The Siu Nim Tao Kung Fu Form, and Why we train it…
by Warren Ash
Now we are entering into our 6th Kung Fu week of 2016, I’d like to talk to you about a group of ancient exercises we practise every single class whatever level you are… The Forms.
In Wing Tsun there are three empty handed forms, one Wooden Dummy and two Weapon forms. The first three you learn being: The Siu Nim Tao that translates into ‘little idea’, then the Chum Kiu that means ‘bridge seeking’ and finally Biu Tze that translates into ‘thrusting fingers’. In this blog I’ll be focusing on the first form in the Wing Tsun system.
What is the Siu Nim Tao?
The Siu Nim Tao (SNT) is the first aspect of Wing Tsun that you will be introduced to in your first class at one of our schools. It is not like a kata that is a choreographed pattern of movements that are practised in Japanese and Okinawan martial arts such as karate, judo and aikido, where the student practises set techniques intended to be used in combat but the SNT teaches us how to move using the basic shapes and principles of the system.
What stance do we practice in?
Although the Siu Nim Tao is practised with the lower body stationary and only the upper body moves, the first thing you do in the SNT is get into your practice stance, the IRAS. The internally rotating adductor stance, more commonly known as the IRAS is the practice stance used in the Wing Tsun system.
With the knees bent, heels facing outwards and the toes facing inwards, the stance engages the adductor muscles. The adductors are located on the inside of the upper leg and the provide the most power and stability for the hips and the femur (the longest and strongest bone in the body located in the upper leg).
The IRAS teaches us have our feet grounded strongly with the internal rotation of the knees engaging the adductors and the body weight sinking into the ground. The first seemingly strange angle of the feet in the iras teaches us where to place our feet and weight in the fighting stances.
Why do we learn the Siu Nim Tao?
The Siu Nim Tao is one of the best training methods to begin learning Wing Tsun because it most importantly (in my opinion) teaches us how to move! Where to place our hands, what shapes make, to work along our centreline with forward pressure and it also makes us more aware of where the parts of our body is in space in relation to the rest of our body. For example, close your eyes and reach your hand out in front of you and then touch your nose. Easy? Yes, that is because you know where your hand is in relation to your nose due to the sense is called proprioception.
What can I use to help me practise at home?
There are various youtube videos on the Siu Nim Tao but here is the link to the official EWTO (European Wing Tsun Organisation) video as there are many, many variations of the SNT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFuQdoXX_gg. Once you learn the sequence you can practise in front of the mirror to work on the details you are given in class as the mirror gives the perfect reflection of you!
I hope you enjoyed last week’s blog on why we exercise in class!
Remember if you don’t understand something don’t hesitate to ask one of the instructor team. Have a great week!