Who knows about Sun Style Tai Chi?

Tim's Discussion Board: Tai Ji Quan : Who knows about Sun Style Tai Chi?

   By Michael Andre Babin on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 09:41 am: Edit Post

My appreciation of Sun-style changed radically when I met Tim Cartmell and had corrections to what I had been doing with the traditional set up until then. There is no subsitute for personal instruction by a good teacher.

Sun-style in North America is so rare that it is easy to assume that it is as easy to do as it looks until you see it done well.

On the subject of mirror-image training; it is always a good idea in forms to train symmetrically to avoid over-using one side over the other; in martial terms though it is silly to practise everything equally on both sides when you should be focussing on the fighting methods that suit your build and temperament -- unless you're ambidextrous, I suppose.

As to those postures, that have the most potential in martial terms, I think we should look to the "hidden" lessons of the structure of the traditional forms in which a few key methods are repeated the most and done on both sides (Brush Knee, Wave Hands, Fair Lady, etc).

   By Angela (Unregistered Guest) on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:47 pm: Edit Post

I am currently taking a Sun style class and am very interested in finding a good DVD/ video for backup when I am not in class. I know most people say it is not a good idea to learn only with a video and that one on one instruction is a key factor but I want something comprehensive that I can follow when I am not in class. Any suggestions? Thanks.

   By Meynard on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 07:57 pm: Edit Post

Well, I do have photos of Tim doing all the forms step by step.

Who's interested.

   By Shane on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 08:29 pm: Edit Post

Sun style Tai Ji Chuan?

   By John Shane Crilly on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 - 11:12 pm: Edit Post

angela: if you do a search on the internet you should be able to find vcds of Sun Jian Yun performing the traditional set. they are in mandarin however, but they will give you an example or what the form should look like.
. . . . . . ..
This idea of doing the set on one side or the other is only important if you only do the set. Most traditonal teachers I've run into take individual parts of the set and train them in repetitions to both sides of the body : especially pivotal moves like tucking in the coat. If you seriously want to train hard with taiji, then core moves and stances must be trained hard and you must practice two person exercises on both sides of the body. If that is the case, balance will not be a problem.

   By Tomo (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 03:31 am: Edit Post

Angela, which Sun-form are you learning? If you are learning the competition routine, then Dr. Paul Lam has got a good DVD. If the traditional, then I also suggest the VCDs by Sun Jian Yun.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 02:40 pm: Edit Post

The VCD of the late Madam Sun that I have seen has her modifying some of transititional moves before and after some of the kicks -- I would assume because of her age -- and that can be confusing for those who haven't seen enough decent variations of the form and assume that what she is doing should be the standard for everyone.

Dr. Lam does a credible job with the competition form but he admits to being primarily interested in the health and solo aspects of taiji which makes it harder to transmit the details of the style, especially when using a modified short form to begin with.

   By xan0q (Unregistered Guest) on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 02:52 pm: Edit Post

Dr Lam makes it easier to do both (health and martial) but as an MD, he also makes sure the health benefit is of utmost importance. You can go to his Articles section (taichiproductions) and see for yourself.
People who seek health do not necessarily make details harder to transmit. If one is trained properly and the individual postures are repeated for x times (a training regimen), then it becomes easier to see.

"Modified" short form is not bad. As I have learned traditionally, I incorporate such methods into the modern (aka Beijing Forms) and maintain the 'original' characteristics.

   By Richard Shepard on Wednesday, August 25, 2004 - 04:17 pm: Edit Post

Just a follow-up on VCDs. Check out Ted Mancuso's distribution company Plum Publications at www.plumpub.com

Lots of good hard to find styles on VCD (in Chinese only) and some now on DVD (English subtitles)

   By John Shane Crilly on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:23 am: Edit Post

thanks Richard

I was very impressed by the selection at Plum. I would certainly recommend the Sun performance vcd as well as the long set. I was knocked out by the yi quan selection

Another good source if you have a large chinese population where you live is stores that specialize in chinese music and videos. In Vancouver where I live, I've obtained great vcds for 5 to 10 dollars.

Re Dr Lam's teaching, I took his certification class and was very impressed by his attitude to teaching. It is very easy and relaxed and ideal for the typical taiji student. His system has brought thousands into the Sun style, because it is easy to learn and forgiving on the out of shape. For a Sun stylists, it is our version of the 24 form. The only quibble I have with his set is the opening which does not have the folding of the body that is unique to our style and I believe emblematic of its small frame nature. Nevertheless, by pegging the style to therapy he has truly preserved the form and I can't help but think that master Sun would be proud.

   By Tomo (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:10 am: Edit Post

Well said! I too took that workshop, but in Sweden. His step-by-step progressive teaching is great.
I read on a different forum that the Sun-73 form lacks the silk-reeling properties of the original form and that it is "useless wushu-junk". Do you agree to this? I think it depends a little on your teacher, as well as your own understanding.
Anyway, the TCA-routine will introduce many people to the Sun-style. Then they can judge for themselves.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 10:03 am: Edit Post

Silk reeling energies appear to a greater or lesser degree in all family styles but are really the most noticeable in Chen-style. Sun-style was based mainly on hsing-i and pa-kua body mechanics built around the framework of the Yang/Hao style form.

From what I have seen of Tim's practise of traditional Sun-style, I would say that the keys to doing it properly are to incorporate those factors so that the set becomes a true hybrid. This is not something that you see in the modern interpretations which tend to be done a little too "softly" or performed as if you were doing a small-frame version of Yang-style.

On the other hand, if the stories about Master Sun's taciturn nature are true, I doubt if he would approve of most of what he sees being done with his form. Would Michelangelo have approved of a paint-by-numbers kit of the Mona Lisa, just because a large number of people can pretend to be him by using it?

Finally, I don't want to sound like I'm bashing on people like Dr. Lam. I have seen a number of his videos and have talked to several people that have attended his recent workshops in Canada. He sounds like a reputable teacher who is motivated to help others. As an arthritis suffer myself, I can appreciate his efforts to help those suffering from this condition.

   By John Shane Crilly on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:51 am: Edit Post

the reason I think that master Sun would be happy with this development is because I understand in his later years he increasingly stressed the health aspect of taiji and now it is his set that is being adopted for thereapeutic purposes.
I found Dr Lam to be very un-martial and gentle in personality, though he has adapted a shaolin salute as a greeting before class. He has won medals for his Chen forms and I believe he is actually more Chen stylist than Sun, but his take on the form is very relaxed and comfortable and especially appropriate for those beginners who are out of shape and/or fragile. This easy minimalist style seems to suit small frame forms very well.
One might note that the Sun family never gave up xing yi and baqua. I imagine if one were to fight master Sun you would meet a xing yi stylist who had mastered bagua and taiji, but that's sheer conjecture.

   By Tomo (Unregistered Guest) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 12:27 pm: Edit Post

"On the other hand, if the stories about Master Sun's taciturn nature are true, I doubt if he would approve of most of what he sees being done with his form. Would Michelangelo have approved of a paint-by-numbers kit of the Mona Lisa, just because a large number of people can pretend to be him by using it?"

Just because people practice Sun-style does not automatically mean that they want to be Sun Lu Tang himself. He was one of a kind after all.
And just because you practice a competition routine does not mean you cannot do applications or use the style. Look at all the different expressions of Yang-style post Yang Cheng Fu! Do you think he would have approved them? Would Jesus have approved Mormons? (okay, don't take that one seriously)
Things do change, and not always for the worse.

Yes, Dr. Paul Lam is mainly into Chen-style I think, and I saw him perform the Chen 36-form (xinjia). A lot of silk-reeling in that form, by the way...

   By Robert on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:17 pm: Edit Post

"Would Michelangelo have approved of a paint-by-numbers kit of the Mona Lisa,"

I don't think he'd give a crap. Of course Leonardo daVinci might be pissed since he painted it.

   By Michael Andre Babin on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 01:51 pm: Edit Post

Mea culpa ... art history summer school for me next year!

   By Robert on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 04:38 pm: Edit Post

I only know cause I'm gonna be in Paris and my wife is making me read this crap. I'm more tempted to sneak out of the museums and go over to Serge's for some internal white-crane

   By G. Matthew Webb on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 11:42 am: Edit Post

Meynard wrote on 24 August 04:

"Well, I do have photos of Tim doing all the forms step by step.

Who's interested."

I am. Are these for sale or public dissemination?

I came across a recent edition of Tim's translation to Sun's Tai Ji book last night at Border's in Norman, OK and had a hard time following the form descriptions. The photos
are not the best. I'm interested in learning more about Sun style Tai Ji. My background is in Yang and Chen Pan-ling and Gao style BGZ and XYQ.

Matthew Webb

   By Michael Andre Babin on Sunday, August 29, 2004 - 03:17 pm: Edit Post

I'd be interested in buying them in either poster or booklet format (or as a pdf file?) as I think that he is a better Sun-style role model than any I have seen on video or experienced first-hand .

On the other hand, even with someone of Tim's calibre as the model, any such martial photo montage is not really useful for learning such a set as the transitions between the photos are as important as the ends of the postures -- maybe even more important. Unless you have hundreds of photos, you won't even come close to the essence of each posture.

   By Karl on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 02:57 am: Edit Post

Hi Meynard,

what will the photos cost? I am very interested.


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