How Do You Eat An Elephant?


One bite at a time of course.


I had an interesting conversation with one of my students the other day regarding what Siu Lim Tau is teaching us, now the interesting point here is that every one of you may say a different thing and yet all of you still be correct.


It is the easiest thing to simply say that the first section of Siu Lim Tau teaches us the development of elbow energy, and that this is why it is called the ‘Little Idea’ Form, because you are thinking of only this one thing.




But then there is also the wonderful, throw away idea, that the Form is called Little Idea, because at the time of learning it, you only have a little idea of what the system is about (as I say, this is a throw away comment and is only thought of as a bit of fun, rather than a factual translation), so why mention it?

Simply because, yes the first section teaches elbow energy, but it also teaches centreline understanding, how we attack down it and recover back to it, it teaches us hand positions, posture, stance, structure, breathing, the list goes on, and this can be said for any area of your studies, but the most important thing is that you take the information, one bite at a time.


I have always believed that everything should be balanced, whether this is your training or your life, being highly skilled in just one area is not the way to be.

Arnold Schwarzenegger  was such an amazing body builder because everything was in proportion, with not one set of muscles being bigger than any others, this is balance, in golf you need driving, chipping and putting skills, in snooker you need potting, snookers and safety play skills, when these are all in balance, you have success.


With Wing Chun it is like spinning plates, and boy can we have a lot of plates, focus too much on one however, and the others will fall.


When teaching, I also like to keep balanced, giving plenty to train and think about but at the same time not bombarding someone with too much information.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, there are those who give seminars and you were taught nothing.

Now to some people, giving a boat load of information may seem like getting the best value for money, BUT, it is more likely to overpower an individual and even possibly dishearten them, making them feel they have so much still to learn and they have not progressed at all.


Now, to get back to Siu Lim Tau for a moment, it is not necessarily what you are told, but when you are told it.

I am reminded of a period of about five months or more, in Hong Kong in 1991, when my Sifu, Grandmaster Ip Chun, was refining my Siu Lim Tau.


In the first section, Sifu had told me to focus on my elbow when moving forwards and when moving backwards, which I did (and was already aware of), training this for weeks, but then he told me that I should only be applying elbow energy on the returning arm, not the one going out.

I did not know this and therefore drilled as I was told, again, for weeks, only to be later corrected again, by Sifu explaining that I should only be applying elbow energy on the out-going arm, not the returning one.

I was so cross with myself for getting this wrong, but as the months went by, every time I thought I got it right, I was again corrected, and this continued, until one day when I was informed that the energy should be applied on/off, on/off, on/off, it was at that point that the penny dropped.


I was not being taught how Siu Lim Tau should be played, I was being told what I needed to do, for MY Form, for MY progress, at THAT specific moment in MY development, so you see, there is not a definitive answer as such, but an overall understanding of how the Form can be used, that way we make it work at its best for us.


‘One day at a time and one bite at a time’


So by all means listen to all which is offered, even if not everything applies directly to you (at that moment at least).


As Bruce Lee said:


“Take on board which is useful and disregard that which is not”


Although I will say, this does NOT apply to those of you wishing to one day teach and share your experiences, because as a teacher it is vital that you understand all perspectives of the system, especially if you are to be responsible for guiding others where they need to be guided.


This is the very understanding we offer at WingChun.Online


Thank you for reading and I hope you found this helpful.


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