Students who train in Wing Chun learn 3 different empty hand forms, namely the Sil Lim Tao (or Sil Nim Tao), Chum Kiu, and Biu Je (or Biu Ji).
These forms help to define the Wing Chun system and train you in the main principles and concepts you need to know to make Wing Chun most effective.
The first of forms is the Sil Lim Tao. As the name describes, with the Sil Lim Tao or “Little idea” form, what you get is a glimpse into the Ving Tsun Kung Fu System.
To many people the form looks simple. There is no movement or change in stances and it is not very exciting to look at.
But for those that are patient, those that wish to understand and not mimic, the Sil Lim Tao form has many “Big ideas”.
Sil Lim Tao – at it’s most superficial – shows the hand positions used in Wing Chun. But at its heart, there is a myriad of concepts that define and direct the Wing Chun practitioner to ‘Pure Wing Chun’.
If you watch YouTube, you can find many people performing the Sil Lim Tao form in all it’s variations. But if you are aware of the beating heart of the Wing Chun Form you will see many people not adhering to it while still giving lip service to the concepts.
Sil Lim Tao acts as a calibration tool: a way to measure if your mind’s understanding is connected to your body’s acceptance.
It’s amazing that when you ask someone who may have been training in other martial arts, if they know what and where their centerline is, the answer is always ‘Yes’.
But if you ask them to place their hands in centerline while performing the Sil Lim tao, in many cases the hands are either crossing or away from the centerline. This also applies to the concept of “facing”, “gates”, “rooting”, “structure unification” to name a few.
While the Sil Lim Tao form is considered by some as the ‘Beginner’s form’, this isn’t really the case. While it is the first form students learn, this form is probably the most challenging Wing Chun form in the system.
Because it offers no mercy to the player of the form – any errors can be seen glaringly to others. Your actions cannot be hidden by body movement or rotation (as in Chum Kiu and Biu Ji). It is a form with a simple “Yes” or “No” answer.
To help send you on the right path here are two questions you need to ask when learning the Sil Lim Tao:
#1 “What is this form trying to teach me?”
#2 “Am I applying what the form is trying to teach me or am I just dancing?”
The Wing Chun system, offers a lot of intellectual information that has to be processed and distilled to the body.
But one of the great secrets of the Wing Chun Forms is that once you understand what the form is trying to teach you, the “little idea”, can be applied to any other martial art – to enhance it and strengthen it.
As both a Wing Chun Sifu (teacher) and lifelong student, I find that this “Little idea” form still has “Big payoffs” for myself and those that search it openly and honestly.
There is a Wing Chun Maxim that says, “If your heart is correct, your form will be correct. If your character is high, your spirit will be higher.” So develop a heart of learning, of self-examination, of humble correction, and you will learn the secrets hidden inside the Sil Lim Tao.
All the best in your training – Sifu Chuck
Want to work on the Sil Lim Tao form but no time to attend class? Check out Sifu Chuck’s Sil Lim Tao Form Video Training here!