On December 2, 2016, in Sifu’s office at Medicine Moves Studio on 843 Fisgard St., Victoria, white sash student Eben Hensby sat down for a conversation/interview with Sifu Jim Kragtwyk on the topic of Siu Nim Tau. The audio and transcriptions are included below, in five files (in mp3 and pdf formats). (Background sounds include a fountain feature in Sifu’s office, music in the background from the next room, and some vacuum sounds towards the end.)
Part 1: Introduction: Siu Nim Tau and the Basics — Transcript
Part 2: The Three Sections: On a more Esoteric Level — Transcript
Part 3: Feedback Loops — Transcript
Part 4: Interpersonal Relations — Transcript
Part 5: Addendum: Chi — Transcript
Siu Nim Tau (aka Sil Lim Tao) – The Beginning Little Idea Form
The first of the three forms in the Wing Chun Kung Fu System reminds us that in the beginning the kung fu student has to remember just a little because the learning and understanding of the basics is crucial in order that a good foundation is built. This will ensure further progress.
The form is divided into three parts, each of which has its own vital role in the development of the kung fu student and success now ensures success later. Do not chew more than you can eat. Build your kung fu upon the solid foundation of understanding.
The first section teaches the correct structure of the horse stance, the centerline and the punch. It emphasizes correct structure of the techniques all based upon relaxation. The elbow is emphasized throughout the first section to maintain safety and structure of the hand positions on the centerline. Your body generates and stores energy (chi (aka qi)) through very slow movement, open energy channels from the stance and relaxed and expanded breathing. Eventually you will be able to move your chi from the core of your storage area to all areas in your body; from core to extremities and back again. This is your chi gong training within the Wing Chun system. This part of the form is completed very slowly to ensure proper learning and structure. The mind and body begin to integrate and the training of the “ye” or intention begins to take place. In this way we find that the nature of SIU NIM TAU is to help the student build a good foundation in order to progress to the next stage.
In the second section, we now focus on releasing the chi that we have stored; therefore, it is done loose and fast. Keep the movements clean and simple and avoid being overly concerned with applications. Concentrate on keeping the moves simple and on the centerline. This section trains us to use long arm energy at different angles.
The third section concentrates on a combination of technique culmination with hitting the centerline. The correct timing of this section allows the student to feel the “flow” of the various hand techniques to their inevitable conclusion which is to strike either with a vertical fist or palm. Each movement must be precise, efficient and reasonable. At the same time we complete the set of TAN, BONG and FUK which is the structural foundation on which the hand positions are built.
Siu Nim Tau is to be played for a lifetime. The more you do it, the more it helps every aspect of your Wing Chun physically and mentally. The “horse” stance is trained as a stationary foundation and the basis for footwork later on. Without Siu Nim Tau, your footwork will not have the required balance and unity.