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Wing Chun Kung Fu History

history-wing-chunWing Chun Kung Fu or Ving Tsun was developed in southern China approximately 350 years ago, it is a revolutionary and modern system of Shaolin Kung Fu and one of the last to come out of China. This system of kung fu is known for its devastating close quarter combat techniques, direct, simple, devastating and aggressive strikes along the centerline which use the entire body as a weapon.

Created by a Shaolin Woman (Nun) Monk

wing-chun-historyIt was originally conceived by a woman who was a master in her own right of many Shaolin Kung Fu styles from the Sil Lum Temple. As the art was developed by her, it is also said that four of her Shaolin Monk Brothers (also masters of various Shaolin Systems) helped her to refine and complete the style we now call Wing Chun.  Most Shaolin Kung Fu styles take 15-20 years before a practitioner could use them in battle and become a “Master” of the style. Ng Miu saw the destruction of the Shaolin Temples and that their way of life under the Ming Dynasty was being threatened. She decided to create a system that could be Mastered in a third of the time (3 to 4+ years instead of 15-20).

Shaolin Monk training through Wing Chun Kung Fu

This wing-chun-history-photostraining was fast, quick and intense and Shaolin Monks would train 8-12 hours a day, but in 3-4 years of this kind of training they could master this new system. Revolutionaries began hiding within the Shaolin Temple as it was the only current refuge where the Ching Dynasty couldn’t find them. But as the Revolutionaries began to kill and assassinate Ching officials, they would sign the death warrant of the Shaolin Temples.

Wing Chun Kung Fu was passed down to the revolutionaries and to those wanting the Ming Dynasty back in power. The Ming Dynasty praised and uplifted the Shaolin Temples and welcomed individualism and freedom, whereas the Ching Dynasty was oppressive, harsh and took away the freedoms of the Chinese people. Wing Chun was the Shaolin Temple’s answer to this oppression. The last of the Monks (especially Ng Miu) believed that if they could get this art into the hands of the Chinese then they might be able to free the hold the Ching Dynasty had on them.

Simultaneous Offense and Defensive Self Defense striking

history-of-wing-chunWing Chun strikes along the centerline vitals with simultaneous succession of offensive and defensive trapping and attacks. A wing chun practitioner is taught to be strong, firm, flexible, rooted and to deflect or redirect external forces with minimal effort and maximum countering results. This new Kung Fu system called Wing Chun was developed within the Shaolin temples and became progressively more efficient as it had time in the hands of several masters. Wing Chun was a martial art that was made to exploit the weaknesses of all other arts and was made to minimize the efforts and effects of Combat on the practitioner. Wing Chun uses intense and specific mind and body mechanic training and awareness which is derived through muscular, tendon and articular reaction drills. With extremely fast and powerful footwork, fist and full body striking movements, Wing Chun is used to end a life-threatening encounter quickly while minimizing damage to its practitioner. A Wing Chun practitioner is taught to redirect incoming aggressive adversaries and use a multitude of strikes at the inherent weaknesses in the human body. Its originator, the Buddhist nun Ng Mui, was a master of many Shaolin Kung Fu Styles and used this knowledge to take advantage of the weaknesses inherent in all other combat systems. This new system was well-guarded by the Shaolin Temple, Ching assassins, and passed on to only a few, very dedicated individuals towards the cause of freedom.

Direct Line from the Ng Miu to Yip Man (Ip Man) Founder

Ip Man, Yip Man, Grandmaster Ip Man, Grandmaster Yip ManAfter the destruction of the Sil Lum Shaolin Temple, our story begin’s with a Master Nun (woman) and developer of the Wing Chun Kung Fu system and the founder of our modern martial art. Our direct lineage from the founder of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System was none other than Ng Mui. She passed it on to a young and beautiful girl, Yim Wing Chun, who was a native of Canton in the Province of Kwangtung, China. Yim Wing Chun was an intelligent and athletic young girl, upstanding and forthright. Her mother died soon after her betrothal to Leung Bok Chau (later Yim Wing Chun’s husband), a salt merchant of Fukien. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongfully accused of a crime and, rather than risk jail, they slipped away and finally settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain near the border between Yunan and Szechuan provinces.

Shaolin Monk Nun Ng Mui direct lineage to Grandmater Ip Man

Ip Man, Yip Man, Grandmaster Ip Man, Grandmaster Yip ManThere they earned a living by running a shop that sold bean curd. Ng Mui took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Mt. Tai Leung [also known as Mt. Chai Har]. It was there she met Yim Yee and his daughter Wing Chun from whom she often bought bean curd on her way home from the market. At fifteen, with her hair bound up in the custom of those days to show she was of an age to marry, Wing Chun’s beauty attracted the attention of a local Warlord. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. The Warlord threatened to kill Yim Wing Chun if she did not marry him. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing Chun.

The Destruction of the Shaolin Temple and Monks

ving-tsun-history-ofBut this pity was twofold; Ng Mui was being hunted down by the Ching Dynasty who had succeeded in destroying the Shaolin Temples and killing many of their monks. The Sil Lum Temple had only, according to history, about 8 survivors out of a short few hundred. The Ching Dynasty was looking for a Master Nun named Ng Mui and if they caught her, they would kill her. If she was captured, she would lose any chance of passing down this new system of Shaolin refined Kung Fu that may turn the tide of the Revolutionary war against the Ching. Ng Mui decided that she would teach the daughter of the bean curd salesman because the Ching would never think to look there. The Ching would never suspect that Yim Wing Chun, a bean curd salesman’s daughter, was now a Master of the sought after, new and extremely powerful Wing Chun system and lead teacher of the revolution’s first point of training.

Yim Wing Chun was taught a New Shaolin Fighting style

history-of-the-wing-chunYim Wing Chun was told that she would be taught a new Shaolin Fighting style known as Wing Chun but she would have to agree to keep the rebellion going. Yim Wing Chun agreed. No Manchu (Manchurian Government also known as Ching Dynasty) looking for a Secret Combat art from a Shaolin Kung Fu Master would ever know.

ip-chun-wing-chun-historyNg Mui agreed to teach the Wing Chun fighting techniques so Yim Yee could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began teaching her Shaolin Kung Fu. She trained privately one on one everyday; night and day, until she mastered the techniques, during this time Yim Yee Wing Chun was still fighting off the advances of the Warlord.

Ng Mui knew that this would not work for long and the warlord would grow impatient and would likely kill Yim Yee’s father. Ng Mui needed more time to train Yim Yee Wing Chun. Ng Mui told her to approach the Warlord and accept his marriage proposal but also tell him that she needed time to prepare the wedding. The Warlord agreed and gave her over a year before he approached her again.

ving-tsun-historyIt was during the end of this year that [Yim Yee’s] father, under the direction of Ng Miu and Yim Yee Wing Chun, told the Warlord that if he could not beat his daughter in martial combat that he may have her hand in marriage but she would never respect him. The Warlord laughed and told the father that he would be happy to beat his new wife in front of the entire town. Yim Yee Wing Chun faced off against the bully Warlord in front of the entire town, this young, wong-shun-leung-ving-tsun-historybright, intelligent woman beat the Warlord down in front of everyone.

Ng Mui later traveled around the country, but before she left she told Yim Yee Wing Chun to strictly honor the Shaolin Kung Fu traditions, to develop her Wing Chun Kung Fu after her marriage to the love of her life, and to help the revolutionaries working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty. In 1949, Ip Man, who was considered to be the grandmaster of modern Wing Chun, brought the style out of China into Hong Kong, teaching his two son’s Ip Ching, Ip Chun and the famous Bruce Lee, Wong Shun Leung, Simon Lau and Moy Yat and then eventually to the rest of the world.

Long Pole History of the Six-and-a-Half Points

shaolin wing chun, kung fu, chinese martial arts, dragon pole, long pole, wing chun long poleChi 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. It can thus be said that the Wing Chun System was passed on to us in a direct line of succession from its origin.

The Sil Lum temple Destruction

wing-chun-kung-fu-history-monksThe Sil Lum Temple destruction involves a Shaolin temple noted for its religious and military arts scholars. Many Ming dynasty generals and prominent Chinese families sent family members to study at the Sil Lum Temple. Ming generals and high officials often sought the rigorous military arts training for their sons from the warrior monks of this Shaolin Temple. However, in the 17th century, political turmoil swept through China. Ming political power and economic might began to wane through decades of border warfare. The most costly was the protracted war in Korea against invading Japanese armies. The once-close Ming ally, the Ching, grew stronger and bolder, gaining political control of the northern Chinese provinces in the early 1600’s. By the year 1644, the new Ching government controlled all major territories held by the former Ming Emperor. The fleeing government and military survivors of the now vanquished Ming Dynasty faded into the Chinese communities throughout China. The warrior monks (Ming supporters) of Sil Lum temple in Hunan province relocated to the southern Sil Lum Temple in Fukien province.

Read More about the Sil Lum temple destruction.

History of Chinese Assassins and Espionage

wing-chun-ving-tsun-historyThere is a rich history of Chinese assassins and espionage, and this has a lot to do with what modern Wing Chun has evolved into today. Legend says that during the Qing Dynasty, Yim Wing Chun kept her promise and, after her marriage, Yim Wing Chun taught her husband Leung Bok Chau who in turn taught the second generation practitioners of Wing Chun Kuen. From intense research we have found clues that these students worked as a Red Boat Opera Troupe by day and anti-Qing revolutionaries by night. They passed these techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai who then passed them on to Wong Wah Bo. Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe onboard the Red Junk and worked with Leung Yee Tei. It so happened that Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Siu Lam, had disguised himself as a cook working on the Red Junk. Many of the opera members had training in Siu Lam fist and pole techniques, acrobatics, and various two-man sets. Their identities as Chinese opera performers provided a cover for martial arts training. The flashy moves of opera style martial arts, however, were not suited to the activities of espionage and assassination, which required extremely specialized skills.

Read more about the history of Chinese assassins and espionage.

The Five Elders of Sil Lum Temple

ving-tsun-wing-chun-historyThe complete Sil Lum Kung Fu teaching system took Ng Mui and herK ung Fu brothers nearly fifteen years to learn. After leaving the Sil Lum Temple, Ng Mui found it necessary to modify her teaching practices. In order to teach the large numbers of Ming loyalists, the traditional ten to fifteen-year Sil Lum Kung Fu curriculum had to be divided into shorter, two to three year teaching systems. Each two to three year portion was a complete section of a fighting system and usually formed around two animal forms and one weapon. This allowed the Ming followers to specialize in certain areas of kung fu that fit various body types and levels of aggressiveness at a quicker pace. Wing Chun Kung Fu was developed to to overthrow a Dynasty and return freedom and prosperity to the Chinese people. The phrase of the time was Fan Qing Fu Ming (Fan Ching Fuk Ming) which meant “Overthrow the Qing and restore the Ming.” The Qing (Ching) were an extremely oppressive Dynasty that outlawed Kung Fu and weapon practice amongst the Chinese. The Qing (Ching) also killed many Kung Fu Master’s to destroy any chance of them passing the system down and empowering any single individual.

Read more about how was Wing Chun created and the five elders of Sil Lum temple.