Sun Jian-Yun remembers when she was young watching her father practice in their home. She said that they lived in an old style home, the only thing dividing the rooms was a cloth that hung down from the ceiling. The room Sun practiced in was a bit too small for the form he performed and at one point in the form he would kick out quickly and hit the cloth which divided the rooms. She reports that her father was so exact in his forms practice that everyday he kicked the same spot. After several months he wore a hole in the cloth where he had been kicking it. Her mother would patch up the hole, however, several months later a new hole would appear in the exact same spot.
Sun's T'ai Chi Ch'uan
After scores of years of research with the arts of T'ai Chi, Hsing-I, and Pa Kua, Sun Lu-T'ang put together the Sun style of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. Sun Jian-Yun described this method as employing Pa Kua's stepping method, Hsing-I's leg and waist methods, and T'ai Chi's body softness.
Sun became very well known for his T'ai Chi method and his ability to apply it. He was so well known that word of his skill had reached Japan. A famous Japanese martial artist was so determined to test Sun's skill that he convinced the Emperor of Japan to send him to China to fight Sun. In 1921, the Japanese martial artist came to visit Sun and, speaking through an interpreter, said, "I heard that you practice a Chinese martial art method which uses soft to overcome hard. Well, I am hard! How do you want to fight me? I will fight with any rules or any weapons." Sun turned to the interpreter and said, "Since he is a guest in our country, I will let him decide." The Japanese challenger said, "I am going to use hard
Sun Lu-T'ang's daughter, Sun Jian-Yun, in Beijing, October 1992.
strength to take your arm in a lock and break it. Let's see if you can use your soft energy to overcome that!" Sun, who at 5'7" barely came to the Japanese man's shoulder, was willing to give it a try. Concerned that Sun could simply move his feet and get away from the lock, or wiggle his arm out of the lock, the challenger said, "I want you to overcome this technique without running around." Sun said, "I can accommodate you."
Sun had the spectators move all of the furniture aside and cleared a space on the floor. He said, "I will lie here on the floor, your students can hold my feet, and you can apply your technique. I'll even put my other arm behind my back." Sun laid on the floor and the Japanese martial artist took hold of his arm. The interpreter counted, "One, two, three!" At the count of three Sun quickly pulled his free arm out from behind his back and applied a point strike to his opponent's stomach. This point strike caused the Japanese challenger to loose his grip on Sun's other arm and Sun hopped up. The opponent was not so easily put off and followed Sun. Sun struck a few other points on his opponent's body and threw him into a bookcase. The book case fell on top of the challenger. The interpreter shouted, "You've hurt him!"
Sun Lu-T'ang's Tomb
Sun said, "He'll be all right. Tell him when he gets up and catches his breath we can try it again." His opponent, admitting defeat, refused to try again.
Sun Lu-T'ang was well known for his ability to do a tremendous amount of damage with a very light application. Once when he was pushing hands with a large, big boned student surnamed Li, the student became angry that Sun was so small yet could easily control him. He thought to himself, "He is so much smaller that I am, if I smash him, he will surely go flying." The student tried to fa ching and Sun lightly diverted the force as if nothing had happened. Frustrated that he could not hit Sun, the student left. Several hours later the student returned and Sun was sitting at his desk writing. The student was sweating heavily and could barely speak. Sun said, "When you were trying to hit me, I know what was on your mind." The student apologized and Sun said, "You have suffered internal damage." Handing the student the paper he had written on he said, "Take this prescription and go home and rest." The next day the student's entire arm was black.
Sun Lu-T'ang's second son was very angry with the student for trying to hit his father. Later, Sun traveled to Shanghai and took the student with him. Sun's son said, "This guy was trying to hurt you. He may try it again! Why are you treating him so well?" Sun said, "You are wrong. He knew that I could have damaged him badly. By only giving him a small taste, he knows that I used morality to overcome his violence and now he respects me."
Sun Jian-Yun says that her father always taught that the reason to practice martial arts was not to fight. He said that if one wants to fight they can use a gun. His advice to students was to practice in order to improve the health of the body. He stated that the goal of martial arts is to be healthy while you live and then die quickly. He said that if one is internally strong they will not become ill during their life and when the body is worn down by old age they will die with no lingering illness. Recent articles from mainland China report that Sun was known for having turned away students who were interested in fighting, telling them that if they wanted to fight they should go find a better teacher.
Sun's Fast Feet
Sun Lu-T'ang's ability to apply Pa Kua Chang's quick footwork methods and fast stepping changes was legendary. Sun Jian-Yun remembers that on one occasion Sun went to a friend's house to visit. When the friend heard the bamboo front door rattle he immediately poked his head into the room to see who it was. Sun had already crossed the room and was sitting in a chair on the other side. The friend exclaimed, "How did you get there so fast." Sun said, "That's from Pa Kua Chang practice."
On another occasion a famous martial artist nicknamed "Nose" Li wanted to challenge Sun. All of his friends said that he was crazy because Sun was too fast. Li was persistent and Sun finally agreed. The two faced each other and before Li could get ready Sun was already behind him and had kicked him in the backside. People witnessing the fight told Li he should not have even tried against someone as fast as Sun.
In 1928 Sun went to Shanghai to teach at a big martial arts association school. When he arrived, there were 30 or 40 people who were eager to see him demonstrate his already legendary skill. Sun said, "You can all chase me, if anyone can grab my sleeve or gown, then you have kung fu." They all chased him around the room, but none could grab him or his clothing.
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