History of Wing Chun

There have been many accounts as to the origins of Wing Chun and its true age can only be approximated to be between 350 - 500 years old.

Without going into any great depth the story I was told goes like this. Legend has it that a Buddhist nun name Ng Mui, frustrated at not being able to compete with the monks due to size and strength, was out walking one day when she witnessed a fight between a crane and a snake, and adapted what she saw to suit the human body.

This was a revelation at the time, as the arts of the day were based on emulating the movements of various animals and insects rather than adapting them.

While fleeing the emperors soldiers after the burning of the Siu Lam ( Shaolin ) monastery of Mt. Sung in the Honan province of China, she met Madam Yim Wing Chun, a local merchants daughter.

Yim Wing Chun was being pursued by a local warlord who wanted her for his wife, and was willing to take her by force. Ng Mui felt sorry for Yim Wing Chun and agreed to teach her the newly developed style she had designed.

She told her to tell the warlord that if he could beat her in combat she would agree to marry him to which he agreed. After training with Ng Mui for 100 days, she met and beat the warlord using her newly found skills and eventually married the man of her choice.

She taught her skills to her husband Leung Bok Chau, who later named the system " Wing Chun " in reverence to his wife. Yim Wing Chun and her husband continued to develop the style and later sold the techniques to other martial artists.

The style of Wing Chun percolated down the generations and family trees until the legendary Yip Man brought the style to Hong Kong in around 1918 where he began teaching his skills.

Its was Bruce Lee (studied under Yip Man) who opened the western worlds eyes to the art of Wing Chun Kung Fu, and although he had not completed the syllabus his skills caused people to sit up and take notice.

Bruce Lee later developed his controversial style of Jeet Kune Do, which is mostly based on the Wing Chun system.

Bruce Lee was still studying Wing Chun under Grand Master Ip Chun (eldest son of Grandmaster Ip Man) up until his untimely death.

He did this with the knowledge that Wing Chun would still be effective for him well into old age unlike the aerobic style he had created.

Today, Wing Chun is one of the most popular Chinese styles available around the world. There are many flavours of this style, probably because it is very open to interpretation.

Grand Master Ip Chun once told me that the future of Wing Chun was no longer in China but in the West.

I for one am not about to question his wisdom!