Sun Style Bagua Characteristics

Sun Shi Ba Gua was created by Sun Lu Tang on the basis of what he learned with Master Cheng Ting Hua. Compared with the other schools of Ba Gua, the characteristics of Sun Shi Ba Gua are as follows:

1. The form is very simple, but contains infinite possibilities of change.
Sun Shi Ba Gua comprises only eight Zhang ((lion, large male deer, snake, kite, dragon, bear, phoenix, monkey), as well as the Dan Huan Zhang (single palm change) and Shuang Huan Zhang (double palm change), the two movements of transition, is on the whole ten Zhang. Each Zhang comprises only some simple movements. It avoids the too complicated movements and the long transitions to the image that exists in many other Ba Gua schools. The principle is that the more the formulated and fixed movements are simple, the more one leaves the expert practitioner the freedom to explore the possibilities of changes and uses, and not be blocked by too established forms. For example, the movement “Qing Long Fan Shou” in the Dan Huan Zhang can be transformed into at least five different movements of attacks. Thus, Sun Shi Ba Gua is very simple seemingly, but contains an immense space that allows the change and the variation which are the essence of the spirit of Ba Gua.

2. The movement of step is specific.
In many other Ba Gua schools, the front foot slips forwards parallel to the ground while the back foot presses on the ground and pushes the body forwards. In Sun Shi Ba Gua, it is initially the back foot which pushes whereas the front foot gradually lowers to the ground (the heel initially, then toes), then it is the front foot which draws and tears the back foot off the ground. The advantage of this step is that there is no interruption in the translation forwards: the centre of gravity advances while preserving a constant stability. For this reason Sun Shi Ba Gua requires to develop the capacity of the feet to seize the ground firmly as roots which plunge whereas the axis head, back and foot that supports must remain perfectly right and stable. It is necessary to begin the practice with steps slow, solid, and heavy. The feeling must be like turning a mill with the hands. It is only after this base has been established that the search can begin for speed and lightness.

3. The body must be moved back to the maximum. The shoulders and the hips must be moved back to the maximum so that all the weight of the body rests on the heels. Only the full and slackened retreat is capable to prepare for the sudden deployment of attack.

4. The body adapts to the situation, and the hands follow the body.
The principle is that any change must have a reason. The purpose of the change is to create opportunities facing the enemy. The attack of the hands must be fast and direct, the steps and the movement of the body must guarantee that the hands achieve their goal instantaneously. The hands, as well as Jian (sword) or Dao (sabre) must seek the objective, and the body and the steps must enable them to achieve this goal. The arms and the hands or the sword should not turn around the body with an aim which would be only aesthetic or demonstrative. The body is at the service of the sword, of the objective, not the sword at the service of the body.

Sunstyle Xing Yi Characteristics

Sun Shi Xing Yi was created by Master Sun Lu Tang, on the basis of what he learned directly, since the age of 15, from Grand Master of Xing Yi, Guo Yun Shen. Compared to the other schools of Xing Yi, Sun Shi Xing Yi has a style that is simple, solid, discrete, reserved, flexible and light. This specific style is the result of the following characteristics:

1. Centre of gravity on one leg.
In the basic position as well as in movements, the principle of Sun Shi Xing Yi is that the weight always falls on a leg. One does not find the horse riding stance or bow and arrow stance. This principle makes possible an apparently contradictory requirement – the body is at the same time stable, heavy like a mountain, and flexible and light like a bird. Indeed, the axis which supports the weight must be stable and heavy, it is Shi (full), the remainder of the body must be flexible and light, it is Xu (empty). Shi is the base, Xu is the tool, and both are made possible mutually.

2. The position is relatively high.
The angle with the knee should not be lower than 135 degree. The steps are relatively small, the principle being that the movements should not be difficult. Thus, contrary to much of other schools of Xing Yi, Sun Shi Xing Yi does not seek the large steps and the low position. Two advantages rise from this characteristic: on one side, the natural position of the human body is respected, the wear of the knees is avoided; on the other side, the balance between flexibility and stability is balanced.

3. The striking force is a turning force, on three dimensions.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, the striking force is based on the axis of gravity (head – back – supporting foot which supports the weight). All force is accumulated in the middle of the axis, i.e. with the bottom of the back and the hip. When one strikes, there is at the same time a force generated by advancing the axis, and a force generated by the rotation of the body around this axis. The two forces form a force of three dimensions. For example, contrary to much of other Xing Yi, in Pi Quan within Sun Shi Xing Yi, in the movement of Pi, the rear leg  does not follow step, with a result that the force directed forward has decreased; but the rotation of the body gives the striking an additional dimension , the result is in fact reinforced.

4. The position of the hands is vertical.
Hand and arm form an angle of 90°. It is a major modification which Sun Lu Tang introduced during his last years. Front, the hands are positioned horizontally. When the hands become vertical, the muscles/tendons lengthen themselves, the force of the arms and the feeling of Qi on the hands increases considerably. This position of hands is adapted also to the need of true combat.

5. Two different kinds of exercises: exercises on thickness and solidness; and exercises on lightness and flexibility.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, Wu Xing Quan (five xing) are the basic exercises, they require the thickness and heaviness, the five Quan correspond to the exercises of five different forces; while Shi er Xing (Twelve Xing) are the exercises of application, they require lightness and flexibility. In true combat, it is firstly necessary to seek not to lose, by flexibility; and then to seek to gain, by using force. Thus, the way of exerting Wu Xing and Shi er Xing are different, it should not be mixed.

6. The use of the force must be reserved and discrete, flexible outside and hard inside.
Sun Shi Xing Yi requires that the muscles and the articulations must be relaxed, while the axis head – back – supporting foot  must be solid and stable. The force must be preserved inside the bones; the Qi descends to the Dan Tian. The power is felt inside, but does not show itself outside.

7. The gestures are simple and practical.
In Sun Shi Xing Yi, there are no movements of decorations, nor movement of transition or preparation. This comes from the principle that the simplest gestures are the most effective.

Characteristics of Sun Style Taiji

Sun Shi Tai Ji was created by Master Sun Lu Tang. Sun Lu Tang is, of the general opinion, one of the greatest Masters in martial arts of recent times. In his youth, Mr. Sun mastered Xing Yi Quan and Ba Gua Quan. It was only when he was 53 years old that he began the practice of Tai Ji. His basic idea was that Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Ji have the same theoretical base: that of the “Internal” martial arts (nei jia quan) in opposition to “external” martial arts (wai jia quan) which is founded on harnessing maximum muscle strength and striking force. According to a different way, the “Internal” martial arts aim at reaching effectiveness in combat by the harmony of the body and the optimal circulation of vital energy (nei gong). It is while being based on this idea of coherence between Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Ji, that Sun Lu Tang created Sun Shi Tai Ji, synthesizing these three preexistent arts. Many of the postures from Sun Shi Tai Ji, have the same names as the postures of other Tai Ji, but are actually radically different from the latter, owing to the fact that they come from Xing Yi or of Ba Gua. It is the case of San Tong Bei, Lan Zha Yi, Ti Shou Shang Shi, Lou QI Ao Bu, Cad Nian Hou, Ye My Fen Zong, Yu Nu Chuan Suo, Yun Shou Xia Shi, Jin Bu Lan Chui, Jin Bu Zhi Dang Chui, etc.

The first characteristic of Sun Shi Tai Ji: 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.

Second characteristic of Sun Shi Tai Ji: 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.

Third characteristic of Sun Shi Tai Ji: 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.

Fourth characteristic of Sun Shi Tai Ji: 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 Style Free Style Push Hands

Once you have practiced the single, double and stepping push hands you can begin to learn how to use Sun Style Taiji, Xing Yi and Bagua using the freestyle method.

When I first when to Teacher Lei Shi Tai in 2005, this is how he taught me by using the freestyle push hands as a base. Then trying to use techniques from the form or the 5 Element Fist at first, then introduce other techniques getting progressively more difficult and potentially dangerous for your partner. As the Bagua has a lot of trips and throws as Lei Laoshi demonstrated many times introducing me to trees and bushes as well as the floor on many occasions, but it was always done in a good way with no anger or outward showing of force and it was a very enjoyable experience.

Training the push hands with Chen Laoshi is completely different he can make his energy disappear so you feel nothing. Then he gives it back to you with your own and his energy combined, truly inspiring and an honour to have him teach me.

Intent

It was always explained to me that in Sun Style the mind is the most important thing, 75% is intent in doing the movements and 25% physically performing them, I think this is a very difficult concept to understand unless you break it down in other ways for example, doing the Taiji with 25% effort but 75% concentration.

The most important movement according to teacher Lei Shi Tai is Pi Quan and this should be done slowly and softly but with 100% concentration on every movement. If you feel something different in the movement you should examine it with your mind, adjust it to what it should be and continue. Some days I just did Pi Quan for an hour nothing else! I maintained this routine, just teaching the form and other Xing Yi and so practicing it. The benefits from just doing Pi Quan on the rest of the Sun Style was amazing it improved everything.

This is really cutting down to a base movement no other movements needed just one fist to make all others.

Sun Style Xing Yi Spear

It was thought by many people that this was lost and no longer taught within Sun Style. But teacher Lei Shi Tai has knowledge of this form and though I never learned the form, I was shown the movements by him and they resembled the energy used in the 5 element fists, but developed it to a higher degree. As the idea is to put the energy into the spear and so project it out of the body. I have done a lot of spear training previously with Master Chu so this concept was not new to me, but in the Sun style it is projected in a natural way not forced. So this is a very high level of training, as you need to be at the ‘An Jing’ level to be able to put the energy into the spear without injuring yourself or forcing the energy and you must use the mind with intent to get the correct result.

Sun Style Xing Yi 12 Animals Part 2

She Xing (Snake) This is a difficult form, coiling and twisting as well as stepping in a low stance blocking and unbalancing the opponent in one move.

Xong / Ying (Bear and Eagle) This combination form is very powerful with steady stepping and grabbing and is number 8 and 9 in the forms list, the Qi Na movement can break an opponents arm if done correctly.

Yau Xing (Sparrow Hawk) A very simple form with an effective strike to finish the opponent.

Loong Xing (Dragon) Pi Quan is essential in performing this form and it is designed to be an evasion but also give a springy leg attribute.

Huo Xing (Monkey) This form has jumping and striking in 5 directions and is very difficult to perform correctly.

Teacher Lei Shi Tai explained that the 12 animals give different attributes like evasion and footwork they don’t train power as that is done with the 5 elements. So to make the them work you need to practice the basics of San Ti and the 5 elements then when you have time perform the 12 animals. His advice was to practice San Ti and Pi Quan and Taiji everyday and if you have time the 5 Elements and 12 Animals, if you did not have a lot of time just the San Ti and Taiji or even just Pi Quan as he taught everything comes from this and it is in everything within the Sun Style and is as Important as San Ti.