Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is Siu Nim Toa?

Siu Nim Toa means the "little beginning idea" and it is the first set of organized movements within the Ving Tsun System. This form is quite important and it alone represents seventy percent of the system's ideology and vocabulary. It is a stationary and meditative practice where relaxed potential is stored. It should be played with mindfulness towards simplicity. And in kung fu terms, simplicity is simply to simplify.

SNT should only be practiced when one feels like playing it. Ideally it should be played with quality and care to detail. Nobody should just play it with a going through the motions attitude. It is crucial to develop the discipline to practice SNT as perfectly as possible. Learning how to enjoy Siu Nim Toa throughout one's life is key. Everybody enjoys being great at something, so practice accordingly. Play it with greatness and make it a habit to be a great player each and every time. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Ultimately this form introduces the student to Ving Tsun's primary hands and vocabulary. Ving Tsun's primary hands are tahn, bong, and fook. Each hand brings its very own expression to the centerline. Tahn Sao is a receiving hand; Bong Sao is a deflecting (wing) hand; and Fook Sao is the superior and dominant hand. All three hands have their very own distinctive nature too. Tahn Sao is receptive while Fook Sao is giving, and Bong Sao is deflecting. Regardless of their different natures, each hand learns to occupy and maintain the centerline from one end point to another. These three specific hands make "look sao" or rolling hands possible in Chi Sao.

Chi Sao or "sticking hands" is the heart of Ving Tsun practice and development. It is the study of how our hands protect our boundaries (starting at the wrists) yet find a way to invade another's boundaries without compromising our very own structural integrity. All of the essential Ving Tsun theories such as centerline-facing, equal hands, simultaneous attack & defense, and the shortest distance between points are fully-integrated within the play of Chi Sao.

Chi Sao is very unqiue to the Ving Tsun Kung Fu System. It develops an internal energy called "noy gung". Noy Gung is born out of sticking hands practice where the same hands used for offense is also used for defense and vice versa. Chi Sao sticks to the centerline theory and to the shortest distance between points principle.

More later on "Sticking Hands" in my next blog about "Chi Sao: sticking to principle(s), theories, and attributes".........


  1. good info and points to keep in mind!

  2. Question: Where in the system is the heavy forward energy developed the most? Is it when the student is being pushed in "tsui ma (pushing the horse)", or is it when s/he is the one doing the pushing when a sidai is on tsui ma? Or is this energy developed most in chi-sao?

  3. SANFRANSITO: heavy forward energy (or "choong chi") is all relative to who you're practicing with and training with. It can be done at any level from look sao to chi sao.

    If your "si hing-dai" or fellow practitioner has a solid foundation you will have the appropriate person to practice and develop forward energy with. Keep in mind that heavy does not mean "with or against resistance". It means to concentrate on moving forward with every change of position without exception. Moving forward is held constant in play and becomes "one" with Chi Sao's sticking energy.

    Much like full-court defense in basketball, choong shi is about keeping the pressure on. That means from the ground up, through the body, and towards your partner's body.

    Choong Chi is a very specific practice that pays attention to and the experience of "lut sao jick choong" or "lost hand, thrust forward".

  4. Another analogy of forward energy is American Football. The whole game is clearly about "forward progress", but both teams have different agendas. The offensive team wants to move forward towards their goal (i.e. score points) while the defensive team wants to prevent any forward progress by their adversary (i.e. deny points).

    Depending on the strategy, the defensive team may also look to move forward by passing the line of scrimmage to stop or deny the offensive team from advancing. However equally good Chi Sao players, like equally good football teams, will match and complement each other well. Therefore scoring is kept in check and the battle becomes about "field position" (or body position) until mistakes are made. In sports and in martial arts, mistakes can be self-inflicted or created by the opponent, or a comibination of both.

  5. "Choong Chi" in it simplest terms, means to use forward energy to advance or to deny advancement!