History

The following passage outlines the history of Wing Chun (詠春), as written by Grandmaster Ip Man (葉問先生):
 
“The founder of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System, Miss Yim Wing Chun (嚴詠春) was a native of Canton [Guangdong Province] in China. She was an intelligent and athletic young girl, upstanding and forthright. Her mother died soon after her betrothal to Leung Bok Chau (梁博儔), a salt merchant of Fujian.
 
Her father, Yim Yee (嚴二), was wrongfully accused of a crime and, rather than risk jail, they slipped away and finally settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain near the border between Yunan and Szechuan provinces. There they earned a living by running a shop that sold bean curd.
 
During the reign of Emperor K’anghsi of the Ching Dynasty (1662-1722), Kung Fu became very strong in the Shaolin Monastery (少林寺) of Mt. Sung, in Honan Province. This aroused the fear of the Manchu (滿族) government [people from Manchuria and an ethnic minority in China, who ruled China at that time], which sent troops to attack the Shaolin Monastery.
 
Although they were unsuccessful, a man named Chan Man Wai, a recently appointed civil servant seeking favour with the government, suggested a plan.
 
He plotted with Shaolin monk Ma Ning Yee and others who were persuaded to betray their companions by setting fire to the Shaolin Monastery while soldiers attacked it from the outside.
 
Shaolin Monastery was burned down, and the monks and disciples scattered.
 
Buddhist Abbess Ng Mui (五枚師太), Abbot Jee Sin Sim See (至善禪師), Abbot Bak Mei (白眉禪師), Master Fung Dou Dak (馮道德) and Master Miu Hin (苗顯) escaped and went their separate ways.
 
Ng Mui took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Mt. Tai Leung [also known as Mt. Chai Har]. It was there she met Yim Yee and his daughter Wing Chun from whom she often bought bean curd on her way home from the market. At fifteen, with her hair bound up was the custom of those days to show she was of an age to marry, Wing Chun’s beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing Chun. She agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting skills so she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began to learn Kung Fu. She trained night and day, until she mastered the system. Then she challenged the bully to a fight and beat him.
 
Ng Mui later travelled around the country, but before she left she told Wing Chun to strictly honour the Kung Fu traditions, to develop her Kung Fu after her marriage, and to help the people working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty.
 
After her marriage Wing Chun taught Kung Fu to her husband Leung Bok Chau (梁博儔). He in turn passed these techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai (梁蘭桂). Leung Lan Kwai then passed them on to Wong Wah Bo (黃華寶). Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a boat, known to Chinese as the Red Boat. Wong worked on the Red Boat with Leung Yee Tei (梁二娣).
 
It so happened that Abbot Jee Sin Sim See, who fled from Shaolin Monastery, had disguised himself as a cook and was then working on the Red Boat. Jee Sin Sim See 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 shared and improved their Kung Fu skills, and thus the Six-and-a-Half-Point Long Pole was incorporated into Wing Chun System. Leung Yee Tei passed his Kung Fu onto Leung Jan (梁贊), a well-known herbal doctor in Foshan (佛山). Leung Jan grasped the innermost secrets of Wing Chun, attaining the highest level of proficiency.
 
Many Martial Arts masters came to challenge Leung Jan, but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous. Later Leung Jan passed his Kung Fu on to Chan Wah Shan (陳華順), who took me and my elder Kung Fu brothers, such as Ng Siu Lo (吳小魯), Ng Chung Sok (吳仲素), Chan Yu Min (陳汝綿, Chan Wah Shan’s son) and Lui Yu Jai (雷汝濟), as his students many decades ago.
 
It can thus be said that the Wing Chun System was passed on to us in a direct line of succession from its origin.
 
I write this history of the Wing Chun System in respectful memory of my forerunners. I am eternally grateful to them for passing to me the skills I now possess. A man should always think of the source of the water as he drinks from it; it is this shared feeling that keeps our Kung Fu brothers together.
 
Is this not the way to promote Kung Fu, and to project the image of our country?
 
Ip Man”

Ip Man writing 01
Ip Man writing 02
Ip Man writing 03