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Sun Lutang's Taijiquan  and Baguazhang

Many persons know the beautiful movements of Taijiquan but not everyone knows that Taijiquan is a Martial Art too. Really Taijiquan has many facets and sometimes a teacher can have some trouble in the choice of the contents that  more  fit a situation.

Here I want to speak of a Taijiquan school, one of the most important ones, the Sun Lutang school of Taijiquan. Sun Lutang is known to everyone in the Chinese Martial Arts field as a famous martial artist who wrote some books on Bagua, Taiji and Xingyi. His Taijiquan is a mix of Taiji (Wu/Hao style), Xingyi and Bagua, so it is usually said. But are these different Arts contained inside it in which proportions? And, anyway, which are the benefits of this type of Taiji? 
Let's depart from here! This is also a way of explaining  what I have understood in all these years of practice of the Taijiquan and to be able to make some clarification to others. 
The Sun style Taiji  is called"Open and Close-taijiquan" because at the end of every section it has two movements really called "to open and to close." What sense do they have  ? 
While these two movements are performed with the hands, the whole body really has to participate. It has to feel the sense of relief of the body that opens, it  has to feel a light sense of oppression when the body is closed. This on an emotional level! 


 Left to right, high to low: The Sun form beginning sequence: Lan zha yi ; note the swaying movement of the body, typical of this unorthodox version.


On an energetic level, we have to figure our energy that, while closing the spine and the body, sinks down in the abdomen and into the ground. Yes, it has to go down, to sink in the ground and from there it must have as an effect of rebound, an elastic energy that goes up and  makes  the body open. It is the eternal rhythm of the contraction and of the expansion. When the energy bounces and rises, it makes as to explode, as to open the body. This is evident entirely in movements as Danbian (Single Whip ) but must be looked for and found in all the movements of the form! Even every single movement of opening has to have inside his complementary and antecedent movement of closing and every movement of closing it has to have inside and antecedent its complementary movement of opening. Not by chance this is the symbol of the Dao or Tao: the white"fish"   has inside a black point and vice versa. 
From the martial point of view the Sun form is entirely practicable wit these principles of opening and closing. In closing the energy is compressed into the ground, in opening it is released!

In the Sun form we can apply the Yiquan (Mind-kungfu) principles too. While performing Louxi aobu (with left hand deflecting low and right hand pushing) we must think that the two arms are bound with  an inflexible rubber-band and only in the ending part of the movement we can break it; this breaking visualization can be made in "Single Whip", in "Jinbu banlan chui" and so on.

Standing positions are important too. It is said that Sun Lutang practiced standing meditation, particularly in the beginning Wuji stance, but every movement can be used as a pole position.

The Sun Lutang form , according to my opinion, is for a 40 % Taiji, 40% Xingyi and only a 20% can be perceived as Bagua. The Taiji gives the structure of the entire form; the Xingyi lends its stepping with the back foot that follows the front foot and with its punches; but where is it Bagua?


Bagua is present in some movements where the Xingyi stepping gives room to the typical  Fu style Bagua rippling steps, i.e at the beginning, in Jinbu banlan chui and in  movement 54, Yema fenzong  (Wild horse parts its mane). It can be detected also in movement 43 when we step back and kick and, of course, in the Lotus kick.

So this is really the Kungfu fighter's Taijiquan! It blends Taiji, Xingyi, Bagua. What a marvelous art!

Many years ago I studied Chen style Taijiquan in Beijing (Master Deng Jie) and I taught it for a while. But I realized soon that Chen style, with its wide movements and low positions, was of no use for a person who practised  Bagua and Xingyi. So I gave up that form of Taiji and I studied Sun Lutang Taiji that is really consistent with the other two schools. And the Fu version is, if ever, more kungfu oriented than the orthodox school.

At present day Sun Lutang form and Fu Zhensong forms of Taiji, with Liangyi  and Taiji Shandian Zhang too, form a perfect context to Bagua and Xingyi learning and are the bulk of our Wudang school.

(From the cover of an old booklet of mine; Sun shi Taijiquan Teaching at Jasnieres, France, Summer 1993. Picture below: Loriano and Cristiano Tori, both in the middle of the picture; on the sides: left Ugo, right Mirko)