Characteristics of Sun Shi Ba Gua
By Lei Shi Tai
Sun Shi Ba Gua was created by Sun Lu Tang on the basis of what he had learnt with Master Cheng Ting Hua. Compared to 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 is composed of only eight Zhang ((lion, large male deer, snake, kite, dragon, bear, phoenix, monkey), the same as Dan Huan Zhang (single palm change) and Shuang Huan Zhang (double palm change). The two movements of transition are on the whole ten Zhang. Each Zhang consists only of a few simple movements. It avoids too complicated movements and long transitions that exist in many other Ba Gua schools. The principle is that the simpler the formulated and fixed movements, the more one leaves the expert practitioner the freedom to explore the possibilities of changes and uses by not being 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 apparently very simple , 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 transition forwards: the centre of gravity advances while a constant stability is maintained. This is why Sun Shi Ba Gua requires to develop the capacity of the feet to grip on to 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 slow, solid, heavy steps. The feeling must be as if making a mill spin 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 falls on the heels. Only the full and slackened retreat is capable of preparing 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 to face 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, either in Jian (sword) or in Dao (sabre) must seek the objective, and the body and the steps must enable them to get their target. The arms and the hands or the sword should not turn around the body with only an aesthetic or illustrative aim. The body is at the service of the sword, of the objective, not the sword at the service of the body.