It is my belief that Sun Style Taiji should be available for everyone, but due to the nature of Taiji some people are put off thinking that the benefits are in the movements, instead of in the essence of the movements.
The mind is the most important tool we can use and people of limited mobility can still use their mind to stimulate the body, thus gaining the benefits Taiji has to offer. With this in mind I have researched the movements of Sun Taiji and adapted this to a shortened form that it can be practiced by people of limited mobility. This form is done whilst sitting so can easily be learned by someone restricted to a wheel chair or for someone who cannot stand for long periods or who has problems with balance.
The methods for teaching are to initially show each movement, making sure that the student understands how to perform the movements but more importantly how to use the mind and concentration to get the energy flowing and relaxing into each movement.
The movements should be performed very slowly taking into account the age and abilities of the student, as older students may not be able to perform the movements slowly they can be adapted to be practiced at a medium pace.
Another benefit I feel, is that people with limited mobility can be taught in the same class as ordinary Taiji students. This can help, in that the person with limited mobility can visualise how the form is done and so use the mind in a positive way. As they are not able to perform the kicking sequence, but can see the ordinary person do the movements and so can see how they are done and visualise them when they perform the sequence.
Sun style Taiji is a unique form of exercise that can be adapted to suit an individual’s needs. I hope by explaining how it can be adapted that it will encourage people of all abilities to come forward and try, even the Taiji ‘Push Hands’ can be adapted so that benefit can be gained from the practice.
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.
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.
The five element fists of Xing Yi are very important for producing the different kinds of energy needed to apply the art.
After the basic of San Ti has been mastered and practiced the real hard work begins. The first and most important fist Pi Quan turns up throughout the Sun Style system and it is vitally important that this fist is learned and practiced correctly, the power at the Ming Jin level is a horizontal spiraling of the front palm downward as the split is made, it is important that correct form is kept and the coordination between the hand and feet is developed.
Next Beng Quan is learned, it is important that the fist spirals in a corkscrew fashion at the Ming Jin level and again coordination between the foot stepping and the punch is maintained.
Zuan Quan is the third fist learned and the motion is down then up for the power to develop correctly, the transitional step is like Pi Quan and we are aiming for a smooth motion.
Pao Quan is the fourth fist to be learned and the energy spirals outward then back on the transitional step, it is important that the hand travels up the centre-line and turns, but does not pull back.
Heng Quan is the last fist to be learned, this fist is difficult because it spirals forward but then turns outward without any movement from the shoulder. The difficulty in this fist is also coordinating alternate hands and feet when stepping.
This article is only meant to explain how we in Sun Style Martial Arts from the lineage of my teacher practice Xing Yi, I accept that others may practice similar or different methods. I am not implying what we do is better it is just our way of developing at the Ming Jin level.
The mastery of Xing Yi at any level can take a lifetime and I am very lucky in that my teacher understands what is needed to reach the highest level and has passed that knowledge on to me.
There are many different styles of Tai Chi, some of which can aid a healthy lifestyle, some followers believe it can cure health problems of modern living, helping to de-stress the rigours of daily life, but Sun Style Tai Chi does all that and much more.
Developed by the famous Chinese Martial Artist Sun Lu Tang, this style incorporates all three of China’s most famous internal martial arts training: Tai Chi, Xing Yi (pronounced: shing-yee) and Bagua Zhang (pronounced baa-gooaa jzhang). Sun Lu Tang was a scholar boxer and an innovator of martial arts. He was able to synthesise these different elements into a complete set of movements that incorporate health as well as martial benefits, but do not detract from the original systems but standardise their basic similarities.
Sun Style Tai Chi uses the stepping and agility from Xing Yi and Bagua with the relaxed body of Tai Chi. It has the practicality of using the whole body in a relaxed way to keep the joints and muscles moving without the strain of holding postures. It uses alignments from Xing Yi to make sure that the knees do not suffer and that energy is allowed to flow and aid in good health.
Because use of the following step is used in the Sun Style Tai Chi form, it is very practical when we come to use the style, but it is also good for balance and coordination. The form can be adapted for many disabilities and this makes the Sun Style more accessible and enjoyable to a wider range of people young and old, It has particularly been shown to help with arthritis in that the gentle movements and correct alignments can help to strengthen the muscles, tendons and joints over a period of time and so help the sufferer deal with this debilitating disease.
Sun Style Tai Chi is the youngest of the five styles recognised by the Chinese government, but it is also a rare style to find and a jewel within the crown of Chinese martial arts. It is unique in its training and form and, through the lineage of my teacher Lei Shi Tai, I have been fortunate to have access to a pure and little changed form from when his grandfather learned directly from Sun Lu Tang in the 1920s. My teacher describes it beautifully, I think, when he says Sun Style Tai Chi is “like the water that runs or clouds that slip on a windy day”.
Anyone interested in finding out further information can visit our website www.sunshitaiji.com or contact me directly sunstylebob @gmail.com
I am available for workshops in all aspects of Sun Style Tai Chi and related arts and corporate training can also be arranged.