Trying to understand Sun Style

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by Xue Sheng, May 13, 2020.

  1. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    I am starting this to help me figure things out, I would appreciate comment, assistant and being told I am wrong...that s assuming I am....and I never am so :D

    I am intrigued with Sun Style Taijiquan, and of the 5 families it is the one I know least about. I have learned a short form that was developed by someone outside of the Sun family (Li Deyin lineage). I have learned there is the competition form (see jump kicks) there is a "traditional form" that comes from Li Deyin (also see jump kicks, and there is a traditional form that comes from the Sun Family (see Sun Lutang and no jump kicks).

    I have also learned that it is not the same as the Yang I do, the Chen I did or the Wu I use to do. I also figured out I was doing the follow step way to soon. I was treating it like the JKD follow step, and it is very similar, but it is not as fast, because the form is not as fast as the moves in JKD. Slow that follow step down and where the power comes from become obvious. Do the follow step to soon and it become rather difficult to get any poer at all. Speed the whole dang thing up and there is the power and it gets very similar to JKD. Surprisingly I find a lot of similarities to JKD in Xingyiquan, even more surprising to me I found them in a Taijiquan form. Although, the fast form form Tung Ying Chieh also has a follow step, similar to JKD too

    On the Sun Lutang side of things there seems to be an awful lot of importance placed on Wuji standing


    And you do not get such an emphasis on Wuji in other styles, although Yang Chengfu did say more people should stand in Wuji because it is most important


    I suspect, and this is only my suspicion, that the emphasis on Wuji in Sun Style comes from Xingyiquan, which places a lot of emphasis on stance training. And since that was Sun Lutangs first marital art, it makes since, but again, this is pure speculation on my part.

    I will admit right now I purchased the entire set of Tim Cartmell's Sun style DVDs and I will be working with them. But fear not, when this whole shelter in place pandemic thing is over I hope to meet with a traditional Sun guy (Sun Lutang side of the equation) who lives and teaches about 4 hours west of me.

    As I try and figure out more, I hope to post more, but there may be a multi-week lag the starting the middle of next week.
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  2. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

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  3. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    It's basically Wu-Hao style.
    Nice, fun, worthwhile
    I did this too

    take care
  4. Son of Putrid

    Son of Putrid New Member

    If you want more indepth info I would suggest buying the books produced by Bradford Tyrey as he was the first western disciple of Sun Jianyun and had access to the last generation who trained directly with Sun Lutang.He trades under the name of Neijia Books and Publications.Kindle versions are available on Amazon and can be part read before you decide to buy.

    My late teacher,Dave Martin,trained with Sun Jianyun over a period of 13 years and seemed to have a good understanding of the form.In his opinion san t shi was essential if you want to practice the form correctly.Wuji is less important but is practiced for several minutes before starting the form,mainly to quieten the mind and relax the body.IMHO there is more xingyi than anything else in this form.For example, cloud hands in Sun taiji comes from the xingyi water dragon form.There are numerous other examples and the more you practice the form the more obvious they become.
  5. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    I have those books already and they are quite good, thank you. My favorite stye is Xingyiquan, not standing much Santi Shi lately knee and hip issues. Just had knee surgery yesterday and when I recover I am hoping to return to Xingyiquan, continue taijiquan and get back to Sun tiajiquan

    And in the short form I learned of Sun it seemed to me there was considerable Xingyi influence, but I was not sure. Noticed some Bagua too, I have a little background in Bagua, but not that much.

    Thank You
  6. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Cloudz is partially correct- the frame is from Sun learning Hao,but some have opined that overall Sun is Hsing I technique executed with T'ai Chi postures/softness,which would be a somewhat different flavor in the execution of the "additional mechanics".

    "Where's the Pa Kua?" seems to be a question asked by students of this system.

    I've got Cartmell's translation of Sun's book and must say that Sun had some of the absolute best structure I've seen in still photos old or new.

    an aside-Is there anyone teaching Sun as a functional system these days?
  7. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    I've come across the xingyi debate in Sun before, but since I REALLY like xingyi I am likely to see it in places it may or many not be, because I want to.

    As a functional system..... I know a person who, by the questions he did answer that I asked, tells me he knows it as a functional system. But I doubt he teaches it as such, and his Sun style comes from Li Deyin. But if you have background in Martial arts I feel Sun, more than any other style of taijiquan, is pretty easy to figure out its functionality. Now applying that correctly is a different story.

    But then the only person I know that does what I feel is traditional Sun, from Sun Lutang is about 3.5 hours west of me and I do not know how he teaches it, I hope to find out eventually, but if he doesn't teach the MA of it, I would not be surprised. Face it, very few folks take taijiquan for martial arts purposes these days, so many, even though they know it, don't teach it....myself included when I last taught (Yang Style)....that is unless I was asked, and I was rarely asked.
  8. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    Not only do few teach it as a functional system-how many people have the time needed to actualize function?- but there is still some prejudice by the "holier than thous" against those who do.

    I've taught senior groups-(before I was a senior)-and general classes,and classes for my teachers who weren't teaching such things in those classes,but as a steady diet I'd rather not. I mean it's nice to have people learn something of value but one feels that there's a lot more one could provide,plus a concern is one's own development which is not greatly enhanced by teaching only basic stuff.Like some of my teachers I mainly taught for the purpose of having training partners.
  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

    Had some great training partners prior to the whole covid thing. Had some early on with my shifu too, but they all went their separate ways over the years. Even spent some time working with Wing Chun guys and I was using taijiquan.

    Two short stories about teaching the martial arts side. Had one guy get indignant with me when I said it was a martial art. His rather haughty response was "I don't DO martial arts...I DO taiji" and he left. And this was a 2 person form class. Had another student ask about the martial arts of Yang style during class and I told him that I wold discus this after class with him, and we did. But right after I told him I would talk to him about the martial arts after class, another student angrily said "I am NOT studying KARATE.....I want TAIJI" and she stormed out. And I had not taught one application or discussed marital arts in any previous class.

    But looking at Sun style, many of the actual usage of it seem much more obvious to me that most styles of taijiquan
  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    I had learned a Sun long form, I believe our lineage came through Sun Lutang’s daughter. My understanding was that there was a lot of Xing-I and Bagua in it as Sun Lutang was a skilled fellow in those methods and that flowed into his taiji. I could not tell you any specifics as I never trained in those methods to be able to recognize what I was seeing.

    Unfortunately I cannot say that I understood it well nor that I could utilize it on a combative level. It was always one of several things I was trying to keep up with. I eventually stopped doing all taiji and other methods when I chose to focus exclusively on White Crane.
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  11. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    Interesting, was wondering who you study White Crane from.
    Studied it in SF back in the 70s...Teach a variation of it developed in Taiwan.
  12. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    Quentin Fong, Tibetan White Crane. I began with Bryant Fong who eventually took me to meet his teacher Quentin, who allowed me to join his small group in his back yard. Quentin has been my Sifu for the past decade.
  13. windwalker

    windwalker Member


    Met Quentin Fong as a teenager in his martial art supply store in the city in the 70s
    My own practice started with Mike Staples student of Gorge Long, later on David Chin.
    good times....yep very interesting style.

    Just wondered, not to many Tibetan White Crane the US...
  14. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    You must have met Sifu Sui, I do not know his full name. He owned White Crane Supply in the Tender Loin. I met him in the store many years ago before I began in White Crane, I was a capoeirista at the time. He is a close friend of Sifu Quentin. There is a third fellow, Sifu Ma who I also do not know his full name, also a good friend of Sifu Quentin. Bryant would say he benefitted because he was Sifu Quentin’s student, but often Sifu Ma and Sifu Siu would also gather and Bryant would learn from all three of them.

    Bryant trained for a short time under George Long before he met Sifu Quentin. I have Michael Staples’ books. I can’t say that they are good, but they were a good first effort.

    What distinguishes the method that you train?
  15. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    You've written how many books?

    Could be, it was long ago......close to market, on calif st. if memory serves me.

    As to the method I train, it was developed using the principles of taiji, combined with the long arm and foot work of white crane...

    Makes for an interesting functional style.
    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  16. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    None, of course :). Although I thought about it and began preliminary work on it. Put it aside years and no longer have my resources.

    I enjoy his books and keep them in my library.

    Interesting. What is the lineage? Honestly I may not recognize any of the names, but worth a try. Does it have a unique name?
  17. windwalker

    windwalker Member

    Its called tsang lu

    As a method its development was very recent.
    Not really the topic of the thread.

    You mentioned white crane, lots of memories.
    good ones.... thanks for the info....
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  18. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    My pleasure. As you mentioned, not many Tibetan White Crane Sifu in the US, I count myself lucky to have stumbled onto a hidden treasure.

    And yes, not really the topic of this thread.
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  19. YouKnowWho

    YouKnowWho Valued Member

    Do you know my long fist brother Chiang, Yun-Chung? He used to have a white crane school in Oakland back in 1978.

    My long fist brother Yang, Jwing-Ming who also trains white crane. He currently teaches in north California.

    Last edited: May 25, 2020
  20. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Well-Known Member

    These folks are doing Fukien White Crane, a different method from the Tibetan.

    I’ve not met either of them, but I’ve heard of Yang Jwing-Ming.
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