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The History of Wing Chun Kuen

The story of the creation of Wing Chun Kuen (Wing Chun Fist) (Yong Chun Quan Fa)and it’s development and early masters has been passed from teacher to student orally since the style was founded. The first accounts of written evidence of Wing Chun Kuen  appear to be around the time of the Red Opera Boat and Dr Leung Jan.

The most popularized story of Wing Chun’s origin is that of the Buddhist Nun, Ng Mui. It is said that she was one of Five Elders of the Southern Shaolin Temple in Fujian province that managed to escape prior to its destruction. With her high level of Shaolin martial arts, she created a form of self-defense which could transcend size, weight and gender. She drew her inspiration for Wing Chun from the movement of animals, primarily the crane. When applied to the human form, these delicate but natural movements required little force to block and strike effectively and efficiently.

Ng Mui’s first student of the yet unnamed form was a beautiful young girl named Yim Wing Chun from the local tofu shop who was being pressured by a bandit warlord into marriage. After mastering the art so as to defend herself and eventually drive off the bandit, Yim Wing Chun would have the form named after her as the first student of Ng Mui. Yim Wing Chun was then able to marry the man she loved, Leung Bok-Chao, and taught him the style of Kung Fu. This is how the lineage of Wing Chun began according to popular legend.

The Red Boat Opera troupe

 Leung Bok Chau  passed his new Kung Fu  on to Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai passed it on to Wong Wah Bo. Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a Junk, known to the Chinese as the Red Boat Wong worked on the Red Boat with Leung Yee Tei. It also happened that Abbot Chi Shin who fled from Siu Lam had disguised himself as a cook and was now working on the Red Boat. Chi Shin taught the Six-and-a-half Point Long Pole Techniques to Leung Yee Tei. Wong Wah Bo was close to Leung Yee Tei and they shared what they knew about Kung fu. Together they correlated and improved their techniques and thus the Six-and-a-half Point Long Pole Techniques were incorporated
into Wing Chun Kung fu.

Leung Yee Tei passed the Kung fu on to Leung Jan, a well known herbal doctor in Foshan. Leung Jan grasped the inner most secrets of Wing Chun and attained the highest level of proficiency. Many Kung fu Masters came to challenge him but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous. Later, he passed his Kung fu on to his student Chan Wah Shun and his two sons, Leung Bik and Leung Cheun.

Chan Wah Shun and Leung Bik passed their Kung fu on to Grandmaster Ip Man. Grandmaster Ip Man was the first to teach Wing Chun openly to the public. He taught a few people in Foshan, China and of course his students in Hong Kong. My Sigung, Chu Shong-tin(徐尚田) was among the first of the Hong Kong students along with Lok Yiu (駱耀), Leung Sheung(梁相) and Wong Shun Leung (黃淳樑)

There is a lot of conjecture about the history of Wing Chun. Without any written records there is no way to determine which story is the most accurate. the link below is to a great article on a blog called Kung Fu Tea.

Did Ip Man invent the story of Yim Wing Chun?