History of Sun Tai Chi
Sun (pronounced "soon") Style Taijiquan is the most recently developed of the five major styles. It was formulated by Sun Lutang, a famous martial artist of the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. Sun was a master of both of the other internal fighting arts of China, Bagua Zhang, and Xingyi Quan before ever learning the Wu (Hao) style of taiji from Hao Weizheng. Sun’s style therefore was an amalgam of the best features of all three arts.
Sun style retains the characteristics of the Wu (Hao) forms in sequence and movement conventions such as the high stance, even tempo and minimal number of kicking and punching movements. It also strongly retains the start, connect, open and close characteristics of the Wu (Hao). But it also incorporates the small, tight, agile stepping derived from Bagua’s footwork and the Xingyi leg and waist methods. The style is sometimes referred to as “Active or Lively Step Small Form Taijiquan” or also as “Open-Close Taijiquan.” The form is designed with a martial artist’s intent to be used as it is practiced.
The footwork follows the dictates of practicality, with the feet advancing and retreating with the shuffling rhythm common to all combat arts, similar to Western fencing, boxing, or wrestling. The basic footwork pattern makes it a relatively simple matter for the practitioner to establish the correct whole body rhythm to develop the necessary power for application but also to create the appropriate flow natural to the taiji method. Most of the movements include a complete weight shift from one leg to the other in a cyclical rhythm. This complete weight exchange exercises the legs without causing undue fatigue (similar to the natural weight shift of walking). Toe-in and toe-out steps from the Bagua can help to improve the flexibility of the hips.
The Sun forms can also be done considerably faster than most slow taiji forms without losing the proper rhythm. From a martial viewpoint, the emphasis on the upright and aligned posture permits free movement in all directions, and contains the potential to apply a wide range of techniques. Sun’s style is all inclusive, meaning power training, technical training, and the strategy of application are all combined in one coherent form.