Wing Chun is the name of a system of martial arts developed in southern
China approximately 300 years ago. Its originator, the Buddhist nun Ng
Mui, was a master of Shaolin Kung Fu and used this knowledge to invent a
way to take advantage of the weaknesses inherent in the other Shaolin
systems. This new system was well-guarded and passed on to only a few,
very dedicated students. Later, the style became known as Wing Chun, after Ng Mui's first student, a woman named Yim Wing Chun.
In 1949, Yip Man, who was considered to be the
grandmaster of modern Wing Chun, brought the style out of China into
Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world.
The Origin of Wing Chun - by Grandmaster Yip Man
The founder of the Wing Chun Kung Fu System, Miss Yim Wing Chun
was a native of Canton [Kwangtung 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, a salt merchant of Fukien. Her father, Yim Yee,
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 Siu Lam [Shaolin]
Monastery of Mt. Sung, in Honan Province. This aroused the fear of the
Manchu government [a non-Chinese people from Manchuria in the North, who
ruled China at that time], which sent troops to attack the Monastery.
Although they were unsuccessful, a man named Chan Man Wai, a recently appointed civil servant seeking favor with the government, suggested a plan.
He plotted with Siu Lam monk Ma Ning Yee and others who
were persuaded to betray their companions by setting fire to the
monastery while soldiers attacked it from the outside. Siu Lam was
burned down, and the monks and disciples scattered. Buddhist Abbess Ng Mui, Abbot Chi Shin, Abbot Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak and Master Miu Hin 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 in 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 techniques 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 techniques. Then she challenged the bully to
a fight and beat him.
Ng Mui later traveled around the country, but before she left she told Wing Chun
to strictly honor 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. He in turn passed these techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai then passed them on to Wong Wah Bo. Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a junk, known to Chinese as the Red Junk. Wong worked on the Red Junk with Leung Yee Tei. It so happened that Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Siu Lam, had disguised himself as a cook and was then working on the Red Junk. 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 shared and
improved their techniques, and thus the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole
was incorporated into Wing Chun Kung Fu. Leung Yee Tei passed his Kung Fu on to Leung Jan, a well known herbal Doctor in Fat Shan. Leung Jan
grasped the innermost secrets of Wing Chun, attaining 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 Chan Wah Shan, who took me and my elder Kung Fu brothers, such as Ng Siu Lo, Ng Chung So, Chan Yu Min and Lui Yu Jai, 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 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?
Lineage of the Augustine Fong School of Wing Chun
The art (of Wing Chun) was eventually passed on to Yip Man. Yip Man was
able to learn both the hard and soft elements. After Yip Man's schooling
in Hong Kong, he went back to China, and worked as a policeman trained
police officers. While working as a policeman, Yip Man killed someone in
the line of duty. Fearing reprisals from the Communist government, he
had to escape from China, with virtually no possessions. When he got to
Hong Kong he only had his skills in Wing Chun with which to make a
Yip Man is known as the person who brought Wing Chun out of China and
into Hong Kong; however, there were certain types of students that Yip
Man would not teach. Yip Man felt that relatives would not show him the
respect that he deserved. Even though Wing Chun was developed by two
women, Yip Man felt that having women in a Gung Fu school would be too
disruptive. Yip Man did not want the art to be taught to non-Chinese. He
felt that children would not have the discipline to learn Wing Chun.
Poor people, he felt, had to work too hard to earn a living and would be
too tired to practice.
Yip Man's students can be divided into three "generations". The first
generation was taught how to use Wing Chun for fighting. During this
time Yip Man was seeking to establish the name of Wing Chun and to
increase its renown. The art was not emphasized. Once the name of Wing
Chun was established, Yip Man was able to focus on teaching the art of
Wing Chun. This is the second generation. The last or third generation
of students never touched hands with Yip Man. Even though they were
members of Yip Man's school, he was no longer teaching directly.
Ho Kam Ming was of the second generation of Yip Man's students. He spent
all his life to study Wing Chun and was one of the few men to complete
the entire system under Yip Man. Ho Kam Ming was held in high regard by
Yip Man. When Yip Man became ill and had to go to the hospital, he asked
Ho Kam Ming to take him there. Ho Kam Ming often visited Yip Man in the
hospital and took care of him in both the hospital and at home. Yip Man
revealed many of the finer points of Wing Chun to Ho Kam Ming. Yip Man
also appointed Ho Kam Ming to assume the responsibility of instructing
his private students. By this time, Ho Kam Ming had already opened his
first school in Macao and another in Hong Kong. He also organized the Ho
Kam Ming Wing Chun Association, which is authorized by the Yip Man Wing
It is through Ho Kam Ming that the Wing Chun school of Augustine Fong in Tucson, Arizona traces its line.
Our Immediate Lineage
Our immediate lineage, with local Sifus is listed here (from Planet Wing Chun).
- Yip Man
- Ho Kam Ming
- Augustine Fong (Tucson, Arizona, USA)
- Terrance Carling (Ottawa, Canada)
- Rick Gonzalez (Ottawa, Canada)
- Donald Ludley (Halifax, Canada)
- Robert Eve (Ottawa, Canada)
- Carlo Vicente (Ottawa, Canada)
- Ivan Valdivia (Ottawa, Canada)
- Guy Bolduc (Gatineau, Canada)
- Carlen Lavigne (Red Deer, Canada)
- Pierre Parisian (Ottawa, Canada)
- Paul Simmons (British Columbia, Canada)
- François Delisle (Aylmer, Canada)
- Michel Potvin (Gatineau, Canada)