Wing Chun History

The story of Wing Chun as written by Grandmaster Ip Man

Wing Chun

Miss Yim Wing Chun

Miss Yim Wing Chun, the founder of Wing Chun Kung Fu System was a native of Canton (Kwangtung) Province in China. She was an intelligent, athletic, honoured, virtuous, honest and straightforward young girl. Her mother passed away in a short while after she engaged to Leung Bok Chau, a salt trader from Fukien. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongfully accused of murder and they had to run away from there because of his sentence. Eventually, they settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain between Yunnan and Szechaun provinces, where they earned a living by running a shop that sold fresh bean curd.

Siu Lam (Shaolin) Monastery Burned Down

Wing Chun

According to the legend, Ng Mui was abbess at the Shaolin Monastery in Sung Mountain in Honan State. During the reign of Emperor K’hangi of the Ching Dynasty (1622-1722) the Kung Fu taught at this monastery was very sought-after and the monastery became very strong.This situation aroused the fear of the Manchu government (a non-Chinese people, from Manchuria in the North, who ruled China at that time), which sent soldiers to attack the Monastery. After a few failed attempts of attack, Chan Man Wai, who was a recently appointed civil servant seeking favor with the government, offered a plan. According to this plan they would seize the monastery, with the help of a monk named Ma Ning Ye and others who were persuaded to betray their companions by setting fire to the monastery while soldiers attacked it from the outside. Their plan succeeded, Siu Lam was burned down, and the monks and disciples scattered. Ng Mui, Jee Shim, Bak Mei, Fung Do-Dak and Miu Hin escaped and went separate ways.

The Legacy

Wing Chun

Ng Mui took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Mt. Tai Leung (also known as Chai Har Mountain). It was there she met Yim Yee and his daughter Wing Chun from whom she used to buy bean curd on her way home from the market place. At fifteen, with her hair bound up together, showing she’s at the age of marriage according to the traditions of those days, Wing Chun’s beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. Ng Mui took pity on Wing Chun and agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting techniques so she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began to learn Kung Fu. She trained day and night, until she mastered the techniques. Then she challenged the bully to a fight and beat him. Then Ng Mui went to a nation-wide trip, but before she left she told Wing Chun to strictly honor the Kung Fu traditions, to continue developing her Kung Fu after her marriage, and to help the people working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty.

Development of wing chun

Wing Chun

After her marriage, Wing Chun taught Kung Fu to her husband Leung Bok Chau. He in turn passed these techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai then passed them on to Wong Wah Bo. Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a junk, known to Chinese as the Red Junk Opera. Wong worked with Leung Yee Tei at Red Junk Opera. It so happened that Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Siu Lam, had disguised himself working as a cook at Red Junk. Chi Shin taught the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole techniques to Leung Yee Tei. Wong Wah Bo was close to Leung Yee Tei, and they shared what they knew about Kung Fu. Together they shared and improved their techniques, and thus the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole was incorporated into Wing Chun Kung Fu. Leung Yee Tei passed his Kung Fu on to Leung Jan, a well known herbal Doctor in Fat Shan. Leung Jan grasped the innermost secrets of Wing Chun, attaining the highest level of proficiency. Many Kung Fu masters came to challenge him, but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous.

Later he passed his Kung Fu on to Chan Wah Shan, who took me and my elder Kung Fu brothers, such as Ng Siu Lo, Ng Chung So, Chan Yu Min and Lui Yu Jai, as his students many decades ago. Because of this, It can thus be said that the Wing Chun System was passed on to us in a direct line of succession from its origin.

I write this history of the Wing Chun System in respectful memory of my forerunners. I am eternally grateful to them for passing to me the skills I now possess. A man should always think of the source of the water as he drinks it; it is this shared feeling that keeps our Kung Fu brothers together.

Is this not the way to promote Kung Fu, and to project the image of our country?

- Yip Man

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