Sun Lu Tang Tai Chi
Sun style Taijiquan was developed by the famous martial artist Sun Lu Tang (1861-1932). Sun style Taijiquan is the most recently developed of the five major styles which were taught when Taijiquan was first made public. His great reputation as a martial artist made Sun a sought after master but Sun never taught his art to promote violence, he taught it to promote peace and good health. His daughter, Sun Jian Yun, continues to teach the style and through the liberalization of China, Sun Jian Yun, his daughter, has been able to meet with foreign enthusiasts adding new impetus to the promotion of the style. Sun Taijiquan stylists from China are also beginning to make their presence felt throughout the world. Both bringing the precious treasure of the life work of Sun Lu Tang and the spirit which he taught and lived to all.
Sun Lu Tang was born poor and physically weak. At an early age he was forced to leave school and work in order to support his mother, and it was during his time as a servant that he trained with a local martial arts teacher. While originally he wanted to learn to protect himself from his master’s son, he discovered a love in the arts and began to train incessantly. Later Sun was able to move in to work in his uncle’s calligraphy shop. Through his uncle’s contacts, he met and began studying the internal arts under the Xing Yi instructor Li Kuei Yuan, whom had studied under the famous Kuo Yun Shen.
Sun studied hard and soon learnt all that Li had to teach him. In order to help Sun progress further, Li recommended Sun to study under his teacher Kuo Yun Shen and went with Sun to study under Kuo together. Kuo was very impressed with the progress Sun had made in Hsing-I Quan and taught him diligently. So agile was Sun at his Hsing-I that Kuo nicknamed him the `lively monkey’. Kuo worked Sun hard and taught him all he knew. After eight years, he graduated Sun and presented to him the Hsing-I manual he had received from his (Kuo) teacher Li Neng Jan. Kuo told Sun that in order to improve his martial arts further, he should take up Pa Kua Chang from his friend Cheng T’ing Hua. For three years he studied intently, gaining his speed in foot work.
Sun Lu Tang was already a highly skilled and relatively famous martial artist by the time he learnt Taijiquan. By chance, Sun met Hao Wei Chen, who was visiting Beijing. Being unfamiliar with the territory, Hao was unable to meet up with his friends who lived there, and had fallen ill.
When he met Hao, Sun took care of him and even got a doctor to treat him. Hao eventually recovered from his illness and was very grateful to Sun for looking after him. In gratitude, Hao taught Sun Wu Yu Xian style Taijiquan. Sun learnt the art from Hao and became accomplished in it.
Sun was now a master of the three internal martial arts. He continued to study them and to research into their theories, refining them and constantly improving his art. Later, Sun 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.
Sun was not selfish with his art and wrote several books on them to share them with martial artist everywhere. These books remain important references for the serious martial artist and some contain valuable photographs of Sun’s form in the three internal martial arts.
Anyone who has a basic familiarity with tai chi systems will immediately recognize the unique character of Sun style. Sun’s daughter, Sun Jian Yun, characterizes Sun style tai chi as methods of Xing Yi, and the softness of Tai Chi. Sun style Tai Chi is immediately recognizable as being different from other styles. Stances are upright and natural, with the feet normally being no wider than shoulder width. Movements are short and compact, and each hand technique is accompanied by a corresponding stepping action.
Sun style is also characterized by its unique “open-close” hand movement. This movement helps to concentrate chi in the dan tien, the area of the abdomen just below the navel), the front of the torso, and especially in the palms of the hands for delivery of short, deadly strikes. Sun Lu Tang always said that one should not study martial arts to fight. Instead, he urged students to practice in order to improve their health. nevertheless, Suns’ martial art was forged in the crucible of combat, for he lived in a time where challenges were regularly issued and accepted, and one’s survival depended upon one’s ability to employ what one practiced. Despite its martial roots, however, it is imminently appropriate for people in all walks of life. Its natural stances make it an ideal exercise system for those who desire a low-impact exercise system, even the elderly. For younger, more athletic individuals, it provides a fascinating approach to self-defense.