Grandmaster Sun Lutang
Internal Martial Arts


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Biographical Information about Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)     Sun Taijiquan  

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Research by 
Michael P. Garofalo




Sun Lu-Tang (1861-1933)

Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang
1861 - 1933




Grandmaster Sun Lu-Tang's (1861-1933) Style of Internal Martial Arts (Nei Jia Quan)
Includes Information on the Sun Style of Ba Gua Quan, Xing Yi Quan, Tai Ji Quan and Swordsmanship



    "There is a central idea.  Merely practicing is not understanding.  Seek to understand the human ability.  Study diligently for deep ideas. The result after a long time is that one is able to know." 
-  Sun Lu Tang 


    "The essential characteristics of Sun Style Taijiquan consists of the following: advancing mutually follows retreating; advancing must have a follow step, retreating must have a moving back motion; the movements are relaxed, comfortable, rounded, and full; movements follow nature. During practice the feet should be able to differentiate fullness and emptiness. From beginning to end, the movements of the routine must be like flowing water and clouds floating in the sky, continuous without interruption.  Within each turn of the body, there is a "opening" and "closing" action. This is why the style is often called Open/Closing Active Step Taijiquan (Kai He Huo Bu Taijiquan)."
-   A Brief Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan, Sun Jian Yun (1913-2003).  Translated by Ted Knecht.



    "The beginning point is Wu Ji.  The posture of which is facing to the proper direction, hanging down both hands, and keeping a 90 degree angle between the two feet.  This means going along with the natural principle.  Before training, there is no thought or intention, no figure or image, no self or others, only Qi exists in the chaos of the body.  The state is called Wu Ji in Xing Yi. "
-   Sun Lu Tang, Xing Yi Quan Xue: The Study of Form-Mind Boxing, 1915, p. 68.   



    "Sun Lu Tang 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.  The postures themselves have not changed all that much, retaining the original applications and still resemble very much the Wu Yu Xiang style as taught by the Hao family.  What is evident is that the stepping is more active and smaller, the hand techniques differ only marginally and some Hsing-I characteristics are evident."
-   The Development of Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan,  by Peter Lim Tian Tek.



    "Damo wrote the two classics on changing the tendons and washing the marrow.  He taught men to practice this in order to strengthen their bodies.  Then we come to Yue Wumu Wang of the Song Dynasty.  He added to the discovery of two classics of body nurturing.  He created Xingyi Quan and directed its usage.  The principles of Bagua Quan are also contained within.  This is the origin of the inner family fist arts.  During the reign of Yuan Shunti,  Zhang Sanfeng practiced Daoism on Wudang Mountain.  He met a teacher of internal alchemy.  Both of them practiced martial arts that used Post-natal strength.  The function was more than proper.  However, their arts did not harmonize with Qi inside.  They had the potential to cause injury to the Dan and injure the original Qi.  Therefore, they incorporated the nurturing methods of the first two classics and use the whole character of the form of the Taiji circle.  They included the principles of the Ho Diagram and the Luo Book.  Pre and Post many changes.  Flowing with natural principles.  Created the Taiji Martial Arts.  It explains the mysteries of nurturing the body.  This martial art borrows the form of the Post-natal.  It does not use Post-natal strength.  In moving and stillness, it pure uses natural.  It does not esteem animal vitality.  The idea is for the Qi to transform into spirit."
-  Sun Lu Tang, 1921, Study of Taiji Boxing.  Translated by Joseph Crandall, Taijiquan Xue, 2000, p. 6.



    "The creator of Sun Style, Sun Lu-tang was about 50 years old and was a well-known expert of two other internal styles (Baguaquan and Xingyiquan) before he learnt Tai Chi.  So naturally, the style has the advantage of the influence of the two other internal styles.  Sun described his Tai Chi as using Baguaquan's stepping method, Xingyiquan's leg and waist methods and Tai Chi's body softness.  Sun Style has a higher stance, less kicking and punching, all movements have the same tempi, and a very strong Qigong emphasis making it more popular with older practitioners."
-   Comparing Chen and Sun Styles, Dr. Paul Lam     



    "Qi spreads without breathing as a result of the open and closing, movement and stillness, in this martial art.  This is the root of this Qi and how it is created.  The subtleties of letting go and expanding, receiving and contracting, are from this Qi going out.  Opening makes expanding and moving.  Closing makes receiving, contracting, and stillness.  Opening makes yang.  Closing makes yin.  Letting go, expanding, and movement makes yang.  Receiving, contracting and stillness makes yin.  Opening and closing are the shapes of the one Qi cycling through yin and yang. That is Taiji - the one Qi."
-  Sun Lu Tang, 1921, Study of Taiji Boxing.  Translated by Joseph Crandall, Taijiquan Xue, 2000, p. 8.  



    "Like the Hao style, the Sun style is considered small frame.  It employs many "step-ups" into its techniques, and this fact makes it somewhat similar to Hsing-i.  The Sun style also used short stances and straight leg kicks, but jumps have been taken out of its repertoire.  It is said that the art melded Pa Kua's steps, Hsing-i's leg and waist methods, and T'ai Chi's softness.  This is often called the "lively paced" form (Huobu Jia). The Sun style was carried on by Sun's daughter, Sun Jian-yun who teaches in China.  Sun Lu-tang is also well-known because he was highly literate and a prolific writer. This made him a rarity among martial artists of that time.  He authored several books and popularized the term nei chia chuan, which translates as "internal family arts" or "internal martial arts.  The concept of "Internal Arts" referred to martial arts developed within China such as T'ai chi ch'uan , Hsing-I Ch'uan, and pa-kua chang.  External arts are those based on Shaolin ch'uan which came from India. This idea often confuses people as they think it means having to do with "Internal power".
-  Harvey Kurland, Web of Tai Chi Chuan 



    "Perform Tai Chi Quan in accordance with the technical specifications for the routine, and perform naturally.  Never go counter to what is required of the forms and postures outwardly, nor to what is required of the mind and spirit inwardly. When there is unity in one's movements, there is harmony in his mind; or when there is appropriateness of forms and postures outwardly, there is mental integrity inwardly. The form is a reflection of the latter, and one's internal and external activities have become integrated."
-  Sun Lu Tang 



    "Sun Lu-Tang mastered Xing Yi first, then learned Ba Gua Zhang from Cheng Ting Hua.  He tried to keep his Ba Gua very pure and didn't incorporate so much Xing Yi.  So it's a little bit more elegant in that way.  There is only Single Palm Change, Double Palm Change, and eight palm changes, so there are ten forms total in Sun's system.  That's it!  There's no straight line forms, there's no supplementary forms, everything comes from those circular forms. ...  Sun Lun Tang was a a hundred and forty pounds, a little guy, so his Ba Gua is a little bit tighter, a little bit quicker, a little more evasive, a little more spinning."
-   Interview with Tim Cartmell, Nei Jia Quan, p. 28.  



    "The natural course of things is always followed.  This prevents one from harming their post-heaven strength.  Focus is on beneficial cultivation of one's natural life force as the core of training.  All people - men, women, the old, and the young - may practice in order to replace temerity with bravery; and stiffness with pliability.  Those of you who are weak, who suffer from fatigue and injury or illness, or who have weakened your qi from the practice of other martial arts to the point that you no longer have the strength to train, all of you may practice Tai Ji Quan.  With practice, the qi will quickly return to a balanced state and will become strong, while the spirit naturally returns to a state of wholeness.  Disease will be eliminated and the length of life increased."
-   Sun Lu-Tang, A Study of Taijiquan, 1924.  Translated by Tim Cartmell, p. 60. 


Sun Lu-Tang (1831-1933) 



    "He is credited with writing the first book available for the general public that grouped Xing Yi, Bagua, and Tai Chi together as internal arts. The same book, Xing Yi Quan Xue, or The Study of Form-Mind Boxing, is also considered the first written work to point out the connection between martial arts the I Ching, and Daoist philosophy. 
    Sun, and other top martial artists, were invited to teach martial arts in the schools. Sun himself taught in Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou. In the belief that the martial arts should be practiced first for health and personal development, not to learn to fight he was the first to offer a martial arts course to women. 
    Sun Lu Tang's research into the martial arts did more than result in the creation of the Tai Chi style that bears his name.  At the same time, he was revolutionizing the academic world's conception of the martial arts, and he was revolutionizing the academic world's conception of the martial artist.  Sun Lu Tang, through word and deed, elevated the martial artist from unlettered ruffian, best suited to performing on the streets for money or running a bodyguard service, to the position of gentleman and scholar.  It is a position marital artists still enjoy today; but, we must remember the honesty, hard work, compassion and intelligence of the man who first earned such high regard.  It is through emulating Sun and masters like him that we will continue to prove the value - both intellectual and physical - of the discipline we called Kung Fu."
-   Lori Ann White, Sun Style Tai Chi Founder and Grand Master Sun Lu Tang



    "The initiator of the Sun-style Tai Chi Chuan was Sun Lutang (1861-1932) from Dingxian County in Hebei Province. Sun was a master of Xingyi Quan (free-mind animal-imitating Chuan) and Bagua Zhang (Eight-diagram Palm). In 1911, he followed Hao Weizhen to learn the Wu Yuxiang style of Tai Chi. He later created the Sun style of Tai Chi Chuan by blending the cream of the Wu Yuxiang style of Tai Chi, Xingyi Quan and Bagua Zhang. The feature of the Sun-style Tai Chi is that practitioners advance or retreat freely with quick and dexterous movements, which are connected with each other either in closing or opening stances when the direction is changed."
-   Tai Chi Chuan Styles,



    "One day in 1911 Sun Lu Tang heard of a martial artist [Hao Wei Zhen] who had come to Beijing but became very ill and lived at an inn nearby. Sun went there and invited the man to come and live in his home while recovering and saved no expenses buying medicine for him.  After his recovery, the man wanted to give Sun something back in order to repay his kindness but Sun politely refused saying that all martial artists are like brothers and would expect no repayment for whatever favours he had done. The man was impressed by Sun's attitude and good heart and offered to teach him his art of Tai Ji Quan. Sun who had long been interested in this art, as it was supposed to be related to the ones he was practicing, gladly accepted his offer and thus came to study the Wu (Hao) style of Tai Ji Quan.
    Wu Yu Xiang researched the art of Tai Ji Quan deeply and traveled to Wen Xian area in order to receive more knowledge of the art. Eventually, he became a disciple of Chen Qing Ping and completed his training under him.  He also got hold of some ancient manuscripts on the theory of Tai Ji Quan and researching these was able to reorganize what he had learned from his teachers into a new form later called Wu style Tai Ji Quan.  Later, Hao Wei Zhen learned the art from Wu Yu Xiang's nephew Li Yi Yu and taught it to Sun Lu Tang.  [In later years] when people asked Sun Lu Tang about the form he taught he said it was "Kai He Tai Ji Quan," i.e. "Open, Close Tai Ji Quan."  Later people started to refer to it as Sun style Tai Ji Quan, and this is the name used today."
-   Per Nyfelt and Jiang Ling,  An Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan 



    "Sun, who throughout his life accumulated such nicknames as "Tiger Head Hero," "First Hand Under the Sky," and "Smarter Than An Active Monkey," is respected as a giant in the martial arts and master of his generation.
    Sun died at the age of 73 in the same room he had been born in.  According to his daughter, he used the Yi Jing (Book of Changes) to predict the exact date and time of his death. There is a famous story that says just before Sun died his students asked him what was the secret to internal martial arts training. The story states that Sun wrote a character in his hand, showed it to his students and then died. The character he had written was the character for "practice."  Sun's daughter, who was with her father when he died, said that this story is not true. However, she said that he did say that if there was any secret to internal arts it was simply to practice hard."
-  "Master Sun Lu Tang"



Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)



    "Sun Lu Tang fused all of these teaching into his new style of Tai Chi. He incorporated the stance work from Xingyiquan, where the stances are seldom wider than shoulder with.  Here, both legs are crouched and ready to spring forward, propelling the waist to advance or retreat.  The foot work was extracted from Baguazhang.  Baguzhang uses circular patterns to pivot around to the opponent's flanks, relying on careful placement of body weight on their heel or the toe, and quick and distinct sifts in balance. The overall softness and flow of the movements come from Tai Chi. This cultivates Qi flow by emphasizing the natural movements of the body.  Qi flow was Sun Lu Tang's primary concern. He created is Tai Chi in order to teach his method of channeling internal energy."
-   Gene Ching, Step Back and Ride the Tiger  



    "Of the three internal arts, Xing Yi is probably the most straightforward to understand in terms of practical fighting applications. Grandmaster Sun Lu Tang, however, believed that the most important reason to practice martial arts was the improvement of one's health; developing fighting ability was merely of secondary importance. Sun Lu Tang himself certainly benefited in both respects. In 1933, at the age of 73 and shortly before his death, Sun was examined by a physician and found to have the body of a 40-year old. Furthermore, throughout his life he was an awesome fighter: He worked as a professional bodyguard, taught martial arts at the Presidential Palace, and never lost a challenge match.
    Certain health benefits of Xing Yi Quan training are obvious. It is a low-impact exercise requiring little jumping, few low stances, and smooth rather than ballistic movements. As Sun Lu Tang notes in his book, it can be practiced by anyone, both the young and old, and the sick and infirm. Healthy people will grow stronger, while those with a disease will recover their health. However, in addition to the external physical benefits, Xing Yi practice offers a sophisticated system of internal energy training that stimulates the major energetic pathways within the body.
    At the core of Sun Lu Tang's Xing Yi Quan system is the 12 animals set. This set consists of 12 lines of movements, each emulating the fighting techniques of the 12 animals that come from heaven and earth. These are the Dragon, Tiger, Monkey, Horse, Water Lizard, Chicken, Sparrow Hawk, Swallow, Snake, Tai Bird, Eagle, and Bear. Regular practice of the 12 animals set benefits the practitioner both externally and internally. Externally, one learns the physical characteristics of each animal-the explosive power of the tiger, or the strength of the bear, for example. Internally, each animal form stimulates the internal energy, or Qi, in a particular and beneficial manner. The remainder of this article describes both the energetic work and the fighting applications of four of the animal forms: the Dragon, Tiger, Eagle, and Bear."
-  Justin Liu,  Cultivation and Combat: The Fighting Animals of Xing Yi Quan.



    "The posture are high and the footwork is agile; the body is centered and upright; the rhythm is natural and lively, agile and light; the movements are filled with the internal strength with the hardness embedded in softness; the speed is smooth and tender, like the floating clouds and the flowing water. When practicing, pay attention to the coordination of the advancing and retreating of the footwork and use the movement of opening and closing the hands to connect each turning."
Sun Tai Chi Video and Book



    "When a modern day "New Age" practitioner of Tai Chi speaks of the art as being "good for his health and a way to align his energy with the energy of the Tao," that viewpoint came largely from Sun Lu Tang.  Or when pa kua practitioners walk the pa kua circle on a California beach and talk of how "pa kua forms are physical embodiments of the I-Ching," their ideas derive largely from Sun Lu Tang.  Or, when modern day practitioners of xing yi opine that "the five forms of xing yi interact like the five basic elements in Taoist cosmology," they to owe their thinking largely to Sun Lu Tang."
-   Elisabeth Guo and Brian L. Kennedy, Sun Lu Tang: Fighter, Scholar and Image Maker.




"Sun Jianyun, whose other names are Guinan, Shuting, is the daughter of Sun Lu Tang, who was a famous Wushu master and the founder of Sun's Taijiquan. She is a current famous master of Sun's Style Taijiquan, one of the most famous Wushu masters in China, Wushu 9 rank. She was born in Wangdu, Hebei Province, in 1914. Graduated from Peking Arts School, she had learnt Chinese painting and writing, especially, being good at the paintings of landscapes and beautiful women. Therefore, she is a great master with both civil and military. She undertakes her family tradition, and has got the essences and soul of Xingyiquan, Eight Trigram Palm and Taijiquan. Following her father, Sun Lutang, she had taught Taijiquan in Wushu gymnasium of Juangsu Province. After the establishment of the new China, invited by deputy premier He Long, she had been the chief referee of Wushu in the first National Games. She had got a Wushu award of Contribution of the International Wushu Day held in China. She had held the posts: deputy president of Beijing Wushu Association, director of Beijing Sun's Style Taijiquan Institute, honored director of Xingyiquan Institute, the committeewoman of Xicheng District, Beijing, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Her works include The Records of Sun Lutang's Learning Military, Sun's Style Taijiquan, The Simplified Routine of Sun's Style Taijiquan, Xingyi Sword, Eight Forms of Xingyi, etc."
China Taijiquan   


Sun JIan Yun (1913 - 2003)     Sun JIan Yun (1913 - 2003)  


    "If anyone wishes to practice Sun's Style of Taijiquan better, he or she should understand its features and the differences between it and others first.  The major differences between Sun's Style Taijiquan and others are:  First, the steps should follow the postures of the body quickly, therefore, it is also called “quick steps Taijiquan”.  Second, the practitioner should be quick, flexible and smooth, and well-knit in movement, resembling floating clouds and flowing water and being smooth and continuous.  Third, each time, when the practitioner turns his or her body, to the left or right, “opening or closing the hands should be connected, so it is also called “open and close Taijiquan”.
-  Sun Jian Yu ((1913-2003), daughter of Sun Lu Tang, Interview, 2002 


    "You must pay attention to step techniques and raising the strength of legs, because the legs support the weight of the body.  They should be quiet as mountains and stable as a huge rock.  When they move, they do as a ship or wheels carrying the body forward, and they keep the body from overturning.  The practitioner should draw a distinction between solid and empty in the legs. Only recognition can make the steps quick and not dull. You should keep one leg solid and the other empty at the same time -  if the right one is solid, then the left one is empty; on the contrary, while the right one is empty, the left is solid. Solidity keeps the body upright and steady.  However, if the two legs are solid simultaneously, movement can be hardly carried out, being easy to fall down.  While emptiness keeps the body quick, if the two legs are empty at the same time, the body will not be steady.  Therefore, the solid and empty should be changed on the two legs so as for the body to act quickly and naturally."
-  Sun Jian Yun (
1913-2003),  daughter of Sun Lu Tang, Interview, 2002 


Sun Lu Tang's Style of Internal Martial Arts: Bibliography, Instructions, Links, Resources, Quotations


    "Sun Lu Tang is survived by his daughter, Sun Jian Yun. Now in her eighties, Sun Jian Yun is the current Grandmaster of Sun style and one of the few women who stands among the great Tai Chi Chuan master of China.  When the Chinese Wushu Association under the auspices of the People's Republic of China standardized four of the Tai Chi Chuan styles (Yang, Chen, Wu, and Sun) for competition, she openly protested the new modifications.  As part of this standardization, a flying kick was added to the form, presumably to add to the degree of difficulty and increase its audience appeal.  Sun Jian Yun vehemently opposed this movement stating that Sun style always keeps one food on the ground.  Although this standardization represents both "official" recognition and publicity, Sun Jian Yun's name is noticeably absent from verifying committee for competition Sun style."
-   Gene Ching, Step Back and Ride the Tiger  



Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)



    "According to Master Sun Jian-yun, the learner must observe the following specific guidelines in the training of Sun's Style of Tai-chi Chuan: 

1.  Consecutive Forward or Backward Steps  

    This is a movement occurring repeatedly in a major portion of the postures.  Whenever the learner makes a move forward or backward with one leg, the other leg will do likewise.  It is a striking feature of Sun's Style that the game always goes together with consecutive forward or backward steps.  That is, whenever the foreleg moves forward, the hind leg will follow suit, and vice versa.  As the two legs are moving to and fro most of the time, Sun's Style is well known for nimble feet and agility.  However, if there had not been any check measures, nimble feet and agility would have led to imbalance where the body might not be maintained upright and the player tends to stoop down or lean backward. 

2.  Symmetric Exertion of Strength. 

    There must be counter strength exerted in every movement.  Whenever the learner make a move forward, he must exert backward strength, and vice versa.  This is the check measure to redress the above tendency of imbalance.  As pointed out by Master Sun Jian-yun in her book "Sun's Style: Tai-chi Chuan and Sword-play (1997), "When making a consecutive forward move with both legs, the player's center of gravity being in motion is likely to creative imbalance where the player may bend forward.  In order to maintain good balance, the player should push the sole of the front foot backward upon touching the ground so that the center of gravity will shift to the hind leg upon its touching the ground subsequently.  The same principle also applies to consecutive backward moves."

3.  San-ti Stance: 

    This is the fundamental posture from which a variety of postures are derived.  The learner must master its application throughout the game and understand how it is adapted to the derivative postures.   Grand Master Sun Lu-Tang has time and again stressed the importance of this posture, saying "San-ti is the prototype of all postures of Xing-yi Chuan."   Such a saying is in fact true of Sun's Style Tai-chi Chuan.  No wonder Master Sun Jian-yun pointed out emphatically, "San-ti posture is the foundation of the whole framework of postures in Sun's Style Tai-chi Chuan."
-   Sun Jian-yun and Paul F. N. Tam.  Sun's Style Tai Chi Chuan.  Translated by Peter Chen and Leung Ming Yuen.  Pubished by Peter Chan and Company, Hong Kong, 2003.  141 pages.  Plum Publications.  p.3-4.  




    "Hay Way Jen had a student, Sun Lu Tang, who had previously learned the internal martial arts schools of Pau Kua and Hsing-I.  Sun Lu Tang added these non-Tai Chi elements to the Wu form to create a new form.  In my opinion, the only possible evolution of the Wu School is towards formlessness, and Sun Lu Tang's achievement must be regarded as a variation, not as a new school."
-  Jou, Tsung Hwa, The Tao of Tai-Chi Chuan, 1980, p. 70



    "As a style of Taijiquan, Sun Style stresses the importance of the internal aspect: using mind to lead qi and qi to lead the body movements. They are used together with correct breathing technique and relaxed concentration. Sun Style greatly emphasises self-rejuvenation and meditation when practising movements. For example, Sun Lu-Tang wrote in his book: " were born with original qi, but (they grow up) without the external physical training or the internal mental discipline. The result is that yang and yin are disunited and external and internal is uncoordinated." From this comment, you can draw a clear message that the rejuvenation of qi is undoubtedly important."
-   Master Faye Yip Li



    "Sun Style Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) is one of the five major schools of Taijiquan that are most widely practiced around the world today. It was founded by legendary master Sun Lu Tang in the early twentieth century.  Grandmaster Sun's love for the martial arts never ended. He was a renowned master of Xingyiquan (Hsing Yi Chuan) and Baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang) when he began his studies of Taijiquan at the age of 53. He immersed himself in the study and, after devoting considerable time to it, developed an internal art that combined characteristics from Xing Yi Quan, Baguazhang and Taijiquan and reflected the essence of the martial arts. He considered Sun Style Taijiquan to be his greatest achievement. 
    Grandmaster Sun was considered by his peers to be one of the pre-eminent martial arts masters of his time. His Taijiquan was originally called Opening Closing Active Step Taijiquan (Kai He Huo Bu Taijiquan).  Sun's daughter, Sun Jian Yun (who actively taught in Hong Kong up until her passing in 2003), observed that her father's Taijiquan employs the stepping method of Baguazhang, the leg and waist methods of Xingyiquan and the body softness of Taijiquan."
Artemis Sun Style Taijiquan   



    "This exploration begins with focusing our awareness on how we are moving our bodies in space and expanding our awareness of every aspect of our movements (foot placement, alignment, coordination of upper and lower body, breathing, moving against resistance, flowing, etc.)  To achieve this, we must develop the quality of "feeling," which is different from thinking about how we move, breathe or flow. To develop deeper levels of feeling in your body during tai chi, it is helpful to quiet the mind and cultivate the attitude of silently, without judgment, observing ourselves. 
    According to creator Sun Lu Tang, Sun style should have the feeling of "moving in water."  This quality has also been described as moving against gentle resistance.  Hours devoted to practicing that quality, results in people recognizing that we are developing depth and beauty in our "expression" of the tai chi movements." 
-   Caroline Demoise, What Makes Tai Chi Good 



    "There are three important aspects of Tai Ji Quan that should be emphasized in practice. These three are: 1) The health aspect, 2) The martial/self defense aspect and 3) the philosophical aspect.  You can consider these three aspects as the legs of a three-pin chair.  If you take one leg away the chair would fall over.  Only when you have all three can the chair serve it true function, without one or two it can only serve as an interesting object to look at (at most).
    Remember the important points in practice and always check yourself to see if your movements follows these principles.  Practice regularly: It is better to practice for 15 min every day than to practice for two hours once a week.
    Though Tai Ji Quan is a really wonderful thing it is also one of the most difficult things to study.  In order to make progress in the art it requires more than just doing the form a couple of times every day.  It requires research. 
    The way to research the health aspect of Tai Ji Quan is basically to develop your feeling of your body-mind (i.e. become aware of thoughts and feelings coming to you while practicing and also of the changes in your body when executing the postures).  After some years of practice with a knowledgeable teacher, you should be able to feel when a movement is harmful and be able to correct it.
    The way to research the martial/self defense aspect is to think about and figure out different ways to use the movements in the form in a self defense situation. Remember the Chinese saying "although when practicing there is no one in front of your eyes but in your mind there is, although when defending yourself there is someone in front of your eyes but in your mind there is not." 
    The way to research the philosophical aspect of Tai Ji Quan to study the literature on Tai Ji (e.g. the writings of Wu Yu Xiang, Li Yi Yu and Sun Lu Tang) and compare the ideas you've found with how the form works.
    Let your practice (and life) be guided by the balance principle (not to little and not too much), always seek to find a balance with yourself and your surroundings and you've taken an important step on the Tai Ji way."
-  Per Nyfelt and Jiang Ling,  An Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan 



    "Sun style Taiji Quan is deeply entrenched in Daoist philosophy. Master Sun Lu Tang trained with Daoists for many years, and also studied the Yi Jing (I Ching, Book of Changes).  Being a master in two other disciplines of Neijia (internal school of martial arts), Xing Yi Quan (form-mind/intent boxing) and Ba Gua Zhang (8 trigram palm) he combined these arts together along with Taiji Quan, to create his own style.  
    Many of the moves in Sun style Taiji have obvious links to Xing Yi and Ba Gua - yet some of the more philosophical aspects, such as how it relates to Yi Jing, are not so obvious. Each of the moves is usually a combination of components, the first 8 of those components relate to Trigrams (groups of 3 lines, some broken, some solid) from the Yi Jing, and represent directions and angles of movement, whilst the last 5 components relate to the elements. 
    Each move has usually one of the 5 elements and one (or two) of the 8 trigrams - forming a complex weave. Understanding this is not absolutely necessary, as anyone practicing Taiji will get benefit from it - but for those wanting a deeper understanding of the origin of the postures and their uses, it gives a much greater appreciation of the form."
-   Deane Saunders



    "Cheng Ting-hua (1848-1900) styles of Baguazhang feature movements that are executed in a smooth flowing and continuous manner, with a subtle display of power.  Popular variations of this style include the Gao Yi Sheng system, Dragon Style Baguazhang, "Swimming Body" Baguazhang, the Nine Palace System, Zong Changrong's style (probably the most common form practiced today), and the Sun Lutang style."
-   Baguazhang - Eight Diagram Palms



    "In regards to the practice of Taijiquan, Sun Lu Tang often said that his teacher, Master Hao Wei Zhen, would say there were three levels of development in the training of Taijiquan. The following are the three levels often mentioned by Master Sun: "In the initial stages of practice one will feel as if walking on the floor of the ocean. The movements will feel heavy as if all the water was pressing down on the body. The second stage feels as if the feet are not touching the floor bottom, but the body is floating within the water.  The movements of Taijiquan will feel more natural at this stage. The third stage is when the body is light and agile where one will feel as if walking on the oceans surface.  At this stage achievement in Taijiquan has been obtained".
-   A Brief Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan, Sun Jian Yun (1913-2003),
    Translated by Ted Knecht


Sun Lu Tang (1861-1933)  Xing Yi Quan Xue Master








    "Sun's Taijiquan is noted for its nimble footwork with advancing and retreating steps following the concept common in all practical fighting arts such as Wing Chun, Western boxing, Aikido, fencing, etc.  This simple "opening and closing" basic footwork makes it easier for a pupil to obtain whole body rhythm common in all styles of Taijiquan, but often hidden in impractical wide steps and posturing. The Style also includes some toe in and toe out steps echoing Bagua Zhang's ability to turn quickly and evade attack.  Sun Lutang had a wider technical base to draw upon than other modern Taijiquan originators and hidden in the style are many martial elements such as hip throws, joint locks, special counters to wrestling throws, kicks and punches, etc. The relatively upright or high stance improves balance mobility and the ability to turn quickly.  The stepping methods and movements are comparatively very effective and martial in nature, and the forms can be practiced at a fast or slow pace as desired which appeals to younger people. However, the footwork in particular, places less stress on the knees than other styles and so it can be also particularly suited to the very old."
-   John Jones, Swimming Dragon School, Wales, UK



    "Sun style has in common with other styles' stability, central equilibrium, light and agile movements. The main difference is the adoption of moving, following steps. Sun style is known as the moving step Taijiquan. This involves back and forward moves of a light and agile nature. When you step forward the back foot follows, when you step back the front foot follows. This stepping technique had already appeared in the Woo/Hao style.  Sun Lu Tang incorporated characteristics of 'Hsing-I' and 'Pa- Kua' and created a Taijiquan using features from the three internal/soft arts. They all follow common principles. In 'Hsing-I' you always step and follow, in 'Pa-Kua' we encompass the characteristics of open and close, step and turn. So I believe Sun Lu Tang developed his style because of previous training in martial arts."
Professor Li Deyin  



    "For those with knee problems, or the elderly, Tai-Chi is commonly recommended as a form of exercise, but let the buyer beware.  Not all styles of tai-Chi training are suited to every body type and condition.  According to Wang, these individuals should begin with Sun style.  He explains, "Sun style is also called huo bu (live step) Tai-Chi. Its special feature is called "jin bu bi gen, che bu bi sui," which means that when one foot steps forward or backward, it is followed by the other foot which lands close by. [This type of footwork is a trademark of Hsing-Yi Chuan, which founder Sun Lu-Tang was quite learned in.]  The knees are thus bent very slightly, placing few demands on that often injured joint.  The time that each stance is held is for a relatively short amount of time, and the body posture is held higher up.  Compared to Yang style where the front stance front leg should be bent to 90 degrees, this is very casual.  This makes it easy for one with weak legs or poor balance to perform.  The hand movements are relatively smaller in frame and just as smooth as any other style, also making it more accessible."
-  Mark Cheng, Tai Chi's Five Main Systems - Which One is Right for You   



    "Sun style, Wu style and Wu (Hao) style are considered to be "small frame" taijiquan – that is, the arm movements are small, the steps are short and the stances are upright. This is in contrast to Chen style and Yang style, which contain big arm movements, long steps and deep stances.  Sun style is unique in that it has no "traditional" bow stance (front foot weighted 60-70%, rear foot weighted 30-40%). Instead, it has a follow-through step which brings the rear foot close to the front foot, toes touching the floor with no weight. One benefit of this is that transitions between postures place very little strain on the knees compared to other styles of taijiquan. Because of this, and because of Sun style's aforementioned small frame characteristics, we consider Sun style to be the ideal taijiquan style for the elderly and the physically impaired.  Sun style taijiquan is also instantly recognizable by its signature Open/Close Hands (Kai/He Shou) posture, which appears 13 times in the form. In fact, Sun style is sometimes nicknamed "Kai He Taijiquan.""
Sun Tai Chi Institute of Boston



    "Sun Lu Tang's research into the martial arts did more than result in the creation of the Tai Chi style that bears his name.  At the same time, he was revolutionizing the academic world's conception of the martial arts, and he was revolutionizing the academic world's conception of the martial artist.  Sun Lu Tang, through word and deed, elevated the martial artist from unlettered ruffian, best suited to performing on the streets for money or running a bodyguard service, to the position of gentleman and scholar. It is a position marital artists still enjoy today.  Therefore, we must remember the honesty, hard work, compassion and intelligence of the man who first earned such high regard.  It is through emulating Sun Lu Tang, and masters like him, that we will continue to prove the value, both the intellectual and the physical value, of the discipline we called Kung Fu."
Nei Wai Chia Kung Fu



    "The competition routine of Sun style Tai Chi Chuan was created based on the traditional Sun style.  The whole routine has 6 segments. Although there are altogether 73 movements, which seem to be a lot, they are all arranged in an orderly sequence with the coordination of advancing and retreating of the footwork. Actually it is not difficult to remember the movements because every turning or change in each posture is usually connected with the movements of the opening and closing hands.  In order to meet the competition requirements, the arrangement of the movements and the structure of the routine have been improved with the additional movements like "Tui Bu Shan Zhang" (back step and wave palms). The whole routine can be divided into 6 segments: Segment 1 stresses the movements such as "Lan Zha Yi" (tuck in robes), "Lou Xi Ao Bu" (brush knee and twist step), "Jin Bu Ban Lan Chui" (advance, parry and punch) and "Kai He Shou" (opening and closing hands) to practice the basic techniques of hands and the advancing.  Segment 2 focuses on "Yun Shou"' (wave hands like clouds) and "Dao Juan Gong" (step back and whirl arms) which require high demands in "Fen Jiao" (toes kick).  Segment 3 includes "Fan Shen Er Qi Jiao" (turn over body and double jump kick) and "Pi Shen Fu Hu" (turn body and straddle the tiger) with the correspondence of the "advance, parry and punch".  Segment 4 focuses on "Ye Ma Fen Zong" (parting the wild horse mane) and "Huo Bu Lan Zha Yi" (active tuck in robes) which reflect the various changer in the movements.  Segment 5 focuses on "Jin Ji Du Li" (golden rooster stands on one leg) and "deflect through the back" to show one's ability of balance and the steadiness on a single leg.  Segment 6 emphasizes "Yu Nu Chuan Suo" (jade girl working with shuttles), "Xia Shi" (push down) and "Zhuan Shen Bai Lian" (turn body and lotus kick) which reflect the variety of changes in the movements and reach the climax of the routine."
Simplified Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan 



    "The beginning point is Wu Ji.  The posture of which is facing to the proper direction, hanging down both hands, and keeping a 90 degree angle between the two feet.  This means going along with the natural principle.  Before training, there is no thought or intention, no figure or image, no self or others, only Qi exists in the chaos of the body.  The state is called Wu Ji in Xing Yi. "
-   Sun Lu Tang, Xing Yi Quan Xue: The Study of Form-Mind Boxing, 1915, p. 68.   



Grandmaster Madame Sun Jian Yun (1913-2003) gave us the following advice about the practice of Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan:

1.  The head should be upright but do not use force.  Let the spirit be full.

2.  The mouth should be gently closed with the tongue at the upper palate.  Breathe gently through the nose.

3.  Both shoulders should be loose and dropped.  Be careful that they are not raised: raised shoulders cause the chi to float.

4.  Both elbows should be pressed down.  When the elbows and shoulders are dropped, chi can be sunk at the dan tian.  When the elbows are pressed down, the arms can be bent, with stored energy ready to be released.

5.  The fingers should be open and loose.  The wrist should be flexible.

6.  The chest should be held in, not extended.  An extended chest causes chi to float, resulting in top heaviness.  

7.  The waist must be flexible, as it is the commander of all the whole body's movements.  

8.  The legs should be bent: 'apparent' and 'solid' must be differentiated, otherwise agility is lost.  

9.  'Chi sunk at dan tian' means deep breathing.  Deep breathing is very important in Tai Chi Chuan, but it must not be forced.

10.  Meditation is seeking movement in stillness; Tai Chi Chuan is seeking stillness in movement.  During practice, the heart must be calm and the mind must be focused; only then can the physical movements be smooth and agile. 

11.  A special feature of Tai Chi Chuan is 'use will-power, don't use strength.'  The aim is to achieve force that is alive, with extreme softness yet extreme hardness, extreme heaviness yet extreme agility.  When will-power arrives, power arrives.  If mechanical strength is used, it becomes sluggish and clumsy, floating externally, out of place in external arts."
-  Translated by Wong Kiew Kit.  Found in "The Complete Book of Tai Chi Chuan" by Wong Kiew Kit, 1996, p. 262.  



    "It should be noted that the Sun Style itself is sometimes seen as a mere variation or development, and not really as a new style. Sun Lutang based his style on on his studies of Taijiquan with Hao Weizhen (the famed master of Wu Yuxiang) style, as well as Xingyi and Bagua. Around the time when Sun Lutang developed his Nei Jia Taijiquan style, many other styles of Taijiquan were developed by of Sun Lutang's predecessors and contemporaries. This was a movement and not a single development by a single teacher. Many of the internal martial art practitioners at this time, like Sun Lutang, based their developments on integrating Taijiquan with some combination of Baguazhang and Xingyiquan. A key part of this effort was to develop or revive the ancient concept of soft martial arts that became associated with the term Nei Jia Kung Fu (or Internal Kung Fu). Nei Jia Kung Fu is thought to have been originated by early Taoists who may have practiced all three arts at one time under the umbrella of a style known as, Nei Jia Kung Fu."
-   Origins of Tai Chi Chuan, Gerald A. Sharp



    "Born in a poor family in Wanxian County, Hebei Province, Sun was orphaned and received only one year of schooling. As an apprentice in Baoding, he learned the form-and-will school from Li Kuiyan, who thought that the pupil had surpassed him and recommended him to the famous Master Guo Yunshen for further studies. After the grueling exercises late at night, Sun would burn a stick of incense and tie the other end to his hand before going to bed. When the glow touched his skin, he would jump out of bed for a morning session. During his stay in Beijing, he had the opportunity to learn baguazhang (eight-diagram palm) from Cheng Tinghua and Li Yuanzhong, disciples of Dong Haichuan. In all these years Sun also applied himself to academic pursuits, thinking that one with great physical but little intellectual power is an incomplete man. He read widely, jotting down every wise saying and pondering over it again and again. He was deeply interested in calligraphy which was a source of joy and inspiration to him. "I wield a brush like a sword and wield a sword like a brush," he philosophized. 
    But it was not until he was in his fifties that his philosophical ideas reached maturity, resulting in the creation of a new style of taijiquan -- to some extent by accident. 
    One day he came across a sick man wandering in a street in Beijing. Upon inquiry he came to know that the vagrant, Hao Weizhen, had failed to find out his friend he had turned to for help. Sun took him to his own home and nursed him back to health. In return for his kindness, Hao offered to teach him the Wu-style taijiquan he had inherited from its founder Wu Yuxiang. Unlike the conservative-minded masters prejudiced against other schools, Sun was ready to take up something new and spent two years studying the Wu style, into which he put the best points of the form-and-will and eight-diagram exercises to form the Sun style taijiquan. Needless to say, this would not have been possible without a thorough knowledge of the three, high accomplishments in philosophy and literature, great creativeness and broad vision on the part of the founder.
    In the Sun-style exercises one can see dodges, stretches, jumps and holds -- movements hinged on the waist and reminiscent of the eight-diagram palm. At the same time, there are rises, falls, charges and body turns -- movements with an explosive force but no definite forms that are characteristic of the form-and-will exercises. Still it is taijiquan in essence with its circular, graceful, continuous movements, in which mobility is combined with immobility and solidness with voidness in a harmonious way." 
-   Sun Lutang and Sun Style Taijiquan - Olympics Committee in China



"The Four Characteristics of Sun Shi Tai Ji:
     1.  The natural position of the body. The position of the body is more natural than in other forms of Tai Ji. The basic position - San Ti Shi - comes from Xing Yi. It differs from the traditional basic position - Hun Yuan Zhuang. The position of the body is higher (angle with the knees of 135°), the axis head - centre of gravity falls on only one foot and not with equal distance of the two feet, the feet are positioned one compared to the other according to an angle of 45° and not in parallel or are aligned like usually used in other schools of Tai Ji. All these characteristics respect the natural positioning of the body with two consequences. Initially a practice more favorable to health, without excessive wear (of the knees in particular). Then, a good balance between stability and flexibility. 
    2.   Flexible and fast movement. The movement of the feet is flexible and fast: as soon as a leg advances or moves back, the other leg follows immediately. One does not find in Sun Shi Tai a horse riding stance with feet equal distance apart or the bow and arrow posture of traditional Tai Ji. In Sun Shi, one uses the free steps coming from Xing Yi and of Bagua. The centre of gravity always falls on one leg; a foot supports all the weight of the body, the other follows, free. The steps forwards are the steps of Beng Quan, and backwards the steps of Pi Quan. The steps of rotation correspond to the steps of Ba Gua. Sun Shi is light, fluid and fast. It is compared with the water which runs and with the clouds which slip into a windy sky.
    3.  The specific figure of Kai He. Sun Shi Tai Ji has a very specific figure; Kai He (to open - to close) which is found neither in other forms of Tai Ji, nor in Ba Gua or Xing Yi. This Kai He appears with each connection and transition. It makes it possible to control and adjust breathing and to accumulate the Shi (energy potential) in order to prepare for the next change.
    4.   It is an art which aims at effectiveness in combat. Sun Shi Tai Ji is truly an art of combat. The amplitude of the gestures is limited, the course of the hands are direct, natural and aims to be effective. . It is not the force of the arms which strike, but the sum total of the elastic force of each movement carried out on a correct and uniform axis of gravity."
Sun Shi Tai Chi, Bob Melia



    "In 1894, masters Cheng Tinghua, Liu Dekuan, Li Cunyi and Liu Weixiang formed a teaching organization for the benefit of their students and the martial arts community.  These particular masters were fluent in the arts of Taijiquan, Baguazhang, and Xingyiquan, and their association was variously described as Neijiaquan (internal family boxing), Neigongquan (internal skill boxing), and  Wudangquan (Wu Tang boxing).  This concept of internal martial arts was later endorsed by the expert Sun Lutang, and mentioned in his famous book "The Study of Xingyi Boxing"  (1915)."
Defining the Internal Martial Arts  



    "Wu Yu Xiang modified his form to incorporate the information from both his teachers and the Taijiquan classic writings. His modified later form differed from that of both his teachers and is characterized by compact, rounded, precise, and high standing postures. The basic structure of the form was based on the Yang sequence with a change of name for the posture Grasp Sparrow's Tail to Lazily Arranging Clothes was done later after Wu's death. The postures themselves were modified.
    The Thirteen Torso Methods are the keys to power development in Wu Yu Xiang's Taijiquan and there is emphasis on rising, falling, opening and closing. The form's movements are simple and circular with each movement expressing aspects of the 8 basic postures of Taijiquan (peng, lu, chi, an, tsai, lieh, chou, kao), .
    Wu Yu Xiang taught few students and we know of only one significant one, his nephew Li I Yu. Li I Yu did not teach widely and only taught a few students, notably Hao Wei Chen who was also a native of Yung Nien County.
    Hao Wei Chen and his descendents did the most to promote Wu Yu Xiang's Taijiquan, making it one of the major styles today. Hao taught his son Hao Yue Ru who in turn taught his son Hao Shao Ru who was the recent master of the form. The form itself was not pictorially recorded until Hao Shao Ru's book which remains today the standard text for this style of Taijiquan.
    Wu Yu Xiang's form originally retained the energetic slapping of toes and jump kick, as well as quick movements interspersed with slower ones, which were characteristics that the old Yang form has as well.
    Hao Yue Ru inherited his art from his father Hao Wei Zhen who in turn learned it from Li I Yu. Hao Yue Ru was a professional martial arts teacher and in order to cater for mass instruction covering a wide age range, he taught the form devoid of these jumps and strength explosions to enable the basics to be better grasped when the form was taught to a large class. The slow even movements was a basic method of practice and the Hao Style then used a fast form which retained the elements of the original.
    This is the form that is practiced extensively today. Some have termed this form "Hao style Taijiquan" to differentiate it from the other Wu Yu Xiang lineages which retain the old characteristics both in the normal sequence and the fast form.
-   The Development of the Wu Yu Xiang Style of Taijiquan.  By Peter Lim Tian Tek. 



Sun Lu-Tang (1831-1933)



"The primary and most beautiful of nature's qualities is motion"
-   Marquis De Sade

    Movement - Quotations



    "Tai Chi is a special branch of the Chinese martial arts. It is a both an internal and external exercise (internally to keep one's mind in perfect calmness, externally to increase one's agility and physical strength).  Flexibility is required in training, yet vigor comes naturally when needed. The principle is: overcome rivals' staunchness by one's softness, using the so the technique of "detouring one thousand pounds with only the strength of four ounces." While exercising, one should keep one's Qi (energy) down at the Dan Tian, an acupuncture point below the naval, with body straight, never using unskillful, "dull" strength, and guiding one's power by the mind.
    According to Master Hao, every disciple goes through three training stages: In the beginning, the practitioner feels like he is wading in water with his feet covered in silt; later, the practitioner feels like he is swimming, with his feet completely free of the heavy silt; finally, the practitioner develops an intense level of awareness and concentration like one who can walk on water or on a thin layer of ice.

Every gesture or movement must conform to strict rules, as indicated below:
Head - The head must be kept upward, but without effort and with chin naturally drawn inwards.
Mouth - Slightly closed, with tongue lightly touching the upper palate. Natural respiration through the nose.
Chest - Slightly drawn inwards in order to keep the vital energy along the backbone.
Shoulders - Completely relaxed.
Elbows - Elbows must loosely droop and forearms must remain naturally bent.
Hands - Fingers separated, in complete relaxation.
Waist - The waist controls body movements; it is the base of Tai Chi's vital energy.
Legs - Legs must always remain slightly bent, and bear the body's weight one leg at a time.

    The body should always move as an integrated unit, if one part of the body moves then the entire body should move. If one part of the body is still then the entire body should be still.
    There are eight essential techniques to be used in combat practice. They are: Peng (ward off), Lu (pull), Ji (push), An (press), Cai (grasp), Lie (deviate), Zhou (use of elbow), Kao (use of shoulder)."
-   International Sun Tai Chuan Association   



"There is a central idea.  Merely practicing is not understanding. Seek to understand the human ability. Study diligently for deep ideas. The result after a long time is that one is able to know." 
-  Sun Lu Tang 



    "Sun Lu-t'ang (Sun Lutang 孫祿堂, 1861-1932) was a renowned master of Chinese Neijia (internal) martial arts and was the progenitor of the syncretic art of Sun style Tai Chi Chuan(孫家). He was also considered an accomplished Neo-Confucian and Taoist scholar (especially in the I Ching), and was a distinguished contributor to the theory of internal martial arts through his many published works.  
    When born in 1861 in Hebei province he was named Sun Fuquan (孫福全) by his parents, and was later given the name Sun Lutang by Cheng Tinghua (程延華), his baguazhang teacher, years later. (It was common in old China for people to have multiple names. He continued to use his original name in some areas, including the publishing of his books.  
    He was first noted as an expert in two other internal martial arts styles: Hsing-i Ch'uan (Xingyiquan) and Pa Kua Chang (Baguazhang) before he came to study T'ai Chi. Sun learned Wu/Hao style T'ai Chi Ch'üan from Hao Wei-chen. Sun started studying with Hao relatively late in his life, but his accomplishments in the other two internal arts led him to develop his T'ai Chi abilities to a high standard more quickly than is usual. He subsequently was invited by Yang Shao-hou, Yang Ch'eng-fu and Wu Chien-ch'üan to join them on the faculty of the Beijing Physical Education Research Institute where they taught T'ai Chi to the public after 1914. Sun taught there alongside the Yang brothers and Wu Chien-ch'uan until 1928, a seminal period in the development of modern Yang, Wu and Sun style T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Sun Lu'tang is also notable among tai chi masters in that many of his disciples were women (such as daughter Sun Jianyun and granddaughter Sun Shurong) and that in an age of widespread, accepted misogyny he offered martial arts courses for women at Zhe Jiang Martial Arts School."
Wikipedia - Sun Lu Tang  



    "Of the three internal arts, Xing Yi is probably the most straightforward to understand in terms of practical fighting applications. Grandmaster Sun, however, believed that the most important reason to practice martial arts was the improvement of one's health; developing fighting ability was merely of secondary importance. Sun himself certainly benefited in both respects. In 1933, at the age of 73 and shortly before his death, Sun was examined by a physician and found to have the body of a 40-year old. Furthermore, throughout his life he was an awesome fighter: He worked as a professional bodyguard, taught martial arts at the Presidential Palace, and never lost a challenge match.
    Certain health benefits of Xing Yi training are obvious. It is a low-impact exercise requiring little jumping, few low stances, and smooth rather than ballistic movements. As Sun notes in his book, it can be practiced by anyone, both the young and old, and the sick and infirm. Healthy people will grow stronger, while those with a disease will recover their health. However, in addition to the external physical benefits, Xing Yi practice offers a sophisticated system of internal energy training that stimulates the major energetic pathways within the body."
-   Justin Liu, Cultivation and Combat: The Fighting Animals of Xing Yi Quan



    "Sun Lu Tang was born in 1861 in Hebei Province. His Father was a poor farmer who died when Sun was still young. When Sun was a young boy he began learning Northern Hung Chuan from a Shaolin Master named Wu. In the early 1890’s, Master Sun  traveled to the mountains near Sichuan in order to study Chi Gung. Later Sun went to the Wu Dang Monastery in order to further his knowledge of the internal style of Kung Fu. Sun was highly skilled in Chinese martial arts and wrote five books on the subject. Sun believed that the martial arts were to be practiced for three reasons. First was to achieve a high level of physical & spiritual health in order to achieve a long life, second was to build fighting skill in order to defend oneself from any manner of attack and third was to gain the ability and courage to defend those who were unable to defend themselves. It has been noted that while Master Sun taught openly he was still a very traditional teacher in that he  taught his students by how much dedication they displayed. If a student practiced hard physically and also studied the philosophy and moral lessons of the art, he would teach them all aspects of the martial arts without reserve, but if a student was not devoted to his practice he would be taught accordingly. Master Sun Founded the “Pu Yang Martial Arts Association,” in 1896. Sun also served in the Chinese Army after the fall of the last Ching Emperor. Sun was a lieutenant in the army in charge of teaching martial arts to soldiers from 1919-1924. Sun Lu Tang was a humble man who always followed the path of goodness, he was never proud or arrogant even though he was respected as a great master of his generation and was called “ First Hand Under the Sky.” Sun died at the age of 73 in the same room he had been born in. There is a famous story that says just before Sun died his students asked him what the secret to internal martial arts training was. The story states that Sun wrote a character in his hand, showed it to his students and then died. The character he had written was the character for "practice."
-   Master Dr. Silvio Azzolini, Shaolin Wu-Yi Institute   



    "Sun Lu Tang was born in Wan County in 1861. His name rings familiar to almost anyone who has studied one or more of the major internal styles of Chinese martial arts. Because Sun was highly skilled in Xingyiquan,  Taijiquan, and Baguaquan, wrote five different books on these subjects, and synthesized the three arts to invent Sun style Taijiquan, his name has become well known wherever Chinese martial arts are practiced. 
    Sun Lu Tang's ability to apply Baguaquan's quick footwork methods and fast stepping changes were legendary. He was small and looked weak, but very powerful, often defeating opponents with very little movement and what appeared to be a small force. 
    Sun, who throughout his life accumulated such nicknames as "Tiger Head Hero," "First Hand Under the Sky," and "Smarter Than An Active Monkey," is respected as a giant in the martial arts and master of his generation."
Konghua Xingyiquan



    "Characteristics of Sun Sytle Tai Ji Quan: 1) Entering and retreating coordinates. This means that the body should be coordinated in all kinds of movements. Coordination of movement is accomplished if the back leg follows the front leg in advancing and the front leg follows the back leg in retreating.   2)  Movements are comfortable, extended, round, flexible, nimble and natural.  3)  Distinguish clearly between empty and solid.  4)  The movements of Tai Ji Quan are like "moving clouds and flowing water" (i.e. continuously without stops).  5)   Every turn of the body is accompanied by opening and closing.   Sun style Tai Ji Quan is also called "Open-close alive step grand ultimate boxing" (Kai He Huo Bu Tai Ji Quan) and is suited for people of any age, constitution or present state of health."
-   Per Nyfelt, Introduction to Sun Style Tai Chi Chuan



    "For practitioners primarily concerned with the exercise value and health aspects of Tai Ji Quan, the Sun style offers many benefits without the risks of other Tai Ji Quan styles.  As explained above, the demands of martial practicality necessitated the inclusion of the basic advance and retreat footwork that dominates the Sun form.  This stepping method not only quickly builds whole-body power, it is also much safer and less stressful on the joints of the hip and leg than the low stances and extended steps found in other styles.  Most movements in the Sun form include a complete weight shift from one leg to the other in a cyclical rhythm.  This complete exchange of weight exercises the legs with causing undue fatigue (much like the natural weight shifts that occur while walking).  The movements in the form are done "three-dimensionally," meaning that the joints are opened and closed alternately in a natural rhythm, improving their condition and flexibility without the need to force the movements.  The upright and natural stance improves balance and the ability to turn and shift the weight without undue effort.  The addition of toe-in and toe-out steps from the Ba Gua Zhang arts has the potential to greatly improve the flexibility of the hips, an area that normally receives little exercise.  The from can be done considerably faster than most Tai Ji Quan forms, without loosing the proper rhythm, creating the potential for efficient cardiovascular training.  Each section of the form ends with an opening/closing movement that serves to center the practitioner and correct the posture during the form.  The twisting and bending movements in the Sun form are excellent for restoring and maintaining the normal range of motion in the torso and the legs, without the use of force.  The natural rhythm of the Sun form makes it easy to coordinate the breath with the movements.  The Sun form requires no special equipment or costume, and it can be practiced in a relatively small space.  Finally, the practice of Sun-style Tai Ji Quan can be adjusted for those of differing physical abilities; it can be practiced with great benefit by the out-of-shape beginner and well as the advanced adept."
-  Tim Cartmell, from "A Study of Taijiquan by Sun Lutang," translated by Tim Cartmell, 2003, p.3.



    "The hardest part of regulating the body during stepping is that while you are moving, (you) must still be able to exchange (your) steppings with agility and liveliness, so the Jins should be generated from the legs, mastered (i.e., controlled) by the waist and manifested through the fingers (efficiently).  (In addition), during stepping , (you) should maintain central equilibrium, be able to change the steps (easily) by following the body's (maneuvers), and emit or neutralize the Jins naturally without any stagnation.  Without all of these (criteria), the Jin manifested will not have a firm root and body, Yi and Qi will be floating."
-  Yang Jwing-Ming, Taijiquan Theory, 2003, p. 59 



    "The principles of posture and body alignment for Taiji form practice are fundamentally the same as for all qigong exercises.  Thus the principles of posture for standing meditation [#1] apply to form movement as well.  The following principles are additional considerations in practicing Taiji form movement:  1)  Keep a relaxed, natural posture.  2) Keep the "five bows."  3)  Keep central equilibrium, and straight and centered.  4) Avoid an excessively low stance.  5)  Understand the importance and function of turning the waist."
-  Yang Yang, Taijiquan, 2005, p. 82. 



    "13 Essential Requirements: Eight Torso Methods and Five Essentials:
    Eight Torso Methods: Holding in the chest; Stretching the back; Keeping the head upright (suspending the head top); Suspending the crotch - thus supporting the dantian at front; Loosening the shoulders; Dropping of elbows; Wrapping the crotch; Protecting the stomach (or upper abdomen) - relaxing the stomach area so that dantian can nourish the qi. 
    The Five Essential Requirements:  Keeping the body upright; Distinguishing between substantiality and insubstantiality (or full side and empty side); Sinking qi down to dantian; Attentive spirits and Martial spirits (the internal readiness of the mind.) 
    These requirements have to do with the close coordination and balancing of our bodies in all directions: up and down, front and back, left and right. Practicing tai chi without these requirements would not be practicing tai chi at all!  As the old tai chi idiom goes: Don't take the 13 requirements lightly!  Any tai chi practitioner must fully understand these 13 requirements. This is also why sometimes tai chi is called "the 13 requirements boxing."
Master Liu Jishun, Wu Hao Style of Taijiquan 



    "After years of research, study, and teaching, Sun developed a new style of Taiji Quan. Of the four common schools of Taiji, his style is the youngest. Sun Taiji fuses together Xing Yi, Bagua, and Taiji into one. This is not the same fusion as the wushu combined form where a small section of each style is practiced in sequence. In Sun’s style, the qualities of each method become synthesized into a unique style. Sun understood that the fundamental principles of Xing Yi, Bagua, and Taiji are the same; he referred to these as belonging to one family of martial arts, which is the internal family.
    Xing Yi influences on Sun Taiji is its penetrating footwork, advancing with quick, powerful stances and devastating strikes. Unlike most other schools of taiji, with long and low horse and bow stances, the stance in Sun taiji is seldom wider that shoulders-width. The knees stay crouched, ready to spring forward or backward.
    Bagua's influence lays with its emphasis on agile footwork and dexterous hand techniques that can be combined into sixty-four arrangements of attack. The footwork requires precise weight transitions that alternate emphasis between the heel and the toe; Sun Taiji employs this method of weight transition and thus the essence of the footwork is the same.
    Sun style bases qi flow as in Taiji, where it emphasizes the harmonious blend of thought, qi and movement. Movements are fluid and flow like water, with an emphasis on softness. For instance, the sequence of moves known as open and close hands is for cultivating the qi, allowing the practitioner to center and harmonize their movements with their breathing. This is a variation of a taiji practice that visualizes the " energy ball," sensing qi in the hands. During open hands the energy ball is expanded with the inhalation, and during "close hands, " the energy ball is compressed. Single whip expands the energy ball once more, allowing it to engulf the entire body.  Although, Sun style contains movements with the same name as in other Taiji systems, they may appear quite different to those who look at form only. The movements do remain true to the spirit or to their intention. 
    The style is typically practiced at a normal pace, utilizing the toe-in and toe-out step and a natural shuffling of the feet that is similar to other combat arts such as western style boxing. It is also practiced in a typically upright stance, employing a natural exchange of weight between legs. This allows the practitioner to develop balance and flexibility without forcing the movements. The upright body posture when combined with proper alignment allows for movement in all directions and possesses the potential for a variety of techniques."
SSI Gate   



    "Even though the Sun taiji form contains movements that are the same as other schools', these movements appear very different than its predecessors. The influence of xingyi and bagua has shortened the techniques, making the movements more compact. While the movement's spirit remains true to its name, it may seem totally different to the untrained eye.  This is most apparent in the universal taiji movement known as "single whip." In the other taiji schools, "single whip" is performed with one hand extended in an open palm, and the other hand bent into a hook. The eyes look to the front hand with the open palm. In Sun taiji, both hands are extended with the palms facing out. The eyes look to the rear hand.
    Furthermore, "single whip" [#21] always follows a sequence of two movements [#19 & #20] called "open hands" and "closed hands." In this position, the body is posed similar to wu ji (empty stance)-a basic posture in xingyi. The palms face each other, as they open then close. These movements are used to cultivate the qi, center the practitioner and harmonize the movements with the breathing. This movement is a variation on taiji practices that visualize the "energy ball," the sensation of qi in the hands. During "open hands" the energy ball is expanded with an inhalation; during "closed hands," the energy ball is compressed and made denser, like a collapsing star. "Single whip" expands the energy ball once more, so that it engulfs the entire body."
-   Gene Ching, Radical Taiji: The Rising Sun of Taiji  



    "Sun Style Pa Kua was the creation of Sun Lu Tang. Sun Lu Tang also created Sun Style Xing Yi, and Sun Style Tai Chi. He is accredited as the first martial artist to write about and be accepted for the intellectual properties that the martial arts have always had. When Sun wrote his first work it was widely accepted by the people as an alternative way to view the martial arts, instead of them being viewed as a "fighting" art, they could now be viewed for the philosophical and spiritual aspects they have always been founded upon.
    Sun Lu Tang was taught bagua by Cheng Ting Hua, and became quite sufficient at the art. Sun's system differs from most other pakua by its footwork, softness, quickness, and basic moves that can be combined to create an endless system. His skills are legendary, and the stories that surround his life are incredible.
    The Sun style of bagua consists of two palm changes, and eight animals, lion, snake, unicorn, dragon, sparrow hawk, bear, monkey, and phoenix. After two more years of exploring these concepts one can learn, the "endless" bagua, which is the highest level, but a level that can never be "mastered"."
-   Styles of Pakua Chang 



    Sun Style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Standard Competition 73 Movements Form.  Research by Michael P. Garofalo, M.S..  This webpage includes an introduction, information on the history of the Sun Taijiquan forms, a detailed bibliography, extensive links, references to video resources, a large collections of quotations about Sun Taijiquan, recommendations on the best media resources on the topic, and suggestions for learning the 73 competition Sun Taijiquan form.  A detailed comparative list of the names of each of the 73 movements is provided, with source references, and the movement names are given in English, Chinese, Chinese characters, French, German, and Spanish.  This webpage includes detailed descriptions of each of the 73 movements with black and white illustrations for each movement sequence along with commentary and comparisons.  Many additional nomenclature lists and section study charts in the PDF format, photographs and graphics are also provided - over 1 MB of information.  This webpage is the most detailed and complete document on the subject of the Sun Taijiquan Competition 73 Form available on the Internet.  This document was published by  Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Red Bluff, California, 2005-2012.   URL:



    "The Sun taiji system is comprised of the empty hand form and four weapons forms: staff, straight sword, spear and broadsword. The straight sword from has the unique composition of a shang (up) and xia (down) pattern. Once two students master the solo sword from, they can split the form into two sections. Then the first section and the second section can be woven together into a two-person sword sparring form. However, the movements are not one-to-one, so it is extremely important that both partners completely understand the meaning behind the movements before attempting this. Furthermore, many students also study xingyi and bagua. These styles both have their own weapons forms, including straight sword, broadsword and spear."
-   Gene Ching, Radical Taiji: The Rising Sun of Taiji












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Green Way Research, Valley Spirit Taijiquan, Valley Spirit Taijiquan Center, Red Bluff, California


Sun Style of Tai Chi Chuan 

Sun Lu Tang, Sun Fu Quan  (1861-1933)  Biographical Information

Sun Taijiquan Competition 73 Forms

Cloud Hands: T'ai Chi Ch'uan and Chi Kung Website

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Fitness and Well Being

Detailed Index to the Cloud Hands Website



Sun Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Quotes, Notes.

Sun Taijiquan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instructions, Quotations, Index

Sun Style Taiji Quan: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instructions, Quotations, Index  

Sun Tai Chi: Bibliography, Links, Resources, Instructions, Quotations, Index   

Sun Lu Tang's T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Taijiquan, Taiji Quan, Tai Chi  

Sun Lu Tang's Bagua Quan, Baqua Zhang, Bagua, Baguazhang 

Sun Lu Tang's Style of Internal Martial Arts: Bibliography, Instructions, Links, Resources, Quotations

Sun Lu Tang's Xing Yi Quan, Hsing I Chuan, Hsing I, Mind-Form Boxing, Form-Will Boxing 

Sun Lu Tang's Sword, Jian, Saber, Dan Dao

Sun Tai Chi Chuan: Instructions, Guides, Lessons, Lists, Notes, Bibliography, Links, Videos, Blog, Quotations, 73 Form, Weapons 

Sun Taijiquan: Instructions, Guides, Lessons, Lists, Notes, Bibliography, Links, Videos, Blog, Quotations, 73 Form, Weapons

Sun Lu Tang's Style of Internal Martial Arts: Bibliography, Instructions, Links, Resources, Quotations





This document was first published on the Internet by Green Way Research in January, 2003.

This document was last modified or updated on April 13, 2012.