It comes as no revelation that kung fu moves are Asian in origin. The cultures have several traditions that go back 5,000 or more years. Some of these traditions involve meditation that helps quiet the mental chatter that disturbs health and progress in one’s life.
Wing Tsun has a meditation that one can utilize and it is a prerequisite to more advanced forms of learning. It is called Siu Nim Tau. Some traditions focus on just this one thing – quieting the mind. Keep in mind that not every Siu Nim Tau session will be equally tranquil. It takes repeated sessions to get the hang of obtaining a tranquil state of mind.
The answer is that it doesn’t necessarily take this kind of practice to learn basic self-defense actions but if a person wants to learn a higher level of self-defense for better self-confidence and safety, they should learn Wing Tsun. This is what Wing Tsun is: a higher level of training both for the student’s insides and their outsides.
By the time a student gets to the sticky hands techniques, one should have reached a tranquil state at will, a state that does not require a Siu Nim Tau session. If you are attacked, you must get that mental calm back to save your life. In chi sau practice, this mental clam is required. Too much talking will kill mental focus. Too much thinking will destroy your momentum. You must let it happen. There are no ‘answers’ to questions. One must make mistakes in order to learn. The training hall is the place to make those mistakes before something like an assault happens.
Chi sau (sticky hands) is quite a simple concept. The trainee has to feel the actions of their adversary and automatically and mechanically move, using his force, so as to deflect, dissolve or evade his attacks without physically blocking or resistance using the tools the trainee has learned. Wing Tsun is not designed to let a student think, then analyze, then move. This is too complex and far too slow. A student trains their body to move automatically based on the pressures that the cerebellum determines is the correct application. It is based on practice in chi sau drills.
Of course at each stage of chi sau training, more kung fu moves are added to the list. More reactions must be added to one’s ‘muscle-memory.’
If a trainee comes into the class with too much mental chatter, they will have a lot of Siu Nim Tau work to do. Even during the initial Siu Nim Tau session, effort must be expended to obtain the quiet mind.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg