Sunday Siu Nim Tau
In Ving Tsun we have Siu Nim Tau, the first form, which can be translated to Little Idea or Little Beginning. It’s from this first form, this little idea, that everything else in the system comes.
Every week Sifu Matt offers these blogs, these little ideas, as reflections from his practice to help support yours.
Thanks for reading
February 3, 2019
photo by Hillary Johnson
Recently my wife got the job of taking photos of a remarkable man named Jack. He’s 91 years old and still plays tennis nearly every day. My wife needed an assistant but nobody was available so I went along.
This guy really impressed me. First of all, he didn’t look anything like 91. More like 61. Watching him play tennis was like watching any master. He made it all look easy. He moved across the court with the grace of a man who’s taken most of his life to master this game. I was blown right out of my shoes watching him.
We had lunch after the photo shoot, so I was able to sit and talk with him a bit. During our conversation he said something that’s stayed with me ever since. We were talking about the game of tennis and he said, “In tennis it’s all about keeping your eye on the ball You take your eye of the ball and the game’s over.”
Wow, I thought. Isn’t that true.
Later when I was sitting at the cafe having my usual cup of coffee before teaching my evening class, those words came back to me with such force I had to write them down in my journal to reflect on.
“Keep your eye on the ball.”
My dad used to say the exact same thing to me when he was trying to teach me how to hit a baseball. I was very young, maybe seven or eight years old. We stood together in the front yard, in the pools of shade of the giant red maple my dad had planted years before. I clutched a yellow plastic bat in my hands. He stood about six feet away and would toss the white wiffle ball to me underhanded. “Don’t take your eye off the ball,” he’d say as he tossed it. When I would miss it, I’d get frustrated. He’d say, “ Don’t get frustrated, that won’t help. You just have to keep your eye on the ball.”
So, it’s not like I hadn’t heard it before.
But this time, when Jack said it, it was different. It resonated deep within me. It occurred to me that this is something that applies not only to sports like tennis and baseball but to everything, to life itself.
Setting goals and having the discipline to go after them is one way of keeping your eye on the ball. Staying focused and not letting anything pull you off the path you’ve set for yourself is keeping your eye on the ball.
In kung fu practice, keeping your eye on the ball means making sure you make the time to practice most, if not all days of the week. It must be something you do every single day. Skill in kung fu is cumulative. It builds slowly over time with consistent practice. To have good skill, one must make it a daily routine. You must keep your eye on the ball. This is how you progress in Ving Tsun. And this is how you progress in all aspects of your life as well.
Because the way we do one thing, is the way we do all the things.
photo by Hillary Johnson