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Siu Nim Tao: The KEY to Making Wing Chun Practical and Effective

Many of my posts thus far have dealt more with concepts and realities of self defense and personal protection; they have been quite broad and intentionally so.  It was necessary for me to approach things in this way to set the tone for my approach to and interpretation of training in Wing Chun.  That is all well and good, but now I want to shift gears a bit and begin to focus on the more specific technical aspects of the system as it relates to the reality of combat and fighting.

When someone begins their study of Wing Chun, after the initial explanations of concept and theory, stance and structure, they jump right into the practice of the first form, Siu Nim Tao.  Literally translated it means “small idea” and is the gateway for anyone who wishes to gain proficiency in Wing Chun.

 SNT: Chinatown’s “Newbie” Test

Training in Chinatown, when I walked in the door and looked in at class I could tell right away who was new.  Each and every class we all performed the  Siu Nim Tao form together, as a class, before branching out and working on our respective tasks while the newbies still stayed pigeon-toed, hands straight, eyes looking at the clock or stealing glances at the more aggressive exercises the more seasoned folks were engaging in.  If I came in late and saw someone in the back of the room or right in front near the mirror, hand outstretched in a tan sau or slowly drawing the wu sau back, after we had already broken off into our respective skill levels I knew they were just getting started.

What Most People Think

All too often, many new folks who came in would be instructed in this form, one section at a time, and instructed to run through each section until further told.  Many grew a bit discouraged and left within a matter of a few weeks or so.  What I wish these people would have realized is the benefit received from training this form repeatedly. I myself have grown to appreciate the brevity and potency of training this form more and more as my years in Wing Chun pile up.

So many times, the first form is treated as something to “get through” in order to progress to the next phase of training or part of the class where you start doing the cool shit like rolling, stepping or entry drills.  Coming up the ranks I was just as guilty as anyone of this-I wanted to get through the for so I could start learning the second form, the stepping, chi sao drills and all that jazz.  Much attention is placed on the more “advanced” sets of Wing Chun while the first form is treated as something to be endured while waiting for the real training to start.

Ironic, isn’t it?  You bet.

What the Reality Is

The reality is that all advanced techniques, concepts and principles germinate and are found in the Siu Nim Tao set.  Indeed, all techniques, concepts and principles found in Wing Chun originate from the Siu Nim Tao set.   I can’t state it any plainer or beat this horse dead enough: you cannot expect to become proficient in Wing Chun if you neglect this form, period.

One of the best references I have ever seen on the application of the SNT form is the SIU NIM TAU SEMINAR DVD from Sifu David Peterson.  I have watched this DVD more times than I can recall and periodically do so to refresh all of the core concepts in my mind.  If you are looking to unlock the keys to what make this form the core foundation of Wing Chun, pick it up HERE and make use of it.  Often.


The term “structure” in Wing Chun is used so often it at times runs the risk of losing its’ meaning when people pay lip service to it but it does not reflect in their own execution of basic principles.  One of the first things taught in SNT practice is proper Wing Chun body structure through the use of the yee jee kim yeung ma or “goat gripping stance.” This is Wing Chun’s bread and butter, its’ Alpha and Omega. Without this key principle, you have nothing to build on and your Wing Chun will suck.  The structure derived from regular, focused practice of the SNT form is the introduction to this bedrock of training.  There are always levels of detail to anything inWing Chun, but for the sake of a good once-over for now the key points of this “foundational fortress,” as Sifu Gary Lam puts it, are listed below:

  • Inward tension on the thighs (specifically the inner thigh or adductor muscles)-this allows the body to truly operate as one unit especially as training progresses and movement is introduced.  If you have neglected or half-assed your SNT training and then begin stepping or the second form, you will wobble like the one Flying Wallenda guy that didn’t make it across the tightrope.  Rotation on the center axis without proper inward tension on the thighs is just not gonna happen.  Want to muddle through the first form to get to the stepping drill?  Forget it. It has been said that all footwork necessary for Wing Chun is contained in the first form.  So true-it is the inward tension of the thighs that propels the body forward in both forward and retreating stepping.  Stepping in and of itself is a stretching and snapping back of a proverbial bungee cord between your knees-an inchworm effect that slingshots you forward as one unit.  Without inward tension, stepping looks like walking through the mud with boots on, clop-clop!  No structure and as a result, you have the power of one of the surviving 90 year old midgets from the Wizard of Oz in your techniques.  I think I’ve whipped this dog enough, so let me just say it again: you cannot shift, step, advance, retreat, punch, strike or piss drunk in an alley if your body is not locked in as one unit, not only from the inward tension on the inner thighs but also with my next point…


  • The pelvis must be tucked forward with the anterior or front of the pelvis slightly higher than the rear.  Put your hands in front of you like you are holding a bowl, and then tilt it like you are drinking out of it.  Get the tilt?  Good.  Now put your hands on your hips in the same fashion, with the thumbs facing backward and the webbing of your hand digging into the side of your body like a 5 year old who is about to throw a tantrum. Tilt your hips up from the front and down in the back as you gently squeeze your ass in and pop the hips forward.  Now you’re locked in proper alignment of the hips; not leaning forward like you’re trying to win a limbo contest or sticking the ass out like you just got off the mechanical bull.  Ever watch a drunk guy piss in the alley or even stand up when he is a breath away from falling?  You are witnessing the power of the Wing Chun stance at work.  The body knows how to right itself to maintain balance, which is why this dumbass’s pelvis is tucked forward his shoulders slouch-which, just like before leads me to my next point…


  • The chest is slightly concaved and the shoulders slightly slouch.  The 2 biggest mistakes made on the upper body are just like the ass-hip alignment of the lower body: either the shoulders are back and the chest is out, or the body curls over like a candy cane and takes on the posture of a 15 year old with skinny jeans and moppy hair who has the posture of an 80 year old with osteoporosis because he’s hunched over his cell phone or playing Call of Duty for 9 hours a day.  If the shoulders are out and back, you’re gonna get knocked over pretty easily since your hip tuck is already leaning you back without proper shoulder and upper torso curvature to balance it out.  If you’re too hunched forward, you can’t generate enough power to do much of anything and will end up over-committing with your upper body to try to generate any forward pressure, which your opponent will, of course, pick up on right away spin you around like you’re square dancing and punch you right in the face.  As the saying goes, moderation is the key, and in this case it rests right in the middle: Inhale, and think of the way Charlie Brown exhales and his body just sinks.  There is no forced curvature of the back; it just sets into a quasi-slouchy posture where the chest slightly caves, the shoulders slightly round and the body gently sets into the ground.  When viewed from the side, there is a slight “S” curve from the head, down the shoulders, to the hips, down the legs and into the heels. At the same time there should be a straight line from the ears through the shoulders down to the heels.  That is the line of force which generates from the “S” curve.  Combine this power of the “S” with the inward tension of the thighs and you have a coiled spring ready to shoot out.

Everything that makes the SNT form an essential component of your Wing Chun training has its’ roots in this stance.  Short-change this principle and you’re building a McMansion on a patch of sand instead of a poured concrete foundation.

The Shortcut to Ass-Kicking Skill

I always tell my students when they say they are too busy to practice at home or they have to travel or whatever else: If nothing else, practice the first form every single day with full attention and intention because when it comes right down to it, I’d rather fight someone who practices all the fancier, flashy stuff but neglects SNT any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Train Smart, Stay Safe

source: http://makeyourwingchunwork.com/siu-nim-tao-whats-the-big-idea-anyway-part-i


Chum Kiu – 尋橋

Chum Kiu (Cham Kiu)- Seeking the Bridge


seeking the bridge


Chum Kiu – 尋橋 is most often translated as “Seeking the Bridge”.  If we look at the Chinese characters we can understand a more in depth meaning.

尋 is understood as meaning “seek, look for”.
橋 is understood as meaning “bridge or idea”.

The Chum Kiu Form is the second open hand form of Wing Chun that  puts the lessons learned in Siu Lim Tao into motion and builds upon them. The importance of coordinating footwork and handwork together is paramount.  While Siu Lim Tao’s hand motions reference the self, Chum Kiu’s hand and leg  motions reference an opponent in relation to the self.  From this, we are introduced to several new concepts that either are not seen or not heavily stressed in Siu Lim Tao.



The Stance

While the Chum Kiu Form uses the Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma stance introduced in Siu Lim Tao, it is in Chum Kiu that we use the Juen Ma/Chum Kiu Ma, Biu Ma and Bik Ma moving stances.

If two objects of the same mass and density, are moving toward each other at the same speed collide, how can one bounce off while the other stands its ground? The answer is that if one of the objects is spinning or twisting as it travels, you can be sure this object will stand its ground, while the other will bounce off. Chum Kiu serves this purpose. ~Ip Ching/Ron Heimberger

Kwok Chum Kiu

Juen Ma/Chum Kiu Ma is used for increasing limb energy and to control the centerline. One of its main attributes is two-way energy, the inseparable forces of Yin and Yang in motion.

Biu Ma is a basic shuffle/step (step slide). It is well suited to compliment the in-close fighting hand techniques of the Wing Chun system. The concept of Biu is to follow the center line straight in when there is no obstruction present.

Bik Ma stance is a pressuring step and a variant of the biu ma used to create pressure and leverage power off the front leg.

The Kicks

There are three kicks presented in Chum Kiu Form:
Tiu Tek (Lifting Kick) may be interpreted as a defensive function of the leg as well as an attack, and uses an upward swinging motion of the leg in coordination with tilting of the pelvis (tiu yiu).
Deang Tek (Nailing Kick) is a nailing kick that mirrors the energy of the Yat Kuen driving into the opponent like a hammer while maintaining stability on one leg.
Realigning Kick emphasizes recovery by regaining the center line from a bad position on the low gate.

Although it is commonly understood that there are only three types of kicks in Chum Kiu, from thorough examination, one can find all eight kicking concepts carefully hidden.

The Wing Chun kicks like hand techniques are non committal and do not compromise the balance of the practitioner in any significant way, due to their exceptional speed but lack of height. ~Samuel Kwok

Like Siu Lim Tao, Chum Kiu Form is comprised of three sections:


First Section

The first section of Chum Kiu teaches us about many concepts that were not introduced in the Siu Lim Tao form and are prevalent through out Chum Kiu. Initially, when we move from Seung Guan Sau to Seung Tan Sau, we use the concept of kwan or rotating as we learn to move around our own arms. It is additionally seen with the turning Bong Sau and Wu Sau. The idea of Yin & Yang or two way energy is first introduced in the Yat Gee Chung Kuen/Lop Sau and is seen in the juen ma/chum kiu ma through out the form. Turn stance also teaches us the concept of Yui Ma power, using our hips and legs for power.  The importance of the immovable elbow theory, first introduced in Siu Lim Tao, is now heavily stressed  in Chum Kiu.  Dynamic use of the upper arm and elbow in combat is introduced in the first section.

The arms must have supplemental help from the legs, hips and torso. With this in mind, it is easy to see why you should never work the hands alone. That would be a feeble and disorganized effort to create power. ~Ip Ching / Ron Heimberger

Second Section

The second section introduces Wing Chun stepping, this, when combined with techniques enables the safe bridging of the gap between the practitioner and his/her opponent. Hence Chum Kiu or ‘seeking the Bridge’. For it is with contact that Wing Chun practitioner has his/her biggest advantage. Furthermore the second section of Chum Kiu is building on Siu Lim Tao by making the practitioner use both footwork and kicks with hand techniques such as blocks.

Also throughout the practice of Chum Kiu the practitioner must use both hands at once. Although this is done in Siu Lim Tao, when both hands are used in the first form they perform the same action whereas in Chum Kiu they do different things, requiring a higher level of ability and concentration form the practitioner. Therefore Chum Kiu builds on Siu Lim Tao.

Third Section

The third section of Chum Kiu expands upon what the practitioner has learned in Siu Lim Tao & the first two sections of Chum Kiu. The Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma (stance) from the Siu Lim Tao form has a 50/50 weight distribution, while the Chum Kiu Ma (stance) carries its balance or weight on its back leg.  The Bik Ma or Pressuring step introduces the practitioner to a forward weight distribution in their footwork. We are also introduced to the Bong Sau in the lower gate, as well as the Double Palm or Po Pei Chang.

The majority of the Kicking Principles lie within the third section, such as the Huen Gerk or Tsiu Yang Chut Gerk (Realigning Kick), where the concept of Recovery is emphasized in the lower gate.

The concepts of Trapping and Fan (continuous motion) are employed with the 45* gum sau (pinning hand) motions and the Lin Wan Kuen, both executed in the closing of the 3rd and final section of the Chum Kiu form.

Fan Sao is used to harness your opponent’s every move. When your opponent attacks, you defend yourself with one hand and attack him with the other. This process continues until you utterly destroy your opponent’s ability to fight. ~Ip Ching/Ron Heimberger



What is Wing Chun’s “Nim Tao”?

What is Wing Chun’s “Nim Tao”?

By Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin


Excerpt from a discussion with Wing Chun Granmdmaster Sigung Chu Shong Tin

Firstly, I want to begin by speaking about the history of Ip Man‘s arrival to HK and how he was able to spark such a fervent following in the Wing Chun style. Ip Man, in around May 1950 another wing Chun practitioner named Li Man introduced Ip Man to the HK Restaurant Workers Union where he began teaching wing chun. As it is known, Ip man was a man of small stature and at the time the Union’s chairman was Leung Sheung.

Leung Sheung was a very tall and broad man and if at first glance, he was probably twice the size of Ip Man. So when he was first introduced to Ip man he expressed doubt and skepticism in Ip man, saying, ‘So this is master Ip man?’. And as Ip Man having met many people in his lifetime that possessed a great amount of life experience, saw him and knew Leung Sheung’s intentions and replied, “You seem like you don’t believe in me [my power]. Here, why don’t you test me?”

This was suggested by Ip Man himself. Such a small and timid man versus a young and hefty man; and the former was the one to initiate the challenge. In this instance, Leung Sheung very eagerly accepted, saying, “Okay, okay, let’s do it”. Ironically, when the two touched hands Leung Sheung was immediately thrown 10 feet across the room and fell on the ground. To this Leung Sheung thought it very peculiar about what had happened and immediately asked Ip Man to take him in as a student.

Thus, Wing Chun was brought to the HK Restaurant Workers Union. Okay, so now we come to speaking about Wing Chun’s structural element, to which I wish to share my own interpretation and introduce it to all of you. Actually, Wing Chun doesn’t really have much style to it. It’s really just simple movements conglomerated together and then split up into three different forms. And each form is to exemplify the core concepts of Wing Chun.

Siu Nim Tao, for us practitioners will know – you place your hands out, throw one or two punches and revert the fists back, do a few movements and then revert the fists back again. That means every movement in every section introduces the function in each section. And so the functions of each section are amalgamated to form Siu Nim Tao.

The second Wing Chun form uses Siu Nim Tao function in addition with the body mass to mobilize the power from within. Thus Chum Kiu is marked by its usage of the body’s movement. Siu Nim Tao has no movement, one just stands there and does the form. Chum Kiu begins to move the body and utilizes one’s body mass to move in unison with the Siu Nim Tao hand movements. In this way, Chum Kiu is able to express its combat potential. And the third one, Biu Jee, not only incorporates body movement but also a rotation of the body.

As we may know, anything with heavy mass, once conjoined with a swift rotational movement, will generate a great amount of force. Therefore, the core concept of the third form uses the whirling rotation of mass to generate a particular kind of force. So, this is just in general what the functions of the three Wing Chun forms entails. They are all just made up with a few hand movements and aren’t necessarily considered a style of sorts. That is to say, it is a just very simplistic style but the most interesting is Siu Nim Tao. That is just my personal opinion. So how come the whole of Wing Chun you have this one form called ‘Siu Nim Tao’ [Little Idea form]. Actually, the name ‘Siu Nim Tao’ (Little Idea) seems totally irrelevant to martial arts. So this Nim Tao I thought was very interesting. From the very first day I learned I thought it was very unique. There were a few times where I’ve asked Ip Man why this style has something called ‘Siu Nim Tao’. The first time I asked, Ip Man replied “It means you have to ‘Lap Nim’ [establish an idea/thought]” and he didn’t explain any further. After a while I inquired again “What’s the meaning of Siu Nim Tao?” and he said “Well it just means to Lap Nim”. Again he just said this. And I asked one last time “Why is this form called ‘Nim Tao’. And why is it just a little bit?!” *chuckles* “Well that means you have to Lap Nim‘!!”. I asked him several times and all he said was ‘Lap Nim’ so I didn’t ask him again…

And I just abided by the way Ip Man taught me to do the Siu Nim Tao form. And was that called ‘Lap Nim’? Well, I didn’t know. All I did was practice Ip Man’s teaching, “Do not use any force, relax your arms and legs, and practice slowly. And then you will understand”. However, after I trained Siu Nim Tao for a long time, gradually my illnesses disappeared and my power kept increasing. And then after experimenting I thought “I’m really actually quite powerful”. Then I  inquired about it with Ip Man and he said “Well, this is the function of the Siu Nim Tao form.” And I thought, “How can the Siu Nim Tao form teach people to be this powerful?”. Then I just kept patiently researching and analyzing how I am able to generate this much power.

I often trained very diligently under Ip Man’s teaching of the Siu Nim Tao form. At that time, I was also a very skinny and weak in health. I was just the height I am now (5’10?), and I weighed 110 lbs. And just to show how skinny I was, my biceps at the time were as skinny as my wrist that I could encircle it with my hand just *like this*. I was very skinny at the time. Skinny and very weak in health. And what a shame. I have been researching and analyzing for so many years that it is not until recently that I’ve been able to understand it a little bit more. That is just a really big shame. Actually, when one practices the Siu Nim Tao, one will eventually discover ones own Nim Tao. There are many facets to the human brain and it wasn’t until recently, through researching with neurologists, that I’ve been able to understand more about it [Nim Tao]. They said, “Your Nim Tao is of another region in the brain that differs from the region that we are accustomed to using (i.e. for thought and regular mobile functions such as picking up objects). The Nim Tao you speak of comes from a small part/region of your brain.” And so I thought perhaps I am using this small part of my brain to produce the kind of force I can generate. So I continued my research.

Now I’ve been teaching for many decades and I have the ability to take a person who has no power/force and adjust/fix them up so that they will be able to produce a great amount of force; but only when I am guiding them. Once I’m removed they will not be able to do it themselves. Well this ‘Nim Lik‘ [Idea/Thought power] was demonstrated by me twice in the [name of some event/gathering]. The first time I was standing with one leg on a weight scale and had two foreigners push against me. And as they were pushing I lead all of their force onto the scale so that the harder they pushed the heavier I got. So the Wing Chun Athletic Association has a video record of this which is still in circulation. In the second conference, I demonstrated using two fingers on each hand to take up another person’s arm and moving it elsewhere *demo* [with resistance I’m assuming]. The second demonstration, there were three foreigners who were pushing against me and I needed to push the three of them back. So these are all demonstrations of ‘Nim Lik’. So I really think it is such a shame that it’s only within the last 2-3 years that I’ve figured out how one can breakthrough to achieving one’s Nim Tao. Before I had broke through my own Nim Tao but I did not know why or how. But now I know how.

So there are two stages in achieving one’s Nim Tao. In the first stage, Wing Chun’s stance requires the practitioner to have an intent to “Tai Gong” [lift up the anus]. The second stage, after you have done the ‘tai gong’ and are able to relax the muscles in your lower body [pelvis down], you have to begin to expand the joints in your spine beginning from the tailbone. And from the tailbone you must use a little bit of thought [little idea] to bring the [chi/energy] up through the spine. Once you are able to rush the Qi, passing through each section of your spine and towards the top of your head then you will have activated your Nim Tao.

Speaking about it is very simple. And since I’ve figured this out I have been consistently teaching and advocating this method to my students. When I am helping them train, I can use my hands to guide their Qi/Intent or whatever, until it reaches the top of their brain and they will be able to generate a great amount of power. Thus, I hypothesize that once the Qi reaches up towards the top of the brain,this is what we call ‘Nim Tao’.

So recently I’ve been in discussion with the neurologists and they have said that, “Yes, that part of the brain controls the involuntary muscle movement” and they said “that that Nim Tao can enable one to express their potential power”. So actually Siu Nim Tao can help us to activate our Nim Tao…what that part of the brain is called I don’t know, we just call it Nim Tao. In this way, we can tap into a kind of involuntary power embedded in ones’ potential so that we may use it voluntarily.

Hence, I think that this is the most outstanding element of the Wing Chun system. Alright, so I think this is all I will have to say for today.

source: http://pantherwingchun.com.au/index.php/what-is-wing-chun-nim-tao/


Wing Chun to Jun Fan to Jeet Kune Do -The Evolution of a Fighting Art

by Lamar M. Davis II


Bruce Lee developed a fascination for fighting at a very young age. It is a well known fact that wing chun gung fu was the art that Bruce Lee studied in Hong Kong from age thirteen to age eighteen. Some of his training was with grandmaster Ip Man, but the person primarily responsible for teaching him was the late Wong Shun Leung. It has also been said that Cheung Chuk Hing (William Cheung) also worked with him quite a bit. Bruce Lee liked wing chun because it was such a direct and effective fighting system, and it was the greatest fighters from the wing chun clan that inspired him the most. It was said that he often engaged in the famous “roof top fights” of the time period. He loved fighting, and spent most of his spare time training to be a better fighter. The rest of his spare time was spent dancing, as he had a fascination for the cha cha, and won the Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship in 1958.

His parents continuously worried about his education, due to the fact that all he wanted to do was train in wing chun and dance, so they decided it would be best to send him to the United States to continue his education. Since he was born in San Francisco, California, he actually had dual citizenship. They made arrangements with Ruby Chow, an old friend of the family, for her to allow Bruce to work at her restaurant in Seattle, Washington. Bruce Left for the United States in April of 1959, at the age of eighteen.

Upon his arrival in Seattle, Bruce Lee enrolled in Edison Technical Institute to continue his education. While attending school, he worked at the restaurant and actually lived in a room above the place. As soon as people started finding out that he was a martial artist, they began seeking him out for possible instruction. Some of

his first students during this time were Jesse Glover, Ed Hart, Skip Ellsworth and James DeMile.

Since he had not learned the complete wing chun system, he decided to call what he was teaching Jun Fan gung fu, due to his Chinese name being Lee Jun Fan. So, essentially, by calling it Jun Fan gung fu, he was pretty much calling it Bruce Lee’s gung fu. Jun Fan gung fu consisted primarily of wing chun gung fu, but also contained a few elements of other martial arts that Bruce had explored at the time. Many still refer to Jun Fan gung fu as modified wing chun, as the bulk of the curriculum came directly from wing chun.

Bruce Lee’s reputation as a fighter spread rapidly through the martial arts community in Seattle. He was giving a gung fu demonstration one day and a Japanese karateka that was in the audience began speaking badly of Bruce, who was highly irritated by his comments. Word was going around that the Japanese fighter wanted to challenge Bruce Lee to a fight.

On November 1, 1960, Bruce Lee decided that he had put up with the talk long enough, and the two departed to a nearby handball court. Jesse Glover had a stop watch, and was designated as the referee for the fight. When Jesse said go, Bruce and the Japanese fighter began to size each other up. Bruce attacked with a rapid series of centerline straight punches, catching the karateka full in the face with the punches. He then followed up with a hard straight kick to the face that nearly turned him a full back flip! The fight was over. From the time Jesse Glover had punched the stopwatch to the time the karateka hit the court, only eleven seconds had passed!

Due to encouragement from others Bruce Lee decided to open an actual kwoon in Seattle. He acquired quite a few students, and after a very short time had to move to a larger location. Taky Kimura became his assistant instructor for the Seattle kwoon, which was called the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute. The curriculum there was predominantly wing chun gung fu, including the sil lim tao form, centerline rotation striking, chi sao, reference point trapping hands and mook jong training.

It was obvious to everyone that Bruce Lee appreciated the practicality of the wing chun system. Even though he did add a few things from other martial arts,

wing chun gung fu and it’s core principles remained the nucleus of his system. To Bruce Lee it was all about self defense, and the directness of wing chun made self defense much more practical.

During Bruce Lee’s time in Seattle, a young woman by the name of Linda Emery started attending his gung fu classes. The two fell in love, and were married. Shortly after, they moved to Oakland, California, where Bruce had been corresponding with a well known martial artist named James Yimm Lee. Taky Kimura became the instructor of the Seattle Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute in Bruce’s absence, and Bruce and James opened a school together in Oakland.

Before leaving Seattle, Bruce had traveled to Oakland on several occasions to meet and get to know James Lee, and the two became fast friends. They had already planned to open a school, and James was accepting students in preparation. Bruce and Linda lived with James during their stay in Oakland, so Bruce and James had daily opportunities to train together, and work on furthering the Jun Fan gung fu curriculum.

Through his close friendship with James Lee, Bruce Lee met the late, great Edmund Parker, master of kenpo karate. Ed was fascinated by Bruce Lee and the skill level he displayed in the art of gung fu. He was so impressed that he invited Bruce to participate in his 1964 Long Beach Internationals, a world renowned martial arts event. Daniel Inosanto, a very prominent student of Ed Parker and highly skilled martial artist, was assigned the duties of taking Bruce Lee around during his visit to Long Beach. The two formed a fast friendship, which lasted for the rest of Bruce Lee’s life.

The Long Beach Internationals was Bruce Lee’s debut to the martial arts world, and his awesome demonstration at this event captured the attention of many prominent martial arts personalities, as well as some prominent people in the television and motion picture industry. Although the art demonstrated was considered Jun Fan gung fu, the wing chun influence was there for all to see! Still not fully content with what he had, yet inspired by the response to his demonstration, Bruce continued to develop his martial arts ideas and abilities.

Bruce Lee’s brother, Peter, had been a fencing champion in Hong Kong. Bruce had always liked the fencer’s ability to quickly close the gap on the opponent using very direct, economical and explosive footwork. He also noticed some similarities to wing chun gung fu. Wing chun has the four corners. Fencing has what they refer to as the four quadrants. These principles are very similar in both idea and definition. Bruce’s interest in fencing caused him to start experimenting with combining his wing chun hand tools with the fencing footwork. It was also at this time that he realized the importance of placing the power side forward, making your strongest hand closer to the opponent. This greatly increased his non-telegraphic striking capabilities.

Combining the directness of the wing chun punch or finger jab with the power side forward and the fencing lunge made it almost impossible to stop his entry. He worked on this until he had perfected the movement, with the emphasis on intercepting the opponent’s initial movement, or even their initial intention to strike.

Another striking art that Bruce Lee took an interest in was boxing. He liked the quickness of the boxer, as well as the evasive movements, light, quick footwork and the applications of angular power punching. He liked the way that the boxer applied their whole body in the mechanics of their punches, using the legs, waist and hips, thus giving the punches amazing power. The thing that he didn’t like was the fact that boxing was a sport, and therefore prohibited the use of other striking tools as well as foul tactics. The common practice was to put the power hand to the rear. Bruce Lee used to watch old boxing films through a mirror to see what the techniques would look like if applied with the power side forward.

From boxing, Bruce Lee took the hook, the uppercut, the shovel hook and the overhand hook. This gave him more versatility in his hand striking tools. He also liked boxing evasive tactics such as the slip, the duck, the snapback and the bob and weave. Some of the footwork from boxing could also be applied in certain situations.

During this time, Bruce Lee composed a letter saying that he was creating a new martial art, composed primarily of techniques from wing chun gung fu, boxing and fencing. He stated in the letter that this art was going to be IT, meaning the

ultimate art. He would name this art Jeet Kune Do, the way of the intercepting fist. This was around late 1965.

Due to the start of his acting career and increasing television appearances, Bruce Lee decided it would be best for him to move to Los Angeles, so that he could be closer to the studios. He had maintained contact with Daniel Inosanto, and Inosanto had become his student, even though he was still teaching kenpo for Ed Parker.

Together with Dan Inosanto, in 1967 Bruce Lee opened the Los Angeles branch of the Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute. Dan Inosanto was considered Bruce Lee’s assistant instructor at this location, and taught all of the classes in Bruce’s absence. The school was located at 628 College Street in Los Angeles’ Chinatown district. This was the location of the last Jun Fan Gung Fu Institute, and probably the most famous of Bruce Lee’s schools. It was this school where Bruce Lee taught such well know Jeet Kune Do practitioners as Bob Bremer, the late Jerry Poteet, Steve Golden, Daniel Lee, the late Herb Jackson and the late Ted Wong.

By this time, Bruce Lee’s art had fully made the transition to Jeet Kune Do, but wing chun gung fu still remained the nucleus of the system. As a very well educated and longtime instructor of Jeet Kune Do, it is my opinion that Jeet Kune Do is composed of 50-60% wing chun, 15-20% boxing, 15-20% fencing, and 5-10% taken from other disciplines. Of course, the most important part of the equation is the brilliant mind of Bruce Lee!

There are those who still try to discredit the wing chun, even going so far as to say that there is no wing chun, or very little wing chun left in Jeet Kune Do. On the contrary, nothing could be further from the truth! Wing Chun gung fu is, and will always remain, the very foundation of Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do. Those who say different are very misinformed. Those who leave out the wing chun are definitely missing the most important part of the equation, and the primary element that makes jeet kune do the direct, effective and devastating martial art that it is. Without wing chun gung fu, Jeet Kune Do would have never existed! That, my friends, is the bottom line!


5 Mistakes that will ruin your Wing Chun

by Javier Garcia

Number 5
Over Extending The Elbows

Tennis  elbow is a well known condition amongst amateur Tennis players and surprisingly, amongst many Wing Chun practitioners. The reason is over-extension of the elbows during punching.

Apart from destroying your elbows, fully straightening your arms during a punch will reduce your power generation and more importantly, your coverage, leaving you exposed to counter attacks.

Number 4
​Too much Chain Punching

Chain Punching is not the answer to everything. Within the 3 empty hand forms of Wing Chun, there are many different types of strikes including elbows and upper-cuts. More importantly, these forms are there to help you develop good bio-mechanics, not specific techniques.

Restricting your strikes to only those you think are Wing Chun approved is likely to make you a rigid and ineffective fighter.

Number 3
Too Much Emphasis on Chi Sao

Chi Sao can be a great tool for development of sensitivity and structure, but the truth is that real fights look nothing like Chi Sao. In reality, people do not follow predetermined path-ways to fight, and will most likely avoid sticking with you.

Over-emphasis on Chi Sao can create a bad habit known in Wing Chun circles as “Chasing Hands” which is likely to get you knocked out against Boxers and MMA fighters.

Number 2
Using the Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma as a Fighting Stance

The Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma stance is NOT a fighting stance.

​In reality, this is a power-generating TRAINING stance designed to help the practitioner develop short range power through subtle stretching and twisting of the torso and limbs.

Number 1
Lack of Sparring

The number one bad habit in Wing Chun is undoubtedly a lack of sparring. Wing Chun practitioners can debate for days on fundamental principles, such as when to use a Tan Sau or a Bong Sau, or how the stance should be executed.

These types of debates simply do not occur in Boxing. Boxers have been fighting in the ring for over 100 years, and by now, the principles of Boxing are well known and agreed upon. Even beginners have a good understanding of when a jab or a hook should be used, and what constitutes a good stance.

A century of fighting has filtered out ineffective and fanciful movements so that only battle tested techniques remain. Sadly, this is not always the case in Wing Chun

In fighting, there should be almost no indication that a fighter trains in Wing Chun because the movements and footwork should be as natural as possible. In truth, there are no styles in a fight. There is only good bio-mechanics and bad bio-mechanics. It should come as no surprise, that all accomplished fighters move in similar ways.

source http://www.wingchunorigins.org/5-mistakes-ruin-wing-chun.html


Siu Nim Tao

Wing Chun First Form – Siu Lim Tao

By Penglay Martial Arts

After long time spent in Wing Chun and practicing several different styles of the art I will try to present my understanding of Siu Lim Tao , Wing Chun’s first form meaning .There are numerous explanations and interpretations of the form and its name . In most cases explanations don’t go further than literal translation and explanation of each character in the name . Eaven this simple way of explaining the meaning of the form’s name have deep implications on training and training but it Is far from complete and full meaning of the name .We also have to be aware of the fact that Wing Chun, at the very beginning had only one form and name of that was –Siu Nim Tao. One form contained and defined the complete system . Later from well know historical reasons one long form was divided to three forms  but name of the original , old , long form stayed and was given to first of three new forms. All three forms were equal parts of the old long form but only the first part continued to exist with same name, the other two parts( forms) got new names. Coincidence ? Or there is a specific reason for this ?

To know the real meaning of Siu Lim Tao we have to go beyond the simple meaning of the characters in which the original name of the is written . Frist we have to be aware that Sui Lim Tao is a name and a name cannot be translated directly , literary but rather has a specific meaning, important and know to Wing Chun practitioners . Like it was said before, today , the most common interpretation doesn’t go beyond simplest translation of each character of the form’s name and tries to give that translation some logical meaning and context . These translations and interpretations are not wrong , and no matter there are pretty different interpretations ,they are for the most part correct but they are far from to be full and complete. I , also do not have full and complete meaning of the form, and that is the beauty of it , but I will return to this fact later. To reveal the meaning of the form we have to start with several simple facts . People who named the form lived in a very different world from today , their mind frame was completely different from anything we can find today and their thoughts and actions were driven by reasons we can’t fully understand today . Words had different meaning at that time and were used in a specific manner in a specific situation from specific group of people , just like today people from specific occupation have their specific vocabulary and sometimes even common words have very different or wider meaning .

We don’t know for sure when was the first version of Wing Chun appeared , but we can guess with a great amount of certainty  it was at the beginning of 19th century. What we know is , that first version of Wing Chun appeared among Red Boats opera troupe and it contained only one , long form , named Siu Lim Tao. The fact is , many of the Red Boat’s actors were members of the resistance . The other important fact , they were , being actors , better educated than most of the other people of their time. One other thing is also important to have in mind , at that time martial arts were not meant for ‘outsiders” , public teaching was not invented yet and it was something unthinkable , martial arts were kept in secret and terminology used in particular style in most cases was understandable only for the people who were initiated into the teachings . Often, terminology was deliberately confusing and meaningless and it would have no sense to outsiders, especially if martial artists were involved in revolutionary secret societies.

So , what Siu Lim Tao小念頭, actually means. At the beginning , like it was said before , Wing Chun system had only one form, Siu Lim Tao ,and complete teachings, concepts , principles and techniques were in that form . Name of the form had at that time much wider meaning than it has today , at least that is what I believe after decades of practicing and historical research .

Simple translation would be: 小 means small , 念頭 means idea , so the translation would be little or small idea . But if know the form , if we are involved in Wing Chun, and you have to be in order to understand the form and its meaning , it is obvious that this explanation of the name doesn’t cover the whole content of the form , not even the technical part.

First form of Wing Chun is an embodiment of Taoism in technical, conceptual and philosophical way and name of the form implies exactly that.

Tao is a way”, “path”, or “principle”, an “idea” . Small idea reflects the ultimate one .

Just as in Taoism , The term Tao means “way”, “path”, or “principle” where Tao denotes something that is both the source of, and the force behind everything that exists , first form has the same meaning and significance for Wing Chun , it is a source  of the system and the force behind it .

First form completely mirror Taoism in every aspect , all major concepts and principles of Taoism are major concepts and principles of Siu Lim Tao , and also they do not have same name , they are identical in their nature and can be explained using exactly same words .

One of the most important things taught in the first form is how to respond immediately and appropriately to all the changes that occur moment to moment. It is how the fight is developing, a changes happened from moment to moment . This Wing Chun principle is identical to one of the major Taoist virtues known as ”Ziran” . Ziran is defined as naturalness and spontaneity – responding immediately and appropriately to all the changes that occur moment to moment , exactly the same as we define ability and skill to react properly in a fight , to have necessary skills and respond immediately ,without thinking ,where Wing Chun becomes our nature and it spontaneously ‘speaks” when it is necessary . Large part of the system is dedicated to developing this kind of skills , chi sao , various level of sparring and some other drills and exercises .

No opposition , is one of the most important concepts of Wing Chun and again it mirrors one of the most important principles of Taoism, Wu Wei , where this Wing Chun principle of “no oppositions” have its origin , or it is more accurate to say this principle is Wing Chun expression of Wu Wei. Wu wei is typically translated as “non-action”. This does not mean that nothing is ever done. Quite the contrary, what this means is that one acts only with purely natural actions, or actions aligned with the Tao. Such actions contain no willfulness or controlling tendencies, no willful strategizing or trying to force things to go a certain way. Instead, those exhibiting wu wei simply go with the flow of things. This is exactly how “no opposition” is explained in Wing Chun . In the original Taoist texts, wu wei is often associated with water and its yielding nature. Same way is used in Wing Chun , technique , just as wu wei can assume any form or shape it inhabits. Wu Wei shaped the technical content and fighting strategies of Wing Chun , all hand positions , wrongly known as “blocks” are designed to offer no direct opposition to the incoming force but to disperse it or change its path .Footwork is developed following the same principle as well as body structure . Body is alight in a specific manner that allows neutralization of the incoming force by simply conduct it to the “ground” in a same manner that the wire conduct electricity. A great amount of power going on through the wire , but there is no opposition in the wire to all that power so the wire stays undamaged , it is the same with wing chun body structure and incoming force .


Three Treasures” of Taoism also play important part in a set of principles from first form.

Jing  -sperm/ovary energy, or the essence of the physical body .We all operate with our physical bodies , in Wing Chun we use the body In a very specific way to achieve our goal .

Qi  – vitality energy, including the thoughts and emotions. Qi in Wing Chun can be explained on two ways . First is the combat explanation where Qi is defined as a biomechanical efficiency . This biomechanical efficiency is what old masters called “internal” and it is a basic foundation of Wing Chun and proper understanding is necessary in order to have proper power generation , structure, ability to manage incoming force ect .

Second definition of Qi is the most common one where qi is a form of life energy, or life force.

Shen  -spirit or spiritual power as well as mind. In wing chun this concept represents one of the most important principles of the art – intention . “Intention” is one of the major fighting principles but it is purely mental process that effects physical performance and quality of technique execution .Without intention structure of every movement and position as well as the body in general will collapse .

At the end , how come such important and complex set of principles contained in th first form can be named “little idea” ? Using ‘little idea” to describe such a great amount if information clearly associates with Yin and Yang , represent the interplay of opposites. The concepts of yin and yang are central to Chinese religion and philosophy . They form the dynamism of the Tao, or the way of all things. Life is lived inside the interplay of opposites: up and down, hot and cold, male and female, dry and wet, outside and inside, high and low, joy and sadness, peace and war, exertion and rest, life and death, and so on. Yin and Yang symbolize this interplay that is at the center of life’s dynamism or energy. Wing Chun style and its fighting concepts have their deepest foundation in this principle . Wing Chun is soft , internal , offers no opposition but expressed techniques will be hard on the opponent , soft, relaxed body will be a hardest obstacle to the incoming force .

“Little Idea” is everything but small , yet ,such a great amount of information , the most important parts of the art ,actually the art its self is expressed by small things , short name and simple , small number of movements.

Siu Lim Tao as well as Wing Chun art is the highest peak not only of Chinese martial arts achievement in a technical sense but also in philosophical and theoretical . First form is amazing tool and it will allow the practitioner to fulfill all his needs for technical knowledge . But first form is more than that , it is , like I said before , an embodiment of Taoism, and just like the philosophical system from which is derived from , first form will allow the practitioner to learn, advance and understand the art as much as he wants and is capable for.First form will follow the practitioner and provide all the answers accoridng to his skill level , education, culture , intelligence , interests ,ect. Technical level of practicing and understanding is just a basic level, a first step in a path of knowledge , intellectual and psychological growth ,in some cases it can be even a spiritual path. First form will give practitioner what he needs , and more , as long as he is ready to explore , to learn , to experiment , to think and to feel . Through constant effort, personal sacrifice, concentrated hard work, aspiration toward perfection first form is transformed and becomes effortless , from physical and psychological point of view .Physical movement and mental effort get close to one another and the boundaries between them are slowly loosening. Siu Nim Tao grows and develops between body, mind and spirit until they eventually unite in order to continue to grow together. Then, everything happens spontaneously, there is only awareness of what is happening, but there is no conscious effort. From this point Siu Nim Tao stops to be something separated from the person, stops to be an activity , stops to be a way of life , it becomes a life its self , involved in every movement , thought , becomes a part of every conscious and unconscious action.

Source: http://penglaimartialarts.blogspot.ro/2016/01/wing-chun-first-form-siu-nim-tao.html


Take another step in SIU NIM TAU

Sil Lum Tao (little idea, small thoughts, beautiful beginnings or whatever) this is where it all starts.
Having been to a few workshops and hosted a number over the years, I am only to aware that a week or two afterwards the mind goes blank and has trouble remembering much of the subject matter. So I hope the following brief prompts of some important points covered during the recent workshops in Christchurch and Dunedin prove helpful.
Centre Line:
During the workshop we explored the importance of learning to direct your force/powers along an imaginary line to a focus point not any further than the face of your punching fist once it’s extended; in other words don’t over commit yourself.
Stance / Posture:
(Well if you don’t have one go to the back of the class!). Master Kevin has an ace up his sleeve for this; remember you should be able to feel the whole outline of your foot when it is placed on the ground. Measuring out your stance bend your knees so that you can only see the front of your toes to your knee caps. Once you have measured out your stance completely, don’t drop your bottom not only is it incorrect but this will put pressure on your lower vertebrae/spine. Rather be vertically opposed but push forward like you are up against a glass wall but don’t over commit with your body mass. This will really help you at a later stage when starting other forms of exercises.
Correct Angles / Structures:
Identify for yourself any weakness in your angles/structures; are they to far forward or to close to your body; they may even be too high or too low. With each angle get someone to apply a little pressure gradually each time you perform a movement (build up slowly).
As you perform the SLT try to continually push your shoulders down. (Subtlety!) You will have to police this one yourself – when at home get in front of a mirror. Mirrors don’t tell lies. (Unless you’re blind!)
Projection Force:
When you are going though the movements in the SLT always feel that there is someone in front of you applying a greater force. You should always strive to keep on your own forward force continuously while doing the SLT/elbow projection -but remember to remain relaxed!
Movement should never be a one/two type movement but have continuous flow; and not to freeze up, or be rigid (don’t lock up your joints). On the completion of each movement remember you have to move on to the next movement.
Acute Pivot Point:
Remember when you are going though movements/angles in SLT you must always use the small circular movements, going around the opposing force. For example imagine a pivot point that you must go around rather than going against it. (Going against it could cause bruising, you must look after number one – yourself!) Remember, I showed you how to use your fingers as a pointer for the direction you may want to go in.
We explored what happens when you just do a minor rotation of your wrist (or let’s say a reverse fook sau, fingers facing yourself); the bicep will bulge or harden up. You don’t want this (muscular tension) to happen as it will stop the masses/forces from projecting forward from your body and also stop your extensor muscle from working. In other words you’re shortening your muscle when you are trying to extend them. So when you are doing the Fook Sau movement in the SLT make sure your Fook Sau is relaxed and not locking.
In closing a special thanks to my Master, Kevin (and friend) for starting me on such a great journey and also a very special thanks to the King of SLT Grand Master Chu Shong Tin for all his challenging refinements and also of my fond memories in Hong Kong 1989.
Until next time. Master Beau.
Source: http://www.earleswingchun.com/siu-nim-tao

Wing Chun – Explosive Combat Volume 1 – Alan Lamb

Master Alan Lamb was the first publicly known non-chinese who achieved the rank of instructor in Wing Chun Kung Fu (under Koo Sang). He wrote tho books, both share the same name and are about Wing Chun basics.

The first one (Explosive Combat Volume 1) has 107 pages and the following contents:

Introduction …….13
The Legend of Wing Chun ……..15
Breathing ……….19
Basic Stance Work…….19
Basic Punching…….20
Basic Kicks……36
Basic Blocking…..42
The Four Gates…..48
Pak Sau………..62
Lap Sau……….93
The Concept of Flow…………97
Self-Defense Applications…………102

As you can see from the number of pages allocated to a chapter, the author discusses pretty thoroughly the basic techniques (Wing Chun’s method of punching, the fundamental blocks) but touch neither the forms nor the Chi Sao.

The pictures are big, clear and self-explanatory (the text is kept to the minimum). The applications are short and down-to-earth (only five of them are shown).

A minus of the book (though not a very big one) is the history part, the author chose to perpetuate the legend of Ng Mui and the presumably burnt temple.  We know today that was not the case but probably Alan Lamb was not aware of that at the moment of book’s inception.

In conclusion, the book would help a beginner and receives in my rating system  ★★★

You can buy the book  here 



Siu Nim Tao, do we really need it?

Siu Nim Tao, do we really need it?

By Bogdan Rosu

Siu Nim Tao or the Little Idea is the first of Wing Chun’s three forms. It’s when the practitioner gets introduced the art’s core concepts.

A very compact form of training, containing 80% of the art’s concepts, the first form acts both as a map to Wing Chun’s fighting method, as well as a way of creating and strengthening structure.

Siu Nim Tao is a code.

In other words, without the proper understanding of how and when to use the concepts learned in the form, Siu Nim Tao remains a set of movements and nothing more.

The form does not show you what you have to do, nor how you can apply the concepts that you are learning. While practicing it, you are planting ideas into your subconscious and nervous system.

But, without the proper guidance, you may never know how to express those concepts in the real world.

As Dr. Robert Chu stated, “Siu Nim Tao is rooted firmly in developing the body structure. The Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma posture is the foundation of all Wing Chun Kuen. It is wrongly understood that Yee Ji Kim Yeung Ma is an inflexible rooted stance, but the stance is instead dynamic” (Dr. Robert Chu, Siu Nim Tao. Is it Wing Chun Without It?, Wing Chun Illustrated – Issue 11, page 6).

So, not having the right information can lead to misunderstanding the form’s practicality and using only a small part of your potential as a Wing Chun martial artist.

Chasing Hands vs Chasing Center

While doing the first form, we are actually reprogramming the way we move. For example, Tan Zao is not a natural reaction.

A natural reaction would be chasing hands or addressing the obvious threat and not its cause, the opponent’s center.

Wing Chun teaches us to always chase the center and never the hands, to go to the core of the problem, thus not wasting energy uselessly. And we learn this concept in the first part, when we slowly do Tan Zao forward.

After being introduced to this idea, we then apply it in Chi Zao, in drills, in free sparring and of course in Fighting.

You are what you train.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous article ‘How to Gain Authentic Skill in Wing Chun’, there are three main elements to Wing Chun: form, drills, and fighting.

All three are interdependent, but will be expressed differently. You cannot fight using Siu Nim Tao nor can you fight using pure drills.

The more you focus on one element, the better you get at it. So, you cannot expect to be good at fighting if you only train form.

Fighting is spontaneous.

It’s when you have this out-of-the box mentality and use what is most comfortable to you, your sharpest tools, while at the same time maintaining structure and a calm emotional state.

Drills have the role of expanding your tool set and acquiring new skills, on the other hand, form is when you keep those core skills active.

If we were to compare Wing Chun to a car, form would be the engine, drills would be the body and fighting would be driving the car.

While you might be able to drive without knowing anything about mechanics, becoming a professional driver, may require more than basic knowledge of how your car works.

In other words, anybody can throw a punch, knocking out or controlling somebody bigger than you is an art.

The three elements form, drills, and fighting have the same core elements, like structure, speed, precision and emotional state, while the way we physically express each of the three is very different.

Are we wasting our time?

There is a debate going on about the practicality of doing form, and are we actually wasting our time practicing it.

Some think we might be better off training the wallbag or sparring, instead of sitting in front of the mirror, looking weird with our toes pointed inwards.

We need to accept the reality that most people lack even the most basic understanding of this skill set called Wing Chun. So, lack of understanding often leads to changes in the basic concepts of the art. Like the need to do form.

We suddenly don’t need it anymore.

Well I think we do. But form is not enough, form must be completed with the right information regarding structure, regarding how to use the concepts, and why you are actually doing it the way you are.

A very useful explanation of Siu Nim Tao came for me, from Gary Lam, he has an excellent DVD and I recommend you buy it immediately, especially if you are just starting out with Wing Chun.

I do not receive any money for recommending this, I just consider it a very useful resource that you should definitely think of buying.

Would you build a house without a plan?

Siu Nim Tao is simply the plan of the house. After you have a well designed plan, you start building the house, making the necessary adjustments, and giving it a personal touch.

In my opinion, Siu Nim Tao is necessary, but we should not get lost in it. It is still a very basic, beginner’s way of training. It’s like cleaning your engine.

We still continue to practice Siu Nim Tao, just to make sure that everything works the way it should.


Source: http://addicted2wingchun.com/siu-nim-tao-do-we-really-need-it/


Grandmaster Ching talks about the form (Siu Nim Tau)


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 )

Source: http://www.kwokwingchun.com/training-tips/wing-chun-articles/ip-ching-on-sil-lim-tau/