April 4, 2013 / in Wing Chun History / by Sifu Justin Och
Wing Chun Kung Fu (aka the Ip Man chinese combat art known as Wing Tsun, Ving Chun or Ving Tsun) is by far an extremely popular fighting type Chinese martial arts, but it wasn’t always so. The history of Wing Chun reveals a gradual journey which started in necessity and yielded one of the most powerful fighting styles ever created. Even the basics of Wing Chun are considered advanced black belt material by many commercialized stand-up martial arts standards. Wing Chun’s intense unarmed combat techniques teaches 95 percent standup techniques for mobility and 5 percent ground techniques. This is do to the dynamic mobility stand up emphasizes against one or multiple attackers. If an assailant has a friend or a weapon, and you are struggling with one assailant on the ground, you could be in a lot of trouble. Even if you win against one, you still lose when the second assailant cuts, kicks, punches, or attacks you. Certain Wing Chun instructors train various weapon defenses and attacks as part of their advanced Wing Chun classes.
History of Wing Chun Passed Down
The original origin of Wing Chun Kung Fu can be traced back to Southern China, though the real story has long been a topic of much debate. The most credible history was passed down via word of mouth from Grandmaster to Master telling the origin story and history of Wing Chun. This story was released to the public by Grandmaster Ip Man and is said to date back to 1700 AD to the Henan Shaolin Monastery during the Qing Dynasty (Ching Dynasty).
Qing forces, hearing that the Shaolin monks were creating a new extreme close quarter combat system that was quickly learned and which would derail their reign, attacked, ravaged, and raided the Southern Shaolin temple. Few survivors made it out alive. The Qing forces were beat back the first time they paid spies to burn the temple—attacking with cannons and guns from the outside and killing any monks in their path.
Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun
Ng Mui, a Shaolin master, nun, and daughter of a Ming Dynasty General, escaped to the distant Daliang Mountains, one of very few survivors. Ng Mui was a Shaolin Kung Fu master who had trained at the Shaolin Temple since she was a little girl. This new style the Shaolin Monks created was in the form of a snake and white crane battling. While traveling through the woods and being hunted down by Qing Dynasty forces, she taught this style to Yim Wing Chun (whose name means “everlasting spring-time”). Ng Mui hoped this would hide the art, and—if she was caught—Yim Wing Chun could teach freedom fighters as they searched for her. The new system endured and was passed from generation to generation. Eventually it was refined and renamed Wing Chun, after its first disciple Yim Wing Chun.
Modernization of the Wing Chun fighting style started under Grandmaster Ip Man in Hong Kong during the 1950s. Though hugely popular in China and Hong Kong for its fighting discipline, it was when disciple Bruce Lee became famous that people found out the Chinese actor’s fighting style originated in Wing Chun. Now the entire world knows of Wing Chun Kung Fu and its extreme fighting system.