The First Little Idea Form
Siu-Lim-Tao translates literally into Siu (small), Lim (idea/thought), Tao (head/first). This form translated as "First Small/little Idea in the head”. The name of this 1st Wing-Chun form indicates that all the details and/or particulars should be focused on and maintained. This form is practiced in a Yee-Chi-Kim-Yeung-Ma stance or (Dok-Lap-Ma stance for advance students) using only arm movements. Proper practice of Siu-Lim-Tao enables the student to develop proper abdominal breathing, independent arm movement, focus, stance/stability, and proper energy will eventually lead to Chi-Gong exercise from this form. Siu-Lim-Tao also trains the student to generate forces from the center line (Chung-Sien).
All the basic hand movements used in Wing-Chun are contained in Siu-Lim-Tao, although the leg movements are reduced to their most elementary components during the opening of the stance at the beginning of the form. When practicing Siu-Lim-Tao, one should remain relaxed; the eyes should follow each movement of the hand.
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 (Gong-Lik "Internal Energy") 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) through very slow movement, open energy channels from the stance and relaxed and expanded breathing. Eventually you will be able to move your qi from the core of your storage area to all areas in your body; from core to extremities and back again. This is your qi 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 “yee” or intention begins to take place. In this way we find that the nature of Siu-Lim-Tao is to help the student build a good foundation in order to progress to the next stage.
In the second section (Fa-Ging "Releasing Energy"), we now focus on releasing the qi 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 (Basic Skill) 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 its 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 Fook which is the structural foundation on which the hand positions are built.
Siu-Lim-Tao is to be played for a lifetime. The more you do it, the more it helps every aspect of your Wing-Chun both physically and mentally. The “horse” or stance is trained as a stationary foundation and the basis for footwork later on. Without Siu-Nim-Tao, your footwork will not have the required balance and unity.
• Structures and Characteristics – Kim Sut (knees in), Luk Ma (lower the stance), Ting Yu (tuck the hips under), Dung Tao (head erect), and Mai Jarn (elbows in). Keeping the center line (Chung Sien), keeping the stance still throughout the whole set, providing a stable state to return to while executing the techniques, applying the elbow energy correctly, breathing correctly.
• Abdominal Breathing – When practicing Siu-Lim-Tao, it is very important to breathe properly. The “Yik-Fu-Kup” or “Reverse Breathing” method is a special way to constrict the rib cage through the use of arm positioning forces abdominal breathing (breathing using the abdominal cavity to increase the amount of air drawn into the lungs which results in increasing the level of oxygen absorbed by the blood).
• Proper Standing Posture - is to build considerable endurance and strength in the leg muscles, and work the chi (breathing energy) into the legs as the student learns to relax into the position of the Yee-Chi-Kim-Yeung-Ma, adducting his two legs into the ground.
• Independent Arm Movement - Developed by maintaining one arm in a continuous tight chamber (arm is pulled back as if performing an elbow strike with the forearm parallel to the floor) while the other arm is performing the various movements and techniques.
• Constant Focus - Focus is maintained on the motions and stress placed on each arm the practitioner develops an awareness of each arm. Focus is developed during the practice of Siu-Lim-Tao, which when performed properly takes at least a half-hour, as the position of every single body part must be maintained. Avoid the feeling of excitement or impatience before starting to practice.
• Proper Energy - Siu-Lim-Tao is broken down into 4 sections. Having both arms in chamber separates each section. During the second section, proper energy and positioning is developed. The feeling is similar to a coiled spring or snake. Relaxed and ready to strike. This is called "Forward Energy." Internal power is very much a part of our Wing-Chun, with one of the main focuses of practicing the forms being to develop Nim-Lik (thought force) which is the power of a highly and consistently focused mind with a relaxed body structure.