Essays, Biographies, Training Manuals and other writings
What was the world in which Martial Arts was born? How did it grow and change and turn from simple fighting and combat to a network of concepts, exercises and explorations that have fascinated peopl for 5000 years. As Truman said, "The only thing new is the history you don't know about." And this is even more important for the future of martial arts. Where will it go in the next century? Essays and history, from the present and the past we cook the future.

Adam Hsu
NEW! 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


Bagua Swimming BodyNEW! KB028   Beyond the Battleground
by Tom Bisio
Regularly $21.95  PLUM Price $19.95,
345 pages, softbound, some illustrations,

Another offering of Tom Bisio’s work is this book of " Classic strategies from the Yijing and Baguazhang for managing Crisis Situations.” Here is a compilation and commentary on military thinkers east and west. Among those cited is Sun Zi, Liddell Hart, Tecumseh Sherman, Li Zi Ming, Shaka Zulu, Napoleon, Clausewitz, Boyd and many more. Among other things he includes an interpretation of warfare with the aid of the Yi Jing. Many descriptions of tactics are presented in famous and lesser-known battles showing again and again the heart of warfare which resides in a nexus of deception, psychological insight, creative thinking and a host of requirements to insure the success of strategies. The belief from the Chinese military/martial standpoint is whether defending one person (yourself for instance) or ten thousand the principles are the same, the game. A good compilation, explanation and general reference of this important topic.

Note: This is an extensively revised edition of his earlier book on warfare.


KW044   Warrior Guards the Mountain
Alex Kozma
$35.00 Plum Price 31.50
305 Pages, photographs,

350 pages, photographs, few applications

Alex Kozma started in Chinese martial arts at the age of 13. He has spent years in traveling to masters and places. This book, dedicated to his teachers, shows a part of his character that is enthusiastic and perpetually learning. This book is like a guided tour of styles and teachers he knows. Interviews and descriptions include Japanese arts, Pentjak Silat, Muay Tai, Indian arts, Kun Tao Mantis and, in the Chinese arts information on the rarely seen ZiRan Men “Natural Boxing.”

Among teachers he has not only studied but counts many friends. Some names are Dr. Serge Angier, Cheong Cheng Leong, Lu Yaoqin, Paul Whitrod, Steve Benitez, Simon Das, Gerry Tan and others. This is a book of experiences and questions.

His questions span the experience like:

“Can you describe your teacher’s special skills and tell some story of your time with him?” This is pretty much the basic theme of the book with straight forward questions of martial practice on a higher level. The many and diverse answers followed this pattern and gives us a mixed picture of individuals practicing with sweat and tears and an almost religious confidence in the principles behind the practice.

This is a good book not so much about the differences in styles but the similarity of the meta-styles. For some readers it may be too unquestioning, for other it may introduce or re-acquaint them with a higher level of the game.


KJ003   Jing Wu
The School that Transformed Kung Fu
$17.95 SALE COPIES AVAILABLE for $8.95, Click HERE

At last! The story of the first and most influential Kung Fu Associations of all time, the famous Jing Wu.

"Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo have produced a fascinating and thorough work on the real Jingwu Association, providing heretofore unprecendented access to the foundation, training, and culture of this very important and interesting time and place in the history of Chinese martial arts.".
- Tim Cartmell, translator of A Study of Taijiquan by Sun Lu Tang and other books and DVDs on the martial arts

"A spectacular contribution to filling the gap in the early twentieth-century Chinese martial arts and cultural history."
-Stanley Henning, Chinese martial arts historian

KS038 The Spring and Autumn of Chinese Martial Arts - 5000 years
Professor Kang Ge-Wu
$14.95 Plum discount 15% or $12.70, Softbound, 108 pages,


The first ! A complete historical reference for Chinese Martial Arts. This book is written by one of the world's leading experts on Wushu. Professor Kang Gewu of the Wushu Research Institute in Beijing has personally traveled throughout China gathering archeological data and oral histories on this valuable cultural treasure that is Martial Arts.

This book is a vital text for anyone interested in the origins of such diverse styles as T'ai Ch'i, Shaolin, ancient wrestling and Qi Gong. It offers a time-line that covers thousands of years of significant developments in the long history of Martial Arts. Styles and masters are included by the dozens. The product of years of research and study. Not to be missed!


Adam Hsu's Sword Polishers Record

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KK004 Kodo: Ancient Ways
by Kensho Furuya
$18.95 paper, 204 pages

For a few years there were two columns in the martial magazines which were must reads. In many ways they marked the apex of interest in martial practices up to the present. This book, and the one immediately following, are compilations from these two exemplars. The late but remembered Daniel Furuya: abbot, Aikido instructor, Iaido expert was a friendly, profound and dedicated man. This book displays his talent for essay and discusses, from the Japanese standpoint, some of the heartflet mysteries and goals of martial studies. Chapters include:

  • Training Beyond Limitations
  • Make Mistakes Correctly
  • True Learning is Incomplete
  • The Mystery of Training
  • Bend the Bamboo, Not the Wind

    and many more. An inspirational and thoughtful text which springs from intimate knowledge of not only his subject but, much rarer, his whole subject.

(Sadly, this book is now out of print and we only have a few copies left.)


KL010  Lone Sword Against the Cold Cold Sky
$24.95, Plum Price: (10%) off-= 22.45

Without a doubt one of the finest series of writing ever to appear in English on the art and practice of Kung Fu. These essays and articles will become a permanent part of your reading and thinking about this complex, beautiful and highly effective art. Adam Hsu expresses opinions and displays research that challenges and re-thinks the common cliches. At the same time he offers real solutions for the "Kung Fu mess", and methods for people even without proper instruction to improve and deepen their arts. These writings span almost two decades and are the cream of the work that helped to make Adam Hsu an internationally recognized and respected teacher.



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Adam Hsu's Sword Polishers RecordKS043 The Sword Polisher's Record
by Adam Hsu
$16.95 paper, 204 pages SALE COPIES AVAILABLE for $8.95, Click HERE

Highly recommended.Originally a monthly column that appeared for fifteen years in several Kung-Fu magazines, the Record is now collected, updated and expanded. It is loaded with important concepts, tips on training and philosophical insights into the practice of true Kung Fu. A major book by one of Kung Fu's most significant thinkers. This is a book that discusses what so few people in the martial arts talk of: the meaning and soul of the art. Enjoy!

A scholar and a great teacher, Adam Hsu, is outspoken and thoughtful. Of late he has almost become controversial but that could not be avoided. Mr. Hsu has a impeccable background. College professor in Taiwan in Chinese Classical literature he is a third generation Kung Fu practitioners. In addition his status as one of the primary disciples of Liu Yun-Chiao and the editor of Wu Tang magazine lend his voice authority. His opinions are strong, but informed. We have heard many criticize but never substantially disprove any of his views. You, too, may disagree but Adam Hsu's straightforward honesty contributes just as much as it debunks. Definitely a book that will make you think.

Topics include:

Myth and Reality of Kung Fu styles
Role of form in Kung Fu
Internal Training, is it necessary?
Kung Fu Mind, Multi-dimensional Mind
Counterfeit Kung Fu
Adapting Western Methods to Kung Fu Take me to a review of this book




Martial Arts Teaching TalesKM001 The Martial Arts Teaching Tales
by Pascal Fauliot
$12.95, Softbound, 117 pages,

From the back cover:"True martial arts should never be confused with simple combat techniques. Rather, martial arts area a way than an individual, after a long and difficult apprenticeship, can gain a profound understanding of the true nature or reality and one's place in it. Over time the apprentice discovers the laws governing subtle forces of life and realizes that their mastery is only possible after one has mastered oneself. "He who has mastered the Art doesn't use his sword: he compels his adversary to kill himself." This quote from renowned sword master Tajima no Kami perfectly expresses the paradoxical nature of martial arts teaching in China and Japan.

These teaching stories are moral fables; in fact, they have nothing to prove. Their purpose is actually to inspire questions and insights that will aid the student to achieve self-realization.Most of the stories in this book are based on actual events in the lives or martial teachers who have achieved legendary status. The almost superhuman abilities of some of the masters described here are evidence of the secret powers that can be wielded by those whose martial arts training is not simply the learning of physical techniques but involves mastering subtle energies of mind and body. Master of the art of archery Kenzo Awa could hit the center of a target even when shooting in total darkness. Assailants of T'ai Chi master Yang Lu Chan found their blows did more damage to themselves than to their would-be victim. By reading - and comprehending - the tales in this book, we can acquire the same essential knowledge that these masters had - that extraordinary forces are within the grasp of those who have achieved inner peace and self-mastery."



Scholar WarriorKS001 Scholar Boxer
Chang Nai Zhou's Theory of Internal Martial Arts
and the Evolution of Tai Chi
Translated with Commentary by Marnix Wells
$18.95 SALE COPIES AVAILABLE for $9.50, Click HERE

247 pages, softbound

It is our belief that every one interested in the history of Tai Chi Chuan, and really the history of Kung Fu in general, should be familiar with the writings of Chang Nai Zhou. It will not change significantly anyone's practice but it will show a key point - one we often make along with other instructor's - and one that may indeed change one's attitutdes substantially. This key point is that Tai Chi, for instance, is in no way divorced from the general history of the Chinese Martial Arts. It is simply another branch of that history.

Change Nai Zhou was a scholar who worked around 1750. He not only practiced martial arts but left key writings on the subject. In this book Mr. Wells, a highly educated and knowledgeable writer, has translated Chang's work and added commentary. Many of Chang's writings are so similar - and predate - the Tai Chi Classics that there are those who believe Chang's work may have been the forerunner for Tai Chi's acknowledged Bible. Contained within this text we have:

Introduction: Towards a martial philosophy
Chang's writings: Nourishing Central Energy
Chang's writings: Martial Defense
Boxing Laws
24 Word theoy
Rising and Springing Explained
Spear Laws

In addition the original illustrations, charming and basic, are reproduced along with pictures of living members of the Chang family performing and some other correlative historical works. Overall a major volume on a crucial part of Chinese martial history. Marnix Wells has done a fine job. If he had not, some other translation of this text would necessarily be in our libraries. Chang's work is that important to grasping the general schema of Wushu.

See the movements of the actual Chang Family style


Kung Fu training manuals
KC018 Chinese Martial ArtsTraining Manuals
A Historical Survey
by Brian Kennedy and Elizabeth Guo
 $21.95 SALE COPIES AVAILABLE for $9.95, Click HERE

310 pages, softbound, photographs and illustration

MING DYNASTY GENERALS WROTE THEM, Qing Dynasty soldiers studied them, Republican-era warlords pondered them, Shaolin monks consulted them, bodyguards and sports coaches took lessons from them - and they still line shelves in bookshops across China. They are training manuals, the do-it-yourself guides to Chinese martial arts.

Chinese martial arts masters of the past created special training manuals with text and images, sometimes themselves appearing in the illustrations. These manuals now provide an invaluable glimpse into how various martial arts were practiced in the period spanning the mid-seventeeth through the mid-twentieth centuries. Along with biographical portraits of thirty of the most influential masters, Kennedy and Guo provide contextualizing information on the history of martial artists and martial arts, how Chinese martial artists made a living, the Imperial exams, and the place of the Shaolin Temple in Chinese martial arts history. Beautifully designed, and illustrated with hundreds of photographs and drawings, this book presents a multifaceted portrait of Chinese martial arts and their place in Chinese culture."

Brian Kennedy, an attorney, has practiced Chinese martial arts since 1976. His previous books, published in Chinese, include Witness Examination Skills and American Legal Ethics. This is his first martial arts book.

Elizabeth Nai-Jia Guo is a professional translator and practitioner of qi gong and hatha yoga. She has translated a wide range of books into Chinese, including titles on church architecture, the history of science, and criminal law. Together, Guo and Kennedy write a regular column for the magazine Classical Fighting Arts.

See a list of original sources from this book available through PLUM.




Dacheng Kung Fu

KD011 DaCheng Kung Fu
- The Truth of Chinese Martial Arts
by Wang Xuan Jie
$22.95, English 98 pages, photographed, softbound, wrap cover
$34.95, English 98 pages, photographed, hardbound

This little volume (around 5 1/4 X 7 1/4) is the "other" book in English by Wang Xuan Jie, and much more difficult to find. Wang is the "youngest" and favored disciple of Wang Xiang Zhai: the creator of Da Cheng or Great Achievement boxing. Wang Xiang Zhai, was himself a student of the famous Xing Yi boxer, Guo Yun Shen. He definitely had a mission in life. He wanted to revivify Chinese martial arts which had taken many blows to the ego from Japanese and Western opponents. He cut right to the core of the problem by criticizing many "outmoded" training methods, especially the practice of forms. He also wrote a number of scathing editorials critiquing numerous aspects of WuShu. He tried to simplify the art but keep the Chinese character with its strong emphasis on internal training. Da Cheng was developed which later became Yi Quan, a very popular style at the moment.

There is a bit of concern in the Wu Shu community that the many victories claimed by the Da Cheng group are somewhat exaggerated since there are said to be records of open matches with Da Cheng teachers losing in, for instance, Shang Hai. (We're hinting at research projects here more than criticizing styles. Anyone who doesn't known about the exaggeration rampant in Chinese martial arts is, indeed, new to the scene.) Be that as it may, many of the DaCheng criticisms are well-founded and interesting. If you think forms, set techniques, and many other aspects of Chinese martial arts have never come under the critical light that people like Bruce Lee shone, you don't know the history of the art. This book is illustrated not by line drawings but photographs of Wang himself demonstrating the methods of practice for the art. Wang was designated by the Founder to be capable of passing on this art.

Paperback $21.95
Hardcover $34.95

Some Excellent Reprint Chinese Editions of Famous
Books Listed in "Chinese Training Manuals"

Sun Lu Tang's works on what he termed "Internal Styles"

Jiang Rong Jiao on Xing Yi Mother Son Boxing

Jin Yi Ming His box on Tan Tui for young people, great illustrations.

Li Xian Wu This early "WU" style Tai Chi book is a find.

Xu Yi Quan A Kung Fu hand form of the Muslim style, 1936.

Yan De Hua Wonderful drawings on this early BaGua text.

Liu Jin Sheng One of the first police grappling manuals, Chin Nah.

Shanghai City Police Great old restraints methods with a rope.

Huang Bao Ting A 1934 text showing form and usage- Graceful Fist.

Yin Yu Zhang A 1932 of Yin Fu's son showing special hacking knife.

Tong Zhong Yi A major book on the Chinese wrestling method (shuai Jiao) from 1935.

Yang Kui Yuan A 1929 compendium of the joys of studying Wushu.

Sun Xi Kun One of the most famous early BaGua books.

Ren Zhi Cheng & Gao Zhi Kai The famous "other" BaGua style!

Tang Ji Ren From the EMei Mountains, a family style...

Lum Sai Wing One of the most famous of forms, and some of the best illustrations of the period...The Tiger and the Crane.

Li Cun Yi Xing Yi expert, Boxer rebel, body guard...

Chang Nai Zhou The true inspiration for the Tai Chi Classics, we think it might be so...

Wan Lai Sheng A famous champion and early writer on martial arts shows their common basis ...