Breathing In Siu Lim Tau


Breathing in Siu Lim Tau

What is the ‘Correct’ way?


I am always reminded of that question being put to Grandmaster Ip Chun once at a seminar to which his answer was simply;


“In and out”


Now I didn’t see this as him just being flippant but instead this answer having a lot of gravitas.


When we think of Siu Lim Tau what does it mean?

Little Idea (Of course).


And it is called this because the only thing we should be thinking of is the development of elbow energy.

Having to then deal with the addition of a particular breathing pattern ‘could‘ take away from this.




The question has been put forward (again) and therefore requires an answer, and there is a way of breathing that should be used in most meditations, and let’s face it, Siu Lim Tau IS meditation.


If you practice anything for long enough, you should be able to make it send nature, and this is no exception.

Get used to this breathing in a seated, then standing posture, and then when you are totally comfortable with it, introduce this to your form.


This breathing is sometimes referred to as:

Belly breathing

Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing.

Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

  1. Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  2. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  4. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
  5. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
  6. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.


In addition to any breathing you should also ALLOW your eyelids to relax.

Do not have your eyes open or you may be distracted.

Do not have your eyes fully closed or you may daydream.

Just relaxed enough that you stay in the moment.



I found this nicely written short piece by Elizabeth Scott, MS

Which you may also find useful:


Here is a simple and effective form of meditation that can be useful for beginners, and can be learned easily learned. Whether you use it to prepare for physical battle or just a taxing day at the office, this quick exercise is a proven tool to help you feel relaxed, alert, and more ready for anything.


  1. Sit in a comfortable position. While most martial artists use the ‘seiza’ (“say zah”) position, with legs beneath the buttocks with knees directly in front, many people find this position to be uncomfortable. If this is the case, you may also sit cross-legged (‘anza’) or in another position that’s more comfortable for you.


  1. Close your eyes, but keep your back straight, shoulders relaxed, head up, your eyes (behind your lids) focused ahead.


  1. Take a deep, cleansing breath, expanding your belly and keeping your shoulders relaxed, and hold it in for the count of six. Exhale, and repeat twice more. Then breathe normally, and focus your attention on your breathing. As you breathe, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, still expanding your belly rather than moving your shoulders up and down.


  1. If your thoughts drift toward the stresses of the day ahead or of the day behind you, gently refocus on your breathing and remain in the present moment. Feel the air move in, and feel the air move out. That’s it.


  1. Continue this for as little or as long as you like, and you should notice that your body is more relaxed and your mind is more centered. Enjoy the rest of your day!



  1. As you breathe, let your abdomen expand and contract, rather than moving your shoulders up and down. This deeper breathing is more natural and similar to how babies breathe. It gives you increased lung capacity, whereas the ‘shallow breathing’ adults usually utilize doesn’t allow as much oxygenation of the blood.


  1. Don’t breathe too quickly or too slowly; just breathe at a natural rate, but more deeply.


  1. If you find your thoughts drifting a lot at first, don’t worry that you’re doing it ‘wrong’. Noticing that you’ve drifted and refocusing to your breathing is part of the practice and something you’re doing ‘right’!



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