When we learn Wing Chun (Ving Tsun), we must know the objectives of three forms first. After knowing those objectives, we have the right direction to do practice most effectively.
Since Sil Lim Tau is the first form, many people think that it is only a beginning course. This is partially true. I consider Sil Lim Tau the basic of Wing Chun. Many of the movements of Chum Kiu, Biu Gee, Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy), even Bat Cham Dao come from Sil Lim Tau. So Sil Lim Tau is not just the beginning course, but an important foundation.
How about Chum Kiu? To the best of my knowledge, Chum Kiu helps us to understand the techniques of Wing Chun, while Biu Gee tells us how to use the force/energy. All these three hand forms have their own objectives. Usually, we have to practised for a long time before we can fully understand Chum Kiu and Chi Sau. So Biu Gee will often not be taught before a large amount of practice of Chi Sau. As a result, many people think that Biu Gee won’t be taught. This is not true.
When giving a lecture at Manchester on 1992, I gave the following analogy. When we learn English, we learn 26 letters first. If we cannot handle the pronunciation of each letter, then our English will never be good. The magnitude of the fist form Sil Lim Tau in Wing Chun is the same as that of the letters in English. If we don’t master Sil Lim Tau well, we can never do well in Chum Kiu, Biu Gee and Muk Yan Jong (Wooden Dummy Form).
After learning 26 letters, we know how to form a word by grouping some of them. After learning Sil Lim Tau, Chum Kiu and Bil Gee, we know many methods of attack and defense. If we could practise Chi Sau by those methods, it would be the same as if we could make a proper sentence in English. If we could apply those methods in free fighting smoothly, then we could write a passage.
(From the tape-record of Master Ip Ching’s lecture on Sil Lim Tau )