By James Cama & Dr. Kenneth Fish

James Cama Tan DaThe Siu Lin Tao form may be the first taught in Fut Sao Wing Chun but it is the most important. The postures reflect fetal positions. From creation to birth is when we are internally our strongest. Fetal postures are reflected in hand positions known as tan sao, fook sao, fut sao and many more. Sui Lin Tao develops many concepts. The center line and its cutting angles are the main concepts. Defining inner/outer gates is another. The body’s boundary areas is yet another.

Every movement in the form has meaning. Siu Lin Tao combines the theory of yin/yang, internal/external. It’s performed in a flowing, smooth manner even though it does have fast, powerful movements.

There is also hidden footwork, knees, and kicks within the form in addition to chi palm and clawing techniques. There are also ways of transmuting of the mind, body, and spirit and techniques for developing chi transference by moving internal energy throughout the body. The form especially teaches how to perfect spinal erection in order to maintain root and chi flow for power.

Hei Gung, or “internal breath work,” is done throughout the form with specific control. While many Wing Chun systems breathe in and out with each movement, Fut Sao includes a specific breath-holding sequence within the form. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Breathe in for a count of 4

  2. Hold your breath for a count of 16.

  3. Breathe out for a count of 8

  4. Hold for a count of 4

Siu Lin Tao teaches the practitioner the “Four Principles” and the “Eight Actions,” And “3 Trained Action.” The descriptions of these that follow are those of my Fut Sao Wing Chun classmate, Dr. Kenneth Fish.

Fut Sao’s 4 Principles

The 4 principles of tun, tu, fou, and chen describe both movements and the qualities of movements. They may describe specific hand techniques, but also outward, grossly visible body movements as well as movements within the body.

  1. Tun literal means “to swallow” and describes the hand motion of lightly contacting and redirecting downward and outward while following the incoming movement of a strike. In terms of body movement, it describes compressing the body (visible) and contracting the body inwards (not visible).

  2. Tu literally means “to spit” and describes expelling or reversing the force of the above movement, tun; like a spring expanding outwards. As a hand movement it is the response to the deflected strike. The two movements together are like a ball being compressed and released, or a rubber band being stretched and then released towards a target. The body motion is a vertical release of the compression and contraction.

  3. Fu literally means “to float” and describes the quality of movement when touching the opponent’s arm or body—light and insubstantial. It also describes the quality of the body and footwork—light, insubstantial, uncommitted, able to follow, and “float” with the opponent.

  4. Chen means “to sink” or “to be heavy” and describes the quality that the opponent feels when you touch him or execute a movement—heavy, downward pulling, being forced into place. It is also an arm movement—the sinking bridges that are the opening to the set of the same name. It also describes the vertical contraction of the body onto the arms, which transmit the force to the opponent.

Fut Sao’s 8 Actions

The so-called eight peerless actions describe hand and foot movements and also have body movements (both visible and subtle or internal) associated with them. The first two actions are described in more detail, while the last six are just defined here. If you’d like to know more about these “secrets,” feel free to reach out to me personally for instruction.

  1. Bian means “to whip” and describes a quick flicking movement of the forearm, wrist, and hand. It also describes a wavelike motion through the entire body to power a seemingly soft strike.

  2. Qie means “to cut through” and describes piercing through an opponent’s defence. It is also a way of using force in a strike that feels to the opponent as if my palm or arm is cutting into him.

  3. Wan means “to seize,” “to pull against,” and “to detain.”

  4. Zhuang means “to crash into,” or “to bump against.”

  5. Tan means “to rebound” or “to spring” off of something.

  6. Suo means “to contract,” and “to withdraw” and also “to lock up” and “to entrap.”

  7. Pan means “to coil up,” “to wrap up,” and “to twist.”

  8. Chong means “to shoot out” and “to thrust out.”

Fut Sao’s 3 Trained Forces

  1. Jie jin is “joint force,” wherein force is produced by the mechanical action of the muscles, tendons, and joints.

  2. Zhi jin is “straight force,” wherein force is augmented by the unified movement (external and internal) of the body.

  3. Sheng jin in “rising force,” wherein force is produce by the entire structure from the ground up. Every movement includes external and internal movements coordinated and moving in harmony.

These concepts are very complex and take years of training to comprehend and develop their subtleties. In the next two chapters I present to you the Advanced Siu Lin Tao and the Siu Lin Tao Two- Man sets of Fut Sao Wing Chun. While practicing those sets try your best to see how the information in this chapter is associated with them.

More insights into this rare form of Wing Chun in Sifu Cama’s book, Fut Sao Wing Chun

Fut Sao Wing Chun (Cover - small)

“This book is special because, for the first time ever, the Fut Sao Siu Lin Tao and its two-man set are revealed. The Hei Gung set and meditation visualization practice are also detailed. The gem of the art is its internal practices which are rarely seen in Wing Chun.”
–Aaron Cantrell, Everything Wing Chun

“All martial artists can find value in reading through the 8 Peerless Actions and the 4 Principles section. It provides a context by which to filter your practice allowing a student the capacity to add depth to their art.”
–Chuck Kennedy, Chicago Fut Sao Wing Chun Association

“James Cama… shows a taste of the self defense aspects that Wing Chun has to offer. A wonderful source of the movements to any student of the art.”
–Jake Burroughs, The Ground Never Misses

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