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:
The Legend of Wing Chun ……..15
Basic Stance Work…….19
The Four Gates…..48
The Concept of Flow…………97
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?
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.
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 )
by Craig Sands
Introduction to Chum Kiu
Chum Kiu is the second of the three open-hand forms of Wing Chun Kung Fu. It builds upon many of the basic principles and techniques learnt in Siu Lim Tao to create a coherent fighting system.
Chum Kiu introduces and develops fundamental rules of footwork and body unity while moving. Whilst Sil Lim Tao develops proper structure, stance, center-line hand eye co-ordination, energy, body unity and the power of focused intent (developing the necessary ability for strength and focus from a static position), Chum Kiu enhances these and develops the use of structure under dynamic conditions, and is performed with speed of movement.
Chum Kiu adds and develops three more energies: forward momentum, pulling momentum and turning momentum. These energies add significant power to the techniques through unified movement of the body along both linear and circular paths. Chum Kiu develops a heightened awareness and understanding of the ways in which these movements magnify the potential of natural body power.
Chum Kiu involves moving and apply the structure developed within Sil Lim Tao – which can be seen in four key areas:
- Moving into the opponenet
- Body Unity / Connectivity to the ground
These four areas are explored in more detail below.
Moving into the opponent
Chum Kiu consists of a variety of techniques and movements designed to move structurally into an opponent, referred to as bridging the gap. One of the main translation meanings of Chum Kiu is “searching for the bridge.” Importantly, ‘searching’ implies active motion which is a key function of learning chum kiu. The ‘bridge’ refers to the path to the opponent, finding a contact point on the forearm. Where this contact does not existing the Wing Chun practitioner activity seeks to make one – hence searching for a bridge.
Chum Kiu develops an understanding of how to turn and move efficiently which helps to develop weight transfer, weight distribution, and increased balance and structure. By learning how turn correctly and efficiently this helps detect the slightest opening in which to compromise an opponent’s position by disrupting their center.
While Sil Lim Tao develops an understanding of structure and deliver attacks along the center line, Chum Kiu teaches how to control the center line whilst turning the body to deal with incoming forces off the center line, how to use feet to control and turn your opponent, how to shift to redirect incoming forces, deliver elbow strikes, and how to neutralize the opponent’s attacking hand and deliver a combination of attacks.
Chum Kiu also introduces the Wing Chun practitioner to three different kicks. The Wing Chun kicks like the hand techniques are non committal, with the weight balanced on the back leg. This ensures that the balance is not compromised. It also allows the front leg to be used for blocking and kicking.
The kick in the third section of Chum Kiu opens with a turn followed by a crescent kick. This, as with all the kicks, highlights that there may be a distance between you and an opponent. Kicks can be used to warn off opponents, to step in and bridge the gap or to attack and gain contact with your opponent. Distance is the key when ever using kicking techniques.
The final kick out to the side whilst turning square can be used to correct your center or apply a kick to attack an opponent who is slightly off center.
Body Unity and Connection to the Ground
The aim of the Chum Kiu form in Wing Chun kung fu is to add very strong vectors of rotating force, using the entire body mass, to the movements learned in Sil Lim Tao.
Sil Lim Tao introduces and develops the importance of unifying the lower and upper body together to make a singular unit. In Chum Kiu this is tested and power is put into the system -’re-learning’ and ‘refining’ the understanding and experience.
With simultaneous hand and foot movements, the Chum Kiu form further develops to link between the upper and lower body using the Yee Gee Kim Yeung Ma stance which was learned in Sil Lim Tao. Specifically, the Chum Kiu form begins to introduce the concept that “power comes from ground”.
When this is done correctly, the force created is multiplied by the mass of the body and seems to come from a number of directions at once. The superior result of this is to create movements which are very difficult to oppose, as the force is no longer a simple straight line, but is now rather a balanced, rotating force which is aimed directly at the opponent’s centreline.
Additionally, the stepping within Chum Kiu develops the timing between hand and feet techniques – learning how to move as a single unit. Moving as a single unit you are then able to root to the ground, have a good structure and maintain your balance.
It is this integration of all elements of the body, accomplished by correct pivoting and stepping, which teaches you to generate maximum force with minimum effort – allowing a small person to overcome the brute strength of a much larger opponent.
by Dan Knight
Chum Kiu or Seeking the Bridge
There are two main points in Chum Kiu: to avoid [attacks] by turning, and to be stable. I practiced the Lan Sau turning movement in Chum Kiu every day, all day for three months, but my father wouldn’t teach me the next movement until I got it right. “You think three months is a long time?” he said, “I followed my master for three years!”– Ip Chun
Wing Chun’s second form
Wing Chun kung fu’s second form, Chum Kiu builds on the base of knowledge learned in the first form and teaches the practitioner how to use these skills under different conditions ie. with movement and turning.
The Goals / Benefits of Chum Kiu
Chum Kiu makes the student practice a number of useful skills. Some of the benefits of training Chum Kiu are as follows.
- Practice using the turning or Yiu Ma, with techniques to help generate power in strikes and blocks.
- Introduces kicking techniques to the student. Kicking is a vital weapon/component in Wing Chun.
- Introduces Biu Ma stepping to the student. Essential for being able to chase down a target or close the distance to the opponent.
- Practicing the turning will improve the students balance and structure.
- The student will learn to coordinate 2 way energy along side movement. For example the Lap Sau and strike. Or later Bong Sau, Wu Sau together with stepping.
The Second Forms’ Structure
The first section of Chum Kiu teaches how to use turning and techniques at the same time, for example the Bong Sau and Wu Sau are performed whist turning and shifting the body weight from one leg to the other. This is teaching the practitioner to use the hips to develop power or Yiu Ma as it’s called in Cantonese. Yiu Ma and body movement in general, is not present in the first form. Chum Kiu is also teaching the practitioner about body positioning when using techniques like the Bong Sau which becomes considerably more effective when combined with turning.
The first section also introduces two way energy as seen when the Lan Sau arm Laps back and a straight punch is delivered. This enables the practitioner to deliver more devastating blows with relative ease as the Laping arm is enabling the transfer of power across the body as the force can flow as one motion without interruption, with the addition of pulling your opponent off balance, the target will also be moving into the punch and so additional damage will be caused. The key to doing this is to learn how to use all the muscles in your body in a short sequence ie. your hips and legs turn and start generating some power, which is then carried on my the shoulders and finally the arm. If you miss time this, you end up just striking with your arm and not using the power of your whole body. The only way to develop this skill is through practice. Chum Kiu is a vitally important way to practice synchronizing the body’s movements to work as one unit.
Tip If you can’t do the turning Lan Sau in the first section quickly and powerfully without loosing balance, you need to practice more. It should feel natural. If it doesn’t get your sifu to help you do the movement until it feels natural and comfortable.
The second and third sections introduces Wing Chun stepping, this, when combined with techniques, this enables the safe bridging of the gap between the practitioner and his/her opponent. Hence the form is called Chum Kiu or ‘seeking the bridge’. It is with contact that the Wing Chun practitioner has his/her biggest advantage, this is, after all one of the areas Wing Chun specializes in and is a big part of why we do Chi Sau. Furthermore the second section of Chum Kiu is building on Sil Lim Tao by making the practitioner use both footwork and kicks with hand techniques such as blocks/covers.
Chum Kiu also introduces the Wing Chun practitioner to three different kicks, a lifting kick to block others kicks as done by Ip Chun, a front kick which can be aggressive or defensive as used by Ip Ching, and a turning kick which again can be used to stop the advance of an attacker or strike them if they try to get around the practitioner. The Wing Chun kicks like hand techniques are non committal and do not compromise the balance of the practitioner in any significant way. This is due to their speed and lack of height. Most kicks are delivered to targets below the waist, like the groin or knees.
Also throughout the practice of Chum Kiu the practitioner must use both hands at once. Although this is done in Sil 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 from the practitioner.
Therefore Chum Kiu builds on Sil Lim Tao.
WING CHUN LESSONS
SIU LIM TAO
By Wing Chun Academy of Thailand, Daniel Y. Xuan
1. Like any form of exercises or sports, do not perform Siu Lim Tao right after a meal. Make sure you have given your system at least an hour to digest the food.
2. Do not wear restrictive clothing as you will tire out sooner.
3. Perform Siu Lim Tao (SLT) in an area with fresh flowing air. You will need plenty of oxygen.
4. Make sure that you are in a relaxed state of mind. Tension knots up your channels. You are not only exercising your physical body, but your inner Qi as well.
5. After finishing each round, massage your knees, elbows and other joints to help the blood and Qi circulate.
1. The SLT lessons are structured to show you the moves sequentially first, frame by frame
2. The moves are detailed and analysed next.
3. Then videos or more pictures are presented for further analysis.
How To Learn It On Your Own
1. First look at the sequence frames to have a mental picture of the sequence.
2. Then study the details and explanations. This is very important. Knowing the purpose of the moves helps you perform them correctly.
3. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, and place the instructions on a (music) stand for referral.
4. Perform each move, according to the illustration and instructions.
5. Call out the name for each move. This will not only help you remember the sequence, but remind you of the details for the moves. In the future, it will help you teach your students.
6. Treat each move individually. Do not rush through them.
7. Don’t worry about breaking up your moves to refer to the instructions. You do this in the beginning, until you have memorized the sequence. You will not need to do it when you have learned the sequence. However, it is important that you know each move precisely and perform it to perfection.
8. Repeat, repeat, and repeat.
9. When you have finished, remain in the low horse stance for awhile. Extend the length of time gradually.
10 Try to stay affixed in the low stance and not fluctuate the height.
11. Don’t ignore your breathing. This is part of the SLT training.
12. Practise every day, as many times as you can. Strive for PERFECTION.
Generally, Wing Chun schools start new students on the first third of Siu Lim Tao. From my teaching experience, I found that to be more than a student can handle. Surely, they are able to grasp the sequence and do it roughly in a few days; and in a few weeks, have no trouble remembering the moves and following the class. At this time, they are anxious to learn the next third, and so on. Often, this is obliged by the teacher. What happens in this situation, is that the students learn the superficial actions of Siu Lim Tao without grasping the roots and essence of the form. When students begin on this path, they step forever into the land of Oblivia. There is no magic in any of the WC forms. You will not become Bruce Lee by learning them all. The only way to become a fine martial artist is to work hard at it. You train, train, and train. That’s what Bruce Lee did. You must have patience and think long term.
The WC course I’m offering beginners is dissected in many small segments for long term training. I outline a schedule for each segment. It is a recommendation as I have no control over how you follow the schedule. You will only cheat yourself if skate over the lessons and don’t practice hard.
Before you embark on the first lesson of Siu Lim Tao (SLT), spend a week learning how to breathe (Qigong). “Don’t I know how to breathe?” You may be asking yourself now. Most of you don’t know how to breathe efficiently. (Read about Qi Force, in the Lecture 2 section.) If you breathe using your chest muscles instead of your diaphragm, you will bring the air to your upper chest only instead of filling your lower lungs. You will not fill the lungs to its full capacity, and will be out of breath quicker, and will also imbalance your structure. (Read about Qi Balance in Lecture 3 for explanation.) So let me show you how to conserve your energy, maximize your intake and minimize the expenditure.
Here’s your breathing lesson:
1. Begin with a natural stance. Spread your feet about your shoulder’s width apart.
2. You may keep your eyes opened or shut. Semi-opened is recommended. This takes you to a realm between the conscious and subconscious mind.
3. Curl your tongue upwards, pressing the underside of your tongue against the top palate of your mouth. This keeps the Qi or energy circulating continuously without a break.
4. Relax yourself completely by dropping your shoulders and not thinking about anything but your breathing pattern.
5. Inhale. Instead of contracting your stomach and expanding your chest, reverse them; that is, collapse your chest and expand your stomach. Instead of sucking air from your nostril and sending air down to your lungs, draw air and energy from the bottom of your feet to your stomach. Now, you are all confused. Well, you will need a little help here.
Your mouth and nostrils are the main orifices where air comes in and goes out. Many of you may know this, and many may not, that the pores in our skin, vent air in and out. In addition, Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) understands that there are larger openings, call meridians, where air, energy (positive and negative) and nutrients flow in, travel through our body channels, and exit out. During this process, our body uses what it needs and discards what is not necessary. We receive excess positive energy (Yang) from the sun and need negative energy (Yin) from the earth to maintain balance in our bodies. Therefore we need to draw energy from the bottom and bring it up no higher than the stomach region. One of the main meridians is located in the stomach region, called Dan Tian. It acts as a distributor, dispatching ingredients from the intake to the appropriate organs. The Yin energy is drawn from a pair of meridians located at the bottom of our feet. How do you do that? You train your mind to. You are unaware of your surroundings until you focus your mind on them. So, when you are inhaling, instead of focusing on your nostrils, focus in on the center bottom of your feet. Instead of feeling the air travel down your throat to your chest, feel it travel up from your feet (inch by inch) through the channels in your legs, meeting up in the genital area, and filling up the stomach.
5. Exhale. When you have filled your stomach with air, hold it there for a moment, and then begin the process of sending it down from your stomach to the genital area, splitting it down both legs, and exit from the bottom of your feet to the earth.
This breathing exercise is not as difficult as it sounds when reading it for the first time. You will get the hang of it after a few attempts. Do this exercise at least three times a day, for at least ten minutes each time. This would equate to 30 minutes per day, or 3.5 hours a week. It is best to do it in the morning, evening, and at night. When you get the hang of it, try to use it as your normal breathing pattern, if not the whole, at least use the diaphram instead of your lungs for bellowing, and your stomach for storage instead of your chest.
Qigong is a study on its own. It is intricate, but I will not get into it as this is a Wing Chun course. All martial arts training once included internal training. Today, they are distinctively separated. However, most martial artists and athletes do develop internal strength without consciously knowing or working at it. Internal strength is what separates the top athletes from the mediocre.
Wing Chun is considered (by those who like to categorize it) a cross between “hard” and “soft” styles. Siu Lim Tao, unbeknownst to many, includes Qigong training. I don’t know of any other fighting styles that has a practitioner standing in one position through a whole set. Neither do I know of any hard styles that have such so slow movements in a set. Great-Grand Master Yip Man was known to have taken an hour to complete a set of SLT. If you don’t believe that GGM Yip Man was practising Qigong, then you will have to believe that he was sleeping through the set.
When you have practiced enough breathing and feel natural with it, you may move to the first three movements of Siu Lim Tao.
The Wing Chun style that is very popular now is the branch taught by Sifu Yip Man. It was passed down from [Yuen Kay San] and is known as the Slant-Body Wing Chun. But most people are ignorant of the Wing Chun Style of of [Lao Dat Sang], who was very well known in Foshan County of China’s Kwangtung Province by the nickname [Pao Fa Lien]
The author is very fortunate to have followed [Pao Fa Lien]’s disciple, Sifu Chu Chung, and therefor has a good understanding of this branch of the Wing Chun Style.
Before presenting the content of the Wing Chun Style passed down from Sifu [Pao Fa Lien], the author should like to make a vivid delineation of the branch.
A greater part of kung fu styles originated from the Shaolin Monastery in Sungshan Mountains. When the Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD.) burned down the Shaolin Monastery because of the anti-Ch’ing inclination of the monks and secular disciples of the monastery, the kung fu exponents of the Shaolin Monastery went into hiding among the people and taught their pugilistic skills to people aspiring to topple the Ch’ing Dynasty.
The Wing Chun Style of [Pao Fa Lien] of Fo Shan County originated from a superior master of Shaolin Monastery who took refuge in Kiangsu Province. The monk took an assumed name “Big East Wind’ to escape the notice of pur-suing soldiers of the Ch’ing Dynasty. Gradually, he became an intimate friend of a magistrate called [Tse Gwok-Leung] and his brother [Tse Gwok Cheung]. The [Tse] brothers admired the monk’s pugilistic skills and in-vited him to live in their household and become their kung fu instructor. A few years afterwards, Monk Big East Wind took leave of the magistrate and traveled to the north. No one knew his where-abouts ever since.
After their teacher’s departure for the north, the [Tse] brothers lost their ambitions in the career as officials. They re-signed and returned to their home Fo Shan County, where they adopted a baby boy, [Lao Dat-Sang], who was later to be known as [Pao Fa Lien].
When he was only nine years old, [Pao Fa Lien] began to train pugilism and staff-techniques under the guidance of [Tse Kwok-Leung] and [Tse Kwok-Cheung]. After ten years’ hard work, [Pao Fa Lien] completed his training of martial arts.
What forms does Wing Chun comprise? My teacher, Chu Chung said: “In the category of pugilism are: The Little Idea; [Chum Kiu], or Seeking-Arm; [Biu Jee] or the Thrusting Fingers; [Dui Sao]; [Tut Sao]; [Sup Jee]; [Bien Kuen], or the Whipping Fist; [Jin Kuen] or the Arrow Fist; [Jin Jeung], or the Arrow Palm; [Juk San] or Sidling.
“Belonging to category of weapons used by Wing Chun are: [Mor Poon Do], or the Millstone Broadsword; [Siu Lung Gim], or the Book-bag Sword; [Yay Yan Bian], or the inverted-V shaped whip; [Ba]; [Tiu]; staff; etc.
“The forms for basic exercises are: The hard dummy, the soft dummy, the internal dummy and the external dummy.”s
These each comprises 100+ odd movements and has a different method of training. Bigger sets of pugilism and broadsword handling techniques are also composed of over 100 movements, including movements of the arms and the legs. The foot-work is soft and agile like a pearl dropping into a tray of jade; and the body turns nimbly with the footwork.
The sets of pugilism boil down into: the set of the elementary level- The Little Idea: the Thrusting Fingers and the Seeking Arm that come next; the more indepth sets, namely,[Diu Sao, Tut Sao, Sup Jee, and Bien Kuen]; sets of the advanced level, namely, the Arrow Fist, Arrow Palm and Sidling.
The set of the elementary level has simpler movements, which are more often in straight lines than in curves. It attaches im-portance to [Tan Sao] or the Spreading Hand, [Bong Sao] or the upper arm manoeuvre, [Kao Sao] or loop-buckling hand which is a stylized form, slapping hand t’o or dragging, k’ou or buck-ling, t’o , t’un ch’iao, meng and kun shou fa or the rolling-hand method. On the other hand, methods of higher levels gradually depart from stylized forms. Though their hand movements do not deviate from Wing Chun, they give prominence to footwork.
The Little Idea Form as is passed down from [Pao Fa Lien] is very long. Striding begins at the middle of the form. The footwork employed is the [Cheung San Bo], or the Long-Robe Foot-work. [Cheung San Bo] is quite similar to the Sideways Stance of another style. While there are hsieh Pu and the footwork with the latter, the former is distinguished by the [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma].
[Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] can be divided ac-cording to whether it takes two and a half steps or three and a half steps.
At the start, [Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma] trains obverse standing stance to make the knees and hip joints strong, and is therefore suitable for defense. Only after starting to move does the form trains offense.
In order that martial arts enthusiasts have a deeper understanding of its merits and demerits, as well as its remarkable forms that have survived 200-odd years, we shall make a more in depth explanation of the Little Idea Form.
Following the middle straight thrusting punch, the second section of the Little Idea, is the Thrusting Fingers forms, which has the purpose of increasing the length of the hand. After the Thrusting Fingers, the hand is placed in the left in the form of the pressing palm. In consequence of the pressing palm, there is an opening in the right. Therefore, the pressing palm should press to the left with the back of the palm. The fact that only one hand and arm is used makes the density high and the switch from one form to another quick.
Wing Chun, which belongs to the Internal System, is predominantly intermediate between softness and hardness. The Little Idea also includes an exercise of the Internal Swinging Circle, as well as those of the slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm.
The Slapping Hand and the Lifting Palm seem to be identical in form and in appearance, but they are quite different in practical application.
The Slapping Hand slaps ahead past the front of the chest in an oblique line (with the finger-tips pointing upward). The Slapping Hand is the more powerful of the two. lt aims at slapping at an opponent’s fist in a straight line and is in a sense an attacking maneuver. The Lifting Palm, on the other hand, is quite different. It is used, when two contestants are exchanging blows, to keep off the opponent’s powerful elbow. Alternately, when the two persons are too close the Lifting Palm is used to force the opponent to retreat or is used to throw him back.
The Upper Arm Maneuver includes a broad range of forms and functions, including Single Upper Arm, Double Upper Arms, High Upper Arm, Low Upper Arm, Hurling Upper Arm, Rolling Upper Arm, Discharging Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm, and so on.
The Upper Arm Maneuvers used in the Little Idea are Single Upper Arm, Dragging Upper Arm and the Double Rolling Upper Arms. The purpose of the Upper Arm is to neutralize an opponent’s violent force. Instead of meeting force with force, an exponent uses the position between the wrist and the elbow to deviate the force of the opponent.
Strike with a Soft Palm on a Squatting Stance is a distinguished maneuver. Both palms strike sideways while the knees are bent to squat down the body. This form is used to cope with an enemy who suddenly attacks from one side. Since the exponent does not know the enemy’s location, he strikes backward laterally in the right and left with both palms.
The three dragging and three upper arm maneuvers are very important tactics of the Little Idea Form.
In the latter half of the set, the exponent begins to move about with the Long Robe Footwork while dealing folding palms in the left and right. If the enemy exerts very violent force, then the exponent will use the Two Rolling Hands while Whirling His Body.
When dealing the Rolling Hands, the body turns by 180.
The T-Stance is used in combination with the Hurling Hand, which is hurled upward at the opponent’s elbow.
The force used has the effect of raising up the opponent’s force and pulling and dragging backward. The left leg stands with the knee bent while the right foot is placed ahead oblique to form a “T” (with the toe tip upward). The purpose of this foot is to trip an opponent if he loses control of balance when rushing forward. In the brief introduction above we cannot enumerate all the tactics of the Little Idea. To do that, one needs to write a book of several tens of thousands of words. The millstone broadsword of Wing Chun has a fork at the tail. The blade is about 20 inches long. An exponent uses two such broadswords in pair. It is a short weapon.
Why is the weapon called the millstone broadsword and how is it brandished? The answer is that the footwork in handling this broadsword is very agile so that the weapon covers all directions. In one section of the set of the broadsword technique one spins quickly.
There are two hundred movements to the set of millstone broadsword technique. It last section comprises “Turn a Corner and Step Forward”, “eight slashing with the broadsword” and finally “double chen tao”. The footwork forms involved are the Long Robe Footwork, the Rear Circle Footwork, the Turning Footwork, the Tiptoe Stance, the Oblique Footwork, the Rear Discharging Footwork, etc.
Because of its shortness and thickness, the millstone broadsword is especially suit-able for slapping, as is distinguished from a longer waist broadsword, which is not handy in slapping. Another distinguishing feature of the mill-stone broadsword is that it has such maneuvers as circle striking upward jabbing, return thrusting, buckling, thrusting, chien ch’ieh tao, up-ward slapping, etc. On these we cannot elaborate because of the limitation of space and we shall have to wait for an opportune time to make an adequate presentation. The crux of the question is that there is much in common between the millstone broadsword technique and the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun.
There are things in common between the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun and the millstone broadsword technique, but there are also differences, since the broadsword is different from the hand at any rate. For example, the effective ranges are different.
Thus with the pugilistic forms of Wing Chun, there are the single grasping hand, bottom palm, choking hand, and dragging rolling hand, which also make use of the fingers and palms to seize and lock an opponent’s arm. But such tactics are useless to an exponent armed with a pair of broad-swords. This is a difference between pugilism and broadsword technique.
We can also give an example to illustrate the things in common. With the hand movements, there are such tactics as countering buckling, slapping, drawing, pressing palm and the B-shaped fist.
In the broadsword technique, we also have such tactics as countering with a broadsword, buckling, slapping, drawing, Ch’u P’a Tao, etc.
Countering with a hand is to put an arm in the upper middle section to block and neutralize an opponent attacking in the front Countering with a broadsword has exactly the same purpose.
Buckling with the broadsword has the same purpose as buckling with the hand. Here the back of the blade is brought down in an oblique course.
Slapping and drawing with the broadsword have the same reasoning as the corresponding movements of the hand.
This set of millstone broadsword technique experienced several actual combats by [Pao Fa Lien] in a few dozen years. [Pao Fa Lien] tried skill with a famous exponent called [Pan] in Fo Shan County and killed the latter with the P’a Tiao tactic. It forced [Pao Fa Lien] to leave Fo Shan and exile abroad. Thirty years afterward, [Pao Fa Lien] returned to Fo Shan. He tried skill with the lieu-tenant of the county magistracy at the request of the latter, who was skilled in broadsword technique and admired the prestige of [Pao Fa Lien] for his use of the millstone broadswords.
[Pao Fa Lien] did not want to commit another mistake on top of his past mistake. And it would certainly be to his disadvantage to try broadsword technique with an officer. So he suggested that bamboo broadswords should be used in the trial of skill. But the lieutenant declined the suggestion on the ground that false broadswords would not be compatible with sincerity. And he insisted on the use of real broadswords to see who was the superior.
[Pao Fa Lien] thought that it was impossible to avoid injury with real broadswords. To get round the impasse. he finally came up with an idea, that is, to use one real broadsword and one bamboo broadsword.
In this way, he could avoid causing injury by blocking the opponent’s attack with the real weapon and attacking with the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant failed to score a hit after many rounds, when his clothes were reduced to tatters by the bamboo broadsword. The lieutenant left, heart and soul convinced by [Pao Fa Lien]’s surpassing skill.
By Mok Poi-On. Edited to Cantonese romanization.
How to play good Siu Nim Tao
by Moy Yat
Siu Nim Tao is a form that is easy to learn but not quite so easy to play well. One must keep several things in mind in order to achieve a high caliber of Siu Nim Tao. Of course, the most important requirement is to know all the movements in the proper sequence. The movements are in themselves simple ones, but it is essential that they are performed frequently, in a relaxed manner. A relaxed mind and body is the key to perfecting them. One in fact must not play Siu Nim Tao unless one is in the mood for it; you do not force yourself to play it. Regimentation is not the way; frequent practice must arise from desire. Another vital consideration is the attitude with which Siu Nim Tao is approached, namely, trust and faith in the form. One needs to have complete confidence in the wisdom of the movements without any intention of modifying them.
Although it is difficult for a student to judge whether Siu Nim Tao is being played properly, there are basic checks for determining if the positioning is correct. For example, there is a direct relationship between a correct tan sau and bong sau; if one hand positioning is correct and if it is changed to the other, then both hand positions will be correct. Therefore, one technique serves as a check for another. Another important check is the distance of the elbow from the body. In certain techniques such as a tan sau and fuk sau, the elbow should be a fist and one half from the body, or the technique will be (chuk kiu) short and jammed.
However, the best judge of a well-played Siu Nim Tao is the student’s Sifu. After a year or more, it is the Sifu’s responsibility to correct and explain all the intricacies of Siu Nim Tao. But only with continuous practice can Siu Nim Tao be improved.
Perhaps this would be a good time to clear up a misconception about Siu Nim Tao. Because of Siu Nim Tao’s slow speed and the great attention to detail and relaxation, many people have been led to believe that a person of a gentle, quiet nature is best suited to play Siu Nim Tao. In fact, Tsui Shong Tin, a Ving Tsun Sifu was nicknamed “King of Siu Nim Tao” because of his gentle nature, rather than his proficiency at performing the movements of Siu Nim Tao correctly. The truth, however, lies elsewhere. Wong Sheun Leung is also an excellent Siu Nim Tao player. Only a good, reputable Ving Tsun Sifu and diligent practitioner can give a disciple a good Siu Nim Tao. Disposition, character, and soft-spokeness have nothing to do with it.
text excerpted from the book: Ving Tsun Trilogy, by Moy Yat. Published by Winner Sports, Brooklyn, NY 1990.
“Please before you practice any Chi-Sao, warm up first
by doing the first form (Siu Nim Tao).
Please after you practice any Chi-Sao, cool down first
by doing the first form (Siu Nim Tao).
Please before you start work everyday, warm up first
by doing the first form (Siu Nim Tao).
Please after you work everyday, cool down first
by doing the first form (Siu Nim Tao).
Please if you want to be religious every Sunday, meditate first
by doing the first form (Siu Nim Tao).
After doing this note, I shall do my first form (Siu Nim Tao).
The Sup yee sik (twelve forms), sometimes referred to as the sup yee san sao (twelve separate techniques), descend from the Wing Chun teachings of Cheung Bo and were integrated into the Yuen Kay-San system by Grandmaster Sum Nung.
Dr. Sum Nung was born in South America in 1926 but returned to China with his family as an infant. Settling in Foshan, Sum Nung took a job at Tien Hoi restaurant in order to help support his family during the tough times preceding World War II. Sum Nung had always been interested in the martial arts and in the late 1930s began training in Wing Chun under Cheung Bo.
Cheung Bo was a large and powerful man with a great fighting reputation. His Wing Chun did not make use of any forms, but consisted solely of twelve separate techniques. The exact origin of Cheung Bo’s style remains unknown. Some have speculated that he learned from Nationalist army doctor Wai Yuk-Sang (rumored to have been a student of Fung Siu-Ching’s disciple, Au Si). Others have suggested that, due to their great similarities, the style shares ancestory with the Wing Chun passed down by Leung Jan in Gulao village (sometimes referred to as pien san, or side body Wing Chun) following his retirement.
In terms of structure, Cheung Bo’s size made it difficult for him to keep his elbows closed on the central meridian (a major consideration in Yuen Kay-San and some other Wing Chun branches). Thus, Cheung used wider arms and compensated with quick and powerful side body stance changes. Although the style was simple, it built in Sum Nung a very solid foundation.
Cheung Bo saw great potential in the young boy and so after a couple of years he arranged for Sum Nung to continue his studies under his good friend Yuen Kay-San. Yuen Kay-San was a highly skilled master who had learned Wing Chun first from Foshan Imperial marshal Fok Bo-Chuen (a student of Red Junk Opera performers Wong Wah-Bo and Painted Face Kam) and later under the famed marshal Fung Siu-Ching (a disciple of Painted Face Kam).
In the late 1940s, Sum Nung moved from Foshan to the nearby city of Guangzhou where he practiced medicine and taught Wing Chun Kuen. When teaching in Guangzhou, Dr. Sum Nung used some of the techniques as early training for his students, developing in them a powerful foundation. The remaining forms came later, serving as complementary exercises. Although the methods of Yuen Kay-San refined the sup yee sik to a great extent, a few still retain their characteristic wide detaining arms and defensive shifts, while some seem to possess hybrid qualities of both approaches.
Dr. Sum Nung also integrated some of the movements from the sup yee sik into the beginning sections of the Yuen Kay-San wooden dummy form.
The Twelve Forms
Compact in structure, yet containing many of the elements essential to a good Wing Chun foundation, the sup yee sik are ideal for early training. They can be loosely grouped into three broad categories. The first four focus on building body structure through basic punching, stance and step drills. The next four work fundamental arm cycles, firmly ingraining the cardinal tools for interception. The last four include sensitivity training and combination techniques that help bring the art to life.
Although perhaps not as detailed as the techniques of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun proper, these same attributes make them quite valuable as a sort of crash-course in Wing Chun self-defense. For those who require simple skill, yet do not have the time or desire to delve more deeply into the art of Wing Chun, the sup yee sik can serve as great starting point.
- Jee ng choi (meridian punch) trains the fundamental yee jee kim yeung ma (trapezoid shaped groin clamping stance) and introduces the primary chung choi (thrusting punch) of the style, which pounds explosively along the central meridian. Its extensions include the concussive lien wan choi (linked chain punches) and the sam sing choi (three star punches).
- Pien choi (side punch), also known as pien san choi (side body punch) adds pien ma (side stance) turning to the thrusting punch, and works on developing the connected power of the body. Its extensions include the kwai dei pien choi (kneeling side punch).
- Duk lung choi (single dragon punch) combines elements of the previous forms, training them in a complementary manner. It alternates a side projecting punch from the front stance and a front projecting punch from the side stance. It also integrates the linked chain punch and introduces the fundamental bong sao (wing arm) movement.
- Jin choi (arrow punch) adds basic linear jin ma (arrow stepping) and side stepping to the striking work begun in the meridian punch and the turning work of the side punch and single dragon punch. This completes the training of the first group of separate techniques.
- Sam pan jeung (triangle palms) drills a simple set of tan sao (dispersing arm), chang jeung (supporting palm), gang sao (crossing arm) movements that cover basic interception inside, outside, and downward. This set is usually matched in application with a partner performing three punches.
- Loi lim yum yeung jeung (inside/outside yin & yang palms), also known as tan fook sao (dispersing & controlling arms), weaves two of the primary Wing Chun intercepting tools into a short but densely packed set.
- Noi dap (inside join) also sometimes referred to as noi lim sao (inside sickle arm), the first of two related sets, cycles a basic interior controlling arm movement with the outside circling arm. Its extensions include the noi lop (inside grasp).
- Ngoi dap (outside join), also sometimes referred to as ngoi lim sao (outside sickle arm), the complement of the inside join, combines a basic exterior controlling arm movement with the inside circling arm. The ngoi lop (outside grasp) is an extension of the outside join.
- Kao dap sao (detaining joining arm) utilizes a Cheung Bo style wide detaining arm along with a vertically dominating kwa choi (hanging punch) and suffocating structure. This form can also be extended into the kao lop sao (detaining & grasping arm)
- Po yik jeung (flapping wing palms) combines turning power with horizontal palm attacks to strike or uproot an opponent. It trained in a variety of manners, both inside and outside, and while stationary or in conjunction with yee ma (moving stance).
- Na dan kiu (sticking single bridge) cycles a chum kiu (sinking bridge) technique with a punch in a set designed to train the dissolving of heavy force. Note: Some include the Seung Huen Sao (Double Circling Arms) in this position instead.
- Bak hok kum wu (white crane seizes the fox) uses chasing steps to maintain control of an opponent and saat kiu (killing bridge) and gok ma (angle stance) like scissors to cut them down.
The twelve forms are drilled in the air or on the muk yan jong (wooden dummy) to refine positioning, alignment, and power. They must also be trained with a partner, while standing, turning, and stepping, in both bridging and sticking to develop their skills. As with all Wing Chun Kuen, the key is to understanding the underlying concepts behind the techniques and how they are combined spontaneously in application.
Over the years, teaching only those he felt were upright and trustworthy, grandmaster Sum Nung went on to train many outstanding students. Due to his tireless efforts, and those of his students and descendants, Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen has gained a great reputation in China and has spread to Hong Kong, South East Asia, the United States, Canada, South America, Australia, and around the world.
Among those fortunate enough to learn from grandmaster Sum Nung is a man named Ngo Lui-Kay (Ao Leiqi in the Mandarin dialect) who followed him from the mid 1960s until he relocated to Canada in 1982. As the twelve forms were passed from Cheung Bo to Dr. Sum Nung, and from Dr. Sum Nung to Ngo Lui-Kay and his many classmates (with apologies, far to many to list here), so has Ngo Lui-Kay employed them to train his own students. It is hoped that by introducing these techniques in the west, it will help to preserve the rare and unique style of Yuen Kay-San Wing Chun Kuen, and the teachings of grandmaster Sum Nung for future generations.