Introduction to the Opening Moves of Siu Lim Tao
“If a man can’t stand, he can’t fight” – Karate Kid
The setup moves are virtually the same for all three empty hand forms, with minor differences.
Key things to remember are, in order of appearance:
- Forward Force, the key concept of VTK fighting.
- Stance, without which nothing else works.
- Centreline theory, the basis of the tactics and strategies of the system.
- The punch is the first real technique, since that is the only way you will ever win a fight. Since it is the most important technique, it should go first.
This initial section contains the origins of the principles of the entire of the system. A lot of theory is contained in these simple moves, and virtually all the principles encapsulated. The physical side consists of three parts:
1. Setting up the training stance
2. Finding the centre
3. The character sun punch
Each has several components or phases that must be done correctly in order for the whole to be accomplished. We will cover them in detail, but first some general points about the training stance and the initial moves of SLT:
- This is not the first part of Siu Lim Tao, it is the opening or the introduction. The slowly moving part, learned next, is the first part.
- It is absolutely vital the student fully understands and performs the stance as perfectly as humanly possible. Without a stance, there is no kung fu. Therefore, it is essential that the student knows exactly what each move is for or what it teaches, and precisely how it is done.
- Just about all of the major concepts of VTK can be found in these first 3 moves, when fully understood.
- Each move needs to be done precisely and accurately. There should be no slovenly behaviour from the very beginning. How you begin is how you will go throughout the system, and how you will fight. Fighting, just like excellence in any endeavour, is a behaviour, a habit, not simply luck or skill.
- The shoulders remain square to the front and the same height, and don’t raise or lower or lose facing during any of the movements in Siu Lim Tao. This is difficult.
- The head remains upright, facing forward, chin lifted a little, eyes front, jaw shut, mouth shut. Just act as if you were proud to do Ving Tsun Kuen. The tip of the tongue should be on the hard palette behind the top teeth.
- Breathing should be as normal as possible, through the nose.
You shouldn’t move around, wriggle, cough, sneeze, look around, talk, scratch, twitch, or brush away flies or mosquitoes or sweat, shift your feet except to put them back into place, break stance, etc. Just do the form. If you can’t concentrate during the form, you will not be able to do so in a fight.
- The hand that appears to not be doing anything is actually training as well, so it should be pulled back really hard, the fist clenched firmly and as near into your armpit as can be managed.
- We always measure out our stance during training. This is to ensure that you will always put your feet the right distance apart instinctively. Once in the training stance, you push your waist forward, knees over your toes and your hips over your knees so that the thigh is almost vertical. By having your feet turned in at 45 degrees, the bones and joints are put under a mild continuous strain. This strengthens the bones, muscles, and more importantly, the ligaments of the knees and ankles. The longer you do it, the better they get. Footballers and basketball players are always getting knee reconstructions because although they have strong muscles, their joints aren’t up to the strain. It takes a long time to strengthen them, just as they take a long time to heal if damaged, and for the same reasons. Muscles only take a week or so to heal, bones a month or two, but ligaments can take years. The Australian institute of sport recently (2001) published some documents talking about this, claiming that it takes around five years to strengthen the joints to where they can take the strain of sport. Kung fu masters claim it takes around two years. But what the hell – Modern medicine just found out about something the Chinese have been doing for hundreds of years.
- Feet are flat and even on the floor, across the length from toes to heel, without the toes being up, but also side to side, so the balls of the feet and the blades of the feet are both equally in contact with the ground. The pressure should be even over the whole foot. The toes should not grip the floor as other martial arts do, but never-the-less should also be putting pressure on the floor the same as the rest of the foot. One third of the balance comes from the big toe alone.
- If the student does not have the feet flat on the floor, with the pressure evenly spread over the sole of the foot, the stance isn’t ideal. The pressure is even including the toes, especially the big toe, which gives about a third of our balance.
- If the weight is too much on the heel, then a heavy impact may rock the student back or even over balance them, and any punches thrown into a heavy target will lose power as the body moves back in reaction.
- If the student is too much on the sides of the foot, the foot may be easily swept by an alert enemy and the student will fall to the ground.
- If the student is too much on their toes, they can be pulled forwards, or may lose their balance if they miss or overshoot something or over-commit and stumble.
- If the pressure is too much on the inside of the feet, then the knees are pulling together and the student would be unable to move, especially retreat, under pressure from an attacker.