Most noticeable contributors in recent times:
Grand Master Yip Man, Sifu William Cheung and Bruce Lee (Jun Fan Gung Fu).
The history of Wing Chun, has historically been passed from teacher to student verbally rather than through documentation, making it difficult to confirm or clarify the differing accounts of Wing Chun's creation. Some have sought to apply the methods of higher criticism to the oral histories of Wing Chun and other Chinese martial arts. Others have attempted to discern the origins of
Wing Chun by determining the specific purpose of its techniques. Wing Chun starts to appear in independent third-party documentation during the era of the Wing Chun master Leung Jan, making the subsequent history of Wing Chun and its divergence into branches more amenable to documentary verification. Oral histories
Yip Man was born in the year 1898 in the town of Fatshan in Namhoi County, Kwangtung Province, in Southern China to a wealthy merchant family. The Yip family permitted Wing Chun master Chan Wah Shun to live and teach a small group of disciples in the family temple, since Chan's local reputation as a fighter discouraged thieves and highwaymen from attacking the family businesses.Yip Man would watch Chan Wah Shun drill his disciples in the ways of Wing Chun. Soon the boy's visits became more regular until, Yip Man was about nine years old he approached Chan and asked to be accepted as a student. Chan Wah Shun was about 60 years old at the time and didn't want to accept another disciple this late in life.To discourage him, Chan told Yip that he would admit him as a student as soon as he could pay the tuition price of three taels of silver. But when Yip Man returned the next day with 300 pieces of silver, which was his entire life savings. So once Chan and Yip Man's parents saw that this boy had such a strong desire to learn Wing Chun, his parents agreed to let him study. And Chan Wah Shun accepted him at which point, Yip Man became the last of Chan's 16 disciples.Yip Man studied with Chan Wah Shun for four years, until the old master's death. Yip subsequently spent another two and a half years training with his senior, Ng Chung So. When Yip was 16 years old, his parents sent him to Hong Kong to attend St. Stephen's College. There, he quickly fell in with a clique of classmates who liked to offer and accept kung fu challenges. He welcomed the opportunity to put his Wing Chun training to the real test.Yip discovered that he liked to fight. He would accept a challenge on the slightest provocation. On one such occasion, a classmate named Lai dared Yip to go after an old kung fu practitioner who worked at the silk company of Lai's father. The man was well into his 50s and very eccentric, but Lai insisted the man's kung fu was very good.That evening Yip Man found the man living on a fishing boat anchored near the typhoon breakers in Hong Kong Bay. Yip first performed the entire Siu Lim Tao form of Wing Chun. After that the old man agreed to a match. Yip promptly attacked the old man and quickly found himself in Hong Kong Bay. After repeated attempts and repeated soakings, Yip Man wanted to learn from the old man. Yip Man soon found out that the old man was Leung Bik. Leung Bik explained the difference in his Wing Chun compared to Chan Wah Shun's and proceeded to take Yip Man as a student. Yip Man studied with Leung Bik for two and a half years.Yip Man returned to Fatshan and told his seniors about the old man that he had met. When his seniors scoffed at him, Yip Man challenged them and defeated them with his newfound knowledge. Yip Man stayed in Fatshan where he was involved with the police and raised a family. In 1948 Yip Man fled to Hong Kong during the People's Movement.In Hong Kong, a homeless and penniless Yip Man was given refuge at a restaurant. Yip Man watched the instructor(Leung Sheung) there conduct a kung fu class. Leung Sheung at the time was a practitioner of Bak Mei and Dragon kung Fu. After watching the class for a time, Yip Man demonstrated his skill to Leung Sheung and Leung Sheung promptly became Yip Man's first student in Hong Kong. After this Yip Man started teaching Wing Chun to the Restaurant Worker's Association. Yip Man eventually moved his place of instruction.Yip Man trained excellent fighters, chief among them are Wong Shun Leung, Grandmaster William Cheung, and Bruce Lee. After 20+ years of teaching in Hong Kong, Yip Man passed away in 1972.
Crane & Snake Method
Siu Lim Tao
Rice Wall Bag
This quite simply is one of the last Shaolin Kung-Fu Styles developed to produce a well rounded fighter in 3 to 5 years compared to the 15-20 years needed to master a complete animal system in the Shaolin Temple, China; Designed for the individual that would not need to use power to reach their objective. Speed, Directness, and Deflection added to constant crashing pressure correctly describes the attributes of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Largely based on Defending the "center line" running throught the vertical axis of a person. Notable Artists that were trained in this system include: Yip Man, Bruce Lee, William Cheung, Moy Yat, and has experienced a large following since the system seems to enhance many views that are often not as emphasized in other arts. Notes on the style: features high horse, evasive footwork, impressive combo attack and single direct attacks, simultaneous attack and defense, also: kicks are geared to break bones and specialize in blitz attacks.
Wing Chun (Southern Shaolin Kung Fu)
On November 22, 1998, Grandmaster William Cheung was inducted into the 1998 Blitz Hall of Fame, receiving the award for "Lifetime Tribute for Martial Arts".He has been called the Masters' Master; he was considered by Bruce Lee to be the "ultimate fighter": William Cheuk Hing Cheung was the sole inheritor of the Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu system, and was the person responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Wing Chun Kung Fu.In 1951, at the age of ten, Cheung started his training in Wing Chun Kung Fu under the late Grandmaster Yip Man. From 1954 to 1958 Cheung was a live-in student of Grandmaster Yip Man. It was during this time that he inherited the complete system of Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu.Between 1957 and 1958 Cheung won the Kung Fu elimination contests in Hong Kong, defeating opponents with many more years' experience. In early 1954 Cheung introduced Bruce Lee to Grandmaster Yip Man, and became his personal trainer. Throughout the four and a half years the two men developed a very close friendship, and Cheung passed on to Bruce Lee most of his techniques and helped developed his overall confidence and experience in fights. In later years he was to use these techniques in competitions, and also in his movies.In 1959, after completing his training under Grandmaster Yip Man, Cheung left Hong Kong to pursue an academic career at the Australian National University in Canberra. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Economics.After moving to Melbourne to teach Wing Chun professionally in 1973, Cheung began operating a very successful Martial Arts School. In 1976 he was elected the President of the Australian Kung Fu Federation.Cheung was appointed as Chief Instructor to the U.S. Seventh Fleet based in Yukosuka, Japan, during 1978 to 1980. Throughout this time, he was in charge of the intensive mental and physical development program of close quarter hand to hand combat for the marines.Many of Cheung's students have achieved international recognition for their martial arts prowess. In 1982 his students, Joe Moahengi and Rick Spain, won the heavyweight and middleweight divisions respectively in the World Invitation Kung Fu Championships held in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Cheung himself, in 1983, was inducted into the "Black Belt Hall of Fame" as Kung Fu Artist of the Year and again in 1989, into the "Inside Kung Fu Hall of Fame" as Martial Arts Instructor of the Year.From 1979 Grandmaster Cheung and many of his juniors conducted special programs for special law enforcing officers and special operation groups in the Armed Services in U.S.A. and other countries, teaching unarmed combat, restraining and disarming assailants and a fire arm retention program.It was at the Harvard University, Boston, in 1984 that Grandmaster Cheung set the world speed punching record of 8.3 punches per second . To promulgate his ideas and stimulate and enliven the art, Cheung has authored a variety of books for the general public including "Wing Chun Biu Jee", "Wing Chun Butterfly Swords", "Wing Chun Dragon Pole", "Advanced Wing Chun", "How to Develop Chi Power", "Wing Chun Kung Fu" (in French), "A Comparison of Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do" Volumes I and II. He has also produced a number of videos, including the well-known "The Wing Chun Way", "Tao of Wing Chun" and "PRO-TEKT: A Personal Protection Program".From his early training in Martial Arts, Grandmaster Cheung has become an expert in Meridian, Pressure Points and Meditation dealing with internal energies. Over the last ten years he has used this knowledge to develop many successful programs treating sports injuries and teaching stress management. Grandmaster William Cheung has been honoured by the China Guangzhou Medical University and Hospital Research Institute as a Research Professor for his Cheung's Meridian Therapy (CMT) program. This appointment is for the two year period from January 2000 until January 2002. As the result of these, Grandmaster Cheung's seminars, workshops and treatments are now much sought after all over the world.
Other origins for Wing Chun have been suggested, typically involving connections to the Triads, revolutionary groups (often anti-Qing), or the Hakkapeople of southern China. Almost all extant lineages of Wing Chun, with the exception of the Pao Fa Lien branch, claim descendance from themembers of the mid-19th century cohort of the Red Boat Opera Company.
Espionage and assassination
According to one theory, opponents of the Qing Dynasty used the Red Boat Opera Company as a cover to disguise themselves as a troupe oftravelling entertainers. Their identities as Chinese opera performers provided a cover for martial arts training; however, the flashy moves of operastyle martial arts were not suited to the activities of espionage and assassination, which required specialized skills. Even though assassinationsthemselves would be carried out using poison or knives, their targets were usually protected by bodyguards who, on discovery of an intruder, wouldseize the person, call for help, and disable the person to be held for interrogation. Therefore, according to this hypothesis, Wing Chun was designedto deal with an opponent who seized rather than struck and to silence that opponent immediately. This would explain certain technical aspects ofWing Chun, such as its emphasis on close-range combat and its many strikes to the throat and diaphragm.
Wing Chun City
Also of note is the existence of a city called Yongchun (literally, "Eternal Spring") in Fujian Province, China. In Mandarin, the pronunciation of themartial art and the pronunciation of the town are identical: Yongchun. In Cantonese, the pronunciations are virtually the same: wing cheun (martialart) vs wing cheun (municipality). The name of the town is written with the character yong/wing meaning "always", whereas the lineages ofWing Chun that descend from Yip Man, Yiu Kai, Yuen Kay-San, the Cho family, Tam Yeung, Fung Sang, Yeung Fook, and Leung Kwok-Keung writethe name of their martial art using the character yong/wing meaning "sing." However, the lineages of Wing Chun that descend from Pan Nam,Nguy-Công, Way Yan, the Wang family of Saiquan, and Pao Fa Lien use the yong/wing character, making the name of their martial artidentical with the name of the town.Several other Chinese martial arts come from Yongchun and the surrounding area, most notably the Fujianese style of White Crane, one branch ofwhich is even called Wing Chun Bak Hok Kuen, or Wing Chun White Crane boxing. Li Wenmao, a historically verifiable operaperformer and leader in the 1854–1855 Red Turban Rebellion in Foshan, is said to have been a Wing Chun White Crane practitioner.There is a story that White Crane was created by Ng Mui after she was inspired by a fight between a snake and a crane, as in the Yip Man oral historyof Wing Chun. Another White Crane legend states that the art was created by a young woman who combined her observation of cranes with themartial arts she learned from her father—in some versions a refugee from the destruction of the Fujian Shaolin Temple—and later taught her art toher husband, as in the Yiu Kai oral history of Wing Chun. Most stories name this young woman as Fong Chut-Neung, to use the Cantonesepronunciation, but other stories name her Fong Wing-Chun and the Shaolin disciple she marries as Hung Hei-Gun to whom she teachesher Crane style which he combines with his Tiger style to create the famous Hung Family Tiger Crane style.Oral history aside, the technical similarities of Wing Chun and Fujian White Crane suggest that the two are related. As Yip Man's student Leung Tingput it, "Wing Tsun System is derived from the Fukien System of kung-fu, which is related to the Hakka System. Their common features are thatduring fights, pugilists of these systems prefer short steps and close fighting, with their arms placed close to the chest, their elbows lowered and keptclose to the flanks to offer it protection. Another characteristic of these two systems of kung-fu is, unlike those of Kwangtung Province and NorthernChina, their boxing forms are rather simple Fujian White Crane and Okinawan Karate are indisputably related and Guangdong is much closer toFujian than Okinawa.
Chi Sao (Chinese, Cantonese chi sau, Mandarin chishou) or "sticking hands". Term for the principle, and drills used for the development of automatic reflexes upon contact and the idea of "sticking" to the opponent. In Wing Chun this is practiced through two practitioners maintaining contact with each other's forearms while executing techniques, thereby training each other to sense changes in body mechanics, pressure, momentum and "feel". This increased sensitivity gained from this drill helps a practitioner attack and counter an opponent's movements precisely, quickly and with the appropriate technique.
Chi Sao is similar to the hubud-lubad drills of Eskrima. It looks somewhat like the push hands training of T'ai Chi
Ch'uan. Chi Sao is also taught in the Jeet Kune Do traditions, and uses modified versions of some of the component techniques such as the bong sao and jut sao.
Chi Sao additionally refers to the Luk Sao (methods of rolling hands) drills. Luk Sao participants push and "roll" their forearms against each other in a single circle while trying to remain relaxed. The aim is to feel forces, test resistances and find defensive gaps. Other branches do a version of this where each of the arms roll in small separate circles. Luk Sao is most notably taught within the Pan Nam branches where both the larger rolling drills and the method where each of the arms roll in small separate circles are taught.
In some branches (most notably the Yip Man and Jiu Wan branches) Chi Sao drills begin with one-armed sets (Dan
Chi Sao) which help the novice student to get the feel of the exercise. Each practitioner uses one hand from the same side as they face each other.
Chi Sao is a sensitivity drill to obtain specific responses. It must not be confused for sparring/fighting. Though can
be practised or expressed in a combat form, in particular MMA in the clinch is a fine example of where Chi Sao can be expressed as well as used in other arts.
Balance, Structure and Stance
Wing Chun practitioners believe that the person with body structure will win. A correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo, firm but flexible, rooted butyielding. This structure is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them into the ground.Balance is related to structure because a well-balanced body recovers quicker from stalled attacks and structure is maintained.Wing Chun favours a high, narrow stance with the elbows kept close to the body. Within the stance, arms are positioned across the vitals of the centerline. Shifting orturning within a stance is carried out variantly on the heels, balls, or middle (K1 or Kidney 1 point) of the foot depending on lineage. All attacks and counter-attacksare initiated from this firm, stable base. Wing Chun rarely compromises structure for more powerful attacks because this is believed to create defensive openingswhich may be exploited.Structure is viewed as important, not only for reasons of defence, but also for attack. When the practitioner is effectively 'rooted', or aligned so as to be bracedagainst the ground, the force of the hit is believed to be far more devastating. Additionally, the practice of 'settling' one's opponent to brace them more effectivelyagainst the ground aids in delivering as much force as possible to them.
Softness (via relaxation) and performing techniques in a relaxed manner, is fundamental to Wing Chun.* Tension reduces punching speed and power. Muscles act in pairs in opposition to each other (e.g. biceps and triceps). If the arm is tensed, maximum punching speedcannot be achieved as the biceps will be opposing the extension of the arm. In Wing Chun, the arm should be relaxed before beginning the punching motion.* Unnecessary muscle tension wastes energy and causes fatigue.* Tense, stiff arms are less fluid and sensitive during trapping and chi sao.* A tense, stiff limb provides an easy handle for an opponent to push or pull with, whereas a relaxed limb provides an opponent less to work with.* A relaxed, but focused limb, affords the ability to feel "holes" or weaknesses in the opponents structure (See Sensitivity section). With the correct forwarding these"holes" grant a path into attack the opponent.* Muscular struggle reduces a fight to who is stronger. Minimum brute strength in all movement becomes an equalizer in uneven strength confrontations. This is verymuch in the spirit of the tale of Ng Mui.
While the existence of a "central axis" concept is unified in Wing Chun, the interpretation of the centerline concept itself is not. Many variations exist, with somelineages defining anywhere from a single "centerline" to multiple lines of interaction and definition.The most commonly seen interpretation emphasizes attack and defense along an imaginary vertical line drawn from the center of the practitioner's chest to the centerof the enemy's chest. The human body's prime striking targets are considered to be on or near this line, including eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus and groin.Wing Chun techniques are generally "closed", with the limbs drawn in to protect the central area and also to maintain balance. In most circumstances, the hands donot move beyond the vertical circle that is described by swinging the arms in front, with the hands crossed at the wrists. To reach outside this area, footwork is used.A large emphasis and time investment in training Chi Sao exercise emphasises positioning to dominate this centerline. The stance and guard all point at or through thecenter to concentrate physical and mental intent of the entire body to the one target.Wing Chun practitioners attack within this central area to transmit force more effectively, since it targets the "core center" (or "mother line", another center defined insome lineages and referring to the vertical axis of the human body where the center of gravity lies). For example, striking an opponent's shoulder will twist the body,dispelling some of the force and weakening the strike. Striking closer to the center transmits more force directly into the body.
The Wing Chun Punch
Because of the emphasis on the center line, the vertical fist straight punch is the most common strike in Wing Chun. However, the principle of simultaneous attack anddefence suggests that all movements in the Siu Nim Tau with a forward execution flow into a strike if no effective resistance is met, without need for recomposure.Other explicit examples of punches can be found in the Chum Kiu and Bil Jee forms, articulating an uppercut and hook punch respectively.The vertical punch is the most basic and fundamental in Wing Chun and is usually thrown with the elbow down and in front of the body. Depending on the lineage,the fist is held anywhere from vertical to horizontal (palm side up). The contact points also vary from the top two knuckles, to the middle two knuckles, to thebottom three knuckles. In some lineages of Wing Chun, the fist is swivelled at the wrist on point of impact so that the bottom three knuckles are thrust forwardadding power to the punch while it is at maximum extension.The punches may be thrown in quick succession in a 'straight blast' or 'chain punching'. When executed correctly, it can be used as a disorienting finisher but is oftencriticised for encouraging weaker punches that don't utilise the whole body.Wing Chun favours the vertical punch for the following reasons:* Directness. The punch is not "loaded" by pulling the elbow behind the body. The punch travels straight towards the target from the guard position (hands are heldin front of the chest).* Protection. The elbow is kept low to cover the front midsection of the body. It is more difficult for an opponent to execute an elbow lock/break when the elbowoccupies this position. This aids in generating power by use of the entire body structure rather than only the arm to strike.* Strength and Impact. Wing Chun practitioners believe that because the elbow is behind the fist during the strike, it is thereby supported by the strength of the entirearm rather than just a swinging fist, and therefore has more impact. A common analogy is a baseball bat being swung at someone's head (a round-house punch), asopposed to the butt end of the bat being thrust forward into the opponent's face (wing chun punch), which would cause far more damage than a glancing hit and isn'tas easy to evade. Many skilled practitioners pride themselves on being able to generate "short power" or large amount of power in a short space. A commondemonstration of this is the "one-inch punch," a punch that starts only an inch away from the target yet delivers an explosive amount of force.* Alignment & Structure. Because of Wing Chun's usage of stance, the vertical punch is thus more suitable. The limb directly in front of the chest, elbow down, verticalnature of the punch allows a practitioner to absorb the rebound of the punch by directing it through the elbows and into the stance. This is a desirable trait to a WingChun practitioner, where in contrast the rebound of a horizontal, elbow-out punch promotes torque in the puncher's body. This is because the limb and elbow arenow directing rebound force outwards instead of inwards due to the positioning of the hinge-structured elbow. This aids in generating power by promoting use ofthe entire body structure rather than only the arm to strike. This can be easily demonstrated; hold your fist vertically, in front of you, your elbow pointing down, onefoot behind the other. Make sure your elbow is in your centerline. Then ask a friend to push into your fist while you attempt to resist. You will feel the pushpressuring your legs and stance. Repeat with a horizontal fist, elbow at shoulder height and to the side. You will feel the incoming push twisting you sideways.
Kicks can be explicitly found in the Chum Kiu and Mook Jong forms, though some have made interpretations of small leg movements in the Siu Nim Tau and Bil Jee to contain information on kicking as well. Depending on lineage, a beginner is often introduced to basic kicking before learning the appropriate form. Traditionally, kicks are kept below the waist.
Variations on a front kick are performed striking with the heel. The body may be square and the knee and foot are vertical on contact (Chum Kiu), or a pivot may be involved with the foot and knee on a plane at an angle (Mook Jong). At short distances this can become a knee.
A roundhouse kick is performed striking with the shin in a similar manner to the Muay Thai version with most of the power coming from the body pivot. This kick is usually used as a finisher at closer range, targeting anywhere between the ribs and the back of the knee. This kick can also become a knee at close range.
Other kicks include a stamping kick (Mook Jong) for very close range and a sweep performed with the heel in a circular fashion (Bil Jee).
Every kick is both an attack and defence, with legs being used to check incoming kicks or to take the initiative in striking through before a more circular kick can land. Kicks are delivered in one movement directly from the stance without chambering/cocking.
Wing Chun techniques are uncommitted. This means that if the technique fails to connect, the practitioner's position or balance is less affected. If the attack fails, thepractitioner is able to "flow" easily into a follow-up attack. All Wing Chun techniques permit this. Any punches or kicks can be strung together to form a "chain" of attacks.
Trapping Skills and Sensitivity
The Wing Chun practitioner uses reflexes and sticking hands to probe for holes in the opponent's defence through touching.
The practitioner controls an opponent by contacting through a block or a strike and maintaining contact or "sticking" to the opponent. If the opponent attempts to
withdraw or redirect the hand, the practitioner follows, often using the motion to facilitate a trap or a strike.
A common Wing Chun saying is "greet what arrives, escort what leaves and rush upon loss of contact", regarding the importance of trapping incoming force and advancing quickly when an opening is sensed.
Wing Chun teaches practitioners to advance quickly and strike at close range. While the Wing Chun forward kick can be considered a long range technique, many Wing Chun practitioners practice "entry techniques" - getting past an opponent's kicks and punches to bring him within range of Wing Chun's close range repertoire.
This means that theoretically, if the correct techniques are applied, a shorter person with a shorter range can defeat a larger person by getting inside their range and attacking them close to their body.