Siu Nim Tau and Structure

When practicing Siu Nim Tau it is important to refine your structural alignment to maximise your bodies natural bio mechanical powers.
But it shouldn’t stop there.

In my earlier years I developed quite a strong structure using refined alignment and bracing. This type of structural power did allow me to overcome stronger training partners, but I felt it was not productive during sparring because of the inherent tension involved, which mainly effected my speed in the execution and transition of movements.

After about ten years of using this bracing structure I started to learn how to let go of the tension. This allowed contact force to disperse throughout my body instead of being held at contact by bracing. And as my understanding of releasing tension evolved I realised that I was also actually starting to think differently, or rather, thinking less. My focus or mind was more concentrated on just watching my movements as opposed to driving them. I focused simply on releasing tension and dispersing force from the contact points.

Siu Nim Tao (Little Idea) refers to using the smaller rear part of the brain as opposed to using the large frontal thinking part.

expressed by Chu Shong Tin in a seminar I attended

Over several more years of practicing this my structure became stronger, more flexible, and resilient. This was due to what felt like an expansion of relaxation in all the muscles and joints which gave a better connection and springy resilience. I prefer to explain this expansion as a filling up of nothing, filling up of emptiness. In my earlier years I thought of filling up with air or water as an analogy. However, for me, filling up with nothing was more productive in releasing tension and the expansion effect.

Additionally in free sparring I felt more relaxed and confident in my structure which bore a greater awareness, speed, effectiveness and freedom. Too often it seems many are bound by form movements and rigid application, whereas the forms concepts, once understood, should provide greater freedom.

I believe that the skills from the forms are not something you suddenly gain. The penny doesn’t suddenly drop and you gain magical powers, but rather they are nurtured and grown over hundreds of hours of physical practice and experimentation. All of the skills gained from the forms are a natural part of us and used by many elite athletes. We just need the patience to find them in our Siu Nim Tao practice.

And I am still practicing and searching and evolving

  • Gary King.