Siu Nim Tao , xio niàn tóu, Siu Lim Tao - What's it all about

Xue Sheng

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There was another thread in this section that frankly was not worth the powder to blow it up… so I won’t mention it or link it… but it got me thinking about Sil Lim Tao.

As far as Wing Chun goes the only form I know is Siu Nim Tao so if I pull out my background in other CMA styles I have to honestly admit I really don’t think Siu Nim Tao covers a whole lot as it applies to self Defense and fighting. Don’t get me wrong, I do think if you have a good understanding of it you can defend yourself against some attacks but I do not see where Siu Nim Tao does much for protecting the lower body nor does it give you any training in movement and it is limited in upper body defense, although it does give you a pretty good idea of how to do that, if trained right. But if you are only doing Siu Nim Tao, IMO, the first time you get hit you are in for a shock. Meaning if you have never done a Bong Sau/Lop Sau Drill or any other type of drill it is going to hurt when someone actually hits you and it will shock you which will possibly lead to hesitation…and you all see where I’m going there. And I got to be honest here; I really think a lot of the meat is in the drills as it applies to fighting and external training. But then I only know Sil Lim Tao so what the hell do I know. That and I think they are pretty cool :EG:

However I do see internal training in Siu Nim Tao that is pretty good and I see that translating into body unity, meaning you can get the power form the root to the fist rather effectively and efficiently after you have trained Sil Lim tao for a while…if trained correctly. Now I am MORE than willing to admit I may have missed the whole point of Siu Nim Tao here and I will also admit it is really hard to look at Siu Nim Tao and not look at it through Xingyi/Taiji colored glasses so I really want to hear form those that know better than I, which means just about any of the regulars in this section :asian: .


What is Siu Nim Tao about, what is it supposed to teach you?


And while I’m here and know nothing about the other 2 forms that make up my flavor of Wing Chun


What is Chum Kio about, what is it supposed to teach you?


What is Bio Tzu about, what is it supposed to teach you?


And since the original reason I got into Wing Chun was the Muk Yan Jong… which I have yet to train... and since I am am looking for answers to questions that people genearally write books about


What is the Muk Yan Jong supposed to train you?
 
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Eric_H

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Hey Xue,

Again, all answers are going to be lineage specific :)

For Hung Fa Yi folks, Siu Nim Tao the form is designed to teach you the structural "hardware" supported by the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun formula. It has some internal benefit, but the hardware is what it's primarily for. It is paired with Siu Lein Tao drilling, which teaches you the "software" (concept/principle) which shows you when/where to apply the hardware. Siu Nim Tao level of training shows you how to fight while holding your ground, going with the idea of "if it is not necessary to move, you do not move." We achieve this by "maxing out our credit" on the centerline and saam sing jong (three star structure) first before considering moving.

Our Chum Kiu teaches us how to go out and seek the bridge. Biu Gee is suppossed to be about Energy, but I don't know much about either one yet. Opposite to the Yip Man lines, Our Siu Nim tao is the biggest/most advanced/etc where as for most YM folks Biu Gee is considered more advanced/etc.
 
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Xue Sheng

Xue Sheng

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Hey Xue,

Again, all answers are going to be lineage specific :)

I figured they would be the case and that is great, I am interested in hearing about the views of all lineages, not just the one I dabble in

I had not thought about Siu Nim Tao as a form to teach you to stand your ground in a fight but I do honestly see that it can
Thanks
 

Vajramusti

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A full discussion of sil lim tao would take a long time and is beyond the scope of a routine forum/thread response.
The slt is the fundamental form- it helps develop some key concepts, motions, control; of directions, training the elbow,
understanding gates/zones, directions, control, angles, lines, stability of structure that later with chum kiu and chi sao is
infused with considerable ,mobility without sacrificing structure, coordinating joints in the body, ,minimizing muscle tension,
training each hand, training both hands, understanding self defense zones in the front-sides and back, controlling the breath and the mind.

Learning the sequence is just a start. Discovery of meanings and applications takes guidance, time,many forms chi sao. man sao two person timing work,
gor sao. lat sao amd more. Withouta deep understanding of slt and development of the fundamnetals-techmiques will collapse.

joy chaudhuri
 

yak sao

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I'm of the mind set that SNT alone will not make you a good WC man, but without SNT you will never be a good WC man.

I wrote an essay on this very thing a while back...here it is if interested.

Siu Nim Tao
Even though Siu Nim Tao is WT’s first form, don’t make the mistake of thinking of it as a basic form that you get down and then move on to the next one. Siu Nim Tao is to be an ongoing endeavor- an archeological dig where you are continuously discovering new things. Even as you move on to Chum Kiu and Biu Tze, you will continue to find insights into the system from diligent practice of this form. The deeper your understanding of Siu Nim Tao, the better you will get at WT. The day you stop practicing Siu Nim Tao is the day your WT skills will start to diminish.
Siu Nim Tao, or Little Idea, is a treasure chest for the WT practitioner. The name itself gives a clue to the mental attitude the WT man should have: focus on the task at hand. Not the next move, not what happened at work today, simply the movement you are doing at that particular moment in time. This mental training has very real fighting applications. When confronted with a live opponent, you can’t let your mind wander: “Oh no! He looks tough…what if he knows how to box?...could be a wrestler….oh crap! What if he gets me on the ground? I could get hurt! I can’t get hurt, I have to go to work tomorrow…if I miss one more day at work, I could lose my job and then we’ll lose the house….”The next thing you know, you are all tense and anticipating your opponent’s moves, and suddenly you are not nearly as effective as you would have been if you had simply focused on the task at hand, relaxed and breathed. Kind of sounds like Siu Nim Tao doesn’t it?
Siu Nim Tao, along with mental focus, relaxation and proper breathing, teaches proper structure, body unity, elbow force, balance, strengthens the legs, roots the stance, defines the centerline, and develops functional strength and flexibility in the upper body. And that’s just the short list.Siu Nim Tao is all about function. Nothing is there for the sake of art. Look at something as simple as the huen sau movement. As WT is primarily a striking art, it is important for the wrist to be flexible and the forearms strong, otherwise, every time we hit something or someone, we would injure our wrists. Siu Nim Tao addresses this, by repeating huen sau numerous times throughout the form.So in essence, the first opponent you encounter in WT is yourself : your own bad habits, weak body, negative thinking, poor posture, tense muscles and improper breathing . As you move your body through the various positions, you should be thinking: “are my shoulders relaxed, is my back straight, am I sinking properly, is the force coming from my elbow….?” In time, these things fade into the background and start to become second nature.
Siu Nim Tao is a blend of internal and external exercise; of soft and hard; Yin and Yang. It is a perfect balance. Everything in WT is a continuous cycle, there is no first and last. Just as the name Wing Tsun implies, it is springtime, always cycling, always being renewed. To reach the highest levels of WT, the founders cleverly put the answer right there in front of us, in the first form. But only the diligent and patient practitioner will ever find it.
· Do not force progress
· The mind is free of distractions and the mood is bright
.
· Look where the hand goes
.
· Power from the bottom of the elbow.
· One tan, three fook. Send the elbow forward one millimeter at a time
· Push the head against the sky and the feet firmly on the ground.
· Head up with horizontal vision
· Sinking elbow and drooping shoulders
· Containable chest and elevated back
· Straighten the waist and suck in the stomach
 

mook jong man

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The first form teaches you the stance and is the foundation for learning to kick.
Most of all it teaches you to instinctively attack and defend on the centerline.
The lower Garn Sau will protect the lower body.

There are many very useful movements in there for self defence , anything from arm grab releases , to movements to deflect straight punches , uppercuts and roundhouse punches.

But in application they may not appear exactly as they do in the form , some movements are also hidden in the transitions between other moves such as turning from Tan to Bong.

The Chum Kiu basically teaches to move your body as one unit for maximum power and efficiency , it teaches you to generate power or overcome the opponents power by pivoting the whole body.

You are also learning to apply two force vectors at the one time to overpower the opponent , for example if my arm is on top of yours and I want to cut my arm down to open up the path for striking you can resist by forcing your arm back up.
But if I add a pivot to that cutting down movement you find it hard to resist because now not only is your arm being pressed down but your body is being pulled down and out to the side by the pivot at the same time.

Some people think of the Biu Gee as the recovery form for when something has gone wrong , and there is something to that notion , but I tend to think of it as the form that turbo charges all your techniques , due to the high speed rotation of the body.

In our lineage the upper body is utilized to add extra power to all the techniques unlike the chum Kiu where the waist and upper body are locked together in ours the upper torso will resemble more how a boxer will generate power.
This extra twisting of the upper body is also used to generate power with the pole.

In the wooden dummy form all the principles and concepts worked on in the previous forms are now brought together and honed on the dummy.
Mainly correct positioning and transferring of your body mass into the dummy , not merely smashing the crap out of the dummy arms as fast as you can as is most commonly seen.
 
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Xue Sheng

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A full discussion of sil lim tao would take a long time and is beyond the scope of a routine forum/thread response.
The slt is the fundamental form- it helps develop some key concepts, motions, control; of directions, training the elbow,
understanding gates/zones, directions, control, angles, lines, stability of structure that later with chum kiu and chi sao is
infused with considerable ,mobility without sacrificing structure, coordinating joints in the body, ,minimizing muscle tension,
training each hand, training both hands, understanding self defense zones in the front-sides and back, controlling the breath and the mind.

Learning the sequence is just a start. Discovery of meanings and applications takes guidance, time,many forms chi sao. man sao two person timing work,
gor sao. lat sao amd more. Withouta deep understanding of slt and development of the fundamnetals-techmiques will collapse.

joy chaudhuri

Like I said, I was asking a question about something that people generally write books about. :D

But then you go a do a good job of answer the question in a couple of paragraphs

Great post, thanks :asian:
 
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Xue Sheng

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I'm of the mind set that SNT alone will not make you a good WC man, but without SNT you will never be a good WC man.

I wrote an essay on this very thing a while back...here it is if interested.

Siu Nim Tao
Even though Siu Nim Tao is WT’s first form, don’t make the mistake of thinking of it as a basic form that you get down and then move on to the next one. Siu Nim Tao is to be an ongoing endeavor- an archeological dig where you are continuously discovering new things. Even as you move on to Chum Kiu and Biu Tze, you will continue to find insights into the system from diligent practice of this form. The deeper your understanding of Siu Nim Tao, the better you will get at WT. The day you stop practicing Siu Nim Tao is the day your WT skills will start to diminish.
Siu Nim Tao, or Little Idea, is a treasure chest for the WT practitioner. The name itself gives a clue to the mental attitude the WT man should have: focus on the task at hand. Not the next move, not what happened at work today, simply the movement you are doing at that particular moment in time. This mental training has very real fighting applications. When confronted with a live opponent, you can’t let your mind wander: “Oh no! He looks tough…what if he knows how to box?...could be a wrestler….oh crap! What if he gets me on the ground? I could get hurt! I can’t get hurt, I have to go to work tomorrow…if I miss one more day at work, I could lose my job and then we’ll lose the house….”The next thing you know, you are all tense and anticipating your opponent’s moves, and suddenly you are not nearly as effective as you would have been if you had simply focused on the task at hand, relaxed and breathed. Kind of sounds like Siu Nim Tao doesn’t it?
Siu Nim Tao, along with mental focus, relaxation and proper breathing, teaches proper structure, body unity, elbow force, balance, strengthens the legs, roots the stance, defines the centerline, and develops functional strength and flexibility in the upper body. And that’s just the short list.Siu Nim Tao is all about function. Nothing is there for the sake of art. Look at something as simple as the huen sau movement. As WT is primarily a striking art, it is important for the wrist to be flexible and the forearms strong, otherwise, every time we hit something or someone, we would injure our wrists. Siu Nim Tao addresses this, by repeating huen sau numerous times throughout the form.So in essence, the first opponent you encounter in WT is yourself : your own bad habits, weak body, negative thinking, poor posture, tense muscles and improper breathing . As you move your body through the various positions, you should be thinking: “are my shoulders relaxed, is my back straight, am I sinking properly, is the force coming from my elbow….?” In time, these things fade into the background and start to become second nature.
Siu Nim Tao is a blend of internal and external exercise; of soft and hard; Yin and Yang. It is a perfect balance. Everything in WT is a continuous cycle, there is no first and last. Just as the name Wing Tsun implies, it is springtime, always cycling, always being renewed. To reach the highest levels of WT, the founders cleverly put the answer right there in front of us, in the first form. But only the diligent and patient practitioner will ever find it.
· Do not force progress
· The mind is free of distractions and the mood is bright
.
· Look where the hand goes
.
· Power from the bottom of the elbow.
· One tan, three fook. Send the elbow forward one millimeter at a time
· Push the head against the sky and the feet firmly on the ground.
· Head up with horizontal vision
· Sinking elbow and drooping shoulders
· Containable chest and elevated back
· Straighten the waist and suck in the stomach
Nah…I’m not interested :uhyeah:

That was very informative thank you :asian:

And this bit
Oh no! He looks tough…what if he knows how to box?...could be a wrestler….oh crap! What if he gets me on the ground? I could get hurt! I can’t get hurt, I have to go to work tomorrow…if I miss one more day at work, I could lose my job and then we’ll lose the house….”

You are forgetting, I was once labeled " "genuine, certifiable MA House O' Pain maniac" on MT by exile :EG: :D

Seriously, I understand that bit very well except these days it is likely to go more towards "I can't afford to injure myself again! I HATE crutches and braces! But what the heck, it is another day off from work so..... :D
 
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Xue Sheng

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The first form teaches you the stance and is the foundation for learning to kick.
Most of all it teaches you to instinctively attack and defend on the centerline.
The lower Garn Sau will protect the lower body.

There are many very useful movements in there for self defence , anything from arm grab releases , to movements to deflect straight punches , uppercuts and roundhouse punches.

But in application they may not appear exactly as they do in the form , some movements are also hidden in the transitions between other moves such as turning from Tan to Bong.

The Chum Kiu basically teaches to move your body as one unit for maximum power and efficiency , it teaches you to generate power or overcome the opponents power by pivoting the whole body.

You are also learning to apply two force vectors at the one time to overpower the opponent , for example if my arm is on top of yours and I want to cut my arm down to open up the path for striking you can resist by forcing your arm back up.
But if I add a pivot to that cutting down movement you find it hard to resist because now not only is your arm being pressed down but your body is being pulled down and out to the side by the pivot at the same time.

Some people think of the Biu Gee as the recovery form for when something has gone wrong , and there is something to that notion , but I tend to think of it as the form that turbo charges all your techniques , due to the high speed rotation of the body.

In our lineage the upper body is utilized to add extra power to all the techniques unlike the chum Kiu where the waist and upper body are locked together in ours the upper torso will resemble more how a boxer will generate power.
This extra twisting of the upper body is also used to generate power with the pole.

In the wooden dummy form all the principles and concepts worked on in the previous forms are now brought together and honed on the dummy.
Mainly correct positioning and transferring of your body mass into the dummy , not merely smashing the crap out of the dummy arms as fast as you can as is most commonly seen.

Thanks, also quite informative. :asian:

I have often wondered what the heck people are thinking when the rapid fire punches on a Muk Yan Jong. If I saw power I would understand way but generally what I see is speed at the expense of power.
 

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Yak, I'm with you on this. But I gotta say that those sayings you posted are in serious need of better translation. Some are perfectly understandable, and perhaps kind of memorable in a quaint sort of way. But others are almost incomprehesible. My personal favorite (in a negative sense) has to be:

· Containable chest and elevated back

Containable chest? There's got to be a better way to describe the relaxed, slightly concave or sunken chest position we adopt. Even LT must have realized that this one wasn't cutting it, since he devoted a long section in his book on SNT (unsuccesfully) trying to explain it. Honestly, if I hadn't been personally shown by him what he was talking about, I wouldn't have a clue from this!
 
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Xue Sheng

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Yak, I'm with you on this. But I gotta say that those sayings you posted are in serious need of better translation. Some are perfectly understandable, and perhaps a bit quaint. But others are almost incomprehesible. My personal favorite (in a negative sense) has to be:


Containable chest? There's got to be a better way to describe the relaxed, slightly concave or sunken chest position we adopt. Even LT must have realized that this one wasn't cutting it, since he devoted a long section in his book on SNT (unsuccesfully) trying to explain it. Honestly, if I hadn't been personally shown by him what he was talking about, I wouldn't have a clue from this!

I have to tell you that after years of Taijiquan with a Chinese sifu and sometime in Xingyiquan... I had not even noticed the problem with translation and I actually understood perfectly what he was saying.... Damn ICMA background strikes again :D
 

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yak sao said:
· Straighten the waist and suck in the stomach

This is one stance wise I would disagree with - for Hung Fa Yi folks we try to push out the lower area of the stomach, it allows the hip to tuck slightly, compressing the tailbone area and helping to vertically align the three dantiens. For us at least, we can't define body centerline without that type of alignment (hence why we don't lean back like some other lineages prefer).

EDIT:
Just thought I should note though, I did enjoy the article/essay, i think it's a great perspective.
 
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Xue Sheng

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· Do not force progress
· The mind is free of distractions and the mood is bright
.
· Look where the hand goes
.
· Power from the bottom of the elbow.
· One tan, three fook. Send the elbow forward one millimeter at a time
· Push the head against the sky and the feet firmly on the ground.
· Head up with horizontal vision
· Sinking elbow and drooping shoulders
· Containable chest and elevated back
· Straighten the waist and suck in the stomach

You see this is where my view of things is tinted by my ICMA (Taiji, Xingyi and a dash of Bagua) glasses. This all makes perfect sense to me although I had not made the connection in Wing Chun. I also know there are differences of opinion like here "Straighten the waist and suck in the stomach" I have had a sifu teaching me Chen style Taiji that said to do this and Chen Zhenglei in a seminar said not to do this. Basically the differences make it interesting to me. Also you ALWAYS have to take into account translation differences and errors as well when looking at this stuff.
 

yak sao

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Yak, I'm with you on this. But I gotta say that those sayings you posted are in serious need of better translation. Some are perfectly understandable, and perhaps kind of memorable in a quaint sort of way. But others are almost incomprehesible. My personal favorite (in a negative sense) has to be:



Containable chest? There's got to be a better way to describe the relaxed, slightly concave or sunken chest position we adopt. Even LT must have realized that this one wasn't cutting it, since he devoted a long section in his book on SNT (unsuccesfully) trying to explain it. Honestly, if I hadn't been personally shown by him what he was talking about, I wouldn't have a clue from this!

I know...when I explain this concept in class, I always use concave or sunken not containable...I mean seriously, what the hell is that?
The first time I met LT, he adjusted my shoulders/chest and explained it to me as well. I guess we're just a couple of silly roundeyes.
 

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Everyones pretty much covered your questions.
No disrespect intended, questions are good and welcomed. You are questioning SLT which shows me you need to practice more often :)
Also, you mentioned the wooden dummy, it's great to have a play but would spend your time concentrating on sil lim tau or maybe a little chum kiu for now.
 
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Xue Sheng

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Everyones pretty much covered your questions.
No disrespect intended, questions are good and welcomed. You are questioning SLT which shows me you need to practice more often :)
Also, you mentioned the wooden dummy, it's great to have a play but would spend your time concentrating on sil lim tau or maybe a little chum kiu for now.

No disrespect taken, but of course I need to practice more... as I have already said the only Wing Chun form I know is SLT, I'm a Taijiquan/Xingyiquan guy, have been for years, and at the moment it could be said to only dabble in Wing Chun. And I am not questioning SLT, I am just asking questions about it and this whole post is a result of another post that was pretty much a flame waiting to happen because the OP was a troll. But it got me thinking about some questions.

Also I do not know the wooden dummy form so I do not play with it and I do not know chum kiu or biu jee so focusing on them at this point would be kind of difficult.

Now in the spring I may be going back to train Wing Chun but I am still not 100% sure of that just yet. But if I do, after my sifu straightens out all the bad habit I have likely picked up since the last time I saw him, he already said he would like me to work on chum kiu before I make a decision as to continue training Wing Chun or stopping it altogether. So you are correct sir, I need to focus on chum kiu….but I need to learn it first ;)
 
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There are a lot of great answers already, but I wanted to throw in my interpretations and observations.

SIU LIM TAO
Teaches you the basic stance, the centerline, and the most common hand techniques of the system

CHUM KIU
Move your body as one unit, pivoting, footwork, kicks

BIU JEE
Sifu calls this the "desperation form." When you lose the centerline, you have to get it back at all costs. This means resorting to some damaging techniques like elbows and finger jabs.

MOOK JONG
Basically applying all the things you learned in SLT and CK to a tangible object instead of practicing in the air.

*****
Xue,

I agree with you: SLT will not teach you how to fight. However, I would like to point out that NO wing chun form would. They don't mimic the "look" of a fight like when you practice forms in other styles. Wing chun forms are meant to teach you the foundation of the system. Drills with other students (whether against certain attacks, or chi sao) are what prepare you for self-defense.
 
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