Sun style Taijiquan was developed by the famous martial artist
Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932). Sun style Taijiquan is the most recently
developed of the five major styles which were taught when Taijiquan
was first made public. His great reputation as a martial artist
made Sun a sought after master but Sun never taught his art to promote
violence, he taught it to promote peace and good health. His daughter,
Sun Jian Yun, continues to teach the style and through the the liberalisation
of China, Sun Jian Yun, his daughter, has been able to meet with
foreign enthusiasts adding new impetus to the promotion of the style.
Sun Taijiquan stylists from China are also beginning to make their
presence felt throughtout the world. Both bringing the precious
treasure of the life work of Sun Lu Tang and the spirit which he
taught and lived to all.
Sun Lu Tang was born poor and physically weak. At an early age
he was forced to leave school and work in order to support his mother,
and it was during his time as a servant that he trained with a local
martial arts teacher. While originally he wanted to learn to protect
himself from his master's son, he discovered a love in the arts
and began to train incessantly. Later Sun was able to move in to
work in his uncle's calligraphy shop. Through his uncle's contacts,
he met and began studying the internal arts under the Xing Yi instructor
Li Kuei Yuan, whom had studied under the famous Kuo Yun Shen.
Sun studied hard and soon learnt all that Li had to teach him.
In order to help Sun progress further, Li recommended Sun to study
under his teacher Kuo Yun Shen and went with Sun to study under
Kuo together. Kuo was very impressed with the progress Sun had made
in Hsing-I Quan and taught him diligently. So agile was Sun at his
Hsing-I that Kuo nicknamed him the `lively monkey'. Kuo worked Sun
hard and taught him all he knew. After eight years, he graduated
Sun and presented to him the Hsing-I manual he had received from
his (Kuo) teacher Li Neng Jan. Kuo told Sun that in order to improve
his martial arts further, he should take up Pa Kua Chang from his
friend Cheng T'ing Hua. For three years he studied intently, gaining
his speed in foot work.
Sun Lu Tang was already a highly skilled and relatively famous
martial artist by the time he learnt Taijiquan. By chance, Sun met
Hao Wei Chen, who was visiting Beijing. Being unfamiliar with the
terrotiry, Hao was unable to meet up with his friends who lived
there, and had fallen ill.
When he met Hao, Sun took care of him and even got a doctor to
treat him. Hao eventually recovered from his illness and was very
grateful to Sun for looking after him. In gratitude, Hao taught
Sun Wu Yu Xian style Taijiquan. Sun learnt the art from Hao and
became accomplished in it.
Sun was now a master of the three internal martial arts. He continued
to study them and to research into their theories, refining them
and constantly improving his art. Later, Sun would crystallize his
teaching, experience and methods into his own style of Taijiquan.
It was primarily based on Hao's Wu Yu Xiang style Taijiquan. That
he chose Taijiquan as his final art expressing the essence of his
art is indicative. He is supposed to have incorporated the rapid
foot work of Pa Kua with the leg and waist methods of Hsing-I with
the soft body of Wu Yu Xiang's Taijiquan. In actual terms of the
form, it retains many characteristics of the form Hao taught him
as well as the sequence of postures.
Sun was not selfish with his art and wrote several books on them
to share them with martial artist everywhere. These books remain
important references for the serious martial artist and some contain
valuable photographs of Sun's form in the three internal martial
Anyone who has a basic familiarity with tai chi systems will immediatedly
recognize the unique character of Sun style. Sun's daughter, Sun
Jian Yun, characterizes Sun style tai chi as methods of Xing Yi,
and the softness of Tai Chi. Sun style Tai Chi is immediately recognizeable
as being different from other styles. Stances are upright and natural,
with the feet normally being no wider than shoulder width. Movements
are short and compact, and each hand technique is accompanied by
a corresponding stepping action.
Sun style is also characterized by its unique "open-close" hand
movement. This movement helps to concentrate chi in the dan tien,
the area of the abdomen just below the navel), the front of the
torso, and especially in the palms of the hands for delivery of
short, deadly strikes. Sun Lu Tang always said that one should not
study martial arts to fight. Instead, he urged students to practice
in order to imporve their health. nevertheless, Suns' martial art
was forged in the crucible of combat, for he lived in a time where
chanllenges were regularly issued and accepted, and one's survival
depended upon one's ability to employ what one practiced. Despite
its martial roots, however, it is imminently appropriate for people
in all walks of life. Its natural, unstressful stances make it an
ideal exercise system for those who desire a low-impact exercise
system, even the elderly. For younger, more athletic individuals,
it provides a fascinating approach to self-defense.