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 San Ti

To learn Xing Yi Quan correctly and certainly from the Sun Style perspective, a thorough and continuous training in San Ti is required.

What does it mean?
We interpret San Ti as meaning the three trinity’s, the connection between heaven, earth and man. As when we look at how we practice San Ti, we have the head and hands pointing to heaven, the feet that grip the earth and the alignments of the body, that with breathing improve us a human beings.

San Ti is an exercise to help us understand ourselves. It is a difficult path to follow, but to start out on the path of Xing Yi means an undertaking, to seriously follow this exercise. For to reap the benefits of the rest of the system the root San Ti will give you is invaluable.

How do I know if my San Ti is Correct?
Our method of practicing San Ti Shi has been passed down from Sun Lu Tang directly to Master Lei Shi Mo, then to Master Lei Shi Tai and then to Bob Melia and is based on correct alignments of the body; if these alignments are correct then the San Ti is correct

Alignment 1.
Front knee in line with front heel (see Photo)

Alignment 2.
Rear knee in line with rear foot, (see photo)

Alignment 3.
Lower back in line with rear heel, (see photo)

Master Lei Shi Mo

When Master Lei Shi Mo went to Sun Lu Tang he weighed 130kg and so as he could not do any other type of movements Sun Lu Tang gave him only San Ti to practice. Everyday Lei Shi Mo would stand in San Ti and only practice this exercise until a pool of his sweat was on the floor where he had stood, gradually over a period of time his weight began to normalise and he was then able to learn Sun Shi completely from Sun Lu Tang.

Sun Style Bagua Zhang

Sun style Bagua is unique in that it only walks the circle there are no straight line forms just a single palm change, a double palm change and the eight animal palm changes. The stepping we use is also unique in that it is not the sliding step commonly associated with Bagua but a more natural step to aid in the main attribute we get from this art speed and agility.

Ding Bu (Formulate step)

This is the beginning and it is important at this stage to make sure that the correct stepping is learned and also that it is incorporated into your daily walking regime so that it becomes a natural step. The next stage is to start to walk in a circle it is important to start out very slowly and make sure that each step is correct and that balance can be maintained throughout walking the circle at this stage the single palm change can be learned and incorporated into the daily walking regime, again it is important that equality is maintained when doing the palm change in that an even number of changes on the left and right is performed.

Huo Bu (free step)

At this level the double palm change and the eight animal forms are learned, the steps become much more fluent and speed can be increased, the applications can be also learned at this stage and the art begins to take shape, theory can be introduced and the Dao De Jing and the I Jing are important works to be studied.

Bian Zhang (change as you please)

This is the last level of training and the art is completely internalised and can be used in any way with no fixed patterns it adapts to the opponent and moves with a purpose both with fluidity and speed.

The above levels correspond to the other levels in both Xing Yi and Taiji within Sunstyle and although can be practiced separately the benefit is in working toward all levels in all three arts so that full development can be gained.

Bagua Jian

This is the only weapon within Sun Style Bagua and is a variation on the form originally learned by Sun Lu Tang from Cheng Ting Hua.