History of Wing Chun

 

The History of Wing Chun was passed onto The Windy City Wing Chun Federation from our Sifu, Augustine Fong. As it was passed onto him from his Sifu, Ho Kam Ming. As it was passed on from his Sifu, the late Grandmaster Yip Man.

In the beginning of Wing Chun there was a person named Ng Mui. Ng Mui is generally credited with the creation of Wing Chun. The only question that surrounds Ng Mui is whether Ng Mui was a man or a woman. Some research has shown Ng Mui to be a man. According to the version that Yip Man passed on, Ng Mui was a woman.

Ng Mui was is considered the founder of Wing Chun. She was one of five elders of the Sil lum temple. She wasn?t always a nun. Her real name was Loi Sai Leung. She went into hiding as a nun, only after avenging the death of her father. It was there where she took the name Ng Mui.

Due to her skill as a martial artist, Ng Mui was the most skilled martial artist at the temple. She studied a martial art style called Mo Dong Mountain. She also developed a style after studying a mouse walking, called Sui Bo Mui Fa Kuen (little mouse footwork, plum flower fist). After studying a snake and a crane, she improved the style. It became known as Sei Ho Bak Bo (snake and crane eight steps). Ng Mui then refined the style and it became known as Ng Bo Mui Fa Kuen (plum flower fist). These are the styles that preceded Wing Chun.

In the years of the Ming Dynasty gung fu was practiced as a form of exercise. Later the Manchurians and Ching dynasty would come to power. The Ming patriots sought refuge in the Sui Lum (Shao Lin) temple. There they trained for the day that they would fight back against the Ching Dynasty. Unfortunately, an insider betrayed them and the Ching emperor would dispatch his troops to burn down the temple. Only a few people and the five elders escaped. To be sure that no one would use the information of the five elders the Ching Emperor dispatched martial arts experts to terminate them. To save the arts Ng Mui devised a new modified system of fighting based on what she had learned at the temple. The style would use techniques that utilized efficiency of motion and direct line attacks. The style could also be learned in a short time.

Ng Mui?s best student was a girl named Yim Wing Chun. She lived with her father. He had prearranged a marriage for his daughter. An evil landlord came and wanted Yim Wing Chun for himself. She rejected the landlord, so he planned to take her by force. Ng Mui taught Yim Wing Chun to defend herself. When the landlord came back, Yim Wing Chun defeated the landlord and his men.

Yim Wing Chun continued to study with Ng Mui. She later married a man named Leung Bok Chau. Yim Wing Chun used the principles of the art and began to improve and simplify the art. Her husband, who was an accomplished martial artist in his own right, was impressed and wanted to learn from his wife. She taught him, and he studied hard to learn the art. Even though Ng Mui created the art, it is named after Yim Wing Chun because of her improvements to the art.

Leung Bok Chau taught the style to his uncle Leung Lan Qui. Leung Lan Qui taught Wing Chun to Wong Wah Bo and Leung Ye Tai. But, Leung Bok Chau was their primary instructor. Wong Wah Bo was an oarsman for the red boat in the Chinese opera, and he did other labors. He was muscular. Throughout the generations from Leung Bok Chau to Wong Wah Bo the Wing Chun system became harder and tighter. Leung Ye Tai was an opera singer who played female roles. His Wing Chun was softer. It was during these years that the weapons were incorporated into the Wing Chun system. Wong Wah Bo taught Leung Ye Tai the six and a half point pole. Leung Te Tai taught the butterfly knives to Wong Wah Bo. Leung Jon was an herbal doctor. He was taught by both Wong Wah Bo and Leung Ye Tai. Leung Jon was able to put the hard and soft elements back together. Leung Jon?s pupil Chan Wa Soon, was not able to incorporate the soft elements and made the system hard again.

Chan Wa soon was Yip Man?s first teacher. Unfortunately, Chan Wa Soon died young and Yip Man was unable to complete his instruction. Yip Man was studying English in Hong Kong when he met Leung Bik, who was the son of Leung Jon. Yip Man challenged Leung Bik and was defeated. Later, Yip Man discovered who Leung Bik was and asked to become one of Leung Bik?s students. Leung Bik was a smaller man and did not use muscles. His style was not as hard as Chan Wa Soon?s style was. Yip Man was able to learn both the hard and soft elements. (Another story from that time tells how Leung Bik?s daughter-in-law defeated Yip Man with her kicking skill in Wing Chun. From that time forward Yip Man would never say he was the number one Wing Chun practitioner as long as the others lived.)

Upon completing school in Hong Kong, Yip Man returned to his hometown in mainland China. There he worked as and trained police officers. While on duty Yip Man killed a person in the line of duty. Due to the communist government Yip Man feared reprisals. He decided to flee from China. He was not able to take any of his possessions with him. When he got to Hong Kong he had only his skills in Wing Chun to make a living. In Hong Kong Yip Man met an old friend of his, Go Dai Chung. Go Dai Chung was a Choy Lay Fut teacher. He had two schools. Teaching at both schools was too difficult, so he gave one of his schools to Yip Man. The school was located at Dai Lum Gai in Kowloon. Yip Man began to teach and make a living as a Wing Chun instructor.

Leung Sheung was an assistant teacher to Go Dai Chung. He challenged Yip Man and lost. Leung Sheung then became Yip Man?s first student. Some of Yip Man?s early student?s were; Lau Ming, Lau Kau, and Lee Yu. Yip Man became the man known for bringing Wing Chun out of China and into Hong Kong. There were only certain type of people Yip Man would teach. He would not teach relatives, because they would not give him the respect that he felt he deserved. He would not teach women, because he felt that women would be distraction in the gym. Which would be strange because a woman started the art. He would not teach non-Chinese people. He did not want to teach children, because he felt they would not be disciplined enough to train. Finally, he would not teach poor people, because he felt they had to work hard as it was and would be to tired to train.

Yip Man?s students are divided into three generations. The first generation was taught how to use Wing Chun for fighting. This way Yip Man would be able to establish a name for Wing Chun. For the first generation the art was not emphasized. Once the name was established the second generation was able to focus on the art. The last and third generation never touched hands with Yip Man. He was no longer teaching, as now the si-hings were the teachers of the classes. Because Yip Man was a traditional teacher he always kept a line drawn between he and his students student?s. He would talk to them, but not attempt to teach them.

Ho Kam Ming was a second-generation student of Yip Man. He spent his life training with the late grandmaster. He was one of the few men to learn the entire Wing Chun system. Yip Man held Ho Kam Ming in high regard. When Yip Man became ill it was Ho Kam Ming that was asked to teach his classes for him. Ho Kam Ming also cared for Yip Man while he was ill. He would care for him both in the hospital and at home. Yip Man revealed many of the finer points of Wing Chun to Ho Kam Ming. Yip Man also gave the responsibility of teaching his private students to Ho Kam Ming. By this time Ho Kam Ming had opened schools in Macao and Hong Kong. He also organized The Ho Kam Ming Wing Chun Association, which was authorized by the Yip Man Wing Chun Association. Today, Ho Kam Ming is well known and respected in both Hong Kong and Macao. His full contact Wing Chun teams have fought in martial art tournaments throughout Southeast Asia and has earned both recognition and respect.

Augustine Fong began studying Wing Chun at a young age. In 1964 Ho Kam Ming?s school had grown in number and reputation. A challenge match was against the school and Ho Kam Ming chose Augustine Fong to fight the match. Fong was Master Ho?s best student and toughest fighter. Fong, in a three round fight, dispatched the opponent. After the fight Master Ho asked Fong to assist him in teaching. Augustine Fong continued his training. In 1969 he decided to move to America. He eventually settled in Tucson and opened a school of his own, Fong?s Wing Chun Gung-Fu Federation. With over 38 years of experience Master Fong is considered and respected as one of the most knowledgeable and skilled Wing Chun practitioners in the world today.

It is through Augustine Fong that Edward De La Cruz, Ken Weingart, and Edward Basile of the Windy City Wing Chun Federation traces their line.

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Copyright 2004 Windy City Wing Chun Gung Fu Federation, Inc.