Laozi’s Dao De Jing mentions how the world was created and also how things work. Wing Chun Kuen was created from nothing and from Wing Chun Kuen many Wing Chun skills have been created. Then these Wing Chun skills will go back to nothing. This is how nature works you were born from nothing, then you do a lot of things in this world, finally you die and go back to nothing.
“Everything is created from nothing and also created by something.” – Dao De Jing
When you study Wing Chun Kuen, the first thing you have to learn is the form “Siu Lim Tao”. The first part of the form you have to do very slowly. Many people wonder why this is. Some will think that Wing Chun is a martial art, which is supposed to be quick and powerful. There are other people who will think the opposite, that this is Qigong training that will help to make you powerful, particularly your one-inch punch.
Actually you can say that both ways of thinking are right, but they do not cover the point of the training 100%. This slow training will bring you quick and powerful attacks and also develop your Qi, but these are just the branches and not the trunk of the tree, so they are not the purpose of the tree. As the Dao De Jing says “Everything comes from nothing and nothing comes from something.” When we perform Siu Lim Tao, we do not move our feet or legs from the start, until we finish. We move so slowly, that there is almost no movement. From Tan Sau to Wu Sau to Fuk Sau, these are very slow movements, so slow that you cannot even see them move.
I remember a few years ago at one of the Wing Chun residential courses, Darryl Moy led the group doing Siu Lim Tao. He did it very slowly and the total time was over 2 hours. Most of the people found this very hard to stand and this was a new experience for them. During the residential course we usually do one hour and in classes we do 5 to 15 minutes, because we are limited for time. I think half an hour to one hour to train Siu Lim Tao is the best time because I do not want to practise only once a day. You should practise everyday, so the best thing is if you can do the same length of time every single day. This will get you the best results. Also training for too long will make your leg muscles very stiff and maybe you will not be able to train the next day.
This is not good. You need to keep training constantly. But, coming back to the slow movements of Siu Lim Tao, we should treat this as if we are standing forever, and that we are not there. Then there will be nothing in your mind and then you will go back to nature. Nature is the best teacher and our best friend to help us understand and solve all our problems.
If we do the form slowly we will build up our patience. Patience is the key to success. No one will be successful without patience. It is the same in self-defence, fighting is fast, but if you cannot be patient, then you will make a lot of mistakes. Patience creates a calm mind; a calm mind creates the Qi flow. Qi flow creates healing and healing creates health. Health creates strength and strength creates power- both physical and mental.
Today most of the martial arts we see only concentrate on teaching fighting skill and neglect the spiritual side. In all traditional martial arts the first lesson you learn from the teacher should be about the morals of martial arts. Martial arts are not for fighting they are for health. Good health comes first and self- defence comes second. Also, self-defence does not mean attacking and bullying people. A good, traditional, Chinese martial artist is very gentle and has a high sense of morality. “Using force can only control people for a moment. Using compassion can win people’s hearts forever.”
Therefore, even those people studying martial arts in China do not use them to bully other people. They treat them as health exercises first. Then when you are healthy, you can use them for self-defence, to protect yourself, your family and your country.
Siu Lim Tao is very important for your health. These slow movements that we do at the beginning tell us that we are just part of nature and we are not so important. If we can stand this forever, then nothing is important. That kind of stance is something, but this something is brought back to nothing. Since you are nothing it means you are everything and you will eventually go on forever. Your Qi and your skill will reach a high level.
When you study Wing Chun Kuen, you should know this. When you start, you begin from nothing. Then you become something as you practise. When you totally understand the Wing Chun skill you can apply the principles and when you have trained physically, you go back to nothing. You become a high level martial artist and a good healthy person.
Martial arts without morality are like a person without feelings, a butterfly that cannot fly and a plant that has no fruits or flowers. Good morals are the essence of martial arts. If you know how to treat your martial art in the proper way, you will know how to care about people and you will not use your skill to bully other people and show off. So a good martial artist is healthy and has a high level of skill.
You can see the results people get who study martial arts and only concentrate on fighting. They end up with many injuries and a lot of pain in the body and some even die at a young age. Martial art morality is not given to you from your Sifu, it comes from nature, to save you.
 Michael Tse, Siu Lim Tao – Stillness, Qi Magazine no. 67, pp. 40-41 (May/Jun 2003)