Wing Chun Fist Form | Six Sets Tansau

Every student of Wing Chun who has a connection to the infamous Yip Man will have heard the many sayings about the First Form! Siu Lim Tau is commonly translated as "Little Idea" and in many respects it is just that. I'm no expert in other Martial Arts but I have never heard of any other form or pattern that is practiced in the same way as this special hand set, because the feet do not move! 

Apart from the opening and closing of Siu Lim Tau the feet are stationary, with the toes and knees bent inwards, and this has caused much confusion in Wing Chun circles because stationary must mean fixed? Stationary must mean hard? Stationary must mean basic? How wrong a student can be!

Wing Chun First Form is neither fixed or flowing, hard or soft, basic or advanced. It is all these and more!
This little idea can be nurtured and trained throughout a students life time, and even the most senior practitioners today say they return to this form to remind them where they began, and they are still fine tuning the details. And therein lies the common misconception about this form. Most people want to learn how to apply these stationary sets on others, use the knowledge to harm and sometimes that can be a dangerous path because if you have no knowledge of what the form is doing for you first, then how do you even think you know what it can do to others? And is that really the true purpose of such a little idea?

In my own training I have been taught to separate the hand sets, and gain an understanding of what different Salutations can mean, before connecting it all back together again in one fluid exercise. For me, Wing Chun First Form has six sets, starting with the study of Tansau. Turning. Intercepting. Asking. Drilling. Breaking. Striking. In a very basic way the student is projecting purpose with movement even when one stands still. And this purpose is within your mind and will itself, it will be unseen to some, and recognized by others. In the beginning try not to concern yourself with the weaponry of the empty hand!

Use SLT to revise yourself, study yourself and balance yourself. If you concentrate on this first, like a dictionary, the entire form can be pieced together in a myriad of ways that cultivate and enable a Wing Chun language of your own to be born.

This is a little idea after all, that can become pretty Big when you really begin to think about it! Train safe. Keep well.

About the Author:
Photo by Christian Plach
Spencer Devine started his Martial Arts training at 9 years old. Growing up in North London he has always enjoyed old school Kung Fu movies and when he was 19 he met his first, and only Wing Chun Sifu who took him on as a formal ‘Tou Dai’ Disciple in 1995. He has no formal students of his own and built his personal training space in his back garden which he later named ‘Flystudio – Wing Chun Tong’.
While learning to teach with his Sifu and kung fu family, Spencer often wrote and published articles on behalf of the ‘Jun Mo Gwoon’ and when he settled down and started his own family he continued to coach and train a small Wing Chun Troupe with his kung fu Brother, taking on the name The Yum Yeurng Academy. He has a traditional approach to training Martial Arts, covering more wider cultural practises and is known for his performance abilities and detailed understanding of the Lee Shing family and Wing Chun system.
He is a regular Facebooker, and has recently started to promote his approach to training Wing Chun through his Video Blog.

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