Sun Lu Tang was a master of both Hsing – I and Pa Kua (the other internal schools) before developing his own style of Tai Chi, which incorporates elements of both Hsing – I and Pa Kua. Sun was an expert in continuous thought; this is most specifically demonstrated in “Jade Lady with the Shuttle”.
This style of Tai Chi is characterised by its footwork, one leg moving at a time followed by the other leg. By bending the knees you create a strong stance so that you cannot be uprooted. This in turn strengthens the legs, the spine and the neck.
What is firmly established cannot be uprooted
Sinking roots firm and deep the Way of long life and lasting vision
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (54) & (59)
The footwork of this style is linked with the breathing also. That is, when you move backwards you breathe in and when you move forwards you breathe out. Also by bending the knees the breathing is naturally deeper.
Kicking in other styles of Tai Chi (Chen, Yang, and Wu) has tended to be difficult and unnecessarily complicated in terms of the position of hands or fists for the various kicks. Sun however, simplified the kicking and so the fighting of the style became more poetic. By the time Sun Style was famous Sun was 60 years old. He was very wise and recognised that there was no philosophical reason for the positioning of the hands with the kicks. Sun kept the kicking simple; for example, the right hand is always above the left hand before you open the hands to the kick, regardless of which leg you are kicking with. Most kicks in this style are heel kicks keeping the style simple without disturbing the principles of the movement. The heel kicks in set 3 are wonderful for your health improving blood circulation around the bladder, groin and legs.
The basic principle of movement of this style is leg, body hands, and leg. When doing Tai Chi it is important to understand how the energy is travelling through the body and to keep the mind focussed on these pathways. There are a number of energy pathways but the two major ones are as follows:
- Yin Path – for example in Cloud Hands energy travels from the inside of the left leg to the lower abdomen and down the inside of the right leg and then reverses travelling up the inside of the right leg to the lower abdomen and down the inside of the left leg.
- Yang path – for example in Fire (push) energy travels up the back of the legs to the tailbone, up the spine to the shoulders and finally to the hands as you push.
When doing Tai Chi energy comes from the lower abdomen (Dan Tien) which is why you are always sinking yet keeping the body straight. Hormones are a form of stored energy (essential fluid). Dry skin for example (as opposed to lustrous shiny skin) suggests that essential fluid in the body is low and not circulating or flowing properly. Also, menstruation extracts hormones and essential fluids from the body. Tai Chi transports the energy to the organs but first there must be stored energy in the lower abdomen. If you practise Tai Chi everyday eventually you will feel heat in the lower abdomen and once you have this stored energy you can then transport it through the body to heal yourself (active healing).
Lao Tsu also says that water is ever flowing. So too should be the blood flow through the human body.
The relationship of all under heaven to the Way is like that of valley streams to the river and the sea
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (32)