The Sil Lim Tao Form – A “Little Idea” Form with Big Ideas!

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?”

Sil Lim Tao

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!

Wing Chun Forms – Tips For Training

wing-chun-forms-studentsIn the Wing Chun system there are three empty hand forms (Sil Lim Tao, Chum Kiu, Biu Jee), a Wooden dummy form (Mook Yan Jong) and two weapons forms (Luk Dim Boon Kwan & Baat Cham Doa).

Wing Chun forms help you develop self-awareness, balance, relaxation and sensitivity. They train you in the fundamental movement and the correct force generation of the system.

All techniques are derived from the forms – they are the foundation for the Wing Chun fighting system.

Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of how important these forms are to your training. So with that in mind here are a few training tips to help you get the most when working your forms:


1) Become One

Connect your mind with every motion of your body. Think and feel every motion, your body should have a unity that can generate ‘effortless power’, but look graceful.


2) 10 to 1 Rule

For every time you do your form at ‘Normal’ or ‘Fast’ speed, do it 10 times slowly. Now I know some of you are thinking, ‘But traditionally my form isn’t done that way!’

That may be true, but if you really want to get the mechanics down, and KNOW where your body is during every motion, do it slow. By slowing down the form, it is like doing it 10,000 times.


3) Feel the Power

Focus on where your body should be generating power from during any given movement. There are several ways to do this, but one of the ways it to put a ‘Mind of Pressure’ in each move.

You do this by pretending that there is some pressure that is giving you some resistance trying to prevent you from doing the action. You’ll notice that you progress leaps and bounds if you do this.


4) Body Bump

Get a partner to push or ‘bump’ you after every move. This will help you know if you are balanced and rooted properly.

Now don’t have your partner give you so much force that you can’t stay rooted. Just have him give you a slight bump to test your stance.

Practice these 4 things when doing your forms and you will speed up both your learning and your practical skills!