Form. What is “form?” Form refers to sets of movements in a martial art that define that system of martial art. In Chinese systems they are called “kuen.” In Japanese systems they are called “kata.” Some Korean styles call them “hyung.” Some martial arts have nine or ten forms and some have fifty or more! Memorizing and perfecting forms takes quite a bit of time. The more forms, the more time. The idea is to perfect the movement, sometimes for its own sake and sometimes to attain certain practical skills. In modern times, the practice of forms has evolved into performance and competition, at least in some martial arts circles. The forms are supposed to represent scenarios that are defense movements against several attackers in logical sequences. The sequences are performed in front of judges who grade on several criteria and winners are determined in a way similar to gymnastics or figure skating.
WingTsun™ has just three forms, Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Tze and also a sequence done on an apparatus called a Muk-Yan Chong (wooden dummy) in the advanced stages of learning. The forms in WingTsun take on the simplest, most basic requirements in order to learn the structure required for efficient and logical techniques. WingTsun forms are not particularly spectacular and are not designed to impress spectators. The idea behind having just three forms is that a highly effective system of self-defense can be learned with the movements of just three forms. More time devoted to prearranged movements is considered counterproductive to learning effective self-defense in a short enough period of time.
The first form a student learns in WingTsun is the Siu Nim Tau which means “little idea form.” The literal meaning refers to the fact that Siu Nim Tau presents a basic concept to the student and that it is important to learn a “little idea” first instead of a “big idea.” According to most teachers, the Siu Nim Tau contains the most immediately useful techniques. Siu Nim Tau teaches these core techniques and takes a few minutes or even an hour to complete if a student is so inclined. The time spent is essentially, a time of meditation. The first section is done slowly. Natural abdominal breathing is encouraged which leads to better control over one’s breathing in an emergency and results in natural health benefits.
As with the other forms, the Siu Nim Tau has multiple applications for each technique which are taught as the form is taught. Replacing the six months or so of just low stance training in some other styles, WingTsun has the Siu Nim Tau which trains the stance and the hand techniques at the same time.