Maximize Your Siu Nim Tau Form

If Wing Tsun is a building, then the Siu Nim Tau is its foundation.  Siu Nim Tau, a.k.a. the Little Idea Form,  focuses the mind and body  by combining simple movement with mindful effort.  As in many martial arts, form training is an opportunity to focus the mind and develop fundamental skills.  Increasingly MMA and  combat sports have de-emphasised “form training” in favor of combat application regimens.  Even in Wing Tsun it is easy be seduced by the allure of chi-sau and fighting drills over humble Siu Nim Tau practice.  However, after the basic structure has been developed, students need to continually revisit the Siu Nim Tau to compliment other areas of training, and benefit their overall health.  Every time we practice Siu Nim Tau, is another opportunity to strengthen the body, mind and spirit.  To keep it fresh, here are several focuses you need to incorporate to maximize your efforts while practicing the Siu Nim Tau form:

  1.  Breathing- The first third of the Siu Nim Tau, establishes our approach for martial arts training: Firm foundation, flexible body, and controlled movements. It is also a great opportunity to develop our breathing energy (chi).  During this section breathing should be a continuous cycle of inhale then exhale- don’t hold your breath.  The challenge is to become mindful of breathing.  To do this elongate the time it takes to complete a breathing cycle by breathing deeper in and out- Start by mindfully making one breath cycle 6 seconds (inhale count three, exhale count three).  Increase the duration as you get comfortable.  I typically extend this out to get a meditative feel, while developing chi. Challenge yourself to see if you can get 3 breath cycles while moving through each of the tan and wu-sau movements.  Grand Master Leung Ting, has been known to extended this first section for 30 minutes or more.
  2. Brisk Movement- Beginning with the gum-sau section, students can use brisk movement going from one arm position to the next.  This means getting there with purpose and speed.  After each movement, give it half a second extension.   This extension will give the chest, back, and arm muscles a good stretch, it also prevents the movements from blending together. This adheres to Grand Master Leung Ting’s saying, “Make Every point Clear.” If you need help separating the moves I recommend saying the name of each movement while extending them to add a little separation between techniques.
  3. Single Leg- Typically, The Siu Nim Tau utilizes the stable character two stance.  Once you’ve developed a strong foundation, it can be practiced on a single leg to get even more conditioning out of your legs.  To do this, you’ll practice the first section with one leg lifted, foot extended out in front of your body (be sure to keep your supported leg bent).  Then switch to the other for the second and third section.  Repeat the form starting with the opposite leg.
Students practice fook-sau during single leg practice.

Wing Tsun’s premier form is an integral part of your Wing Tsun training. Consider shaking up your martial arts routine by focusing on one or all of these.  You may choose to go through the form several times changing the focus, double up by working on more at a time,  or commit a week or two to each.  No matter what you choose, I’m sure your form will be enriched. After all,  its all about maximizing your effort and training.


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Categories: Blog, Training Tips

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