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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Coach Jim Roselando leads MIT Qigong Club in Siu Lin Tau

The Art of Siu Lin Tau

Excerpt from an article by Jim Roselando from Wing Chun Illustrated:

There is one thing that is common across all lineages of Wing Chun Kuen.  The universal foundation set of our art, the Siu Lin Tau.  This mother set is preserved in its original platform within the Cho family and also a Siu Lin Tau Kuen Kuit "boxing poetry" which is designed to holistically strengthen and unite the whole body with our Gongfu.  This one long mother set would later be broken or split into three smaller sets during the Red Junk period.  

Most Wing Chun lineages state that our art originated from a fusion of Snake and Crane technology.  Research provided by the Cho family and their decedents supports this theory.  Miao Shun's fusion of Ng Mui's White Crane boxing with his own knowledge of Emei internal art (Snake Qigong) resulted in a "Snake" Body with "Crane" Boxing art.  Snake & Crane!  This new hybrid was rooted in two giants of Chinese martial and internal technology, which thus became a new advanced soft style of boxing.   

Across the spectrum of Wing Chun lineages,  almost everyone agrees that Wing Chun is a soft style of boxing.  Well, the term soft has specific criteria within internal arts.  This means the body, breath & mind must be cultivated with softness with your Gongfu.  The set directly develops ones physical body by loosening each joint from the tip of the fingers to the foot.  So not only does a practitioner use the Siu Liu Tau technology to develop their combat skills, and concepts, but also to achieve a deeper state of cultivation. Physically the muscles, tendons, joints all are to be targeted and trained.  This will not only loosen the body but also gradually realign the skeletal structure.  The benefits for real life situations are many.  A loose body will have the qualities of heavy and light, enabling it to react and respond dynamically.  A loose body has a greater range of elasticity allowing for maximum open, close, rise & sink which are essential for issuing and receiving force.  

When one begins to study breathing in their Siu Lin Tau practice they must only bring a light awareness to breathing from bellow the belly button.  Our ancestors placed a special importance to this practice.  Commonly known as Som Bai Fut (three prayers to Buddha), this section is known as Kang & Rou (release and load) is specifically performed slowly in order to target your breath with stillness during our boxing.  Why is it important for the reality of fighting?  If the breathing isn't freely flowing then the body immediately tenses up and the body becomes sluggish, clumsy and weak rather than dynamic and spontaneous.  

The first stanza in the Siu Lin Tau Kuen Kuit states: "Collect the Yi, Union with the Shen in the Equal stance".  This maxim clearly discusses the third area of discussion in this article regarding basic cultivation: the mind.  First, let’s break down this Kuen Kuit for you.  Collect the Yi is telling us that over-active thoughts must be quieted and then it will Union with the Shen (spirit) or have equilibrium of a relaxed mind, relaxed breath & relaxed body in the Yee Jee Ma or Character "=" Stance.  This equal stance is discussing the concept of neutral power, which allows for stability, strength and movement in any direction.

The fundamental purpose of lower abdominal breathing is to gradually quiet the mind over time and this is why is must be isolated and trained faithfully.   The process isn't complicated, but is often neglected by practitioners.  The simple truth is the above knowledge is the basic Gong in Gongfu.  What benefits does this bring us in the reality of the streets?  Emotions are extremely powerful before and during a heated exchange.  The ability to stay calm will cage those emotions allowing your full athletic potential to surface.

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