Where Is The Application?
It’s that number three again!
Some time ago I was presented with a question, although to be honest I think it was more of a query really.
This question was regarding my lack of applications offered for the first section of Siu Lim Tau.
Now it is obviously not because I do not have any applications, but more so that the principles behind this section overshadow anything so trivial as applications.
To start with, let me approach your training in general.
When learning any martial art, this must be approached in three stages
Learn the shapes
Learn to defend using these shapes
Learn to defend and counter attack
Anyone can hit, YOU need to make sure you DO NOT get hit, and in order to do that you need to know what to USE in order to not get hit.
It is so easy to attend a beginner course, see the shapes of Wing Chun (blocking positions) for the first time and possibly be a little put off by the lack of immediate excitement, perhaps thinking some boring stagnation of the thing, but thesepositionus are only the first step, once you’ve got the shapes correct (every time!), then can we start to see these in application.
Jumping the gun at this stage will only cause massive confusion later, so spend enough time in stage one and make this new ‘shape’ a default setting.
“You do not practice until you get it right,
You practice until you cannot get it wrong”
A Tan Sau can be used higher, lower, in, out, with a turn, with a step, and so on, BUT, before you start changing it to suit your need, you need to know what the hell the Tan Sau shape is in the first place.
In so many ways you can say that:
‘Everything in the Wing Chun system can be found within your Siu Lim Tau’
Or perhaps I should reword that slightly by saying that;
‘Everything in the Wing Chun system can be found within your Siu Lim Tau,
IF you know where to find it’.
The problem with this idea is that you need to have studied, learned and understood all of the other Forms in Wing Chun to be able to fully understand what Siu Lim Tau was trying to teach you!
This three-step principle is shown throughout the three hand Forms, with the Siu Lim Tau teaching you all the basic positions, relaxation, centreline principle and development of leg strength, the Chum Kiu openly being described as your fighting form (showing us now how to use these shapes effectively) and the Biu Gee having shear aggression, causing possible over commitment and the recovery and return to our initial centreline.
The Siu Lim Tau principle
But this three-step principle can be seen in its simplistic entirety within Siu Lim Tau alone:
The first section of the Form, showing us the importance of the Tan, Fook, Wu Sau, showing us the centreline path and forward thinking, while at the same time developing mental focus and leg strength.
The second section of the Form focuses on the now, ‘correct use’ of energy while being applied to defensive moves
The third section of the Form plainly showing block and counter moves.
Grandmaster Ip Chun once referred to the three hand Forms as different levels of schooling, saying that you could think of the Siu Lim Tau as Primary school, Chum Kiu as Secondary school, and Biu Gee as University.
With this in mind he posed a Question:
“Which Form therefore is the most important?”
So what was the Answer:
“Which ever Form you are practicing at that time.”
So to get back to the original question (or concern), let’s use the three stage principle AND the idea of schooling.
Learning (and then training), the first section of Siu Lim Tau is vital if you are to understand your centreline principles, as well as developing elbow energy and forward thinking.
In nearly all of the other section, in nearly all of the other Forms, we see our selves trying to win and take centre, to get back on and regain centre, but before we can do this, we need to know what it is we are trying to take or trying to regain, basically;
What and where IS centre?
THIS is what the first section is teaching us, and it is the reason why we go straight down it and NOT scoop onto it.
For me, adding numerous (or indeed any extra), applications to this section (other than the obvious ones of course) may encourage a distraction from this crucial principle.
This is a little like learning your ABC’s, give THIS your full attention, in order to gather ALL the important information, AFTER that, you can be as free as you like in creating your own words, sentences and stories.
Progress is usually a good thing, however on occasion, SOME things are best left alone.