Wing Chun in Brief

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What is Wing Chun?

The Creator

Wing Chun was created by a buddhist nun called Ng Mui, a leading figure  in the story in the defence of Shaolin Temple before it was burnt by the Manchu overloard. She was a petite woman of small stature. The martial arts practised at Shaolin Temple was hard and demanding on the physique which was famous for building the strong and powerful warrior monks. Not having the build of the contemporary male monks, she devised a fighting system to suit her small stature to cope with the taller and stronger male practising the Shaolin style of the time.

Not using strength against strength

For a weaker person to confront a stronger person coming at you with menacing power, the smart thing to do is not stand in front of such threatening force to take the full force frontally. As in judo, one can confront a larger person by using the force that is directed at you. Similarly, in Wing Chun, an incoming strong force can be diverted away from ones vulnerable body by deflecting the force away from the body.

Close quarter fighting system

Unlike some of the martial arts Wing Chun favours fighting close up. As soon as the fight starts the Wing Chun practitioner would quickly move towards the opponent and take control of the combat situation centimeters from the opponent's body. As this closeness to the opponent makes it difficult for the eyes to follow the hand and leg movements in a fight, the Wing Chun training enables the practitioner to acquire skills so that visual reliance is not required in combat. Wing Chun is famous for having the ability to fight blind-folded or in a dark room.


In order to devise a fighting system to overcome the odds, Ng Mui, the buddhist nun, had a total rethink on the Shaolin system that she has been practising in the past. She discarded the flamboyant and superfluous moves from her previous learning and developed rational fighting skills to ensure an advantageous outcome. To this end the modern day Wing Chun has been described as simple, direct, economical and scientific. However, life is not always an easy street. With the simplicity attached to the system are also associated subtleties which can make the techniques either succeed or fail. These subtleties are best learned from a good teacher.

How does it work?

The system favours striking. There is no grappling or wrestling like judo or ju-jitsu. It has a high stance to enable the practitioner to dart forward, backward and sideways with agility. The movements are fast and highly manoeuvrable. There are no flamboyant high kicks. The favoured kicks are to below the waist.

Where is it from?

Fut Sarn (Foshan) is the home of Wing Chun. Fut Sarn is about 3 hours coach ride from Hong Kong on the outskirts of Canton(Guangzhou), Kwangtung Province. This makes Wing Chun a southern chinese kung fu style. The oldest traceable ancestor of Wing Chun was Dr. Leung Jarn who practised chinese medicine in Fut Sarn. He existed at the end of the Ching Dynasty (AD1644-1911) at the time of the last emperor in China.  No historical records has been found that documented the activities of the earlier ancestors before Leung Jarn.

Ip Man and Hong Kong Wing Chun

Grandmaster Ip Man was obliged to leave China due to the political upheaval in his country at that time.  He arrived in the British crown colony of Hong Kong in 1950. It was then that the outside world was first exposed to Wing Chun despite the fact that it was created 350 years before. Before long it gained a reputation for being an effective fighting system. Soon after Ip Man's arrival in Hong Kong the city was gripped with the fashion of having martial artists of different styles challenging each other in privately arranged bare knuckle fights. It was at these private fights that Bruce Lee became well known for his rooftop fights where he took on the challenges of other fighters from other styles. With the experience gained by his students in full contact fight tournaments and the challenge fights that took place at that time in Hong Kong and South-East Asia Ip Man revised some of the techniques that he previously taught in his hometown of Fut Sarn. The revised version became the Ip Man's Hong Kong Wing Chun. This Wing Chun system was subsequently spread throughout the world. The rest is history and became the most popular chinese kung fu practised to-day.

Bruce Lee and Wing Chun

Wing Chun was the first chinese martial art that Bruce Lee learned. He started his studies with Ip Man around 1955 until he emigrated to USA at the end of the Fifties. Bruce Lee did not miss a chance to test his skill in any fight challenges. He tested his skills at every level of his learning experience. Most often he came out winning; but he got bashed as well. He would discuss his martial merits as well as his failings with his teacher, Ip Man.  Ip Man would point out improvements to correct Bruce's shortcomings and would take note of Bruce Lee's experience.  Ip Man would incorporate some of those improvements into his teaching of Wing Chun to the other students. When Bruce Lee emigrated to USA at the end of the Fifties he taught Wing Chun at Seattle, Washington where he studied at the university. He called his Wing Chun 'Jun Fun Wing Chun', in which Jun Fun was Bruce's real chinese name (Siu Lung or Little Dragon was his acting name). In order to expand his thinking of martial arts based on his own experience from Wing Chun he developed Jeet Kune Do or the Way of the Intercepting Fist. One can trace many of Bruce's JKD principles and techniques originating from Wing Chun.

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