Considering Wing Chun – Part 2: Summary History


The Historical Account of Ip Man

Legend has it that Wing Chun was developed by a woman.

As its movements are reliant upon the thinking processes
of physics – and NOT brute strength and ignorance –
I am utterly disposed to believe the truth of the assertion.

[ It is interesting to note, too, that
the practitioners of White Crane Gung fu equally,
assert that their founder was a woman
named Fang Qiniang, who lived at the end of the Ming dynasty,
and beginning of the Qing. ]

Qing Dynasty:

As the Manchurian occupying force
sought the extermination of all rebels;
the Temple Siu Lam was attacked and burned,
effectively razing it to the ground.

Escaping along with four others, was a Buddhist nun
named Ng Mui,
who fled to the region of the Daliang mountains
in the provinces of Sichuan and Yunnan.

At some point in this time frame – according to Yip Man –
Ng Mui developed the rudiments of a methodology of self-defence.

Wing Chun is too meticulous
in its attention to detail regarding human anatomy and physics,
for me to believe that a contemplative woman would waste time
with the ludicrous premise of thinking to make the human body
imitate the physical qualities of a large bird, tiger, or reptile –
capabilities that no human will ever possess.

In the course of daily life, Ng Mui met a certain man
and his daughter, named Yim Wing Chun.

The object of lust and unwanted attention from a local despot,
Wing Chun was determined that she would not become
the property-by-marriage of this local nobleman.

Her plight came to the attention of Ng Mui,
who issued an ultimatum to the belligerent suitor:

She would train Wing Chun and, after a suitable amount of time,
if the nobleman could overcome her in combat,
Wing Chun would become his bride.

The baron lost.

Wing Chun and her husband Leung Bok To further developed
the skills taught her by Ng Mui, into the refined practice
that would afterwards bear her name.

The skill was taught to a certain Wong Wah Po,
and then, Leung Lan Kwai, who was a performer
in the renowned Red Boat Opera.

Members of this troupe became proficient in the art,
and I suspect that the Muk Jong – (the log-like Wooden Dummy)
developed here.

The practice of Wing Chun moved
from members of the Opera Company
to students Leung Yee Tai and Leung Jan
– the latter, a resident Chinese doctor in Foshan,
amongst whose students
included a man named Chan Wah Shun.

Chan, in turn, (apparently) considered carefully
the request from one teenager to become a student,
thinking the boy to be altogether too slight and genteel
to learn a self defensive skill:

Finally relenting, Chan Wah Shun agreed to teach Ip Man.

And – to place the whole into the modern context –
it was, in turn, Ip Man’s senior student Wong Shum Leung
who taught cinematic icon … Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee brought Wing Chun to the attention of North Americans
which, I believe, ushered in greed, arrogance,
and the degradation of this fine system to such an extent

that it is now made to accommodate the thug-brawling mentality
of “Mixed Martial Arts” and its adherents who have neither
the humility, patience, or desire to study a classical system fully.

P Livingstone