The Siu Nim Tau form, Wing Tsun’s most basic set of movements, may be the perfect antidote to anxiety we hear about in modern people. The name of this form, Siu Nim Tau, means literally Little Idea Form. It is meant to convey the purpose of this set of movements. It is intended to be done slowly in a quiet environment with self-reflection and focus. It gives a student of Wing Tsun time to slow down everything, thinking, breathing, even one’s heart-beat with more natural breathing in the abdomen instead of high in the chest. If a focus is placed on abdominal breathing, it tends to reduce attention on shoulder tension.
The character of the Siu Nim Tau is quite different from other ‘forms’ in other martial arts and even different from subsequent forms in Wing Tsun. Wing Tsun is famous for its emphasis on simplicity. It is hard for modern people to accept the simple nature of Wing Tsun. There are only three forms and a wooden dummy set in this system.
The form is known to be a representation of all the techniques of Wing Tsun. To be sure, a version of the movements in Wing Tsun are present in the form except for kicks and footwork. The form is done in one place in the character two – adduction stance.
One can review and perfect movements and ideas in the form even years later. Often a movement looks as though it is done correctly but introspection later by the student reveals certain misunderstandings.
We start each class with the Siu Nim Tau form. Once the movements are learned does not mean you can ‘move on’ and discard its practice. It must be renewed frequently. The Siu Nim Tau is not for demonstration. It is for the benefit of the student. The benefits cannot be had without practicing the form regularly with intent.
-Sifu Keith Sonnenberg