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Chinese Culture >> Chinese Society, Traditions >> Wing Chun

What is Wing Chun

According to Wing Chun, there are several ways of defeating the enemy: striking, kicking, joint locking, controlling, throwing and the use of weapons are the most common. However, all of these techniques are guided by very well thought out concepts. Wing Chun means "beautiful springtime," or "forever springtime." Wing Chun is also written "Ving Tsun" or "Wing Tsun."

The way the art produces efficient fighters in a relatively short amount of time is by sticking to several core concepts and by paying strict attention to positioning. Much training time is spent cultivating "Sensitivity or Contact Reflexes." The student practices guarding various zones about the body and deals with whatever happens to be contacted or touched in that zone. This allows for a minimum of technique for a maximum of application, and for the use of an automatic or subconscious response. Because of this it is especially suited for the blind or visually impaired. In fact, Wing Chun's unique training method seems tailor made for any visually impaired person to defend themselves as good, if not better than those who can see.

Most of the techniques taught are hand techniques and the style is best known for its quick punches. Only low kicks are used. Traps and other kinds of controls are important as well. Trapping and speed are developed through the famous "sticky hands" (Chi Sao) training, which also teaches balance. The Mook Jong, a wooden dummy used for training footwork and alignment, is also a well-known training method. There are three forms used in the style: Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, and Bil Jee.

Traditionally only two weapons are taught in Wing Chun. The Dragon Pole and the Butterfly Knives are generally taught only once the student has a firm foundation in the art. However, we teach modern weapons as well to enhance our training methods. Weapons training drills offer the similar ideas and concepts as the open hand system, including the use of Contact Reflexes. Many of the weapon movements are built off of or mimic the open hand moves - this is the reverse process of Kali/Escrima/Arnis, where weapon movements are learned first.

Being a survival system, Wing Chun deals with personal safety. Although it has traditional roots, it adapts and utilizes modern training methods. It is considered to be a twenty-first-century, highly refined, street fighting system, designed to be used against armed and unarmed attackers.

Wing Chun addresses a wide variety of aggressive acts which include punches, kicks, chokes, bear-hugs, headlocks, grabs, as well as defenses against multiple attackers and assailants armed with a firearm, edged weapon, or blunt object. It integrates elements related to the actual performance of the fight including the psychological dimensions of self-defense, with the use of the environment to your advantage. There are no competitions or tournaments because of Wing Chun's combat-orientation.

There are multiple histories of Wing Chun in existence today, however, there is a generally accepted legend that says that a Shaolin nun named Ng Mui, a master of
Kung Fu, developed the art nearly 300 years ago in southern China. At that time the Southern Shaolin Temple was sanctuary to the Chinese revolution that was trying to overthrow the ruling Manchu.

Marital Arts system was being taught in the temple but it took almost 20 years to produce an efficient fighter. Realizing the need to produce efficient fighters faster, five of China's grandmasters met and chose the most efficient Kung Fu techniques, theories and principles from the various styles. They then developed a training program that produced efficient fighters in 5-7 years. Before the program was put into practice, the temple was raided and destroyed.

Of those that escaped, Ng Mui was the only survivor who knew the full system. However, she realized that much of what she had learned was ineffective for a small, frail woman to use on a larger, stronger man. Discarding techniques that were slow or that relied on strength or size, She revised everything she had learned. Her system blossomed into a system of fighting that enabled a smaller, weaker person to destroy a bigger, stronger person within a few seconds. Ng Mui's new system was well guarded and passed on to only a few, very dedicated students. The style became known as Wing Chun, after Ng Mui's first student, a woman named Yim Wing Chun.

Yim Wing Chun was a native of Canton in China. Her mother passed away just after her betrothal to Leung Bok Chau. Her father, Yim Yee, was later wrongfully accused of a crime. He did not want to risk Jail so Yim Yee and his daughter left the area and settled down at the foot of Mt. Tai Leung. It was here Ng Mui met Yim Yee and Wing Chun. Wing Chun was a beautiful teenager who had attracted the unwanted attention of a local man who continuously tried to force her to marry him by threatening to harm her father. Ng Mui learned of this and agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting techniques so that she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains to White Crane Temple, and began to learn Kung Fu. Wing Chun trained until she mastered the techniques. She then challenged the bully to a fight and defeated him.

The Wing Chun System was passed on in a direct line of succession from its origin. After her marriage to Leung Bok Chau, Wing Chun taught him
Kung Fu. He in turn passed these techniques on. As techniques were passed along, the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole was incorporated into Wing Chun Kung Fu. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Wing Chun, like other martial arts, was banned in China and survived only through the persistence of practitioners like Yip Man.

The veil of secrecy around the art was finally broken in 1949, when Grandmaster Yip Man brought the style out of China into Hong Kong and eventually to the rest of the world.

Leung Sheung had heard about Wing Chun since he was quite young, and in 1949, found out that one of its most famous teachers, Yip Man was currently in Hong Kong. Leung Sheung promptly introduced Lok Yiu and Tsui Sheung-Tin to Yip Man, and the three of them became the first batch of Wing Chun students in Hong Kong.

From 1949 until 1978, Leung Sheung remained Yip Man's most senior student. He trained under Yip Man intensively and taught Wing Chun until his passing in 1978.

Among Leung Sheung's more well know students are Kenneth Chung, Leung Ting, Jack Ling, Siu Wong, and others. Our lineage descends from Kenneth Chung who best retained Leung Sheung's methods and most importantly, his unique energy.

Yip Man's students began gaining notoriety for besting many systems and experienced opponents in streetfights and "friendly" competitions. The art gained even more popularity when one of its students, Bruce Lee, began to enjoy worldwide fame. Over time Wing Chun has been refined to it's highest levels by a few of its masters. Wing Chun remains one of the most popular and most effective forms of Kung Fu today.

About the Author:

Armando Sainz has been involved in martial arts since 1979. His school is highly recognized in the industry as being one of the top Wing Chun schools in the country. Armando is also owner of Sainz Personal Defense Systems. A company dedicated to helping others stay safer through the use of self-defense products and surveillance equipment.