When the public looks at martial arts training, they see what the media shows them in newspapers and internet sites. They can only see movement. They cannot see the internal aspects of the learning. The most important part of martial arts training are the internal aspects. This is very evident in Wing Tsun training.
In learning Wing Tsun, we get to the heart of the internal training very early whether the student recognizes it or not. The purpose of the movements seem ‘hidden.’ A beginning student cannot determine why we are being taught to move our arms in a particular way. To a beginner, it is a very peculiar movement training. In olden times, a student was required to do as the instructor asked without question or questions. This was one way an instructor could determine if the student was of good character.
Wing Tsun movements taken by themselves are pieces of a larger construction. One cannot know what a bridge looks like by looking at a single girder. As the construction progresses, a student can see the shape of it forming.
Students learn practical concepts and tools for self-defense early. This is the best way to learn since one never knows when a person might be attacked. At the same time, internalizing a martial art and learning the required coordination cannot be rushed. It can be compressed, however, and the founders of the Wing Tsun system did that by developing a pathway to learning that is more compact which is represented in Siu Nim Tau, the beginner form.
The beginner form teaches one to clear the mind. It is very important to get rid of preconceived notions about self-defense and other training at first and start with a ‘fresh idea.’ To clutter the mind with too many thoughts of all kinds leads to confusion. Wing Tsun uses the Taoist concept of clearing the mind and truly having no opinion about an event as it happens as a way to deal with an attack. Taoism is an idea that takes an action by an attacker as it is and one has to deal with it as it is, not as one might like or what ‘should’ be. One can draw parallels to life with this concept.
The beginner form, Siu Nim Tau uses a Buddhist concept to focus the mind. One should learn to focus on a ‘little idea’ and not let one’s attention drift. In Buddhist meditation, a student must keep focused on a small spot on a wall. This method parallels the idea of simplicity.
Wing Tsun deals with a physical attack with logic. In order to keep one’s emotions from taking over, Siu Nim Tau practice is a great training method. By dealing with things in a logical way, we gain a way of thinking that, although not exclusive, is a great addition to one’s mental tools in dealing with life. There are some life parallels to this lesson as well.
In an attack, we teach that there is no way one can predict an attacker’s future movements. Certainly in life we can not really predict the future. With sticky hands, however, one can feel through the arms, that an attacker is about to move. This is the most advanced early warning system. In fact it is better, in a way, than ESP. Even if one could read an attacker’s thoughts through mentally telepathy, this read of the attacker’s thoughts could also be a deception! However by instantly feeling what an attacker is actually, presently, doing, this is the best way to deal with what is actually happening. It is important not to make some ‘judgement’ as to why this is taking place. This judgement process can be mistaken. It is most effective to deal with attacks as they happen and not use preconceived ideas as to what should happen or what might happen as conceived by yourself or others. Many troublesome life situations can be endured with this idea.
As I or other Wing Tsun instructors say when asked about what I would do if somebody did such and such an attack, I say, “I don’t know. Try it and find out!” Actually I do not want to know. If I knew, I would be predicting – probably wrongly – and the defense would fail. In addition, I would also likely be showing this thought in my face or body language to a potential attacker.