Relaxing the Bicep (Part 1 of 2)


Relaxing in Siu Lim Tau


When it comes to training a good Siu Lim Tau we all know that we need to be relaxed in order to initially feel, and further develop, the correct elbow energy, but could we do more?

Yes, by setting our stall out correctly before we begin.


Grandmaster Ip Chun is quoted as saying;

“In the first part of Siu Lim Tau, the fingers and forearm should be relaxed,

this is very important for the student to master”.


Whereas at the same time I am reminded of something Master Ip Ching once said to me in Hong Kong;

“Tension in the hand develops energy from the elbow”


Now it is this second phrase that is often misunderstood and can result in tension being used throughout the whole arm.


This description by Master Ip Ching fits perfectly with my most common method of drawing used for the energy out of a student when the playing of Siu Lim Tau.


The idea that you split your mind into four equal parts:


You must push forwards with the Tan, no matter what


You are pushing against a resistance (Whatever force you are using to move forwards is also back)


Do not use muscle


Hopefully if all four principles are believed to be equal, then you should be able to draw on a different kind of strength, a feeling not so familiar, this we hope, is energy.


There are many methods I use in order to try to encourage energy development from a student (this being just one), and even then, if we are being honest, we do not really know if we have hit the nail on the head or not.

This is like visiting the doctor and trying to tell them how you feel, no matter how eloquent you may be in the description of your illness, they will never actually feel what you feel.

Therefore, we can only attempt to make our best guess with the information we are given, and keep changing how we view this process, because one day you will find the right balance and approach for you, provided you are not being too blinkered with your training and too stuck in your ways to adjust of course.


Many students, after spending just a little time with me on their energy have said things like,

‘Wow, I thought I knew what energy was, but that feels so different’


A common question on Siu Lim Tau is;

‘What speed should I play the Form?’


Simple answer,

‘As slow as possible’


But this is not quite right, it is not that by just going slow you will have a good Form, it is more a case that if you are doing the Form correctly, you will not want to speed up and risk losing the feeling you have achieved.


Now before I discuss relaxing, let’s understand what I mean regarding tension, to me tension is anything in excess of what is needed to maintain a position.

When I ask a student to relax, I am frequently questioned on the this, with concerns that if they relax then, ‘their arm will fall’, to which I reply;

‘So if you tense, does your arm lift?’



Continued in Part 2…


Start typing and press Enter to search