Forms are prearranged sets of movements used to develop the fundamentals of a martial art. Each movement within a form is used within the specific martial art for defensive or offensive purposes.
Each movement is combined with another movement to form techniques. Techniques are then combined with other techniques and applied to offensive or defensive maneuvers. Through this method students are taught the principles and the fighting philosophy of the martial arts.
Wing Chun has six forms. Three empty-hand forms, two weapons forms, and one form performed on the wooden dummy. The three empty hand forms are Siu Lim Tau, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee. (Cantonese dialect of Chinese will be used to describe many terms). The two weapon forms are the Baat Jaam Do form or more commonly known as the butterfly sword form and the Luhk Dim Boon Kwan or 6 1/2 Point Dragon Pole form. There is an advanced version of the Siu Lim Tau form that hasn't been included in the count.
Siu Lim Tau translates literally into Siu (small), Lim (idea/thought), Tau (head). Loosely translated as" Small/little Idea in the head." The name indicates that all the details and/or particulars should be focused on and maintained. This form is practiced in a stationary horse stance using only arm movements. Proper practice of Siu Lim Tau enables the student to develop proper abdominal breathing, independent arm movement, focus, stance/stability, and proper energy.
- Proper Abdominal Breathing - Constricting the rib cage through the use of arm positioning forces abdominal breathing (breathing using the diaphragm).
- Independent arm movement - Developed by maintaining one arm in a continuous tight chamber (arm is pulled back as if performing an elbow strike with the forearm parallel to the floor) while the other arm is performing the various movements and techniques.
- Constant Focus - Focus is maintained on the motions and stress placed on each arm the student develops an awareness of each arm. Focus is developed during the practice of Siu Lim Tau, which when performed properly takes at least a half-hour, as the position of every single body part must be maintained.
- Stance/stability - developed by the stationary position of the form. This enhances the students leg strength and gets the student accustomed to the stance.
- Proper Energy - Siu Lim Tau is broken down into 4 sections. Having both arms in chamber separates each section. During the second section, proper energy and positioning is developed. The feeling is similar to a coiled spring or snake. Relaxed and ready to strike. This is called "Forward Energy."
Advanced Siu Lim Tau
Advanced Siu Lim Tau teaches footwork and some self defense applications.
Chum Kiu - Chum (search), Kiu (bridge). Translated means, "search for the bridge", or "bridging the gap". A bridge is created when one of your arms makes contact with the arm of an opponent. During Chum Kiu new hand positions, kicks and movement are introduced.
- Hand positions are biu jee, low bong sao, palm strikes, arm break, lop sao, biu sao, and double palm strike.
- Kicks used are front kicks and low side kicks. The front kicks are with the ball of the foot, heel, and the entire foot.
- Movement - The practitioner moves from a stationary stance to various stances during the performance of the techniques. This enables the practitioner to become familiar with stances and footwork required to take advantage of positioning or alter positions to a more advantageous one.
In Chum Kiu, techniques are more apparent as well as the footwork required. This form stresses the importance of mobility and the coordination of movements to achieve maximum effect.
Biu Jee is translated as "darting fingers" or "flying fingers." This is the third and final empty hand form in Wing Chun. This form as the name suggests emphasizes on finger jabs. Biu Jee also incorporates elbows, chun sao, various types of biu jee, gan sao, and kwan sao. This form enables the practitioner to have a better understanding of the various hand techniques in various applications. This form conditions the practitioner to use the various strikes and techniques at real speed.
GM William Cheung demonstrating Bil Jee Applications (1983)
Application of Form
Siu Lim Tau - Lau Sao
Part 1: The movement after the first punch is called a Lau Sao (slipping hand). Unlike the Huen Sao (circling hand), the Lau Sao disengages the centerline. Using a small circle to go around an opponents arm. The Lau Sao is exaggerated a little here to show the circle. The circle should be as small as possible.
Part 2: As a force is exerted against the arm. Sifu Guiao lets the opponents force go (disengaging the centerline), while circling around in order to get on top of his opponents arm. A Huen Sao left in the centerline would not be able to get around the arm.
Part 3: In actual combat, Sifu Guiao uses his other arm to cover in case another punch is thrown.