The Story of Wing Chun

The Story of Wing Chun
by Walter Jakimczuk (Tang Fu Fung)

Depending on who you talk to, there are many versions of the history of Wing Chun. These are some basic facts, which are in all of the versions being told.

  1. The Wing Chun System evolved from Shaolin teachings.
  2. Wing Chun (aka Ving Tsun) is the name of the female martial artist who made this style famous.
  3. Wing Chun has been a popular style of martial arts in Fatshan, Guangdong, China.
  4. Grand Master Ip Man (aka Yip Man) brought the most popular Wing Chun style practiced today to Hong Kong.

All versions of the history evolved around the above known facts and the following is a summary of the numerous interesting stories passed down to me throughout the years. That is why I call it the “Story of Wing Chun”, and not the History of Wing Chun.

About four hundred years ago, in China, there lived a small family in a village governed by the town of Fatshan. Not wealthy, they managed to make a decent living making and selling bean curd. Their family name was Yim.

The daughter, their only child, was named Wing Chun and at the age of seven was sent by her father to learn Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple. He was concerned with the riots and mobs afoot at the time. At the Temple, Wing Chun’s teacher was a nun by the name of Ng Mui.

A beautiful young woman, Wing Chun began to attract a lot of attention from the young men in her village. Among the many admirers was a warlord, whose advances Wing Chun resisted. In a rage, the warlord caused trouble for the Yim family, and provoked a fight with Wing Chun’s father. Not himself trained in Kung Fu, Wing Chun’s father was seriously injured, as was Wing Chun when she interceded.

Shocked that her training had been defeated, Wing Chun realized that it had been her opponent’s strength as well as skill that had defeated her, and she would have to re-think her method of Kung Fu. This problem kept her in a long state of meditation.

One day while out walking, she came across a snake and a crane fighting in the fields. Fascinated, she realized that she had found the answer. That focusing power with maximum speed could defeat an opponent regardless of his power.

Keeping the fight she had witnessed in mind, Wing Chun set about refining and modifying the techniques she had been taught. With confidence rekindled, she then sought out the warlord and soundly defeated him. After this, Wing Chun organized her new method into a series of forms: Siu Nim Tau (aka Sil Lim Tao) (“little idea”), Chum Kiu (“searching the bridge”), Biu Chee (“shooting fingers”) and a series of techniques performed on the wooden dummy (Mook Yan Jong). Henceforth, followers call this system “Wing Chun” in memory of the founder.