WING CHUN HISTORY
The history of Wing Chun (詠春) is not recorded in writing before our generation. It is only passed down to us orally. This version is what was passed down to us through Late Grand Master YIP-MAN (葉問). He stated that NG-MUI (伍枚)was a nun and was generally credited as the teacher of YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春) the founder of the Wing Chun system of Gung Fu. NG-MUI (伍枚) was one of the five elders (五老) of the SIU-LUM-TEMPLE (少林寺).
The legend of NG-MUI (伍枚): NG-MUI (伍梅) was known as LUI-SAI-LEUNG (呂四娘) at the time of the end period of the second Emperor of the Ching Dynasty HONG-HAI (康熙)(1662-1722). She was the Grand daughter of (LUI-LOU-LEUNG)(呂留良) who was a famous martial art hero. His nick name is HO-KOU-LO-YAN (何求老人). Her father was one of the eight Generals that helped YEUNG-JING-WONG (雍正皇) to ascend to the throne. YEUNG-JING-WONG (雍正皇) was the third emperor of the Ching Dynasty (1723-1735). After he became Emperor, YEUNG-JING-WONG (雍正皇) had his own father and his eight Generals killed. This was to reduce the threat to his own power. To revenge her father’s death, she had spent 30 some years of time to train hard in martial arts. Finally in 1735, she had beheaded the Emperor and went into hiding at the Sil Lum Temple where she took the name of NG-MUI (伍枚).
Already an accomplished martial artist, NG-MUI (伍枚) became the number one elder at the temple. She had continued to study martial arts under her Si-Fu (GUM-FUNG-CHI) (甘鳳池) and her grand father. The other elders at the temple were GEE-SIM (至禪), FUNG-DO-DUC (馮道德), BAK-MEI (白眉) and MAAU-HIN (苗顯). These were the five elders of martial art teachers from the SIU-LUM-TEMPLE (少林寺).
At the SIU-LUM-TEMPLE (少林寺), NG-MUI (伍枚) developed a style of martial arts called Plum Flower Eight Step (MUI-FA-BAK-BO) (梅花八步). After further research, development, and the observation of a snake and crane, NG-MUI (伍枚) improved the style which became known as Snake and Crane Eight Step (SEI-HAW-BAK-BO) (蛇鶴八步). After observing a mouse walking, she refined the style further and it became known as Mouse Step Plum Flower Fist (SHU-BO-MUI-FAR-KUEN) (鼠步梅花拳). These three styles are the predecessors of Wing Chun.
According to Wing Chun history that was passed down from the late grand master YIP-MAN (葉問) during the end period of the second Emperor of the Ching Dynasty HONG-HAI (康熙) (1662-1722) was when the legend of NG-MUI (伍枚) began. During NG-MUI (伍枚)’s time, a Cantonese person from CANTON FON-KIN province (廣東福建人) named YIM-YE-GUNG (嚴二公)(nick name YIM-SAM-SOK (嚴三叔)) was living with his 15 year old daughter YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春). They earned their livelihood by making and selling bean cakes at GOU-LIN-SAAN (九連山). She had earned her nick name as QUEEN of BEAN CAKES (DOU-FU-SAI-SEE) (豆腐西施). Yim Wing Chun's popularity in the area and news of her beauty attracted the attention of a malevolent landlord named Wong. Although such matters were often customarily prearranged between two families before the birth of the children, and YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春) was already promised to LEUNG-BOK-CHAU (梁博儔), Wong decided he would marry her anyway. Upon presenting himself to ask for her hand in marriage, Wong was flatly rejected by both Yim Wing Chun and her father, so he plotted to take her by force. NG-MUI (伍枚) was able to teach YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春) to defend herself in a short time. When Wong returned with his men, a confrontation ensued during which Wong was seriously injured by YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春).
YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春): continued to study under NG-MUI (伍枚), and later married LEUNG-BOK-CHAU (梁博儔). During the years to come, she used the principles of the style that she had learned from NG-MUI (伍枚) and started to improve and simplify the art. After refining the art significantly, Yim Wing Chun began to teach it to her husband LEUNG-BOK-CHAU (梁博儔) who was already studying in other styles of the martial arts. Impressed by YIM-WING-CHUN (嚴詠春)'s knowledge and ability, he studied her style diligently and learned it quickly. Thus, although NG-MUI(伍枚) founded the art, it bares Yim Wing Chun's name owing to her improvements.
LEUNG-BOK-CHAU (梁博儔): taught the style to LEUNG-LAN-GUAI (梁蘭桂). Later, LEUNG-LAN-GUAI (梁蘭桂) introduced WONG-WAH-BO (黃華寶) to LEUNG-BOK-CHAU (梁博儔) to start his Wing Chun training as a good friendship. During that time, WONG-WAH-BO (黃華寶)was working on the RED BOAT (紅船)(The Chinese Opera group). He was a rower on the boat and did other labors. He was very muscular. He had a very good friend LEUNG-YE-TAI (梁二娣) who was also a Chinese Opera member, a male actor who played female roles in the Opera. Since both of them were so into martial art training, they adopted the Lok Dim Bun Guan (the six-and-a-half point pole)(六點半棍), and the Bak Jam Do (the butterfly knives)(八斬刀) into the Wing Chun system. It is during the so-called Red Boat Years that the Wing Chun system was organized and evolved into another level. Later on this system was passed down to LEUNG-JAN(梁贊).
LEUNG-JAN(梁贊): His full name was LEUNG-DAK-WING(梁德榮)(1826-1901). He was born in Canton, Hawsaan, Gulo province (廣東鶴山古勞). He died at age of 75. He was a famous herbal doctor. His Doctor office and Herbal shop was located at FACK-SAAN-FI-GE-KAI(佛山筷子街). It was named JON-SUNG-TON (贊生堂).
When he was 18 years of age he had studied a style of gung-fu called YUM-JOU-SAI-YING-HUNG-KUEN (欽州蛇形洪拳) under LEUNG-YE-TAI (梁二娣). Later on LEUNG-YE-TAI (梁二娣) introduced him to WONG-WAH-BO (黃華寶) to study SAI-CHEUN-MUI-FA-KUEN-WING-CHUN (四川梅花拳詠春). WONG-WAH-BO (黃華寶)’s nationality was same as LEUNG-JAN(梁贊). So, from this, WONG-WAH-BO (黃華寶) had taught LEUNG-JAN(梁贊) the whole system of Wing Chun Kuen.
About 1870 to 1890 LEUNG-JAN(梁贊) had taught Wing Chun Kuen at his Herbal shop JON-SOUN-TON (贊生堂) and began to organize and to refine all he had learned in the Wing Chun system in a simple way to pass down to the younger generation. This Wing Chun system had evolved to another level and was beginning to be passed on to the public world. In 1950, there were a series of books written about him in Hong-Kong which was called “FUT-SAAN-KUEN-WONG-JON-SIN-SOUN”(佛山拳王贊先生). One of his best students was CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順).
CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順)(1849-1913): was born in SOON-DUC (順德) province, and lived in FUT-SAAN(佛山). His nationality is SOON-DUC-HUNG-TUAN-DONG-MA-LING(順德杏壇東馬寧人). He was a tall and strong muscular person. He worked as a Money exchanger. So people called him by the nick name "money exchanger (JOU-CHEN-WAH)(找錢華)." He was practicing Wing Chun by himself through secretly watching LEUNG-JAN(梁贊) teach. Finally at the age of 39, he became a true student of LEUNG-JAN(梁贊). After LEUNG-JAN(梁贊) passed away in 1901, CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順) began his Wing-Chun teaching to the public from 1901 to 1907. He had passed Wing Chun down to 16 students total. Such students as NG-JONG-SO (吳仲素), NG-SIU-LO (吳小魯), HO-HON-LUI (何漢侶), LUI-YUE-CHAI (雷汝濟), CHAN-YUE-KAM (陳汝錦), and YIP-MAN (葉問).
YIP-MAN (葉問)(1900-1972):CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順) was YIP-MAN (葉問)’s first teacher. Unfortunately CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順) died at a young age and YIP-MAN (葉問) did not finish his instruction from him. YIP-MAN (葉問) kept on training with his Si-Hing NG-JONG-SO (吳仲素). At the age of 16, Yip Man studied English at the St. Steven’s Catholic School in Hong Kong. It was during this time that Yip Man met LEUNG-BIK (梁碧) through his schoolmate who was the son of LEUNG-JAN(梁贊). He started to train under LEUNG-BIK (梁碧) for some years to complete the system of Wing Chun. LEUNG-BIK (梁碧) was a small man and a scholar. His style was not as hard as that of CHAN-WAH-SHUN (陳華順) so, therefor, 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, his home town, and worked as a Police Man and trained Officers in China. After the second world war, about 1949, he moved to Hong-Kong and lost all his possessions. When he got to Hong Kong he only had his skills in Wing Chun with which to make a living. In Hong Kong, Yip Man met his old time best friend GO-DA-CHEUNG(高大張), who was a CHOY-LEE-FUT (蔡李佛) teacher and taught through the Chinese Restaurant Association in Kowloon, Hong-Kong east and west. Teaching at both locations was too much for GO-DA-CHEUNG(高大張) and he gave one to Yip Man so he could teach Wing Chun to make his living. LEUNG-SHEUNG (梁相) was an assistant teacher for GO-DA-CHEUNG(高大張). LEUNG-SHEUNG (梁相) challenged YIP-MAN (葉問) and was defeated. LEUNG-SHEUNG (梁相) there upon became YIP-MAN (葉問)’s first student.
YIP-MAN (葉問) was 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 (葉問) did not want to teach. YIP-MAN (葉問) felt that relatives would not show him the respect that he deserved. Even though Wing Chun was developed by a woman, YIP-MAN (葉問) felt that having women in a gung-fu school would be too disruptive. YIP-MAN (葉問) did not want the art to be taught to non-Chinese. He also felt that children would not have the discipline to learn Wing Chun and he felt that poor people had to work too hard to earn a living and would be too tired to practice.
YIP-MAN (葉問)’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 (葉問) 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 (葉問) 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 (葉問). Even though they were members of YIP-MAN (葉問)’s school, he was no longer teaching directly. Only the Si-Hings (older student)(師兄) taught their younger brothers. Some of the most famous students and teachers from YIP-MAN (葉問) are LEUNG-SHEUNG (梁相), LOR-EAL (駱耀), YUEN-GOU-WUI(袁九會), CHU-SHONG-TIN(徐尚田), GU-SUNG (古生), JEEW-WUN (招允),WONG-SHUN-LEUNG (黃淳樑),HO-KAM-MING (何金銘), BRUCE-LEE (李小龍), MOY-YAT (梅逸), YIP-CHUN (葉準) and YIP-CHING (葉正).
HO-KAM-MING (何金銘): was the second generation of YIP-MAN (葉問)’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 (葉問). HO-KAM-MING (何金銘) was held in high regard by YIP-MAN (葉問). When YIP-MAN (葉問) became ill and had to go to the hospital, he asked HO-KAM-MING (何金銘) to take him there. HO-KAM-MING (何金銘) often visited YIP-MAN (葉問) in the hospital and took care of him in both the hospital and at home like his own father. YIP-MAN (葉問) revealed many of the finer points of Wing Chun to HO-KAM-MING (何金銘). YIP-MAN (葉問) also appointed Ho Kam Ming to assume the responsibility of instructing his private students after he was gone. 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 Chun Association. Today, HO-KAM-MING (何金銘) is well known in both Hong Kong and Macao. His full contact Wing Chun team has fought in martial arts tournaments throughout Southeast Asia and has achieved considerable recognition.
It is through HO-KAM-MING (何金銘) that the Wing Chun school of Augustine Fong (方致榮) in Tucson, Arizona traces its line.