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.