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WING CHUN WEDNESDAY; THE 7TH FORM REDUX. I first posted this article in 2013.


The 7th Form of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The “First Form” is not the Siu Nim Tao.

My Sifu, Jim Fung, would say that there is only one Form in Wing Chun, the Siu Nim Tao, and that everything else was a refinement and expansion upon this Form.

He would also then say that the Siu Nim Tao Form was not the Siu Nim Tao but just a place to begin looking for the Siu Nim Tao, and that it takes many years before the Siu Nim Tao Form becomes the Siu Nim Tao. Statements like this always stuck in my Head.

Sifu Jim would bring his own Master, Chu Sheong Tin to Australia from Hong Kong almost every year, and we would then benefit from Seminars held by our Sigung, after one such Seminar, Sifu Jim advised me to send to Hong Kong for a V.H.S. Recording {do you remember V.H.S. That was a long time ago} that G.M. Chu was involved with on behalf of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, it covered a set of Workshops that G.M. Chu hosted to prepare a group of very senior Students for their Final Inspection by the V.T.A.A. to become accredited Instructors {of interest Australia’s H.C.H. Wing Chun Sifu Susana HO Cheuk Har was on this course}.

My Sifu with his Sifu.
My Sifu with his Sifu.

At one point while working on some Biu Gee movements one of the applicants was struggling with a section when G.M. Chu remarked that the reason he found it so difficult was because he did not understand Siu Nim Tao {he did not do this to rebuke the Man, it was almost a passing comment, but it stuck with me} this was a Level 6 Student with many years training with genuine Masters in Hong Kong that did not understand Siu Nim Tao, my immediate thought was “what makes me think that I understand it at all then”, I was only about 3 or 4 years into my training and Level 1 at that time.

Understanding {not just practising, there is a difference} Siu Nim Tao took on greater importance in my own training from that day onwards.

On Sigung Chu’s next visit to Australia at a Seminar I attended on Chum Kiu Form, G.M. Chu referred to us bringing everything from the “First Form” {he used the term First Form not the Siu Nim Tao Form} into our Chum Kiu, a few days later at a Chi Sau Seminar he again referred to the “First Form”, I made a mental note to discuss this with my own Sifu once all the information had settled into my thinking.

I had pretty much forgotten about my “Mental note” to my self when I read an article that said Great Grand Master Ip Man’s Nephew, Lo Man Kam, spoke with G.G.M. Ip prior to his Death where G.G.M. Ip said that he wished he had condensed all the Wing Chun Forms into just one Form, so I spoke to my Sifu, about the “One Form” idea, and about Sigung’s term “First Form” he used for Siu Nim Tao Form , from what I remember of the conversation Sifu Jim had no knowledge about G.G.M. Ip’s plans but personally did not see the point, after all he reminded me, it is already just one Form in 6 pieces.

The Form he referred to is of course the Siu Nim Tao, but it is not complete until you have seen it evolve through all 6 refinements, you do not learn or progress to Chum Kiu, you simply refine the “Idea” that began in the “First Form”, in Bill Gee you add further refinement to what has gone before, in Mok Jan Jong {the Wooden Dummy} you attempt to link the “Idea” into a useable and personal Form {that will and should be slightly different for everyone, and will in fact evolve as each student evolves}, to a large extent this stage of training is about Defence, the Bart Cham Do {Butterfly Knives} and the Lok Dim Boon Kwan {the Long Pole} introduce the movement and thinking that allow you to convert the “Idea” of Defence into the “Idea” of Attack, in this way you complete the Six Forms and finally grasp the complete “Idea” of Wing Chun.

The 7th Form.

Sifu Jim was a very, very talented Pianist, he knew that I also studied Music so he would often use Musical analogies to help with his explanations, in this case he said to think of the Forms as you would a Musical Scale {i.e. Doh, Ray, Me, So, Far, Lar, Te, Do} you start on one note and return to that same note one Octave higher to complete the Scale.

“My interpretation of this is that you cannot understand the Siu Nim Tao Form until you have at least a “working understanding” of all 6 Forms , { although the 5th and 6th really just show you how to turn your earlier lessons from Defence to Attack, very important in regards of using the System but we are just recycling the “Idea”}, once you start to think in this way then the Siu Nim Tao Form is the First Form, and of course the Seventh Form”.

I have experienced this myself when I began working on the Dummy, problems I encountered on the dummy could only be properly addressed by going back to the relative Form, often this would mean tracking something all the way back to the beginning and addressing the same issue in all of my Forms, this  helped me understand what my Sigung was implying when he said that we must bring everything from the “First Form” into our Chum Kiu and beyond Chum Kiu into the whole System.

With regards to my own progress my Sifu advised me to seek the Siu Nim Tao in the second Form, as the Chum Kiu appeared to make more sense to me, he said that once you understand it is everywhere it makes no difference where you look for it, it will be there, a little like the Dorian Scale where you start on the second note {i.e. Ray, Me, So, Far, Lar, Te, Do,Ray} and return to it an Octave higher, it is just the Major Scale removed a step.

If we accept this suggestion of the 7th Form then we must also have a 13th, a 19th and even perhaps 25th and beyond, as we move our knowledge forward one Octave at a time, revisiting all of the forms again and again, each time with a better understanding of how they work together seeing them as a complete System.

I personally do not see the point in spending many Years studying the “First Form”.

My own understanding of the “First Form” changed completely once I progressed to the Dummy and Beyond.

The “First Form” is not the Siu Nim Tao.

A Map is not a Country.

WHAT KIND OF DAY IS IT FOR YOU?

 

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