Siu Nim Tao is the basic form of Wing Chun Kung Fu. It comprises of three specialties: (1) No need to exert force; (2) It possesses the strongest structure with the minimum use of energy; (3) It induces the release of mind force from a person.
Learning Siu Nim Tao is divided into three stages.
Firstly, one must relax the muscles of the whole body. Then, he should infuse the spirit into the spine so that it is maintained straight. Contracting the anus is also important because it can help different parts of the body to form a unified structure.
The second stage is to practice in a completely relaxed state. When one is fully acquainted with all the moves, he should practice every move with the mind to initiate the movement. This, without paying attention to whether the move is correct or not. He must ensure that every movement is initiated by the mind and not by the muscle.
Practicing The Main Point of Siu Nim Tao
After completing the training of the above two stages, it now comes to practice the main point of Wing Chun’s Siu Nim Tao. This is to learn how to release the mind force and the familiarization of the automatic reaction applying to fighting.
Expressing this kind of technique on paper is just like inventing a theory without experiment. One will not believe it unless he has experienced such techniques. Luckily, with the assistance of the video, a Wing Chun learner can have a chance to fully understand the techniques.
The important points of Siu Nim Tao can be grouped as follows:
- The Structure of the Moves
- The Moves to be Controlled by the Mind
- The Input of Mind Force
- The Theory of Centerline
The Structure of the Moves of Siu Nim Tao
(a) The basic concept is to utilize the rotation of a circle to generate the force. Furthermore, to tolerate any force applied externally. This is due to the fact that anything of the same mass when in a circular shape can tolerate heavier force applied externally and generate greater driving force with minimum energy than in any other shape. The ‘Tan Sau’, ‘Bong Sau’ and ‘Fook Sau’ of Siu Nim Tao are the obvious examples of applying the principle of circular motion.
The practical use is to let the opponent’s wrist contact on the internal side or external side of the circle. From Tan Sau to Bong Sau is to let the opponent’s wrist from the internal side of the circle go to the external side of the circle go to the internal side of the circle. Fook Sau is to use the external side of the circle to contact the opponent’s wrist.
Applying the Principle of the Straight Line
(b) To use the straight line as the base of exerting force during attack. The motto of Wing Chun “A straight line is the shortest distance between two points” is actually applying the principle of the straight line. This is the application of speed and force of impact. In real fighting, speed and great force of impact is of prime importance. The short distance is to reduce the attacking time whilst attacking on a straight line is to increase the striking force. The combination of a “short distance” and a “straight line” will result in high speed and a heavy punch.
(c) The concealed skill of the “Two Adduction Stance” (Yee Chi Kim Yeung Ma). The “Two Adduction Stance” fully reflects the skill in concentrating the force of impact. Because of its posture, it can concentrate the force of impact at the centerline. Or, even to the center point so that every move contains the weight of the whole body. Since the knees are slightly bent and springy, one can transfer the striking force from the wrist of the opponent to one’s knees. This action can reduce the burden of the arms, thus increasing the mobile ability of the arms.
The Moves to be Controlled by the Mind
From the name [Siu Nim Tao] (In Chinese means “sense from the brain”), it can be seen that the form is based on idea or mind. Hence, when one has attained a stage that he is familiar with the form and perform all the moves correctly, he need not practice with a mirror in front of him just to see if the moves are correct. In order not to affect the concentration of the moves, he should use the mind to perform the moves. After practicing for a long period of time, he should be able to perform the moves with the mind freely at any moment without exerting force of the muscle.
The Input of Mind Force
In learning Siu Nim Tao, when one has passed the stages of imitating the moves and performing the moves with the mind, he should try to input the mind force into the limbs. “Mind Force” is an invisible power. Looking at it from another angle, it is the power created when concentrating the mind. It’s similar to Qigong and Ligong. When one has achieved the stage of driving the mind force, he can feel the existence of it.
Wherever the mind force is moved to inside the body of a person, the power of that part of the body is increased. Every move he performs will be springy and filled up with energy. In fighting, since he has already possessed the absorbing and rebounding effect due to the existence of the mind force, when encountering the opponent, he is able to use the appropriate move automatically without thinking. Thus, achieving the best result in attack and defence.
The Theory of Centerline of Siu Nim Tao
The centerline of any object is the center point of that object. It is also the perpendicular line from the center of gravity of that object. Also, by supporting at the center of gravity is actually supporting the weight of that object. Hence, if that object moves to any direction, and if one touches the center of gravity of that object in the direction it is moving, he will have to suffer the whole weight and impact of the object. Since an object of different shape will have a different center of gravity, depending on the shape of that object, it is necessary to determine where the center of gravity is on each occasion.
Foundation of the Siu Nim Tao
The basic moves of Siu Nim Tao is founded basing on the center of gravity of a person together with the principle of the centerline. The Tan Sau and Fook Sau moves forward from one’s center point. This is to use the center of gravity of a person to move forward. Thus concentrating the whole body weight of the person to attack. Bong Sau, which is moving up from below, is using the centre of gravity of the person moving sloping forward and upwards. Garn Sau and lower cut down is using the center of gravity of the person moving sloping forward and downwards. For this reason, if one can master the principle of the center of gravity, the opponent has to tolerate your attack with your whole body weight. This is the main idea of Siu Nim Tao using the body weight in fighting.
The above is just the basic theory of Wing Chun’s Siu Nim Tao. It does not consist of any particular skill. Hence, if you practice Siu Nim Tao in accordance with the above theory and achieve the described level, you will be able to tolerate heavy force. Also, you will generate enormous power without exerting muscular force. You cannot imagine this unless you have personally experienced it. In order to really know Siu Nim Tao and feel its power, you must practice Siu Nim Tao repeatedly and persistently for a long period of time.
– Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin
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About The Author
Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin
Chu Shong Tin trained in Ip Man’s school for 14 years and was the main teacher there, teaching for up to 12 hours on some days. The major focus in the early years of his training was the practice of “Siu Nim Tao” (meaning “Tiny Idea”). Which is the first empty-hand form and the essence of Wing Chun. This is because Ip Man used to say: “When well-versed in Siu Nim Tao, the other parts of Wing Chun training will all be well grasped and performed too.”