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Tai Chi Styles
introductions to other styles and aspects beyond the Yang From

Introducing the Sun Form

 

The Sun style of tai chi is one of the youngest Form styles of them all. It was developed in the early 1900s by Sun Lutang and is noted not so much for its lineage and adaptation from the older styles but for its fusion with other martial arts – bagua and xing yi.

To understand where the Sun style has come from, it is necessary to look at the life of its founder, whose exploits had a direct impact upon the form. Sun Lutang was born in 1861 in Dingxian County in the Hebei Province, the son of a poor farmer who died while he was still young. Forced to then work as a servant for a rich landowner, who because he was a physically weak boy would only pay him with food and not money to support his mother; and Sun often had to endure beatings from members of the landowner’s family. In order to defend himself he began learning kung fu from a local teacher, finding an enthusiasm and fascination with the martial arts. This culminated in Sun’s sacking from his job for injuring one of the landowner’s family members as he tried to beat him. Sun then went to work for his uncle who ran a moderately prosperous calligraphy shop and it is during this time that he learnt Xing Yi – an internal martial art - from Li Kuiyuan (an instructor local to his uncle) and ended up training full-time under him. After teaching him everything he could, Li then sent him to Kuo Yunshen (Li’s teacher) to learn Hsing-I, where he was a model and hard-working student – in fact Kuo nicknamed him the ‘lively monkey’ and after eight years Sun graduated from Kuo and then spent a further three years studying Bagua under Chen Tinghua, a famous bagua master of the time.

So by this point we have an accomplished martial artist in at least three martial arts, and a chance meeting would mix tai chi into the pot. The great tai chi master Hao Weichen was visiting Beijing when he fell ill and was unable to meet with those he was visiting and became lost. He was found by Sun who took him to his home and called a doctor. Later, in gratitude of Sun’s care and generosity, Hao taught him Wu Yu Xiang tai chi (a variant form of Wu tai chi not yet covered in these articles). With three soft internal martial arts under his belt, Sun made the leap and developed a tai chi style that complemented these arts and fused their strengths with tai chi into the Sun Form.

Primarily based upon the Wu Yu Xiang style, the form incorporated the more rapid footwork of bagua and the leg and waist characteristics of hsing –i with the soft body stances of Wu Yu Xiang tai chi. the Form is characterised by quick and deft movements, freely advancing or retreating in agile steps. Stances are high, more upright and natural, with the feet normally never wider than shoulder width. The movements are short and compact with hand movements hooked into a corresponding leg movement. Another characterisation of the Sun form is that the hand and leg movements are open and closed in sequence, especially whenever the body turns, concentrating chi in fairly powerful chi kung exercising (and for short deadly strikes in the chuan form). Despite all this Sun Lutang propounded that his style was only used for sport and health rather than in any martial or violent setting, and in fact the Sun style contains a great deal of chi kung for relaxation and health.

Sun Lutang had two sons, one of which (Sun Cunzhou) was born in 1893. Sun Cunzhou himself became a well-known and accomplished martial artist and became a master of the Sun style, continuing from his father. His second daughter and the granddaughter of Sun Lutang was Sun Shurong who became the Sun Master after her father’s death in 1963, and continued to teach right up until her death in May last year.

 


Bibliography:
International Sun Tai Chi Association www.suntaichi.com
http://www.chinavoc.com
Tai Chi productions http://www.taichiproductions.com
Wing Lam Enterprises www.wle.com


 

 
The Sun style of tai chi is one of the youngest Form styles of them all. It was developed in the early 1900s by Sun Lutang and is noted not so much for its lineage and adaptation from the older styles but for its fusion with other martial arts – bagua and xing yi.
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