Southern Shaolin Temple:
Wing Chun is a Chinese Kung Fu system. The early history of Wing Chun was passed down verbally from one generation to another. There is no historical documentation which describes its origin. It is for this reason, there exists several debatable accounts of the early origins and history of Wing Chun, some parts of which are believed to be based on fiction or legends.
According to several accounts, during the destruction (burning) of the Southern Shaolin Temple around 300 years ago by the Qing Dynasty, 5 elders from Shaolin fled to safety, each a master in a specific faction of Shaolin Kung Fu, one of the 5 Elders was a Nun called Ng Mui. Wing Chun Kung Fu is credited to being created by the Nun Ng Mui which she taught to a young girl (Yim Wing Chun) so that she was able to defeat a local warlord who tried to force her into marrying him.
Historically, both Fat Shan and Hong Kong were the turning points in the history of Wing Chun, as it was here that this Martial Art flourished.
Fat Shan, China:
LEUNG Jan is considered to be one of the key persons who brought Wing Chun to its fame. His undefeated bouts earned him the title “Wing Chun Kuen Wong” (the fighting king of Wing Chun fist).
Several prominent Wing Chun fighters followed, two of which are YIP Man and JIU Wan.
There was a great deal in common between YIP Man and JIU Wan. They were both born in Fat Shan, also first learnt Wing Chun in Fat Shan, studied under the same family tree/branch of Chan Wah Shan, accepted students in Fat Shan, taught at the famous Jing Mo Moon of Fat Shan (considered to be the association all martial artists must enroll at in order to excel in their art), worked in the police force (although in different divisions), proficient in Wing Chun, fled China to live in Hong Kong during the China revolution, accepted students in Hong Kong, and while living in Hong Kong they both continued to study and further craft the Wing Chun they had learnt in China. Also common to YIP Man and JIU Wan is that they both accepted students who went on to become famous in the ‘movies business’ as actors and directors.
While in Hong Kong, YIP Man worked constantly to develop a refined and enhanced version of Wing Chun. He improved Wing Chun considerably. YIP Man is considered to be the pioneer of what is often coined, “YIP Man Wing Chun”.
YIP Man also shared what he had learnt from his teachers with JIU Wan. Based on the Chinese tradition that “no two teachers of equal skill can exist in the same family of a Kung Fu style”, JIU Wan always addressed YIP Man as being the head of the Wing Chun family.
YIP Man’s students are divided into three generations. The first generation was taught and programmed how to use Wing Chun for fighting. The first generation of YIP Man’s Senior Students are noted as: JIU Wan, LOK Yiu, WONG Shun Leung, TSIU Sheung Tin and LEUNG Sheung. In this way YIP Man was able to further proliferate the fame of Wing Chun.
There are further areas in common between YIP Man and JIU Wan. They accepted students in Hong Kong, and in Hong Kong they both remained very close friends often socialising together and holding discussions about Wing Chun.
My sifu, Sifu NG Chun Hong studied Wing Chun under both of these lineages (I shall return to this point below).
YIP Man later accepted LI Siu Long (Bruce Lee) as his student. However, Bruce Lee was only able to learn a subset of the Wing Chun system before returning to the United States to develop his own Martial Art style which when observed, differs considerably to the Wing Chun taught by Yip Man.
JIU Wan accepted as his students TAM Fu Wing (a.k.a Tai Lung, Dik Lung), LEE Hoi Sang and Guy LAI Ying Jau (Lai Gai). They each developed their career as a movie director/actor.
Before YIP Man’s death, he placed his signature on the sign over Jiu Wan’s school with the words, “The Traditional Wing Chun” – he presented JIU Wan with a plaque on which was written the words “Wing Chun Cheun Jing Tung” which is effectively understood as “bestowing JIU Wan with the responsibility to transfer Wing Chun in its pure and authentic tradition and not to be changed by one’s own ideas”. JIU Wan was the only person to receive such recognition by YIP Man.
Guy LAI Ying Jau – believed to be the main student of Jiu Wan – is the Wing Chun choreographer for the classical film ‘Prodigal Son’ and Wing Chun instructor for another classical film ‘Warriors 2’, and more recent films such as “Kung Fu Wing Chun”.
In one incident, he was involved in a fight where he skillfully defeated several boys. On seeing this incident, NG Chun Hong inquired of his style and teacher and Guy LAI Ying Jau then introduced NG Chun Hong to study under JIU Wan. NG Chun Hong later studied under LOK Yiu and then under the undefeated WONG Shun Leung (a.k.a. “Gong Sau Wong – the King of talking hands”).
Sifu NG Chun Hong therefore studied his Wing Chun under 3 of the 5 first generation senior Hong Kong students of YIP Man.
It is of my opinion that Sifu NG Chun Hong has managed to blend the Wing Chun principles that he learnt to an extraordinarily proficient standard.
After retiring from the police force, Sifu NG Chun Hong “opened” the door to his already established school.
I first studied Wing Chun in the United Kingdom, but learnt the majority of my Wing Chun while in Hong Kong under Sifu NG Chun Hong.
Jiu Wan, Yip Man, Wong Shun Leung
Bai Lin at Sifu’s home during the Chinese New Year
Origin of Wing Chun — Fact or Legend?:
There are several legends describing the early history of how Wing Chun came about. According to the Yip Man lineage, the Nun Ng Mui (female) taught this style of Kung Fu to Yim Wing Chun (a young girl) who in turn mastered the style and was able to defeat a warlord bully (male) in combat.
It is of my opinion that whether this story is true or not is not so important.
What is of more importance is one of the core principles ingrained within the Wing Chun system, and that is, allowing one of a smaller & weaker stature to overcome someone of a larger & stronger stature by using technique and not by brute force. This can be achieved by applying practical, simple, economical, direct and scientific techniques. Such techniques are included in the NG Chun Hong Wing Chun system as based on the traditional Yip Man Wing Chun.
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