Lives of Chinese Martial Artists (4): Sun Lutang’s Unified Theory of the Chinese Martial Arts: Daoist Spirituality, Health and Boxing (Part III).

A focus to consider by Sun style teacher, Per Nyfelt: “Thank you for a well written and interesting article! As a disciple of Sun Lu tangs daughter, Sun Jian Yun, I am familiar with the Xing Yi, Ba Gua and TaiJi of Sun Lu Tang. I disagree that the forms taught by Sun Lu Tang can be termed “simplified”. Take Bagua as an example: Many other styles of Ba Gua teaches in a similar manner i.e. have a pretty simple basic form and then elaborate on those much more in subsequent forms or practises. To give a few examples: In Shi style Ba Gua you have 8 mother palms that are just as simple as Sun Lu Tangs Bagua, this is later expanded to 64 palm changes. In Liang style bagua you have a similarly simple “Lao Ba Zhang” and then the “dragon form” and the 64 straight line hands which elaborates on the basic skillsets learned in the old 8 palms. In Sun style this elaboration is not fixed into a set (although some branches have, e.g. Sun Zhen Chuan branch) but explored in the swimming body linked palms which Sun Lu Tang mentions briefly in his book but does not elaborate on in detail. Sun Lu Tangs Xing Yi follows very closely the physical content of other branches of Guo Yun Shen Xing Yi (with some modifications made after his journey to Shanxi and meetings with Che and Song style practitioners). There are a few Xing Yi forms taught in the Sun lineage that is not in the book (e.g. San Shou Pao and Ba Shi Chui, sword, spear and sabre) but to call his Xing Yi “simplified” just because he did not include all the forms in his book is not correct in my opinion.”

Kung Fu Tea

Longsheng county, Guilin, China.  Source: Wikimedia. Longsheng county, Guilin, China. Source: Wikimedia.

Sun Lutang and the Field of Chinese Martial Studies

This post is the third and final installment of our three part review of the life and contributions of Sun Lutang.  Sun was a master of Xingyi, Bagua and Taiji boxing from Hebei Province who had an important impact on the development of the Chinese Martial Arts during the Republic period.  This was a critical moment in the reform and modernization of traditional hand combat.  Much of what we currently think of as the “traditional” Chinese martial arts first emerged between 1910 and 1938.

The first part of this series provides a basic overview of the life of Sun Lutang.  The second post revisits some of these points and illustrates the various ways in which Sun’s career helps us to understand the emergence of modern public schools and larger, multi-style, martial arts federations in the…

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