Wing Chun (aka Ving Tsun) Tong Fellowship
by Grandmaster Ip Man (aka Yip Man)
The founder of the Wing Chun kung fu system, Miss Yim Wing Chun (aka Ving Tsun), was a native of Canton China. As a young girl, she was intelligent, athletic, upstanding and manly. She was betrothed to Leung Bok Chau, a salt merchant of Fukien. Soon after that, her mother died. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongfully accused of a crime and nearly went to jail. So the family moved far away and finally settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain near the Yunnan-Szechuan border. There, they earned a living by selling bean curd. All this happened during the reign of Emperor K’Angshi (1662-1722).
At the time, kung fu was becoming very strong in siu lam (shaolin) monastery of Mount Sung, Honan. This aroused the fear of the Manchu government, which sent troops to attack the monastery. They were unsuccessful. A man called Chan Man Wai was the first-placed graduate of the civil service examination that year. He was seeking favour with the government and suggested a plan. He plotted with Siu Lam Monk, Ma Ning Yee, and others. They set fire to the monastery while soldiers attacked it from the outside. Siu Lam was burned down and the monks scattered. Buddhist Abbess Ng Mui, Abbott Chi Shin, Abbot Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak and Master Miu Hin escaped and fled their separate ways.
Ng Mui took refuge in white crane temple on Mount Tai Leung. There she came to know Yim Yee and his daughter Yim Wing Chun. She bought bean curds at their store. They became friends.
Wing Chun was a young woman then and her beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him. She and her father were worried. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing Chun. She agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting techniques so that she could protect herself. Then she would be able to solve the problem with the bully and marry Leung Bok Chau her betrothed husband. So Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains and started to learn kung fu. She trained night and day and mastered the techniques. Then she challenged the local bully to a fight and beat him. Ng Mui set off to travel around the country, but before she left she told Wing Chun to strictly honor the kung fu traditions, to develop her kung fu after her marriage and to help the people working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming dynasty. This is how Wing Chun kung fu was handed down by Abbess Ng Mui.
After the marriage, Wing Chun taught her kung fu to her husband Leung Bok Toa and he passed his kung fu techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai passed it on to Wong Wah Po who was a member of an opera troupe onboard a junk, known to the Chinese as the red junk. Wong worked on the red junk with Leung Yee Tai. It also happened that Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Siu Lam, had disguised himself as a cook and was now working on the red junk. Chi Shin taught the six-and-a-half-point long pole techniques to Leung Yee Tai and they shared what they knew about kung fu. Together they correlated and improved their techniques and thus the long pole techniques were incorporated into Wing Chun kung fu.
Leung Yee Tai passed the kung fu on to Leung Jan, a well known herbal doctor in Fatshan. Leung Jan grasped the innermost secrets of Wing Chun and attained the highest level of proficiency. Many kung fu masters came to challenge him but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous. Later he passed his kung fu on to Chan Wah Suen who took me as his student many decades ago. I studied kung fu alongside my kung fu brothers such as Ng Siu Lo, Ng Chung So, Chan Yu Min and Lui Yu Jai. Wing Chun as thus passed down to us and we are eternally grateful to our kung fu ancestors and teachers. We will always remember and appreciate our roots and this shared feeling will always keep our kung fu brothers close together. This is why I am organizing the Wing Chun fellowship and I hope my kung fu brothers will support me in this. This will be very important in the promotion of kung fu.
The preceding text, translated from Chinese, was a rough draft written by the late Grandmaster Ip Man for the purpose of organizing the Wing Chun fellowship once upon a time. However, the Wing Chun fellowship never came into existence. Instead, the Ving Tsun Athletic Association was finally established on 24 August 1967.