First Form of Wing Chun, Siu Nim Tao 小念頭

“Little Idea”

Siu Nim Tao is considered the fundamental form in which all other forms are built upon. This is due to the fact that Siu Nim Tao focuses on structure, posture and stance, and are widely recognized as the three most important aspects of Wing Chun. Proper Siu Nim Tao stance is defensive, feet faintly pigeon-toed, and spaced just far enough apart to prevent imbalance Legs are slightly bent to retain elasticity, and the knees are kept close together to shield the groin. In this position, many hand moves, most consisting of only one hand at a time, can be performed with a focus on the central line and structural posture. Once trained to a level of proficiency, it becomes second nature to attack or retreat along the central line. It is important to note that Siu Nim Tao does not involve turning or footwork and is often referred to as “the dictionary of hands.”

Anecdotally, the defensive and the offensive in Wing Chun are as intimately linked as the Yin and the Yang. Each move by one hand is positioned to fluidly transition into a move with the other. Therefore, a standard block with one hand is typically followed (or executed simultaneously in application) with a strike by the other hand. The movements are relaxed and in this form are carried out slowly and deliberately.


Important principles introduced in the Siu Nim Tao:

  • Bat Doan Jiang – the immovable elbow
  • Chor Kiu – the sinking bridge
  • Jung Seen – center line
  • Noi Mun – gate theory
  • Poon Sao/Kiu – rolling hands/bridges
  • Lat Sao Jik Chung – straight punch
  • Phon Sao – trapping hands