“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
The complete Sil Lum Kung Fu teaching system took Ng Mui and her Kung 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 a 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 teach exactly this, it was made 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 Masters to destroy any chance of them passing the system down and empowering any single individual.
Legendary Five Elders of the Sil Lum Temple Included:
- The Chan (Zen) Master Jee Sin
Hung, Lau and Choy Gar, Lee Gar and Mok Gar, Wing Chun and Hakka Kuen Kung Fu
- The nun Ng Mui
Wing Chun Dein Sae’I-Hok Sheong Ying (Eternal Snake and Crane), Bok Hok Kuen, Mui Fa Pai Dragon-Tiger System
- The Taoist Bak Mei
Wing Chun Kung Fu, 6 Nei Jin Powers, White Eyebrow, Tiger Style, Kum La (Chi Na), Dei Saat Kun Ground
- The Taoist Fung Do-Duk
Created White Tiger Kung Fu Style and Expert in Internal martial arts and Sil Lum Fighter
- The Unshaved (lay) Shaolin disciple Miu Hin
Five Shape Boxing and Shaolin Disciple Sil Lum Temple Warrior
The Chan (Zen) Master Gee Sin or Jee Sin Sim See
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Master of Hung, Lau and Choy Gar, Lee Gar and Mok Gar, Wing Chun and Hakka Kuen Kung Fu.
Zen Master Jee Sin is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders and a survivor of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912). He is linked to many southern Chinese martial arts including the five major family styles of Hung; Lau and Choy Gar; Lee Gar and Mok Gar; Wing Chun; and Hakka Kuen. Jee Sin was a Shaolin Warrior Monk and an expert in Southern Wushu. Jee Shin was also the founder of the Shaolin Iron Cloth, Iron Head Qi Gong Master and Kung Fu expert, wooden dummy expert and weapons expert.
Master Ng Mui Si Tai (Wumei Shitai or “Five Plums Nun”)
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Master Ng Mui Si Tai or Five Plums Nun was a Master of Wing Chun Dein Sae’I-Hok Sheong Ying (the Eternal Springtime Hall’s Snake and Crane form), Bok Hok Kuen, Mui Fa Pai Dragon-Tiger System. One of the Legendary Five Elders of the Sil Lum Temple, Ng Miu was the developer and original founder of the Wing Chun Kung Fu system. Buddhist nun and Bil Gee master and Dim Mak expert, the true identity of Ng Mui, has been under debate for over two hundred years.
Ng Mui taught Yim Wing Chun whose lineage is that of the Ip Man system. Ng Mui had many aliases and was sometimes said to have been Lui Sei-Leung, the Forth Daughter of the Ming General, named Lui. Lui Sei-Leung was said to have attempted the assassination of the Ching Emperor using very advanced martial art skill. Some research suggests “Ng Mui” was a fictional cover for Chan Wing-Wah or a person nicknamed “White Crane Taoist”, who was a revolutionary from the 1670′s. What we do know is she was a Buddhist Nun and a supporter of the Ming Royal Family. Ng Mui is one of the legendary Shaolin (Young Forest) Temple’s fabled “Five Ancestors”, who escaped the Fujian temple’s burning and destruction.
She was said to be a master of “Wing Chun Bok Hok Kuen” (Eternal Spring White Crane Boxing), and one of the most skilled of the surviving “Five Ancestors” and most attributed to in the creation of Wing Chun Kuen. After escaping the Fujian Temples destruction, hunted by the Ching army, and fleeing for her life, Ng Mui made her way to the Sichuan area, and the Emei mountain range, taking refuge in the “Bok Hok Jee” (White Crane Temple). Ng Mui evolved the system of the White Crane Fist, with softer/Rou “Ging Faat” (energy/force expression methods), than is typically found in the harder “Ging” methods still preserved by the Pan Gar, and it was this refined Crane system, she taught to Miu Shin in the Guangxi area. It was then Miu Shin who used Ng Mui’s Softened White Crane and combined it with his Internal Snake Boxing method, to create the earliest version of the Wing Chun Kuen System. The Term “Ng Mui” or 5 Plum’s, makes reference to the “Ng Dim Mui” or “5 Points Plum”, which is a concept found in the Wing Chun White Crane Fist system, which relates to a method of “Mah Faat” or Horse/Stance method, that is unique to the White Crane system, and was also passed down to the Wing Chun Kuen System.
The Taoist Bak Mei
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Founder of the Golden Bell Iron Body (Iron Body Qi Gong Master) Wing Chun Kung Fu, 6 Nei Jin Powers, White Eyebrow Kung Fu, Tiger Style, Kum La (Chi Na), Dei Saat Kun Chinese Ground Fighting.
One of the Legendary Five Elders of the Sil Lum Temple, Bak Mei’s story is shrouded in mystery and tales of power, treachery, deceit, and honorable intentions. There are several stories about the remaining history of Bak Mei. Some consider him to this day to be a traitor to the Five Elders and their pledge. Others believe him to be an honorable man that tried to save a few through unconventional means. One story states that Bak Mei could not agree with the other elders about the amount of political alignment their followers should have. The dispute would be settled with a martial arts match between Bak Mei and Jee Shin. Another story has Bak Mei training 300 anti-imperial soldiers as an attack force, but following the capture of the force by the imperials, was forced to teach and lead 50,000 imperial troops in the second destruction of the Shaolin Temple to prevent those captured with him from being tortured and killed. There, Bak Mei slew the “invincible” Shaolin leader Chi Thien Su in single combat by breaking his neck. He claimed he did this to prevent the massacre of the monks in the temple by the troops who followed him.
Bak Mei was eventually killed, but accounts disagree on whether he was poisoned or slain. While he is often portrayed as a traitor, Bak Mei’s actions seem to have been undertaken with the intention of preventing harm to those who had chosen to follow him. It is possible that if Bak Mei had not aided the imperial forces, his followers would have been tortured to death. Since Bak Mei was seen as a traitor, this forced him to flee those with whom he was once on the run. Bak Mei was known for his internal and external physical abilities. He was a noted lantern fire lighter in the Sil Lum temple in his younger days. Able to whip his legs and back joints to propel his body to twice his own height, he lighted the high lantern fires along the Sil Lum Temple’s walls. Given this deadly skill, Bak Mei was a formidable fighter.
In either story the endings are extremely similar. Almost all of the rebels who sought to punish Bak Mei over the years ended up dead at Bak Mei’s hands, including the Zen Master Jee Sin and The Unshaven Shaolin Disciple Miu Hin and his grandson Fong Sai-Yuk (whom Bak Mei had known since Fong was a small boy). In the first story legend says a fierce fight broke out between Jee Shin and Bak Mei. Jee Shin, using his favored long fist techniques, was able to hit Bak Mei with more blows, but Bak Mei’s tucked-in, crouched tiger posture proved to be an effective defense. In turn, Bak Mei countered aggressively and defeated Jee Shin with a devastating series of phoenix eye punches.
The implications of this match were far reaching. The well-liked Jee Shin soon died from the wounds that he received during the match with Bak Mei. Jee Shin’s death shocked the other elders. The enraged Mew Hin soon challenged Bak Mei to another fight. Although closely matched, fate did not favor Mew Hin in the fight, and he lost his life. With the deaths of both Mew Hin and Jee Shin, the animosity increased. The eldest brother, Fung Doe Duk, was next to take up the challenge against the undefeated Bak Mei. Having witnessed the first two deadly fights, Fung Doe Duk was able to avoid Bak Mei’s favorite techniques. Bak Mei was also able to avoid injury from Fung Doe Duk’s initial maneuvers.
The ending of Bak Mei is still up for debate. Some say he was poisoned, but another tale ends with the final blow coming during a close-in clash. Fung Doe Duk was able to deliver a bone crushing kick to Bak Mei’s foot. Bak Mei did not recover from this compound fracture which led to his death a short time later. Fung Doe Duk and Ng Mui then continued their journey and further developed Wing Chun and the rebellion. Some stories have Bak Mei as a man who tried to be a hero, and his end was tragic. In other stories he is a traitor, and no one may ever know the real story as it may be lost to the tales of time. We do know that Bak Mei was a man who had mastered many styles of Shaolin Sil Lum Kung Fu including that of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System.
The Taoist Master Fung Do-Duk
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Created White Tiger Kung Fu style, an Expert in Internal martial arts, a Sil Lum Fighter, Ancient Bok Fu Do, Master Fung Do-Duk was also a famous swordsman.
One of the Legendary Five Elders of the Sil Lum Temple, Fung Do-Duk was one of the original masters of the White Tiger Kung Fu Style. Known for his powerful punching and firm stance, Fung Do-Duk was one of the Five Shaolin Monks who escaped the burning and destruction of the Shaolin Temple. Tiger Style Kung Fu is fearless and very aggressive. Tiger Style Kung Fu uses the base of the palm for strikes and the fingers as claws. This is a ferocious attacking form of Kung Fu and uses powerful strikes with large circular motions. Fung Do-Duk was one of the Elder Sil Lum Temple Master’s and is said to be the one who killed Bak Mei for his betrayal and killing of Loyalist Ming Practitioner’s including Jee Shin, Miu Hin, and his grandson.
The Unshaved (lay) Shaolin disciple Miu Hin
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Five Shape or Five Pattern Hung Kuen Boxing and Shaolin Disciple Sil Lum Temple Warrior.
One of the Legendary Five Elders of the Sil Lum Temple, Miu Hin was the Unshaved Shaolin Disciple. Miu Hin was an elder but not an ordained monk, and he assisted in the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu. From Miu Hin, the Five-Pattern Hung Kuen passed to his daughter Miu Tsui Fa, and from his daughter to his grandson Fong Sai-Yuk, both Chinese folk heroes like Jee Sin, Ng Miu, and their forebear Miu Hin.
Fong Sai-Yuk or Fung To-tak (Taoist)
Known Mastered Kung Fu Styles: Five Shape or Five Pattern Hung Kuen Boxing, Sil Lum Kung Fu and Tai Chi Master, Fong Sai-Yuk or Fung To-Tak was also known as “copper skin and metal bone”
Fong Sai-Yuk was the grandson of the Unshaved Shaolin Disciple, Miu Hin. In his early life, Fong Sai-yuk was a native of the Zhaoqing, Guangdong province. His father, Fong Tak (方德), was a rich businessman while his mother Miu Tsui Fa was a highly-skilled martial artist. His mother was also the daughter of one of the legendary Five Elders of the southern Shaolin Monastery Miu Hin, the Unshaven Shaolin Disciple. According to legend, because his mother knew of the Bak Mei’s betrayal and the need to be strong for the rebellion and her people, Fong Sai-Yuk’s mother broke every bone and limb in his body after his birth and bathed him in Chinese rubbing alcohol also known as Dit Da Jow 鐵 打 酒 to make him practically invulnerable. Fong Sai-yuk’s body then became known as “copper skin and metal bone” after the treatment. Fong Sai-Yuk was believed to be a young hero of his clan with immense Kung Fu talents. It was also believed that Sai-Yuk mastered the Tai Chi style of Kung Fu. Fong Sai-Yuk was a member of the Red Flower Pavilion formed by the forging of the Five Elders and Ming loyalists. He later tried to hunt down Bak Mei for his betrayal and was killed at the hands of Bak Mei’s White Eyebrow Wing Chun Kung Fu.
This information on how Wing Chun was created and the five elders of the Sil Lum Temple has been gathered by many public sources, online sources, and books.