As discussed throughout this site the first form of the wing chun training system is the shi lim tao or little idea form. In this form the basics and complete concepts of the wing chun training system are introduced. The shi lim tao form is also known as an internal kung fu form as it relies less on outward physical movement. Instead focussing on concentration and maintaining your posture and positioning.
One of the most important aspects of the form is the stance. This works as the foundation of your wing chun training and emphasises the importance of maintaining your balance and the distribution of your weight. The stance in the shi lim tao form is known as the neutral stance. Where you are facing front on feet are approx shoulder width apart-elbows and knees aligned – with the feet slightly pointed in wards with your knees slightly bent.
Now this sound like some form of pigeon toed chicken dance , however it teaches the establishment of a strong base and strengthening of the legs.To amp this up a notch try to grip the floor with your toes and imagine that there are roots shooting down into the earth from the soles of your feet. This focus, concentration and imagination gives you an idea of why this has many aspects of what is known as an internal martial art technique.
With your shoulders back and posture erect we are ready to start. Begin by striking down with both hands crossing over at the wrist and then striking up. This is to signify the imaginary area where you can have the reach and use of the left & right hands without moving your hips. This correct positioning allows you to have the optimal range with your opponent without overextended and being off balance.
This is also where the concept of the central line is introduced. Wing chun training emphasises the law of straight lines-the quickest path between two points is a straight line..the Wing Chun punch is a straight vertical punch with the fist at a vertical position ..with the thumb up and pinkie down.
The punch is driven from the elbow and is extended. This is a skill in itself and we tend to drive punches instinctively from the shoulder. In the form you position your arm to the centre of the body and extend out..driven by he elbows to punch at the face/nose level. Then retract at the elbows and return to the “start position”. This start position has the hands and arms tucked at the sides with the arms and wrists parallel to the ground. Hands are closed -with closed fingers facing up.
The first move is tan sao where the palm is open with the fingers together pointed outward. Like the punch the arm is driven towards the centre of the body with the elbow driving the forearm forward. the arm held around a 45 degree angle with the palm up. T o complete this move rotate at the wrist into the wing chun guard ( Wu Sao) with palm facing outward with finger pointing upwards. All this while maintaining the opposite hand in its “neutral ” position. The idea is to execute these moves without moving the hand at rest. This is to teach the skill of two hand independent movement.
The next move is fuk sao, again the hand is drawn towards the centre of the body with the hand slightly kinked on angle. The thumb is touching knuckle of the forefinger with the other fingers pouting down. Again the main thing to focus here is the forward movement.
Shil lim tao is a form that heavily emphasises meditation where your thought s are focused on your positioning and the form of your hand movements. Your breathing is vital as as you breath in through your nose and out of your mouth. Your tongue is place on the roof of the mouth just behind the teeth,
These moves are repeated three times each side. In your Wing chun training you will notice that forms and exercises always start on the left hand side as it is generally regarded as the weaker side, it is the one that gets the most attention so you become proficient in using both sides of your body equally well.
These basic movements although seeming simple have a lot of application as you progress. The fuk sao and Tan sao concepts are key when you graduate to learning Chi sao as well as the wing chun wooden dummy, which is hard enough for a beginner to learn. However putting all your attention into these first part of Shi lim tao makes the transition to chi sao a lot easier.