“Little Idea” (Siu Lim Tao)

I have begun formally training Wing Chun (the style of Kung Fu Bruce Lee was trained in and, since, made more popular by the Ip Man movies starring Donnie Yen).

Like many martial arts, Wing Chun has a few forms of set choreographed movements, which serve to teach the practitioner the basic vocabulary of physical principles that underpin the application of Wing Chun in practice. This is analogous to Kata in Karate. Similarly, this is the physical equivalent of learning and performing scales on a musical instrument.

“A ‘form’ is a set of movements in a specific sequence that the practitioner repeats over and over again. It can be performed with empty hands or with various weapons.”

“The Wing Chun Forms don’t teach you a set of sequential movements for attack and defense. (Rather) They’re intelligently designed to cultivate a set of logical principles that apply the natural laws of physics and geometry to develop the necessary qualities of power, speed and efficiency of movement.”

Mindful Wing Chun

What I find fascinating and so rich in depth is that the choreographed patterns of core movements in Wing Chun are called Siu Lim Tao, which, paradoxically, is translated as “little idea/thought” in English. Western culture resists referring to anything of core value as “little.” In contrast, Eastern culture has a long history of disguising that which is highly essential inside of language that downplays its level of importance. Whereas, in the west, we attach so strongly to brand and intellectual property that our tendency, linguistically, is too oversell, as opposed to undersell anything. We lack subtly, finesse, and metaphor.

A common performance obstacle is when urgent matters consume the bulk of our time and headspace, and we lose the time and focus necessary to prioritize important matters. Siu Lim Tao is a reminder that the little ideas are that which provide you with the capacity and competency to handle the important. That which we perceive is urgent is often an illusion and a distraction from the practice that keeps us on a path of mastery and infinite exploration.

“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

Gary Keller, The One Thing

Call to Action: Determine what the essential practices are in your life. What are the little ideas that must be prioritized and practiced routinely because if they are not, they will become overlooked by impulsivity and urgency? Remember, little ideas are little in practice and BIG in their accumulative effect over time.

For example:

  • expressing gratitude
  • breathing
  • making your bed
  • saying I love you
  • reading
  • laughing
  • listening
  • observing
  • recovering/resting
  • watching the sun rise and set
  • sitting by a fire
  • saying you are sorry
  • drinking water

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