Monday, 24 September 2007

Sil Lim Tao Part 1

Sil Lim Tao

Or the first form of Wing Chun Kung-Fu

Sil Lim Tao is the bedrock of the Wing Chun system.

Sil Lim Tao begins by teaching the correct stance & posture for the practice of Wing Chun. The adductor stance is achieved by standing with the legs together, bending the knees slightly, then putting out the toes as far as possible followed by the heels. The back should be straight, breathing lowered and the fists at the sides around the area of the solar plexus, with the forearms parallel to the floor.
This stance is absolutely fundamental and is used in almost all situations. Much of the footwork in Chum Kiu, the 2nd form, and much of Biu Jee, the 3rd form, can be seen as simply a way to move the adductor stance to a different position on the floor or to utilise it to generate power and opportunity by adjusting weight between legs.
The hip should be forward or 'engaged' and the buttocks pulled in, as to what degree this is to be adhered to I am not yet sure.
The initial dropping of the center of gravity , when the knees are bent, is to allow one to get into the practice of adopting the correct center of gravity before attempting any Wing Chun - I should imagine the legs would normally be around shoulder width apart and all that will be required will be to lower the center of gravity, eliminating the need for the 'toes out, heels out' part.

The hands often seem to be forgotten at the opening to Sil Lim Tao. As we drop our center of gravity and bend our knees the hands come up to the chest, then the feet move out - this appears to be the neutral adductor stance. Do not simply place the hands into this position. The hands may appear to make their way up to the chest but the manoeuvre also involves the ulna and the radius going from a vertical to a horizontal position, the practical upside of this is that if someone is holding you from behind and you perform this manoeuvre with one or both arms is that that someone will receive an elbow to the body.

Note: as the center of gravity is dropped I also place my tongue on my palate or, if I'm feeling flashy, I'll place the tip of my tongue on my palate.

Of the initial double gan sau, double tan sau movement I have very little to say at this time. I understand it is used to mark the gates: inside, outside, upper, lower, and that it also serves as a rather nice defense - is it, perhaps, that tan sau is the fundamental upper gate defensive and that gan sau is the corresponding lower gate defense.
Oh, and of course don't forget the double elbows when drawing back.

The next section consists of:

Left fist to center
Left punch
Tan sau, with cut
Huen sau, circling hand
Retreat, rear elbow
Repeat with right

We are beginning to form the basis of the Wing Chun system. The first movement teaches the position of the rear arm, usually wu sau, in this case a fist. The position of this hand is very important, if the arm is not in contact with another arm or the arm is not striking then this is the position the arm should be in - I think, maybe....doesn't really work for locks or traps...

Next comes the punch, the arm switches from rear to front. When this action is done alternately from left to right we have chain punching, the centerline is paramount. To be careful not to dismiss this as merely a punch, I busy myself with trying to co-ordinate the movement of my shoulder, wrist and elbow - It makes life easier later on when you try to co-ordinate the hips & legs as well.

The punch then becomes a tan sau and the motion between the two becomes an opportunity to train getting the most out of every little movement, hence the 'cut' - the 'cut' I perform is basically a reduced form of the 'left,right,up,down' cuts performed near the beginning of Biu Jee. In the form the punch becomes a tan sau after it has hit the target, or ceased being a punch . The movement between the punch and the tan sau as executed in the form allows for the punch to become a tan sau at any point in its travel to the target - I like to think that the hand is simply traveling to the center line of the opponent, if it does not encounter anything on the way a punch is delivered, if it does encounter something on the way a tan sau may appear.

Next we have the huen sau which shows how to move the arm between inside gate & outside gate. This is something I believe, at the moment, is better explored through dan chi or chi sau as it seems to rely on sensitivity of the wrists. Another function of the huen sau is to develop the wrists. In the form I tend to do a full circle/arc of the wrist joint in the expectation that I can then huen sau effectively using any section of the circle/arc.

As the hand retreats we move from huen sau to a grabbing motion, lap sau??. The motion should involve all fingers working and ensure that the thumb is not opposed, despite what great things evolutions claims about opposable thumbs you don't want to use them on someone who knows chin na.

The next section:

Left tan sau
Huen sau
Wu sau
Fook Sau
Huen Sau
Wu sau
Rpeat fook sau, huen sau, wu sau three times.
Pak Sau
Palm stike
Tan sau, 'cut'
Huen Sau
Repeat with right.

This is the most difficult section to write about. It can be practiced many ways and no doubt the most talked about is when it takes 40 mins+. I, personally, have taken longer than 30 mins to do this about erm... 5 times in my wing chin career. Relaxed, tense, mechanical, fluid . I practice all of these in the hope that I'll end up in a glorious middle ground. Most of this section of the form I believe, as above, takes on more meaning when applied to dan chi or chi sau than when discussed as part of the form.
This is, however, a very good time to devote attention to ones breathing.
This section, since it is slow, also allows for contemplation of form. I feel, when doing this section, I have time to balance out the differences between perfect form and what my body is capable of.
The last thing to note is ending pak sau-palm strike. This can be done 2 ways:

1) Pak sau, return to the center, then strike.
2)Pak sau, keep hand around shoulder level, then strike.

Both seem to have real & training benefits.

The first section of the first form appears to be the equation from which the rest of the system is devised. The concepts given are elaborated upon later but a good understanding of these basic concepts should, in theory, lead one to adopting the forthcoming lessons beautifully.

Looking over the Wing Chun terms in wikipedia I am swaying over a move to pinyin or, perhaps , a mix of both pinyin and the standard English version of the Cantonese.

1 comment:

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