Characteristics of Sun Shi Tai Ji
(Tai Ji according to the style of Master Sun Lu Tang)
By Lei Shi Tai
Sun Shi Tai Ji was created by Master Sun Lu Tang. Sun Lu Tang is, on 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 interpretation, the “Internal” martial arts aim at reaching effectivity in combat by the harmony of the body and the optimal circulation of vital energy (nei gong). It is on this principle 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 , not at an 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 aligned , as is usually the case in other schools of Tai Ji. All these characteristics respect the natural positioning of the body with two consequences : Initially, a more favorable practice to health, without excessive wear (of the knees in particular); and 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 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, whereas the steps backwards are the ones the of Pi Quan. The steps of rotation correspond to the steps of Ba Gua. Sun Shi is light, fluid and fast. It is compared to the flow of the water or the drifting of the clouds in the sky on a windy day.
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 effectivity 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 total sum of the elastic force of each movement carried out on a correct and uniform axis of gravity.