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History of Wing Chun Kung Fu

Wing Chun legacy

Wing Chun Kung Fu is name that was given to a special martial arts. It was created in China. The data goes back nearly three hundred years ago. At that time special thorough art movements were being taught in the Shaolin Temple situated in Southern China. In fact the history is a mixture of legends and facts. The monks faced great threats from the Manchus who were powerful at that period keeping everyone under their strict rule to control them. The temples were being burnt and the monks were being killed. Those who managed to escape had to hide to keep themselves safe. However they continued to guard and pass on the secrets of this art to only devoted students. They continued practicing and inventing new forms to fight the soldiers. The stories passed from masters to student orally making it complicated to confirm the real origination of Wing Chun. That is why it lacks constant records or documentation of its origin.

The origin of Wing Chun

The most popular story of Wing Chun is that of Ng Mui’s. It is said that she was one of the Five Elders of the Temple who was able to escape before it was destructed. His first student became a young lady. She was Yim Wing Chun. During this period monks who went against the Qing Dynasty were murdered. Yim Yee who was once a master in Shaolin Temple, was earning his living selling tofu in his shop. He was wrongly accused of a crime so he had to run with his family and settle down near the Tai Leung Mountain. Yim Yee’s daughter was Yim Wing Chun. Her father had trained her in secret in Kung Fu since she was a child.

When she was a girl Yim was in love with Leung Bok Chau. But they were not able to get married because a local warlord was attracted by her beauty. He wanted to make her marry him so he continuously treated her. She rejected him every time so he offered a special suggestion for her: the proposal would be annulled if she could win him in a battle. Yim Wing Chun consented, and her father asked for some time. The time was only until the following spring: to get ready to win or to be his wife. Everyone in the village was aware of Yim Wing Chun’s unfortunate situation. Soon Ng Mui learned about this and felt pity for the girl as they knew each other back then when her father was a tofu merchant. She understood that the Wing Chun was too weak and unskilled so she could not fight with the savage warlord. That is why she thought of a new technique to help. Ng Mui was trying to create a new form of Kung Fu that would be suitable for a woman who could not use the advantages of weight and strength. Her inspiration came from the movements of animals and she started to train Wing Chun, focusing more on the necessary movements that could be taught in a short period of time. The whole village was watching her demonstrating a new version of Kung Fu that nobody had ever seen before. Despite a size difference, she managed to throw herself into special spots that shook the man’s stability and left him helpless to her endless attacks. His huge body was lying unconscious on the ground so the crowd met the winner with a roar. Now Yim Wing Chun could marry the one she truly loved. According to the tradition of that period she could teach her knowledge to her husband. The entire village had witnessed how powerful the newly developed form of Kung Fu was. The couple created a school for those who also wished to study the new art. When her father died Yim Wing Chun and her husband left the village and settled in Zhaoqing. There they started to spread this martial art which now had a name: Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The spread of Wing Chun Kung Fu

The verbal stories tell that Leung Lan Kwai was one of the first students, who was educated in Zhaoqing. In the first half of 19th centaury Wong Wah Bo came to sing there and studied with Leung Lan. Wong taught Leung about the opera, and Leung helped him with his Kung Fu. When he returned he started to educate others on the ship, known as the Red Junk. While practicing it turned out the boat’s cook was once the abbot of the Shaolin temple, Chi Shin, living in secret. Chi Shin was the one who created the techniques of the Six and a Half Point Pole into Wing Chun. During its travel the people on the ship train Leung Jan, a famous doctor. They say he was able to obtain all the secrets of Wing Chun and reach the highest level of mastery. He was very famous and many Kung Fu masters challenged Leung Jan. It is said nobody was able to defeat him. As Leung Jan’s popularity continued to grow, the government made him head instructor for the military but he stayed a short time there. After his retirement he continued to train Wing Chun Kung Fu until his death. Chan had his final student when he was in his 70s: a boy named Ip Man.

Ip Man’s legacy

Grandmaster Ip Kai Man grew up during the unstable years of a Chinese war against Japan. Ip Man was fascinated by the art, he asked the teacher to have him as a student. Master Chan required a huge payment to get rid of a spoiled rich child. But the following year, Ip Man came back with the money. At first he thought they were stolen. He wanted her father to punish the boy, but when he learned that he had worked the whole year to earn the money Chan had no choice but to accept him. After some time of practice in Hong Kong he met Leung Bik, another master and continued his studies with him for nearly ten years. When he was 24, he started to work as a policeman. He taught Wing Chun to other officers, friends. In 1949 when a new political party was established in China he was forced to leave for Hong Kong. Ip Man founded a school and trained many students. He became very popular as a Kung Fu master. In 1967 Ip Man founded the Wing Chun Athletic Association. Continuously he educated the art till his death. The stories and legends of Ip Man are popular, that inspire various books and movies.

Yip Man has become a legend in Wing Chun history and even today one of the greatest masters. He was the one who is considered to have rescued the form having been wiped out. As a renowned teacher and incredible fighter he managed to refine and perfect the system. Later one of his students Chu Tin became the continuer of his legacy and he is one of the world’s head authorities in Wing Chun. The latter’s student Jim became one of the few people practicing Wing Chun who managed to learn the whole system and had the level of capacity and comprehension to be identified as a grandmaster. The art of Wing Chun Kung Fu continued along its history Grandmaster Moy Yat. He was from Chine who moved to Hong Kong at the age of nineteen and there he started to practice with Ip Man. Besides being a devoted student he was also a good friend of the grandmaster. At a very young age the grandmaster helped him to become an instructor and teach the system in school. After teaching in Hong Kong for a while he moved to the United States with his family the following year grandmaster died. Together with his brother he continued teaching and introducing the art of Wing Chun in the U.S. Travelling all over the world he keep on spreading the system training people at various seminars and workshops. Besides being master of Wing Chun he was also an author. He wrote six books about this martial art which include the history of his lineage, the main principles of the system and the life of his greatest successors and students. He retired when he was sixty after teaching thousands of students.

The development of the system

Now Wing Chun has a history of three hundred years. It has been constantly developed and adapted by thousands of people. From its orgin till now it has changed becoming more and more effective. However, there are facts that the inspiration to create this style came from the fight of a bird and gnawer. The animals used their wings and legs at the same time to hit the opponent and to protect themselves. Though being the youngest system created during the Qing dynasty in China, it has the goal to make easier and more efficient fighting methods instead of the brute ones. Wing Chun varies greatly from other systems in many other ways. The movements are more natural and the means of generating the force is different. The key to the system is not just the direct imitation of animal movements: they leave out the unnecessary ones using the strength in the most effective way. It is important to be free and relaxed because it is the ultimate goal of Wing Chun. So one should free himself both emotionally and physically from the dependence on the techniques. Rely on the body and let it protect yourself: this is how it works. The ability to do things right is what one need to develop his skills. The secret of effective and efficient practice is the deep training. Every minute of the practice should be entirely involved, greatly concentrated and challenging. Deep training is not just about suffering but it includes a cycle of peculiar actions, developing skills beyond your current capacity to surpass your grip. Wing Chun has created a specific learning style during the period of its development putting the main idea in one phrase: You will not change unless it challenges you. The system allows learning some skills faster now but the plank should not be entirely shaded unless you learn to demonstrate the skills under pressure surely and predictably. The learning time is very subjective for individuals. One cannot progress simply in a training session. Even the masters need over a dozen practice sessions to succeed. The speed is not the most important thing but the quality is: this has been the motivation of the Wing Chun masters along the history. The key steps of each form and the essential points and strategies have changed a little during of its history. Before advancing to each level one should be sure of the skills and the abilities they have acquired. Examining every movement is required for self-evaluation. With every level it goes deeper and deeper for the comprehension of the meaning behind the moves.

What makes Wing Chun so popular?

There are many ways martial arts can improve a person’s life. Wing Chun has become not just a fun hobby to learning a few tricks to impress your friends but a purpose of life that makes you disciplined, help you to make a family and challenges for something new. For ones it can be something that saves their life for others it is a life changing experience. What you will learn about the system is that the more you practice and understand it, the deeper it takes you. More and more opportunities open to you. It may seem simple art but the fact is it is deeper compared to other complicated styles. There is no limit in learning Wing Chun. Even the grandmasters keep on practicing and developing their abilities all their life. Though it has some similarities with other styles it is an art that will be a part of you changing the way you live and move. A long practice will result in gaining the automatic sense of movements. They will be faster than your analytical mind will work. In the high levels you never think how you move or what is the opponent doing because you simply feel it. It seems as if the body reacts to attacks itself. This is the level when you have the full understanding of the system. It is always practical that allows various people to practice it regardless to their size and athletic ability. Based on the reflexive movements it gives one the opportunity to defend himself with bare hands. The tradition of Wing Chun will continue to progress due to its dedicated students who keep on spreading and developing it all over the world.