The first form of the Wing Chun system is called Siu-Nim-Tau (pronounced soo-nim-douw). Meaning “Little-Idea,” this form demonstrates basic but efficient concepts that provide a logical method.
Regardless of the style, all Wing Chun/Ving Tsun/Wing Tsun methods will generally begin their teachings with the Siu-Nim-Tau.
All Wing Chun empty-hand forms are taught in three sections to make for easier learning. For the Siu-Nim-Tau, however, its three sections have a specific purpose and stress a unique function:
- Section 1 teaches the correct biomechanics of arm movement, plus strengthening the lower body,
- Section 2 teaches how to develop relaxed power, and
- Section 3 combines these elements in order to “release” that power
Some will train the Siu-Nim-Tau as “internal,” while others will train it as “external.” At the AWCA, we train the entire system from the mindset of fighting (what many will denote as “external”). Elements of internal training will result, such as relaxation and smooth breathing, but we do not focus on the internal aspects as some others do.
Instead, our primary focus lies in the relaxed, physical aspects of response and engagement, learning to overcome an opponent swiftly and efficiently. “Internal” elements result over time, but they’re not our primary concern; defeating the opponent as quickly as possible is the primary goal, and utilizing the concepts found in the Siu-Nim-Tau begins that process.
The interesting thing about Wing Chun is that you will find many variations. The families, lineages, and styles have particular ways to train, as well as specific modes of that training in order to cultivate what they feel are the essential elements to their preferred methods. Some are more effective than others, but on the whole, you will usually find more similarities than differences.