Siu Nim Tao - The Foundation of Wing Chun
The first set of Wing Chun is called the "Siu Nim Tao" which literally translates to Little Idea Form. What the name means is that the first set is the seed of Wing Chun. It contains all of the elements necessary to make your Wing Chun good.
The first set teaches you to have a firm stance, the concept of the center, the use of Yin and Yang forces, the basic hand techniques, the development of strength, mental concentration, relaxation, breathing and meditation.
If the first set is done correctly, then all of your techniques will be good. A good first set has proper angles, and sharp crisp actions which result from the proper relaxing and tensing of the muscles.
The slow breathing section of the first set relates directly to the sticking hand training.
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Count of the First set
Performing the First Set
Stand with the feet separated by the width of your foot. Raise the hands. Form the stance. Tuck the pelvis in and point the heels out. Cross the hands down, up, separate the hands and bring them back.
Do a left punch, followed by a right punch. Breathe in, open the left hand. Bring the left hand out along the center line while applying some tension and breathing out.
When the elbow is one fist away from the body, then relax, circle the left hand while breathing in to form a guarding hand. Bring the guarding hand back by applying some tension and breathing out. When the hand is close to your body, relax, drop the hand into the bridge hand position and breathe in. Bring out the bridge hand by applying some tension and breathe out. When the elbow is one fist away from the body, relax, circle the hand to a guarding position and breathe in. Repeat the bridge hand movement two more times. When the guarding hand is back on the third time, slap towards the right shoulder, bring the hand to the center and do a center palm hit. Circle the hand and bring it back. Repeat for the right hand.
TIP: always breathe out when you are performing a tense movement
You have now completed 50 movements out of the 108 movement first set. This section is the most important section to do well. The important point in this section of the set is to change quickly and to distinguish clearly between the relaxed and tensed states. Don't rush section three of the first set. Try to take ten seconds (up to 2 minutes) for the hand to come out.
Section four of the first set is the Gum sau with 13 more movements, which will be covered in another issue.
First set Breathing
The first set uses a form of breathing called "Abdominal breathing." Abdominal breathing helps you to keep relaxed when you are in a fighting situation.
To breathe with the abdomen, slowly expand the abdomen as you draw in air. Contract the abdomen when you expel the air. The best time to practice this is in the morning just before getting out of bed. It helps to put your hand on the lower belly so that you can feel the abdomen expand and contract.
With practice, you will find it a very relaxing way to breathe.
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