Siu Lim Tao
Siu Lim Tao is the first empty hands boxing form and the most important form of the Wing Chun system. It covers almost the entire system of Wing Chun and is divided into three sections. The entire form is usually practised in slow continuous forward hand movements and should take no less than 20 minutes and no more than 40-45 minutes, to complete the entire form. Novice students usually find difficulty in performing the form for that length of time; however they do achieve this after a short period of time. Encouragement from the student is required!
It is easy to recognise a novice students by observing how quickly they perform and finish the Siu Lim Tao form. Advanced students can even watch and follow a TV program whilst doing the form and be unaware of the time as he/she is doing multiple simultaneous activities. By doing the Siu Lim Tao form slowly; you give yourself a chance to develop good structure and hips. Furthermore, you have the ability to manage and teach yourself the correct hand and elbow positions in an easier manner.
The Siu Lim Tao form is divided into three sections:
- The first section of the form begins by practising the left hand side first and then repeats the same moves with the right hand side. The emphasis is on moving the forearm forward from the elbow through the centreline. At the same time you keep the other hand activated by pulling the elbow back. Even if it looks like you are training one hand at a time, you are still training two hands simultaneously.
- The second section of the form covers concepts of the Chum Kiu form and is practised by using two hands with emphasis on the wrist and the forearms.
- The third section of the form covers concepts of the Biu Gee form with emphasis on elbow, forearm, and wrist.
When you practise the first form, you only see hands movements and the body is totally still. The entire system is based on body structure and body mechanics, hips development, the legs are involved, coordination, timing, balance, the use of both hands, elbow moves, forward spring loading energy, and straight direct lines. It has economy of motion and multiple simultaneous activities. During the form, no tension is required. You must try to relax every single muscle of your body and mind. It may can look as a type of meditation but it is not a form of meditation. It is a conditioning form with both mental and physical aspects along with emptiness of the mind.
Usually when you join a Wing Chun Kuen school (Kwoon) you are first introduced to the Siu Lim Tao form.
Siu means: New, Small, Young, Start, Beginning, etc.
Lim means: Idea, Concept, Way, Program, etc.
Tao means: Boss, Above, In Charge, Top, Manager, etc.
Some people refer to it only as the small idea form. Lucas Castrounis refers to it as, a new way of programming that you will install into your body and mind, and help to understand the concepts and principles of the entire Wing Chun system. Then, the small idea will grow, and no longer be small. It is like when you plant a root; first it is small, but then it can grow to be a big wonderful tree. All the other advanced forms of the system are based on Siu Lim Tao concepts.
We don't talk about fighting when doing the forms - this is a common misconception of people who wonder how you can fight with it. Remember emptiness and passion are the key words. The Siu Lim Tao form starts a new program so do not destroy this by thinking about how it can be used - How can I fight? How can I use this? Remember mind of Emptiness and the sooner you adapt into a beginner’s mind, the better it is. The mind of beginners should be empty of thoughts, it should not be shadow of pre-concern ideas and it must be full of excitement as he/she is discovering with his/her body and mind new ways, new ideas and concepts.
Delete the word fight from your thoughts. Thoughts of Fighting or self defence are very bad diseases and will stop you from developing and enjoying your progression into the wonderful Wing Chun system.
Siu Lim Tao is a new starting program which installs fresh ideas into your brain and into your body and new ways with a logic and practicality.
You are required to do it with fun and self encouragement. After many repetitions - through the form, you will understand your body mechanics and also develop your awareness; your hands will start to understand the straight line and centre-line theory, which is one of the fundamental concepts of the Wing Chun system.
When a practitioner becomes conditioned by the Siu Lim Tao form, and not a slave of the form, their body is conditioned to prevent injuries so that they are able to start other training applications and move later into Second empty hands boxing form Chum Kiu. That can take up to 16-24 months, depending on the individuals body and mind and of course depending on the efficiency of your training and how much you encourage your body to adapt into the new program.
Siu Lim Tao can be the initial way of discovering your own body.
The Wing Chun system has forms for conditioning and learning the concepts; however make no mistake, we are not using forms when we do Chi-Sao (sticky hands), and we do not fight or using forms in a physical attack.
Wong Shun Leung Sifu once said, hand and legs belong to you but are not commanded by you, and that is very true.
People are unaware of their body’s and how to use it efficiently and with less effort.
My teacher in wing Chun and Kali, Nino Bernardo refers to Wing Chun as the art of being lazy. Or my own interpretation is "Do the most with minimum effort".