The History of Wing Chun
History of Wing Chun
Ng Mui is credited as the founder
of Wing Chun. Ng Mui was one of the five elders of the Shaolin Temple but she wasn’t always a nun. Her father was one of the eight generals who helped Yeung Jung Wang to ascend to the throne. Yeung Jung Wang was the first emperor of the Ching Dynasty.
After he became emperor, Yeung Jung Wang had his own father and his eight generals killed to reduce the threat to his own power.
Ng Mui was known as Loi Sai Leung at the time. To avenge her father’s death, she killed the emperor and went into hiding at the Shaolin Temple where she took the name of Ng Mui.
Already an accomplished martial artist, Ng Mui became the number one skilled elder at the temple. She had studied at the Wudang Mountain, the birthplace of Taoism Temple. Here Ng Mui developed a style of martial arts after observing a snake and crane fighting over a prey for food.
After further research, development, and the observation of a snake and crane, Ng Mui improved the style, which became known as Snake and Crane Eight Fighting techniques. She continued to refine the style further and this style is the predecessor of Wing Chun kung fu.
After fleeing from the Shaolin Temple Ng Mui realised that she would have to save the Shaolin fighting arts from the emperor’s efforts to erase all traces of their existence.
Thus, she devised a new, modified system of fighting based on her knowledge of what she had mastered in the temple.
In essence, the style utilised techniques of efficiency of motion and direct line attacks and could be perfected in a short period of time.
Ng Mui’s best student, a beautiful young girl named Yim Wing Chun, lived with her father, Yim Sam Soak, in a small village where they earned their livelihood by making and selling bean cakes. Yim Wing Chun’s popularity in the area and news of her beauty attracted the attention of a local ruffian named Wong.
Although such matters were often customarily prearranged between two families before the birth of the children, and Yim Wing Chun was already promised to Leung Bok Choy, Wong decided he would marry her anyway. Upon presenting himself to ask for her hand in marriage, Wong was flatly rejected by both Yim Wing Chun and her father, so he plotted to take her by force. In a short period of time Ng Mui was able to teach Yim Wing Chun to defend herself. When Wong returned with his men, a confrontation ensued during which Wong was seriously injured by Yim Wing Chun.
Yim Wing Chun continued to study under Ng Mui, and later married Leung Bok Choy. During the years to come, she used the principles of the style that she had learnt from Ng Mui and commenced to improve and simplify the art. After refining the art significantly,
Yim Wing Chun began to teach it to her husband who was already rather adept in other styles of martial arts. Impressed by Yim Wing Chun’s knowledge and ability, he studied her style diligently. After the death of Yim Wing Chun, he named the art he learned from his wife-Wing Chun, or “beautiful spring time”.
Leung Bok Choy taught the style to Leung Lan Quai who in turn passed the art to Wong Wah Bo and later passed the art to Leung Yee Tai who then passed the art to Leung Jan.
Leung Jan taught the art to Chan Wah Shun and Leung Bik and they both taught Yip Man.
From them the art was passed to my Master Lee Shing, who brought the art to the West in the 1960s and settled in London. He started teaching Wing Chun in London’s Chinatown at the Canton restaurant which is regarded as the birth place of Wing Chun in the West, and because of fate, I am honoured to have learned from him and carry on this great tradition.