The Siu Nim Tau form trains the arms to learn supination (outward spiraling) and pronation (inward spiraling) as core body structural movements. This involves the ulnar and the radius, and conditioning the wrist and hand muscles involved.
The legendary power that is often attributed to Siu Nim Tao and Tan Sau is derived from a “spring loading” of the bones and connective tissue of the forearms through the process of supination (outward spiraling) and pronation (inward spiraling).
This spring loading reduces the slackness of the structure greatly and allows the practitioner to control the opponent upon contact.
This means that the Tan Sau movement should be one of spiralling – twisting and stretching -and not simply thrusting the arm forward with palm facing up, as commonly done. Such thrust can never generate the awesome power that is often attributed to Tan Sau.
Because it is in effect, dynamic Yoga, the process of twisting and stretching should be cultivated over the years to improve the range of motion. As it improves, we will see the Tan Sau eventually pass the horizontal plane so it no longer faces up, but is in fact at an oblique angle. We can see Master Wan Kam Leung demonstrating this principle in the above photo. This is a clear indication that the practitioner has many years of training under their belt and that the forearms contain a large amount of stored Elastic Potential Energy – like a spring.
This is the source of the power, and not some unknown mechanism that comes about after many years of repeating the form and meditating. Such esoteric and empty explanations cannot produce results as they fail to take into account a very real and down to earth physical mechanism that takes place.
By Javier Garcia