Sun Tai Chi Weapons and Push hands

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Sun Tai Chi Weapons and Push hands
   By Jay on Monday, November 27, 2000 - 11:57 pm: Edit Post

Honorable Sifu

What weapons are taught in Sun style Tai Chi? Also, how important is push-hands in learning to apply Sun Tai Chi techniques for self defense?


   By A Taoist from the hills of Tuscany on Tuesday, November 28, 2000 - 09:31 am: Edit Post

Oh great exalted Shamalama dingdong...

   By Tim on Tuesday, November 28, 2000 - 05:00 pm: Edit Post

There is a Sun style Tai Ji jian (straight sword) form. This is the only weapon taught in the Sun Tai Ji system. Push hands is an important drill to learn how to control your own balance and maintain your center under the conditions of randomly applied force, and how to control the center and balance of an opponent. Push hands is, however, secondary to technique training and sparring if you want to learn how to use Tai Ji Quan in real fighting situations.

You can call me Tim.

   By ScottW on Tuesday, August 28, 2001 - 02:41 pm: Edit Post

I know that in addition to your considerable experience in several internal martial arts, you had a chance to study Tai Chi with Madame Sun Jian Yun (daughter of Sun Lu Tang). I have 3 questions:
1. Do you think that Sun Tai Chi is an effective form of defense.
2. For someone that has years of Tai Chi experience (push hands, silk reeling, Yang forms,etc), is it possible to become proficient as a fighter using Sun Tai CHi with only video tapes (form and applications) and practicing forms alone and applications with a partner?
3. Would your videos and books on effortless combat throws complement Sun Tai Chi well?



   By Tom on Tuesday, September 25, 2001 - 08:07 pm: Edit Post

For what it's worth, Scott, I think it would be really difficult to learn any form well from videotape alone, and especially difficult to learn an "internal" martial art form.

Oops . . . Scott asked Tim that question, not Tom. What the hell I'll answer anyways.

"Internal" forms are working with subtle factors like alignment, chansijin, center of gravity and weight distribution. I don't think there's a good substitute for hands-on observation and correction by a good teacher.

In my experience this is true even for a seemingly "simple" taijiquan style like Sun. Every posture, movement and turn involves precise alignment and timing. The teacher observes and corrects, something I can't do myself. In Sun style, a little sloppiness can rob an application of its power.

It might be possible to play with applications off a videotape with an experienced partner, but again I think a good teacher is invaluable here. Liang Shou-yu has a tape demonstrating the international competition Sun form with applications. Most of these seemed to work for me. Some seemed impractical under pressure, but that's probably my inexperience with them. My teacher showed me others from the form, including the "kai he" open/close movement, that are pretty effective.

Wing Lam has a whole series of tapes on the form as taught by Sun Jian Yun (Sun Lutang's daughter). Wing Lam does some excellent stuff, but Sun taijiquan isn't his primary art. His tape on applications is OK; I liked Liang's more.

Additionally, there is a whole series of VCDs on Sun style taijiquan in Chinese from the PRC, including Sun Jianyun demonstrating the solo form. I don't know what's available in that line as far as applications goes.

Tim has a translation of Sun Lutang's book on taiji with the publisher. I don't know if he included any demonstrations of applications with that or not. Sun's book has a brief section (with blurred photos) of him demonstrating push-hands.

As far as your experience goes, Sun is pretty distinct. I've worked with Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao and Wu Jianquan styles. Wu/Hao probably comes closest to Sun (figures, since Sun studied with Hao Weizhen), in things like consistent use of the follow-step and the short-range direct applications. Sun is probably farthest from Chen style.

Depending where you are, there may be a decent Sun style taiji teacher in your area. Tim's in LA. There are Sun-style taijiquan teachers in the Bay Area and some places on the East Coast. There are even more teachers of the international competition form. The latter will be able to give you decent form instruction/correction, but will vary on their knowledge of applications.

Sun is a great style. I hope more people interested in taijiquan take it up.

   By ScottW on Wednesday, September 26, 2001 - 11:33 am: Edit Post

Thanks Tom. I am presently living in the UK, and have not found a credible teacher of Sun style yet, but hope to. I do have sets of tapes from 3 different teachers. I have done some Hsing yi as well as Yang style, and have some sense of the internal feel of the style, but agree a qualified teacher would help.

   By Tim on Wednesday, September 26, 2001 - 12:25 pm: Edit Post

Sorry, I missed your post last month.

I agree with what Tom said about the value of having a teahcer when it comes to Tai Ji Quan training. With your background I'm sure you can get a good idea of the form and movement from a tape, but there is alot going on that requires hands on teaching. This is especially true for the push hands and techniques.

Good luck in your training.

   By Tom on Thursday, September 27, 2001 - 11:48 am: Edit Post


Peter Warr and Richard Watson are two teachers in the UK who may well teach Sun's taijiquan (and bagua and xingyi), or else know someone near you who does. Both have connections to Sun Lutang's daughter, Sun Jianyun, and/or Li Deyin, whose grandfather studied directly with Sun Lutang.

Peter's website and contact information are at

Richard's website and contact information are at

Both men are actively engaged in the promotion of the modern wushu forms of taiji, but teach traditional family forms as well.

   By Rueben on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 06:32 pm: Edit Post


I have seen 14 or so variations of taiji push hands. This includes stationary and moving and everything from ChengManChing's pattern to the 13 popular Wu Style variations, however, I am not aware of any particular pattern used by Sun Style practitioners. I understand that the pattern does not necessarily matter if the principals are followed, however, I am curious for sake of trivia. Thanks.


   By Stephen Luff on Tuesday, July 09, 2002 - 07:49 am: Edit Post

Hi Tim,
Tom mentioned a translation of Sun Lutang's book on taiji with the publisher. Do you have an update on this book and when it might be published?

   By Tim on Tuesday, July 09, 2002 - 06:42 pm: Edit Post

Hi Stephen,
I'm preparing to send the disc to a publisher presently, I don't know how long it will take to publish.

   By bradley arnall on Thursday, August 29, 2002 - 08:41 am: Edit Post

am i in? I teach Sun's traditional... having studied with Sun Bao An, Sun Jian Yun, and Liu Yanloong in 94. My weapons and pushing skills(sun style) are not of sufficient skill to teach beyond basics- but I teach Sun Lutangs traditional 97 with accuracy and depth- and in a unique Leisure Counseling Millieu (uh...we do lot's of different stuff, eclectic) ... developing broad, fundamental understanding of the range of ideas and systems useful in self protection and in the promotion of wellness and longevity.
Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire classes currently, with Kansas and New Mexico and Maine in the works for seminars.
Nobody has waited for Tim's Sun Lutang translation with any more anticipation than my students and myself!! Puhleeeease let it come Sun (pronounced soon)
bradley arnall
cambridge mass

   By Tim on Thursday, August 29, 2002 - 06:22 pm: Edit Post

The translation of Sun Lu Tang's Taijiquan book should be out by the beginning of next year. North Atlantic Books will publish the work.

   By Walter T. Joyce Sr. on Friday, August 30, 2002 - 10:05 am: Edit Post

Where in Boston?

   By Mr, Chris on Saturday, August 31, 2002 - 04:05 pm: Edit Post

Hey Tim, latly I have been thinking alot about pushing and shoving people. I started thinking about how boxing and grappling skills arnt so good in dealing with multiple attackers. I started screwing around with some of my students and peers in the dojo, and found that if I couldn't knock some one out in my first couple of shots, I would soon have to box two at the same time, this sucks! This led me to thinking about the chinese pushing and up rooting. It seems like just shoving guys away works pritty well in a multiple attacker situation, and with the real life advantage of stuff to fall over and walls to ram people into it seems great. I was sorta just wandering if you had any thoughts about this, or if maybe one of your teachers in china had mentioned this.

by the way if any one has a place to live.........

   By Tim on Sunday, September 01, 2002 - 02:38 pm: Edit Post

Hi Chris,
I agree. I often explained to people that in real life situations, the primary concern should be 'escaping.' The ability to project opponents away from you quickly and with force is a very useful skill.

   By Former San Soo Practitioner on Sunday, September 01, 2002 - 06:50 pm: Edit Post

Hi Chris;
Shoving is one of the great things I learned from the Gao style of Ba Gua. Gao style ends many times with shoving a person away and hopefully towards the ground if the rest of the technique didnít go as planned.

I questioned Tim about the usefulness of shoving/projecting people to the ground when I first started. I listened to his explanation and still didn't really understand it. How would that hurt somebody?

After many months I returned to my San Soo style for fun. Old style San Soo placed a large emphasis on fighting multiple attackers simultaneously (which Gao is devised on) and we would work out in trios.We learned how to outflank multiple attackers and punch and kick them from behind.

When I returned I changed and would shove and project the initial person immediately down to the ground or into the second person. It allowed me time to work on the next person and return to the initial attacker if need be.

I later found out the students that worked out with me complained to the instructor that I was hurting them. I was told that they werenít used to being shoved forcefully and in an awkward position to the ground. It was a very disorienting experience for them even though they were never seriously hurt.

   By Bob on Sunday, September 01, 2002 - 08:05 pm: Edit Post

I can't help but read this and remember my aikido days. Randori with three people was always a lot of fun.

You had to be constantly on the move or someone would get a bead on you. There is little opportunity to take a deep stance, get rooted, and deliver power, it has to be generated on the move. My karoddy friend at the time never got it.

In arnis class the first time our bunch of beginners was introduced to multiple attackers so many stood there and got pounded. It was so funny watching from an aikido perspective. I couldn't use arnis that well so ran around aikido style shoving and trying to do arnis, I survived each 1 minute bout.

You are very skilled if you can take people to the ground while moving. If you can't, you off balance them. This gives you time and causes confusion amoung the group. Aikido's practice of blending and getting out of the way are perfect for multiple attackers. Of course bagua is too.

   By Mr. Chris on Tuesday, September 03, 2002 - 06:13 pm: Edit Post

I don't know, while i think Aikido has taught me alot about moving in relation to people, I don't think it works so well when people are trying to kill you. At my dojo we do lot's and lots of gyuwaza and randori, however when I ask some of the guys to really let me have it, it all goes to ••••. Useing the tactics we use in normal trainig dosent' work if no one is letting you "do it". However when I start shoving and punching there is a whole other result. When I first started training Aikido I thought that the way my sensei would handle 2-4 people what awesome and magic, and after a few years I was doing the same stuff and I started to think I was awesome and magic, then it accured to me how hard it was to deal with one person.........

   By Tim on Wednesday, September 04, 2002 - 06:12 pm: Edit Post

Give me a call, I may have a place for you. If I'm not in, leave your number.


   By Welsh John (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, November 01, 2003 - 12:42 pm: Edit Post

I have visited a web site while surfing the net
which gave me the sad news of the death of the Matriach of Sun Style Tai Chi.

I am sending this information especially to you Tim, as you may have not yet had the news, although I expect due to your close association with Sun Jian Yun you probably would know.

   By Maciej (Unregistered Guest) on Saturday, November 01, 2003 - 01:08 pm: Edit Post

Wouldn't escaing be considered cowardly by your fellow peers?

   By Tim on Saturday, November 01, 2003 - 11:34 pm: Edit Post

Thanks, I posted the news of Sun Jian Yun's passing a couple of weeks ago.

   By Oscar (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, April 05, 2006 - 06:04 pm: Edit Post

I live in Chicago , IL and was wondering if there is a teacher of Sun style Tai chi in this area. I have done extensive research on the various styles of Tai Chi and realize that this style is the best for me.

   By Jake Burroughs on Friday, April 07, 2006 - 06:32 pm: Edit Post

I have asked on EF as well as here about a complete listing of traditional Sun Taiji tachers, but have come up pretty empty handed. Not too many in North America period I think. I was lucky as I was not interested in it until after I started training with Tim, so I already had access. I do not know of anyone in Chicago though. Fly Tim out! Easy enough.

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