

At last, a book on the Continuous Stepping Fist.

This first form of the Northern Shaolin system is also called “The Dragon Fist.” The more common name is Lien Bu Chuan (or Lien Bu Quan in pinyin) which means Linked or Continuous (Lien) Stepping (Bu) Boxing or Fist (Chuan).

This form has enjoyed a large recognition among Chinese martial artists. It lives up to its name by very clearly coordinating steps with hand actions. Though the kicking is minimal, the stepping and stance work is strongly emphasized. 

In this book, all illustrations are done with a loose, sketchy rendering that shows lots of repeats at the top of the page. The names of all movements are given with variations on the basic form. There is also a very clever system of notation, direction and description that may deepen the technique of learning the form.

Lien Bu is a good “walking form,” much like another famous basics form, 24 Beats. It is one of the easiest ways to get the foundational learning so important to the acquisition of the style. This presentation has a ton of detailed information which initially, for beginners, might be a little too much. The best way to approach it would be to learn the basic footwork directions along with the simplest hand movements. Then go back and absorb the detailed notes.

I was taught at least two versions of the Lien Bu—one from Northern Shaolin (very close to the book version,) and one from Tai Mantis. Though there were variations, the structure of Lien Bu pretty much remains intact whatever the version.

Probably the only criticism I have ever heard or entertained about this form—having taught LBQ for over twenty-five years—is that, being a basics form, there few movements—such as a single punch, a simple snap kick or a solitary block—that are what you would call basics. I believe this comes from the attempt to coordinate different hands and legs on every step. The real and important “basic” thing about Lien Bu Quan is the marriage of stepping and striking with timing. That is why it has become the fundamental set for the Northern Shaolin system.


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10 Road Spring Leg Tan Tui KT056 Tan Tui: Gateway to Kung Fu
by Jason Tsou and Arthur Schonfeld
$49.95, 200+ pages, DVD included

This package, book and DVD, on the subject matter of the famous Tan Tui Ten Road Spring Leg Form is subtitled “Gateway to Kung Fu.” This is meant to catch your attention. Throughout Kung Fu history no other form has single-handedly supported this claim to a greater degree than Tan Tui. In the world of Long Fist, Tan Tui has proved an excellent training form. It’s funny, the form is awkward to learn, relatively uninteresting to watch and not tremendously combat oriented; yet it proves itself invaluable. The reason for this is found in this text.

Not only is the information about Tan Tui interesting, the accompanying pages do what few other martial instructional books do: they give a thorough rendition of many important principles guiding authentic Chinese martial practice. Understand, the information here is not only the combined knowledge and presentation by Tsou and Schonfeld, but includes observations by Adam Hsu, Tsou’s teacher, and Liu Yun Chiao, his grand teacher. In fact, the only problem in the book is that the information in the introduction is so rich and comes at you so fast it should be broken up into smaller sub-headings. Otherwise you might very well skip important concepts and not even notice them.

This package contains:

  • spiral-bound instructional booklet
  • DVD demonstrating the form, exercises, breathing and more
  • different methods to practice the same form,
  • combat applications that are not necessarily visible at first glance
  • general theories about Long Fist
  • qi and jin training
  • variations on the form

We at Plum have found that, over all, this mix—bulk of information on the written page and the DVD acting as the repeatable reference— is just about perfect.

A final word: The truth is that there is a lot of hazy instruction in the CMA field. A book like this is refreshing and of importance because it clearly elucidates broader Kung Fu principles than just an instruction book. Many Sifus are concerned about the decreasing level of understanding in the art and what we need the most right now are clearly stated goals and concepts.

The Tan Tui is a very clear form that was created with these major ideas in mind. This approach to Long Fist training also has the benefit of saving you hours, weeks and months of aimless practice when you should be building a firm foundation for your Kung Fu career.

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10 Road Spring Leg Tan TuiK#001 10 Routine Spring Leg
Shih Lu Tan Tui
Ma Zhen Bang
$15.95, 147 pages,

In case you haven't noticed, we like the Tan Tui (Spring Leg) form. It is so traditional and authentic and sometimes grueling that even in China it's starting to disappear. But there are a lot of reasons to retain this respected form. First it's honest. There's an old saying, "If your Tan Tui is good then your Kung Fu is good". It's not for nothing that it was selected as the cornerstone of the Ching Wu organization. Tan Tui is pretty hard to fake. Not only is it the foundation set for Cha Chuan (or Jiao Men as Muslim style can be called) but it is universally recognized as the one set that almost any Long Fist style can use as a foundational exercise. It opens the body, stretches the meridians and teaches proper posture.

Of all our Tan Tui books this one probably has the best form. The stances are deep, the moves a little over-stretched but the form is strong and definite. Really quite impressive lines in the practitioner pictured. As an added bonus, all in English and Chinese, en face.

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Shaolin 12 Road Tan TuiKA019 A Comprehensive Chinese to English Dictionary of China's Martial Arts
(2014 Edition) by Andrea Mary Falk

Regular price $36.50, Plum price $33.95 Chinese/English, 231 pages, softbound, oversized

Talk about a time saver. If you have ANY interest in a place to look up martial arts terms in Chinese (pinyin) to see the English meaning, this is that place. I estimate that Sifu Falk has translated more than 3500 terms from the Chinese. If you envision yourself decoding some neat old manual and getting up just once to look up each word here (and I guarantee you that you will get up a lot more than once a word) you will see what a bargain this is in time saved and hair left unpulled.

The dictionary is organized from the Chinese (pinyin) to the english, meaning that you start with the Chinese term, without having to know the character.

For instance, look up "Liu," which means "Willow Tree," and you not only get that but "Willow Leaf" (the hand formation,) and "Willow Leaf fist" from Southern Kung Fu, and "Willow Leaf palm" from Northern Kung Fu, plus the Chinese characters and a short description of how each hand formation is held.

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Shaolin 12 Road Tan TuiKN003 Northern Shaolin 12 Tan Tui Boxing
(Spring Leg 12 Road)
by Chan Kin-Man & Hui Tin-Hing
$16.95, Chinese/English en face, 277 pages, softbound

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.

This is a 12-Road version of Tan Tui (Spring Leg) form. Certainly a key training form of Kung Fu, Tan Tui was one of the first forms agreed on by many teachers to be "adaptable" to almost any Kung Fu style. Specializing in extended limbs, low stances, solid foundation and definitive actions; Tan Tui is taught throughout the world in such famous venues as many Praying Mantis school, the Ching Wu Association and as a basis of Northern Shaolin. Many applications given.

 

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Chin Woo Tan Tui & Gong Li

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KT024 Tan Tui & GongLi Quan:
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$15.95, 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms. This first one starts with Tan Tui, a form famous for giving the right "structure" to students. This is followed by GongLi Quan, for "flowing strength" as the name implies. GongLi is an excellent form and has been used as a substitute foundational exercise in place of Tan Tui in some studios. Some history on the development of the ChinWoo is also given. The entire book is En Face in both traditional characters and English.

Chin Woo Forms

KT025 DaZhanQuan & Jie Quan:
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$15.95, 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms. This second book begins with the Big Wheel, one of the famous five "Zhan" forms such as ShiZiZhan. This is followed by DaZhanQuan. Some history on the development of the JinWu is also given. The entire book is En Face in both traditional characters and English.

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Chin Woo Partner Tan Tui #1

KT028 Partner Tan Tui #1:
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$16.95 , 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

JieTanTuiShangLiuLu: This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms. This third book starts the Tan Tui two person set. This is the ChinWoo version of the Tan Tui with practice for partners. Of all two person versions of Tan Tui this is without a doubt the most famous. Because of the extensive details this form is covered in two volumes in this series. This is volume #1 of the full twelve road version.

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Chin Woo Partner Tan Tui #2

KT026 Partner Tan Tui #2:
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$16.95, 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

JieTanTuiXiaLiuLu:This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms.. This fourth continues the Tan Tui two person set.This is the ChinWoo version of the Tan Tui with practice for partners. Of all two person versions of Tan Tui this is without a doubt the most famous. Because of the extensive details this form is covered in two volumes in this series. This is volume #2 of the full twelve road version.

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Chin Woo Weapons

#KT027 ChinWoo Weapons :
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$15.95, 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

BaguaDao, WuHuQiang,HuPuChunYangGun: This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms. This is the fifth book, and it is devoted to weapons. The series of forms developed into a curriculum by ChinWoo started a new phase in modern Chinese martial arts teaching. Most of the core curriculum was developed for hand and leg practice but here is the weapons section of the program. In this slim volume we have the ChinWoo versions of three weapons: Bagua Dao (Eight Direction Saber), and HuPu ChunYang gun ( Pure Yang Staff) and Wu Hu Qiang (Five Tiger Spear). The latter is demonstrated by Mr. Chiu Chi Lin of Hebei.

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Chin Woo Weapons

#KT052 ChinWoo Paired Weapons :
10 Fundamental ChinWoo routines
by Lam Wing Kit & Ying FunFong
$15.95, 150 pages, softbound, small but excellent photographs, English/Chinese

BaguaDao, WuHuQiang,HuPuChunYangGun: This series of compact little books is quite well done. The paper quality and photography are outstanding. We have no idea why they were printed in such a small format but they are done with a professional touch. Each book gives two forms from the original ten JinWu (ChinWoo) Association mandatory ten forms. This is the sixth book, and it is shows a SABER vs. SPEAR form. The series of forms developed into a curriculum by ChinWoo started a new phase in modern Chinese martial arts teaching. Most of the core curriculum was developed for hand and leg practice but here is the partnered section of the program. In this volume we have the skills from the last books, from the Bagua Saber and The Five Tiger Spear, combined in a definitely advanced form. If you decide to add this to your repetoire then be sure to not start practice with a real spear head.

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Pak Mei Kung Fu

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KI005 Inch Punch Power
Details and Training Methods
by Tyler Rea
normally $24.95, PLUM price $21.95, 191 pages, softbound,

Here is a compilation of training methods, strategies and principles all revolving around a single subject: generating the famous "inch power" (Tsun Jin) so often associated with such signature styles as Wing Chun, Southern Mantis and White Eyebrow. Profusely illustrated with line drawings and photographs. Also a very large section on Kung Fu terms in Cantonese.

Table of Contents includes:
Details of Power
Four Energies (Sei Ging)
Mechanics of Inch Punch Power
The 12 Body Zones of Power: Body Drop, Round Back and Swallow Chest, Oblique Compression...
The Inch Power Exercises (Wing Chun, Southern Mantis, Crane, White Eyebrow and Six Elbows)
Martial Maxims
36 Stratagems
Device Training: Iron Ruler, Rolling Pole, Brass Rings, Chain
Southern Kung Fu terminology

See Tyler Rea's Bamboo Ring Book

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Basic Kung Fu

KB007 Basic Chinese Boxing
by Cai Yun
$10.95,  246 pages, softbound

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. This book is indeed a set of basic forms: namely Tan Tui (12 road), Gung Li (Flowing Strength: a popular alternative form used by the ChinWoo School) and Short Strike a mix similar to Tan Tui. Definitely Long Fist with photographic cut out illustrations this is a straight forward, inexpensive rendition of fundamental sets.

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Long Arm Kung Fu basics

KC003 Chang Quan Long Arm Boxing
compiled by Victor Wu
$8.45, English, 163 pages, softbound

This is a very inexpensive and clearly illustrated version of the basic compulsory routines of Long Fist accepted by the
People's Republic. The English is clear and the illustrations are heavy, strong and very direct. This shows three entire forms with progressive difficulty. This was one of the first books to lucidly explain these compulsories and , with changes in time and attitude, might be heading toward collectibility: especially with the approach of the Olympics.

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Wah Lum Kung Fu first form

KW002 Wah Lum Kung Fu's First Fist Form
Chan Pui
$19.95, 105 pages

Chan Pui is a well known teacher and practitioner of Long Fist Kung Fu. This nice little book is clearly illustrated
with some great limbering up exercises, basic fist and stance positions and, of course, the first fist set of his Wah Lum Kung Fu system. A neat little piece with Q & A on Kung Fu, pictures of Wooden Pole practice and lots of extras; this inexpensive edition is a nice addition to a basic Kung Fu library.


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Kung Fu for Young People

KK003 Kung Fu for Young People
by Ted Mancuso & Frank Hill
$12.95, 96 pages, softbound, illustrated

Still the most popular book for kids and parents interested in Kung Fu. Over thirty thousand copies sold. Profusely illustrated by nationally syndicated cartoonist Frank Hill. A fun introduction to the Martial Arts. Frank's illustrations are delightful with simple, bold lines and whimsical interpretation. Frank's work has long been associated with such great comic strips and books as Short Ribs, Bugs Bunny, Dennis the Menace and numerous other productions. A wonderful present for a "young at heart" beginning martial student.

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