The style of Wing Chun basically consist of 3 forms. Sil Lum Tao, Chum Kiu and Biu Gee. This post I am going to talk about when is it the right time to start training in Chum Kiu.
Over the years I have seen people come and go. I never understood why someone would make a decision to learn a martial art and instead of being a good student they feel that they should be taught what they want to know. When they want to know it.
In order to find a good teacher you need to first be a good student. It’s okay to ask questions if you don’t understand something it’s not okay to assume you are ready to learn something just because you want to learn it.
My Wing Chun Sil Lum Tao Story
Sil Lum Tao means: Little Idea or Humble Thought
What that means to me is to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Silly Simple). To me this means that instead of complicating things keep it easy. Because on the surface Wing Chun is easy to understand.
In Wing Chun Less is more and the quickest way between 2 points is a straight line. Because of this once a person learns the Sil Lum Tao form they start to get curious when they are ready to move on to Chum Kiu and start learning Chi Sao (Sticky Hands).
For conversation sake let’s say Wing Chun has 3 levels of skill development.
- Level 1 – Sil Lum Tao
- Level 2 – Chum Kiu – Chi Sao – Chi Gerk
- Level 3 – Biu Gee – Butterfly Swords – Dragon Pole
It took me 5 years to get through the first form and all the different techniques and the most important part developing my sensitivity. This is where I believe some folks start to get impatient. Let me explain to you what my first 5 years of training looked like.
I took private lessons with Sifu Phu between 2 and 3 times a week and went to his public classes 1 or 2 times a week depending on the time I had available. I averaged about 4 hours outside of class training on my own.
So in any given week I trained about 12 and 15 hours a week. Most people who take public classes average maybe 3 classes a week and let’s say the class is 2 hours long thats about 18 hours a month.
So even being a private student and practicing as much as I could it still took me 5 years before I even began to play Chi Sao. However, and this is huge. I actually had the skill of someone who has been training for 15 years or longer.
The reason for that I believe was 1. Sifu Phu is a great teacher and 2. Per week I was putting in more time. And because Sifu Phu didn’t just teach me what I wanted to know, he taught me what I needed to know. My level 1 skill was better than a bunch of level 2 practitioners.
So while I wanted to know how to play Chi Sao, Sifu did teach me a game that I haven’t seen other Wing Chun schools actually do. We call it “Playing Hands”. Basically it’s taking the techniques and sensitivity drills and using them in a sparring type of game.
We use it as a pre curser before starting Don Chi Sau which is a drill you learn before you start playing Chi Sao. By the time you start playing Chi Sao you should have already learned the Chum Kiu form.
How To Prepare Yourself For Chum Kiu?
For those of you who are already members of Enter Shaolin here are some refresher lessons you can check out.
Wing Chun (Not a member yet? Join here)
- Sil Lum Tao Form
- Tan Sao Sensitivity Drill
- Tan Pak Dar Sensitivity Game
- Dan Chi training
- Game Of Hands
- Game Of Hands Lesson 2|Deflections and Parries
These are just some of the drills you would want to go through before starting your Chum Kiu training. By the time you are ready to start training in Chum Kiu you should have a training partner to work with.
While you can learn the forms in the Chum Kiu section without having a partner and you can continue to develop your techniques you really need to have a partner to start developing your sensitivity skill. I would argue that your sensitivity skill will be your most important attribute in your training.
Training At Home? Don’t Rush Your Training!
I suggest that instead of worrying about how long it will take. Focus on enjoying the journey. Especially those of you who are training with us online. There are literally years of training inside your training vault.
In fact, if you master Sil Lum Tao you will be able to deal with most street fights. Chum Kiu is really for when you are dealing with intermediate or higher martial artist. I don’t recommend even starting Chum Kiu until you do have a training partner. Because the techniques and the sensitivity that you need to develop at this level will require the assistance of a training partner so that you can pressure test your skills.
Now it’s your turn!
Are you training in Chum Kiu? If so how long did it take you to get there?