Learn how to do the Siu Nim Tau form in Wing Chun from Sifu Alex Richter in this Howcast martial arts video.
What’s very important when you’re practicing the Siu Nim Tau form, regardless of what lineage you’re from or what version of the form you do, is to realize that the Siu Nim Tau form is basically laying the groundwork for the entire Wing Chun system that you’re going to learn from your instructor. It’s very important to pay attention to body mechanics. Wing Chun forms are very different from other Kung-Fu forms in that they’re basically not teaching forms that are based on choreography. When you look at traditional martial arts, especially Chinese martial arts, the forms basically prescribe a set routine: Your opponent attacks you with this, you block with this, then you punch, then he grabs this, and then you do this. There’s a logical sequence of fighting based in their forms. However, we know in Wing Chun, your opponent doesn’t attack you based on a routine, on choreography, or on a set; your opponent’s going to attack you anyway they want. They might grab you, they might punch you, they might kick you. Rather than teaching student’s choreography, what we do is we teach our students skills, and then these skills are applied through concept and principals that allow you to adapt it according to whatever opponent you have in front of you.
Sui Nim Tau form is the first part of that skills set, and that’s teaching you body mechanics. The body mechanics that you need in Wing Chun are very basic but they’re a little bit challenging at first for a lot of beginners. When your practicing the Siu Nim Tau form, like I said regardless of what lineage of what versions of the form you do, you want to pay attention to a couple of things. In Wing Chun, they have a very famous motto which is [inaudible: 01:31] means ‘sinking elbow, dropping shoulder’. That means that when you practice, regardless of whether you’re practicing a punch or whether you’re practicing the [inaudible: 01:40], you want to make sure that shoulder is not up like this, you want to make sure that your elbows are not high. We want to focus on keeping the shoulders down and elbows low throughout the form. That’s one of the basic body mechanics.
You also want to make sure you keep our knees in, holding the knee pressure in tight. Of course, depending on your lineage of Wing Chun, they may teach you slightly different version of doing it. Since in the Siu Nim Tau form we don’t move at all, we’re basically standing in a fixed position. We can use this as an opportunity to train the solidity of our stance; keeping out knees in, training the upright position in the posture, keeping your head back. All these basic body mechanics are going to spill over into the way you’re going to apply Wing Chun with your partner. They start with doing them in the form.
Great thing about form training, especially the Siu Nim Tau form, is you don’t have somebody in front of you throwing punches and kicks at you, so you can work on the body mechanics free from the stress of somebody coming at you and trying to take your head off. That’s what [inaudible: 02:37] is for, that’s what’s sparring is for, that’s what [inaudible: 02:39] is for. We have training methods for actually engaging in an opponent, but the form is just for training body mechanics. The same way a boxer would practice shadow boxing or would grind out the mechanics of different punches in front of a mirror, so we have our forms.
When you practice the Siu Nim Tau form, first, you want to train and work on the body mechanics, keep them in mind. Second, if your practicing the Siu Nim Tau form at home, make sure that you open a window. You want to make sure getting in a lot of fresh air because there’s also a meditative aspect to the Siu Nim Tau form; you’re standing in one place, you want to breathe, and it’s best not to do this in an enclosed room. Also, you want to not have too many expectations about what the form is doing for you at that moment. When you’re practicing, you want to have just one focus, you have a single-mindedness when your practicing the form, and that’s whatever movement your doing in that moment, that’s where you entire focus your, entire concentration is on. You don’t worry about the movement that comes next, you don’t worry about the next set, you don’t worry, how do I apply this in fighting? Every single movement in the form has multiple applications, and sometimes it’s not even about application it’s about the concept.
Rather than worrying so much about, what exactly am I doing this for? Especially if you’re a beginner and you don’t know yet, just focus on executing the individual movements as best as you can in a relaxed way as you can, focusing on body mechanics, and then you’ll have a very good result at the end.