member login | site map | online store | support | contact us

Arizona Wing Chun Association

realistic. effective. modern.

Siu-Nim-Tau

The "Little-Idea" Form


The first form of the Wing Tsun system is called Siu-Nim-Tau. Meaning Little-Idea, this form demonstrates basic but efficient concepts that provide a logical method. Regardless of the style, all Wing Tsun/Wing Chun/Ving Tsun methods will generally begin their teachings with the Siu-Nim-Tau.

Whereas many arts focus on an application, Wing Tsun focuses on the concept of that application. A concept can adjust and respond to ever-changing situations, while focusing only on the application itself can see it defeated.

All Wing Tsun 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 and leg strength.
  • Section 2 teaches how to develop relaxed power.
  • Section 3 combines the elements of sections 1 and 2 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 Wing Tsun solely from the mindset of fighting (what many 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.

"... our focus lies in the relaxed, physical aspects of response and engagement..."

Instead, our 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 are 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 Tsun 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.

Section 1

Section 1 begins by learning how to lower one’s center of gravity from the chest to the waist. Called Hoi-ma, or Opening the Stance, this basic but primary element is one of the reasons we can take an opponent head-on. Should too much force be encountered and we are overpowered by brute strength, the structure itself allows us to “borrow” that force and re-direct or deflect it.

When engaging force with your own force, the stronger of the two opponents has a better chance of success because the odds are more in their favor. Therefore, in order to overcome that, borrowing their force allows us to quickly change angles, respond faster, attack the exposed areas, and keeps it efficient without thinking about what to do.

"... borrowing their force allows us to quickly change angles..."

Drills & Applications

A variety of drills can be created exclusively from section 1. To illustrate a bit about what the Siu-Nim-Tau teaches us, let's explore a few drills that begins the foundation of Wing Tsun.

There are three primary punches in Wing Tsun, with Yat-chi-chung-kuen, or Character "Sun" Thrusting punch (commonly called the Straightline punch), being the most prevalent. If you close your hand to make a vertical fist, and then look at the front of it in a mirror, it resembles the Chinese character for sun.

"... instead of striking with a horizontal fist and using the first two knuckles, we use a vertical fist and strike with the bottom three."

Wing Tsun punching differs from other arts in that instead of striking with a horizontal fist and using the first two knuckles, we use a vertical fist and strike with the bottom three knuckles. If you place your arm to your side, make a fist, and then raise the arm to the front, you will see that the bottom three knuckles are in alignment with the arm. Upon impact, the entire arm acts like a shock absorber.

This is why Wing Tsun punching can inflict so much damage to the opponent, and it is also why the punch can be so fast from such a short distance. It is biomechanically the correct way a punch should be enacted.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

1. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
Character "Sun" Thrusting-punch

Begin in Man-sau (Inquisitive-arms) and then close both fists.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

2. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
(continued)

As the rear first begins moving forward, the lead arm drops just enough to clear the path so that they do not collide.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

3. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
(continued)

The lead fist extends fully with no bend in the elbow, while the rear hand assumes Wu-sau (Guard-arm) or a fist.

Side view of Yat-chi-chung-kuen.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

1. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
Character "Sun" Thrusting-punch

Begin in Man-sau (Inquisitive-arms) and then close both fists.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

2. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
(continued)

As the rear first begins moving forward, the lead arm drops just enough to clear the path so that they do not collide.

Yat-chi-chung-kuen

3. Yat-chi-chung-kuen
(continued)

The lead fist extends fully with no bend in the elbow, while the rear hand assumes Wu-sau (Guard-arm) or a fist.

Tan-dar, Fook-dar and Gaun-dar are some of the easier movements to integrate with Yat-chi-chung-kuen. These actions address defense against straight punches, hook punches, and low punches.

"Tan-dar... is mostly for straight punches."

Tan-dar, or Palm Up-arm with Simultaneous Attack, is mostly for straight punches. Note, however, that many practitioners use Tan-dar for hook punches, too. Personally I don't subscribe to that concept since the elbow is slightly inward vs. outward, and you need the elbow outward in order to handle the force of a real hook, as well see in Fook-dar.

Tan-dar, or Palm Up-arm with Simultaneous Attack, is mostly for straight punches. Note, however, that many practitioners use Tan-dar for hook punches, too. Personally I don't subscribe to that concept since the elbow is slightly inward vs. outward, and you need the elbow outward in order to handle the force of a real hook, as well see in Fook-dar.

Tan-dar

1. Tan-dar
Palm Up-arm with Simultaneous Attack

As the opponents square off...

Tan-dar

2. Tan-dar
(continued)

... the attacker launches a straight punch. The defender's Man-sau meets the attack and transitions to Tan-sau. As he turns, the other fist launches a punch...

Tan-dar

3. Tan-dar
(continued)

... and strikes fully to the face.

Fook-dar, or Bridge On-arm with Simultaneous Attack, is quite adept at defending against hook punches. It is not just a block, though; instead, it slices into the attack so that it does not take the full brunt of force. In this way, you do not take the entire force on your arm.

"Fook-dar... is not just a block.."

Fook-dar

1. Fook-dar
Bridge On-arm with Simultaneous Attack

As the opponents square off ...

Fook-dar

2. Fook-dar
(continued)

... the attacker launches a hook punch. The defender meets the attack with Fook-sau while beginning to launch a counter-punch and also turning to absorb the force.

Fook-dar

3. Fook-dar
(continued)

The defender drives full force into the attacker's throat while completing the turn.

Gaun-dar, or Splitting Block-arm with Simultaneous Attack, is like an axe splitting wood, hence the name. Wing Tsun does not have blocks; instead, our blocks are actually attacks to the limb they are meeting. In this way, we counter-attack while defending.

Gaun-dar

1. Gaun-dar
Splitting Block-arm with Simultaneous Attack

The opponents square off...

Gaun-dar

2. Gaun-dar
(continued)

... but this time, the attacker drops his hand to drive in with a low punch. The defender's Man-sau drives downward like an axe splitting wood while the other hand begins to punch.

Gaun-dar

3. Gaun-dar
(continued)

Completion of Gaun-dar sees the arm fully extended to defend while the fist drives into the attacker's face.

After learning the first section of Siu-Nim-Tau and exploring the variety of concepts, we can take these movements and blend them together to create our own drills/scenarios as necessary. This teaches us not to be stagnant or always training the same drills over and over without change.

To begin this process, we work what is called the Lead-arm Defense Drill. This drill is just one of many variations that frees us up by changing from side-to-side while simultaneously working the arms. We also learn more control of the lower body and how to pivot ourselves in order to borrow the force of the attacker.

Tan-dar

1. Tan-dar
Palm Up-arm with Simultaneous Attack

Turn to Juk-sun-ma (Sideling-stance) with Tan-sau/Yat-chi-chung-kuen. 100% of the body's weight is on the rear leg.

Fook-dar

2. Fook-dar
Bridge On-arm with Simultaneous Attack

Turn to Juk-sun-ma on the other side with Fook-sau/Yat-chi-chung-kuen. 100% of the body’s weight is on the rear leg.

Gaun-dar

3. Gaun-dar
Splitting Block-arm with Simultaneous Attack

Turn to the other side with Juk-sun-ma and Gaun-sau/Yat-chi-chung-kuen. 100% of the body’s weight is on the rear leg.

Pak-dar

4. Pak-dar
Slap-hand with Simultaneous Attack

Assume Yee-chi-kim-yeung-ma with simultaneous Pak-sau/Yat-chi-chung-kuen. Yat-chi-chung-kuen in the lead-arm defense goes over Pak-sau, whereas in rear-arm defense it goes under Pak-sau.

Kuen-siu-Kuen

5. Kuen-siu-Kuen
Punch-to-Punch

Pak-sau slides under the arm and executes Yat-chi-chung-kuen while the previous punch assumes Wu-sau.

An excellent real-world drill that you can work with your training partner right now is called the Pak-sau drill. This drill teaches coordination, learning to make contact, feeling what that pressure is about, and how to better protect your centerline. It also puts into motion the concept of working both hands at the same time so that you can enact simultaneous attack and defense.

The Pak-sau drill is so important to Wing Tsun that our entire Lat-sau fighting curriculum begins with it. From driving in, down, around, adding kicks, elbows, knees, and any other action you can think, Pak-sau easily and quickly transitions to effective and efficient counter-attacks.

Pak-sau Drill

1. Pak-sau Drill
Slap-hand

Both practitioners begin in Man-sau and then one of them punches. The punch is defended with Pak-sau...

Pak-sau Drill

2. Pak-sau Drill
(continued)

... while a simultaneous punch is launched. This punch is defended with Pak-sau...

Pak-sau Drill

3. Pak-sau Drill
(continued)

... while the rear hand pulls up and...

Pak-sau Drill

4. Pak-sau Drill
(continued)

... launches a punch. As before, the punch is defended with Pak-sau...

Pak-sau Drill

5. Pak-sau Drill
(continued)

... followed with a simultaneous punch. The Pak-sau drill continues in an unending cycle to train the shoulders and the concept of simultaneous attack and defense.

Concepts & Theories

Wing Tsun is concept-based vs. application-based, meaning that the movements themselves can only take you so far. They are excellent movements, for certain; however, they are still only mechanical actions. What really makes Wing Tsun so effective is how and why the movements are applied.

For example, think about how many martial arts are in existence. Now, think about how many ways the human body can move. With the hundreds of systems and styles in the world, a person can still only do so many things.

When someone trains only for applications, what happens if they meet up with an opponent who is trained in movements that the defender did not train to respond to yet? If they follow a set pattern or routine in their daily training, then any deviation from that routine can be cause for defeat.

Wing Tsun does not follow this premise; instead, the system applies concept – not movement – to the equation. Concepts such as learning about the centerline, straightline, and vertical midline are essential to what we do. Understanding how the body responds to incoming force allows us to borrow that force and use it our advantage.

Centerline and Straightline

Centerline & Straightline

Vertical Midline

Vertical Midline

The Six Gates

The Six Gates

In combination, the centerline and straightline principles increase your reactions so much that our responses can become extremely fast. However, there is no mystery there. It is nothing more than simple body mechanics.

The vertical midline separates the left and right halves of the body so that we can analyze what limbs would be appropriate for various attacks. This is assisted by working the Six Gates principle, in which the body is broken down into six separate areas. For example, gates 1 and 2 are for the right and left sides of the head, gates 3 and 4 cover the right and left sides of the trunk, and gates 5 and 6 cover the right and left sides of the lower body. With these areas being analyzed, we can quickly see what limbs would be more efficient to address any kind of attack we might encounter.

The Siu-Nim-Tau is unique to the rest of Wing Tsun in that while all forms are learned in sections for easier learning, the Siu-Nim-Tau’s sections each have a distinct purpose:

  • Section 1 - Section 1 teaches the correct biomechanics of arm and hand positions, as well as strengthening the lower body. The structure of the stance from the ground to the top of the head is learned, and we take this structure to reinforce our upper body mechanics.
  • Section 2 - Section 2 teaches how to develop relaxed force. Anyone can release force, but releasing the proper force is what this section focuses on. Here we learn about relaxing our actions in order to remove the stiffness and tension that goes with fighting, as well as how to develop a relaxed whipping type of force.
  • Section 3 - Section 3 combines all of the lessons learned in sections 1 and 2, and teaches how to unite these concepts into a workable, efficient explosion into our target.

Like all things Wing Tsun, though, not everyone trains the sections in that manner. Some apply different associations to it, such as learning double movements, focusing on gaining the inside line, etc.

For More Information...

If you are ready to explore what Wing Tsun is about, there is no better starting point than Volume 1: Siu-Nim-Tau of the AWCA's eBook Training Series.

This in-depth workbook takes you through the complete Siu-Nim-Tau curriculum from start to finish. This one-of-a-kind training platform was built with true distance learning in mind and has already helped thousands of practitioners all over the world actually learn Wing Tsun.

Volume 1: Siu-Nim-Tau

Volume 1: Siu-Nim-Tau is the introductory level for Wing Tsun. Here you will learn about biomechanics, strengthening the lower body, the importance of staying relaxed, and how to unite the upper and lower body for simultaneous attack and defense.

Even though it is the first level, Siu-Nim-Tau is the most important because it creates the foundation. Without a solid competence in it, everything following it will be of little to no use.

Volume 1: Siu-Nim-Tau