Sun Lu Tang was born in Wan County in 1861. His name rings familiar to almost anyone who has studied one or more of the major internal styles of Chinese martial arts. Because Sun was highly skilled in Xingyiquan, Taijiquan, and Baguaquan, wrote five different books on these subjects, and synthesized the three arts to invent Sun style Taijiquan, his name has become well known wherever Chinese martial arts are practiced.
Like many of the Chinese martial arts heroes, as Sun's fame grew he became legendary and fantastic tales of his martial arts abilities spread like wildfire. Sun's daughter, Sun Jian Yun, who is now over 80 years old, shakes her head when she hears many of the stories that are commonly told about her father. She states that although her father was a very highly skilled martial artist, he was not super-human.
Sun Lu Tang's ability to apply Baguaquan's quick footwork methods and fast stepping changes were legendary. He was small and looked weak, but very powerful, often deafeating opponents with very little movement and what appeared to be a small force.
Sun believed that the martial arts were to be practiced for three reasons. First was to maintain one's own health, second to defend one's self and third was to defend others. In order to gain the full health benefits one should practice all of the styles equally. Otherwise there will be imbalance. When the art is applied to fighting, naturally each student will have techniques which are best suited to them. Sun felt that it was important that they understand and develop these skills on their own.
Like any traditional teacher, Sun gauged how deeply he taught his students by how much interest they displayed. If a student practiced hard physically and also conducted intellectual research to learn the philosophy of the art, he taught them more than other students who did not show much interest.
Sun Lu Tang was always a humble and honest man, he was never proud or arrogant. Most martial artists of the day were illiterate and uneducated, and although the only formal schooling he received was between the ages of seven and nine, he was a respected scholar.
Sun, who throughout his life accumulated such nicknames as "Tiger Head Hero," "First Hand Uner the Sky," and "Smarter Than An Active Monkey," is respected as a giant in the martial arts and master of his generation.
Sun died at the age of 73 in the same room he had been born in. According to his daughter, he used the Yi Jing (Book of Changes) to predict the exact date and time of his death. There is a famous story that says just before Sun died his students asked him what was the secret to internal martial arts training. The story states that Sun wrote a character in his hand, showed it to his students and then died. The character he had written was the character for "practice." Sun's daughter, who was with her father when he died, said that this story is not true. However, she said that he did say that if there was any secret to internal arts it was simply to practice hard.