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.