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
Sunday, February 17, 2019
I’ve taken up photography.
My wife is a wonderful photographer and she’s showing me the ropes.
I’m not good at it just yet but I do my best and I’m having fun. And the fun? That feels like the most important part right now. I have this great Fuji X100 and I admit, I feel like a guy who’s got great car, a Ferrari, but doesn’t quite know how to drive it yet.
There’s f/stops, shutter speeds, “film” speeds. I do a lot of experimenting.
Then there’s this whole business of looking, of seeing.
It’s interesting learning what takes my eye, what makes me want to take a photo of something. To learn that and to learn about photography in general, feels a lot like the learning process of kung fu training. You must have what’s known as beginner’s mind, a concept from Zen practice. Beginner’s mind is a state of keeping the mind in a fresh, learning, open state. It’s about forgetting or putting down what you thought you knew about something.
This kind of mind can be applied to anything and everything.
With beginner’s mind, you cast away assumptions, prejudices, any preconceived ideas.You’re always in a place to take in new information. In Zen practice, it’s always a process of going back to beginner’s mind.
Students hear me say all the time that in order to be good at kung fu you must always go back.
Back to the start.
Back to the fundamentals.
You must also go back on the inside.
Do the inner work on yourself, on your ego. On all the mental things that will keep you from getting any better. You may have fear, anger, lack of confidence, a fragile sense of yourself or an overblown sense of yourself.
If you can’t go back into yourself to do this deep inner work, you will never get better at the physical techniques.
Unexamined internal life holds us back.
Our ego holds us back.
These character issues? Ditto.
Because that’s the process. Train the physical skill long enough to get good, then go back: back to the beginning or the basics, and back into yourself.
Going back is key. Those that do the inner work find themselves not only better at the techniques, but becoming a better people as well. And THAT is what martial arts training does best. It makes us better people. Better physically and mentally. Better members of society.
And now, I’m going back again. This time to learn photography. And I’m fine with that because I trust this process. I’m very curious and don’t know where photography will take me. Maybe I’ll be able to show my pictures some day. But that’s down the road. Right now, I’m enjoying the journey.
I’ve always enjoyed the process of going back. I’ve seen the results in my Ving Tsun and in my life. Ving Tsun teaches me something new every day. And it will teach you too if you’re listening and looking.