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Useful Notes / Wing Chun

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Wing Chun, also romanised as Ving Tsun or Wing Tsun, or even Wing Chun Kuen (Traditional Chinese: 詠春, Simplified Chinese 咏春; pinyin: Yǒng Chūn), is a Chinese martial art and style of kung fu that utilizes both striking and trapping while specializing in close-range combat. It has the distinction of being of the rare martial art styles, if not the only martial art style that was invented by a woman (allegedly).

Wing Chun is characterized by using long, harmonious chains of blocks and Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs in a very straight line with little footwork. It does a great emphasis in a vertical posture in which hand strikes are expected to be deflected and chained into the user's own attacks, and like most Southern kung fu styles, kicks are actually rarely used and always kept in low angles. By this and other reasons, Wing Chun could be considered the conceptual paradigm of Southern kung fu, and is by a wide margin its most trained style. It is a staple of Hong Kong action cinema choreography due to its visual finesse and complexity, which helps picture an user as an elegant and technical yet aggressive fighter, and also because its hand movements transition pretty well to Gun Fu. The art also trains the use of weapons like poles and short swords.

While one of the most popular styles of kung fu around, Wing Chun is perhaps one of the most controversial martial arts in real life. It is frequently accused of being based on impractical training methods and containing an excessive emphasis in unrealistic concepts over real applications, and this extends not only to the art's methodology, but also to its very core principles - turning into a moot point when it's argued that these traits, wrong or not, are precisely what make Wing Chun the way it is. Wing Chun also carries the stigma of being a heavy case of both Complexity Addiction and Crippling Overspecialization even inside the kung fu community, which is to say something given that most traditional kung fu styles are accused of those same flaws. These notes are a guaranteedly polarizing topic of conversation in real life, as the wing chun community is known to be a very traditional, almost evangelically zealous body, which has given out too many flame wars in internet.

The Lineages of Wing Chun

    The Main Lineages 
There are at least eight distinct lineages of Wing Chun.

  • Hong Kong/Ip Man Lineage: The most well known lineage today and the one that almost everyone outside of students of the other lineages thinks of when referring to the art. Ip Man first learned the art under Chan Wah-shun and was Chan's 16th and last student. Due to Chan's age of 57, he was able to train Ip for only three years before suffering a mild stroke in 1909 and retiring to his village, so Ip learned most of his skills and techniques from Chan's second-most senior student, Ng Chung-sok. At the age of 16, with help from his relative, Leung Fut-ting, Ip moved to Hong Kong where a classmate of Ip's named Lai told him that a friend of Lai's father who was an expert in Kung Fu techniques was living with them, and had offered to have a friendly sparring match with Ip. Ip accepted and challenged the man to a duel. He was easily overwhelmed, so Ip requested a rematch and was beaten just as badly, but the man was impressed with Ip's skills and revealed himself to be Leung Bik, the son of Leung Jan, who trained Ip's master, Chan Wah-shun. Ip proceeded to train with Leung Bik, until Leung's death in 1911. Ip returned to Foshan in 1916 when he was 24 and became a police officer there for the Nationalist government. He taught the art to several of his subordinates, friends, and relatives, but did not officially run a martial arts school. During the second Sino-Japanese war, Ip Man sided with Kuomintang during the conflict, though what he did during the war remains a Riddle for the Ages. After the war, Ip Man served for a few years as captain of the Foshan police patrols. At the end of 1949, after the Chinese Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War, as Ip was a member of the Kuomintang, Ip and his family, left Foshan for Hong Kong. After having moved to Hong Kong, Ip began teaching Wing Chun in the early 1950s, to escape poverty and to allegedly feed his opium addiction. In 1967, Ip and some of his students established the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, which helped spread his lineage of Wing Chun to the rest of the world to this day.

  • Guangzhou/Yuen Kay-shan/Sum Nung Lineage: Yuen Kay-shan lived from 1889 to 1956 and was stated to be undefeated in 1000 "death duels" in Foshan during the 1920-1950s. The fifth of five brothers and the son of wealthy firework monopoly owner Yuen Chong Ming, he became known as "Foshan Yuen Lo Jia" (Yuen the Fifth of Foshan). He learned the art under Wong Wah-bo and Sun "Dai Fa Min" ("Painted Face") Kam from the Red Boat Opera Company, an imperial constable named Fok Bo-chuen, and a body guard and bounty hunter named Fung Siu-ching. He was an educated man who had worked as a part-time lawyer and was one of the first Wing Chun masters to document the theories, concepts, philosophies and strategies of the system, additionally being a major contributor to Luk Dim Boon Gwun. Sum Nung was born in Peru in 1926 to a wealthy family, the son of a Chinese father and a Peruvian mother. When he was about 5-7 years of age, he traveled to China with the father to visit his grandmother. During his visit, Japan attacked China to start the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese bombarded their house and his father died. In the aftermath, he was then left alone with his grandmother and with the termination of communication between the outside as well as within and across China due to the war, Sum lost contact with his mother and lived poorly as many did during the war and suffered bullying due to being half-Chinese. When he was about 12 years of age, he was entrusted to work as an apprentice in the Tin Hoi Restaurant in Foshan to support himself and his grandmother, where he met and began learning Wing Chun from Cheung Bo, who was a chef at the restaurant. In 1941, Cheung Bo introduced Sum to Yuen Kay-shan, and after either losing a challenge involving an egg or just losing a fight, Sum became Yuen’s only disciple. Under Yuen Kay-shan's training, Sum developed a great reputation for the quality of his Wing Chun and in 1943 began teaching in Foshan at the Deep Village Temple. In the late 1940s he moved to the city of Guangzhou where he taught Wing Chun to members of several local Workers Unions. In 1947, he taught Wing Chun at Guangzhou Machinery Union. The next year, he opened a herbal clinic on Daisun Street and ran a martial art school. Due to Master Sum’s power in application, Sum gained the nickname Tiet Bei Nung (Tie Bi Neng, Iron Arm Nung). Sum originally named this lineage after Yuen Kay-shan, but students of Sum later named it after Sum himself to refer to the combined lineages of both his teachers. It is said to feature an emphasis on use of butterfly swords and the six and a half point pole. It originally had throwing darts (referred to as "Fei Biu") in the system as Yuen Kay Shan was said to be so good with them that he could kill a bird in a tree, but Sum Num candidly has stated he could never figure out how to use them like Yuen Kay Shan and took it out of his curriculum.

  • Gu Lao Village/Slant-Body/Fung Family/Forty Points Lineage: This lineage comes from Leung Jan when he retired back to his native village of Gu Lao in Heshan County, Guangdong province and is typically referred to by the village name to distinguish it from the what he taught in Foshan (though the Chan Family lineage below). Leung Jan was born Leung Tak-wing in 1826 in Heshan, Guangdong. At the age of 18, he was trained by Leung Yee-tai in Southern Shaolin techniques and later introduced Jan to his friend Wong Wah-bo. His name eventually became well known due to his wins in competitive bouts and he was respected by other martial artists and was called "Mr. Jan of Foshan". He later became a government official and was known as "King of Wing Chun Kuen". After his retirement, he got restless and chose to teach a small group of students, most notably Wong Wah Sum, a variation of Wing Chun he developed that focuses on 40 short drills, which are a loose expression and application of Wing Chun as it functions the same as most mainland Wing Chun schools, only deviating in the way it is taught. Wong Wah Sum would than pass the system down to the Fung Family, who currently are the ones preserving the system.

  • Yik Kam/Cho Gar/Ban Chung/Cao Dean Lineage: The lineage's founding is credited to Yik Kam (some have claimed his real name was So Kai Ming), who was an actor in the King Fa Wui Goon (Precious Jade Flower Union), a group within the Red Boat Opera Company, who played the role of Cheung Tan or Mo-Deng (Ching deng or Male playing “Female” role). The traditions state that he was either the third senior student under Cheung Ng, after Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tai with Sum Kam following in fourth, was student of Leung Gwai Lam, a name that sounds very close to Leung Lan Kwai who is mentioned in Ip Man traditions as having learned from Leung Bok Lao and brought the art to Red Boat, or was actually a second generation practitioner from Red Boat under Leung Yee Tai and the only disciple he had within Red Boat. Yik Kam is said to have began teaching the art following an encounter where he bested Cho Shun and his brothers from Poon Yu Village. Cho Shun (Cao Shun, also known as Dai Ngao Shun or "Cross-eyed Shun") was an actor that joined the Red Boat Opera Company and was from a family that was known to have been practitioners of southern fighting systems, such as Choy Lai Fut, Hung Gar, Mok Gar, and White Crane that they combined into their personal family style known as Cho Gar. After being bested in a contest of skill, he sought to become Yik Kam's student and told his two or in some accounts three brothers about Yik Kam and his unique Kung Fu method when visiting his native Poon Yu Village on a break. The other brothers didn't believe him and wanted to see for themselves, and was met with the same luck Cho Shun did. The Cho Family then invited Yik to move to Poon Yu village when he retired, where he would be cared for, in exchange for instruction in his art. Yik Kam would then teach his art to Cho Shun, his family members and other Poon Yu natives with the most prominent being Shun's son, Cho Duk-sang. Cho Duk-sang (Cao Desheng) at the start of his training wasn't instructed in the family's style, but was said to have taken to the new art a lot faster than the other members of the family before combining it with his family's style and eventually passed the art to other family members, namely his son Cho Dak-on (though for some reason, The Other Wiki states they aren't related at all) and other villagers. Cho Dak-on, who would be better known as Cao Dean, would eventually master the combined art as a young adult and initially taught the art in Hong Kong, but unemployment forced him to move to Malaysia, where he would become a chef specializing in Cantonese cuisine. As word of his martial arts prowess started to perpetuate, with the locals wanting to learn his art. He initially began teaching smaller groups, but as willing students grew in numbers, he would establish a dedicated Wing Chun school, the first in Malay peninsula. Cao Dean died in 1980s, being over 90 years old. Cao Dean's lineage was succeeded by Suen Yin Liu and others and then their own students, though a few of Dean's peers and family members also moved to the Malay peninsula to spread the art with students of their own. It contains many forms, concepts and techniques ranging from striking, joint-locks, throws and weapon techniques. The most obvious difference from other lineages is that rather than practicing the three forms: Siu Nim Tao, Cham Kiu, and Biu Jee separately, it uses one long form made of 108 moves which comprises of the three parts under the Siu Nim Tao name (though it is made up of different Chinese characters). The other major difference is that they don’t practice common Lok Sau (rolling hands) method of Chi Sao, instead they use Huen Sau (circling hands), which looks a little more like Taiji Push Hands. Due to its association with the Red Boat Opera Company, this lineage is usually known as "Ban Chung" or "Opera Style".

  • Pan Nam Lineage: Pan Nam (Peng Nan) initially studied several Southern Shaolin kung fu styles like Hung Gar from 1934 to 1947 until he met Jiu Chow (Zhaoju) - top student of Chan Yiu-men (Chen Rumian), son of Chan Wah-shun (Chen Huashun). When Jiu Chow had to relocate to Zhongshan, Pan followed him to continue training. In 1949 Pan Nam moved back to Foshan and started teaching at the "Union of cake industry workers of Foshan". In either 1956 or 1957, Pan Nam attended Guangdong Provincial martial arts competition, where he was introduced to Lai Hip-chai (Li Yechi), a classmate of Ng Chun-so, Yip Man and Chan Yiu-men, who was the second to last student accepted by Chan Wah-shun (Ip Man being the last) and trained under Lai until Lai's death in 1970. In his later years, Nam did a lot of sorting work on Wing Chun's "small" thoughts, bridge search, indexing and eight-cut knives, and did a lot of work for the establishment of Foshan Wing Chun Research Association. Nam did a lot of excavation and sorting work in order to organize Foshan Wing Chun and published a book on it to spread and develop Wing Chun. In 1986 he established the Foshan Jingwu Sports Association, which aimed to unify various schools of Wing Chun. He continued teaching Wing Chun in Foshan until his death in December 1995. Grandmaster Eddie Chong was Nam's final student, and he brought Nam's system to the United States in the early 1990s, where Chong is based in Sacramento, California. Chong has been vital in helping preserve the Pan Nam style of Wing Chun, which Chong has taught for many decades. Pan Nam's style integrated elements of Hong Quan, and became known as “Wing Chun Hand, Hong Quan Jin”. It emphasizes more realistic, chaotic, and less refined aspects of Wing Chun and features self-defense techniques based on ripping, tearing and use of fingers. Additionally it has a set named "Five Petal Plum Flower" a five part exercise set for tendon strength and also incorporates a partner practice known as Waist Pressing, a Chi Sao Sticky Hands/Push Hands-like exercise where the partners try to off balance one another. It is also the associated with the Pan Nam Wing Chun Tournament, with the first one organized in 2018 in Foshan.

  • Pao Fa Lien Lineage: Pao Fa Lien was the nickname of Lao Dat-sang and was the adopted son of Manchurian brothers Tse Gwok-leung and Tse Gwok-cheung, both of whom learned the art under a Shaolin monk they kept safe from the Qing Empire's persecution of Shaolin. They began teaching it to him when he was nine and after a decade of training, he traveled to Foshan and worked as a treasurer at an establishment. He never openly taught martial arts, but many people sought to be his disciples after learning of his skills. This lineage split into two separate branches due to the differences in history (and curriculum) as claimed by Chu Chong and the brothers Gwok Gai and Gwok So.

  • Hung Fa Yi/Hung Suen/Hung Gu Biu Lineage: Hung Gu-biu (Chan Biu, born Chu Tien Jow) was said to be the lone survivor of the massacre of his family at the hands of the Qing government forces and was adopted by a distant relative family and later was entrusted with the art by his adopted father Chan Bo Jung, who trained in the art under his father Chan Jin Ling, who trained under Cheung Ng. The system was kept within the Chan family and their other relatives, who would all take a ceremonial oath of secrecy to preserve and protect the style, until Garrett Gee (born Chu King Hung), the eighth generation successor of the style, who would finally open it up to be taught to the public. Garrett Gee comes from a very old and privileged Chinese family of scholars and martial artists. He is a 33rd generation descendant of the famous Chinese philosopher Chu Hsi. His grandfather Chu Jun-Bak was a distinguished military officer alongside Chiang Kai-Shek at the Wong Po military academy and later police commissioner and deputy mayor of the city of Foshan. His father Peter Kim Ho Chu was a kung fu grandmaster and is responsible for introducing many (about 40+) styles of kung fu to the USA upon emigrating there in 1975. Some of which were considered lost to the martial arts community; Fu style Tai Chi, Sun Style Tai Chi, Leung Yi Kuen, Sei Cheung Kuen, Lightning Palm Kuen and Dragon Style Pakua, to name a few. As a young man in China, Garrett Gee was already an accomplished martial artist and expert swordsman in several Wudong and Shaolin styles under his father. Whilst practicing in a park he came to the attention of Dr. Wang Ming, the 7th generation Hung Fa Yi Grandmaster. After some observation Dr. Wang introduced himself and after discussing and exchanging ideas on kung fu, he became Gee’s Sifu and taught him the art. In the mid-2000s Gee made the decision to open the Hung Fa Yi branch of Wing Chun to the public at Master Richard Loewenhagen’s school in Arizona, before establishing his own school, the Hung Fa Kwoon of Arizona. It should be noted however that within Wing Chun, the term Hung Suen has become a slang for various branches of Wing Chun due to it meaning "Red Boat", usually used to denote older methodology of Wing Chun, usually for promoting purposes. It has been used to denote everything from Hung Fa Yi, Pan Nam, versions of Gu Lao and other Wing Chun systems, which is why practitioners under Grandmaster Gee usually call their style the Hung Fa Yi or Hung Gu Biu lineage. It is said that the style aims to educate its students more on the art's underlying concepts, principles and theories over individual techniques.

  • Jee Shim/Dai Duk Lan Weng Chun Lineage: This lineage is actually a combination of three lineages, with all three of them claiming their lineages originated from the teachings of Jee Shim (Chi Sim, Chi Seen, Chi Sin Sim Si, Ji Sin Sim Si, Zhi Shan, Zhì Shàn Chán Shī), which are listed below. It came about when Chu Chung-man moved to Hong Kong in 1953, he met Tang Yik and Wai Yan, fellow Weng Chun grandmasters of their own lineages. Wai Yan was the managing director of a poultry wholesaler in Kowloon and temporarily converted the department store into a training hall in which the grandmasters met for a long time to exchange ideas, naming it the Dai Duk Lan/Dai Tak Lan (which is also known as the Weng Chun Research Academy). The art in its present form is being preserved by many, mainly by Andreas Hoffman at present, the only Western (German) student of Wai Yan. It contains techniques that greatly deviate from contemporary Wing Chun, with the differences being pronounced enough that this lineage is usually considered its own martial art and spelt as Weng Chun, with some saying it bears more similarity to Hung Gar than Wing Chun.

    Other notable lineages, branches and variants 

  • Chan Family Lineage

  • Ng Chung Sow Lineage

  • Foshan Ip Man Lineage: This is the lineage that comes from of Ip Man's students from when he was still in Foshan. Out of the students from his Foshan period of teaching, only Lun Gai and Gwok Fu are still alive passing on the system. It is said that the Wing Chun that Ip taught in Foshan, is very similar to other mainland lineages of Wing Chun and that his students from Hong Kong were taught a modified and modernized version of the art, by streamlining and minimizing the system.

  • Cheng Kwong Lineage

  • Kok Bo Kuen/Sheh-Ying/Snake-Pattern Lineage

  • Wong Jing Family Lineage

  • Mai Gai Wong Lineage

  • Cheung Bo Lineage

  • Sum Jee Lineage

  • Pan Chao Lineage

  • Kwok Wah Ping Lineage

  • Leung Dai Chiu Lineage

  • Ngo Lo Kay Lineage

  • Tom Wong Lineage

  • Kwok Jen Fen Lineage

  • Yuen Chai Wan/Nguyen Te Cong/Vietnamese Lineage

  • Yiu Choi/Yiu Kai Lineage

  • Yip Kin/Malaysian Lineage

  • Por Suk/Hay Pun/Singapore Lineage

  • Y. Wu/Nanyang Lineage: Y. Wu was a student of Suen Yin Liu from the Yik Kam/Cho Gar/Ban Chung/Cao Dean lineage and is mainly based in Singapore and Sydney, Australia.

  • Chu Chong/Northern Pao Fa Lien Lineage: The more well known branch of the Pao Fa Lien lineage. When Pao Fa Lien was over 70 years of age, he took Chu Chong as his disciple. Later, Chu Chong along with family moved to Sam Shui Po in Hong Kong where they opened an osteopathy clinic. Although he followed the way of Wing Chun, which is “only to pass down but don’t teach the art”, still he accepted many disciples, with the most prominent being Chu Wing-Jee and Mok Pui-On as their apprentices are the one that currently head the style. It is unique for its emphasis on weapon-based combat and includes a kwan-dao form, that is not practised in other major lineages. It also contains 28 forms; 10 forms are dedicated for bare-handed fighting, with the rest meant for weapon-based fighting and/or wooden dummy practice. There is an alternate account that says the more unique aspects of the system were developed by someone called Lee Wing, who combined Wing Chun with Hung Ga and Taijiquan and eventually passed it on to Chu Chong.

  • Gwok Family/Southern Pao Fa Lien Lineage: The other branch of the Pao Fa Lien lineage. Gwok Gai and his brother Gwok So learned first from Chan Chu Hung, a Mok Gar and Wing Chun master, for 7 years, after that they learned from Leung Kai Ming, an osteopathic doctor and another Wing Chun master and then finally became disciples of Pao Fa Lien, who was at the age of around 60 years old at the time. Unlike the northern branch, it is similar to other contemporary lineages in its history of the art and curriculum, which is probably why it is not as well known.

  • Fujian Weng Chun Lineage

  • Wudang Weng Chun Lineage

  • Tam Family Weng Chun Lineage

  • Tung Family Weng Chun Lineage

  • Tang Family Weng Chun Lineage

  • Dong Family/Chu Family Weng Chun Lineage: The most well-documented and historically important grandmaster of this lineage is identified as Chu Chung-man. He was born in Foshan at the beginning of the 20th century and studied with teachers of various Kung Fu styles for many years and worked as a practicing doctor in Macau during the World War Two, and from 1953 as a doctor in a hospital in Hong Kong. He is considered a fifth generation student of the lineage after the alleged founder Jee Shim and was said to have trained under Dong Jik, know as “Dong the Florest” who was said to be a student of Fung Siu-ching alongside his brother Dong On. Dong Jik would teach Chu Chung-man the art and he in turn helped spread the art and pass it down to his own family members. It is one of the lineages that make up the style taught at the Dai Duk Lan.

  • Lo Family Weng Chun Lineage

  • Law Family/Sae Hok/Snake-Crane Lineage

  • Hung Suen - Hay Ban Lineage

  • Gu Lao - Pien San/Side Body Lienage

  • Allan Lee Lineage

  • Arthur Chan Lineage

  • Chan Chee Man Lineage

  • Chan Wai Ling Lineage

  • Chris Chan Lineage

  • George Cheung Lineage

  • David Cheung Lineage

  • Gregory Choi Lineage

  • Chu Shong Tin Lineage

  • Derek Fung Lineage

  • George Yau Lineage

  • Ho Kam Ming Lineage

  • Ip Ching Lineage

  • Ip Chun Lineage

  • Jiu Wan Lineage

  • Victor Kan/Wah Chit Lineage

  • Kevin Chan Lineage

  • Koo Sang Lineage

  • Law Joi Tat Lineage

  • Lee Shing Lineage

  • Leung Sheung Lineage

  • Leung Ting/Wing Tsun Lineage

  • Liu Yiu Choi/See Tiong Foo Lineage

  • Lo Man Kam Lineage

  • Lok Yiu Lineage

  • Mak Po Shing Lineage

  • Moy Yat Lineage

  • Ng Chun Lineage

  • Ray Pi Lu Lineage

  • Sam Lau Lineage

  • Siu Yuk Men Lineage

  • So Duk Sun Lineage

  • Stanley Au Lineage

  • Stanley Chan Lineage

  • Tam Lai Lineage

  • Wong Chok Lineage

  • Wong Cze Wing Lineage

  • Wong Long Ching Lineage

  • Wong Shun Leung Lineage

  • Chow Tze Chuen/International Lineage

  • Wang Kiu/Netherlands Lineage

  • Wan Kam Leung/Practical Lineage

  • William Cheung/Traditional Lineage

  • Cheung Kwok Chow/Integrative Lineage

  • Duncan Leung/Applied Lineage

  • Hawkins Cheung Lineage

  • Robert Chu/Chu Sau Lei Lineage

  • Leung Kwok-Keung/Hei Ban Lineage

  • Henry Mui/Turning Style Lineage

  • Serjio Iadarola/Wing Tjun Lineage

  • Fut Sao/Buddha Hands Lineage: This lineage is said to have come from a very old system of martial and healing arts called Gu Yee Kuen ("Ancient Chivarous Fist") which was thought to be the core or root system, on which other arts also came about and was an inner gate system that was initially taught only to inner circle, high level priests. It is believed to pre-date Shaolin as a subset of an original Taoist internal system, that was kept within it's own sect, but was lost and forgotten, until it was "rediscovered" by the Venerable Hsu Yun (also known as “Gao Ghi Fut Sao”, which translates into "Nine Finger Buddha Hand"), a Buddhist monk. Hsu passed down the art to only a few disciples, with the most well known one being Grandmaster Henry (Chi Man) Leung, who spent 10 years, from age 9 -19 under his tutelage. Henry Leung was born in a small village in Canton, but had constant health problems due to being born two months premature. Henry's father was a good friend of Hsu Yun and brought Henry to him in order to strengthen his health and spirit, who eventually became his successor. Leung took the art the U.S in 1961, where he first taught in the basement of his restaurant in New York. Henry Leung renamed the system Fut Sao or Buddha Hand Wing Chun in honor of his sifu. It contains aggressive, sticking, and springing power, as well as softer, more internal components, usually associated with systems such as Tai Chi, Hsing I or Ba Gua. The Gu Yee Kuen system, was originally comprised of a single long and complex form, but due to its complexity and difficulty, the form was simplified into 4 sections, to make it easier to learn. It contains empty-hand forms that are said to be similar to other Wing Chun lineages, while the ideas and concepts behind them are totally different. Its Siu Lien Tao form, looks 60-70% similar to other Wing Chun first forms, while the Chum Kiu and Biu Jee forms are completely different than other Wing Chun systems. It emphasizes Chi Sao a lot more than other lineages, and includes its own Nei and Hei Gung set, with the purpose of the set to enhance chi circulation, as well as to develop light skills. It also has a unique one called Siu Bot Gua/Siu Baat Gua (eight direction footwork), which utilizes body evasion, stealth movements, and circular hand & foot techniques and does not exist in other lineages. Some branches contain unique two-person training exercises believed come from the possible integration of Southern Praying Mantis 2 man-sets, while others do not practice or have two man forms or sets. The Wooden Dummy, Butterfly Swords and Pole forms, look similar, but once again the applications are completely different. In addition to the swords and pole forms it also teaches how to use "vagabond weapons" consisting of fans, flutes, double daggers, dai chui (meteor hammer), rope darts, chi sau rings (iron rings), chop sticks, Chinese throwing coins, and snake entanglement rope.

  • Ga Pan/Filipino Lineage: A very obscure lineage, Ga Pan was said to be a student of Leung Bik, who later ended up living in the Philippines and is said to have only taught the art to his family members. Today it lives on in two students; May Mau, an outsider and ethnic Chinese but Filipino by birth woman who learned it under Ga Zhi Rho Lin, one of Ga Pan's male descendants and Crissy Wong, a great-granddaughter of Ga Pan.

  • Mai Tiao Rong Lineage: A very obscure lineage, with nobody alive knowing exactly where this lineage came from. All that is known is that Mai Tiao Rong came to Arizona from China in the early 1900's. He was a very private man and taught only 3 people over the years, his son whose name is not known, Peter Maxwell and Troy Mactavish, the latter being the only one left to carry on the lineage.

  • Kuen Dao Kung Fu: A system developed by Randy Tay. It integrates Yik Kam/Cho Gar/Ban Chung/Cao Dean lineage Wing Chun, with other martial arts, creating his own unique approach.

  • Some also consider Bruce Lee's Jun Fan Gung Fu as a heavily modified variant of wing chun before he went on to create Jeet Kune Do, while others think of it as a form of Kickboxing.

Legends of Wing Chun's origin

While Wing Chun has been one of the more known martial arts in the world, its different lineages all tell different, yet peculiar 'origin stories', which is kinda on par with other traditional kung fu styles. The truth about the matter is generally subjective; some believe that all the origin stories is just made-up fiction, and some believe that some might be real.

  • The most well known one comes from Ip Man and even the grandmaster himself may have a hand in promoting and propagating his version of the myth to make his style more known to the public. According to Ip Man, the origin of Wing Chun started with a female Shaolin monk named Ng Mui Sa Tai (circa AD 1703, also known as Wumei Shitai or “Five Plums Nun”), one of the Five Elders of Shaolin. After defeating her own Sifu in front of Emperor Kangxi, said Sifu turned traitor and slandered the temple where Ng Mui resided. As a result, the temple was demolished by the Manchu forces for 'harboring revolutionaries'. However, Ng Mui survived and escaped. During her whole studying period, Ng Mui developed her own style of kung-fu after witnessing a fight between a crane and a snake. But she never came up with the name of said kung-fu. Escaping to her own temple in the Dailang Mountains, Ng Mui resumed her life as a solitary monk. She often bought tofu from the locals, but in particular, her favorite tofu was from the Yim family. The family's daughter was a bright girl named Yim Wing Chun, who was in some sort of distress. A group of bandits and bullies were harassing her and trying to force her into a marriage. Understanding her plight, Ng Mui decided to teach her new kung-fu style to Yim Wing Chun so she could defend herself from unwanted advances. Yim Wing Chun mastered the style well, and the kung fu worked well without making her develop more bulk and physical strength. With said kung fu, Yim Wing Chun retained her beauty and grace and kicked the asses of the bandits and bullies so they could never harass her family again. Eventually, Yim Wing Chun married her childhood sweetheart, Leung Bok-chao (who was either a performer for the Red Boat Opera Company or a scholar and herbalist depending on who tells it), and then taught him the kung-fu she learned from Ng Mui. The style also worked well for men. And it was at that time that they came up with the name for Ng Mui's kung-fu: Wing Chun, named after Yim Wing Chun herself. After she passed away, Leung Bok-chao continued to pass down the style through generations until it reached Ip Man, and the rest is history. The Gu Lao Village/Slant-Body/Fung Family/Forty Points lineage also believes this.

  • Some practitioners have stated that the art descends directly from Yongchun Bai He Quan (also known as Fujian White Crane Boxing or Yongchun White Crane Boxing) and that the art's name comes from the Cantonese spelling and pronunciation of Yongchun, a county in the Fujian province. Even Ip Chun would add onto his father's version of the myth by saying that Ng Mui was an expert in the art, even though Ip Man never mentioned that, he just specified that Ng Mui would have taken refuge in the "Temple of the White Crane" in the Dailang Mountains. The Guangzhou/Yuen Kay-shan/Sum Nung, Yik Kam/Cho Gar/Ban Chung/Cao Dean, and the Sae Hok lineages tell a version where Yim Yee, the father of Yim Wing Chun, taught her and Leung Bok-chao instead, as he was an expert in the art thanks to he training under Miu Shin, a lay-monk and one of the other Five Elders of Shaolin, who trained with Ng Mui and mixed the White Crane teachings he learned under her with an unknown system that is usually referred to as either a form of internal Snake Boxing or an art called "Sup Yee Jong" which he is said to have learned from the temple in the Emei Mountains. Some accounts even specify that Ng Mui and Fang Qi Niang, the alleged founder of Yongchun Bai He Quan, are in fact the same person, claiming that when she was old, Fang Qi Niang would have taken the name Ng Mui when she became a nun and then took refuge in Guangdong and either further developed her art or taught it to Miu Shin, either way it eventually turned into the art that was taught to Yim Wing Chun and Leung Bok-chao. In some rare accounts, Miu Shin’s daughter, Miu Tsui Fa was said to have been the one who integrated the Yee Jee Dao methods into the Wing Chun System and was also spread by his grandson Fong Sai-Yuk.

  • Another legend tells that Ng Mui came to Shaolin from the Taoist temples in Hubei’s Wudang Mountains, bringing with her knowledge of the internal styles and was even a contemporary of Bak Mei/Pai Mei (yes that Pai Mei), another of the Five Elders of Shaolin before they made their way to the Shaolin temple.

  • Some practitioners state that it originated solely from the Red Boat Opera Company, a group of traveling Cantonese opera singers who toured China in the late 1800s and early 1900s, as it has been mentioned within the oldest verified historical records on the art.

  • The Chu Chong branch of the Pao Fa Lien lineage states that it originates from a unspecified Shaolin Temple. Following the destruction of the temple at the hands of the Qing Empire, the survivors swore to use their knowledge to destroy them. According to this lineage, the name Wing Chun is a shortened form of the revolutionary motto "Wing yun chi jee; Mo mong Hon Juk; Dai dei wu chun." A secret code that allowed the anti-Qing revolutionaries to recognize each other. Eventually, the codeword was shortened to Wing Chun. Because of the secrecy of the anti-Qing rebellious activities, the exact details of Wing Chun's development were lost. At the turn of the 19th century, a monk identified as Dai Dong-fong emerged to support the anti-Qing rebellion. His martial skills earned the terror of Manchurian armies and as a result, the Qing authorities wished to apprehend Dai Dong-fong. He would settle in Qingyuan, Guangdong where he encountered the Tse brothers - Tse Gwok-leung and Tse Gwok-cheung- who were Mandarins reluctantly fighting for the Qing government and took Dai Dong-fong to safety. In return for their kindness and seeing their good character, Dai Dong-fong taught the brothers his martial art. Dai Dong-fong would eventually leave to travel to northern China. Subsequently, the Tse brothers adopted an infant by the name of Lao Dat-sang. As a young man, Lao Dat-sang was an earnest woodworker, who earned various nicknames related to his line of work - eventually earning the famous nickname Pao Fa Lien or "Wood Planer Lien". The Gwok Family branch however subscribes to the Ng Mui story instead.

  • The Hung Fa Yi/Hung Suen/Hung Gu Biu lineage states it had already been developed from generations of martial arts knowledge within Shaolin before the destruction of the Shaolin temple. To prevent Wing Chun from being misused, it was passed down to only a few disciples and was not documented. During the Manchurian massacres, two Siu Lam monks managed to flee; Yat Chum Dai-chi and his pupil, Cheung Ng. Before his death, Yat Chum Dai-si passed his full knowledge on Cheung Ng. Cheung Ng joined Red Boat Opera Company in order to keep his identity as a Siu Lam monk hidden, and to evade the Manchurian government. Within Red Boat Opera, Cheung Ng would become known as Tan Sao-ng, because of his martial arts mastery. Cheung Ng would come in contact with Hung Gu-biu, who was a secret society leader and successfully recruited Cheung Ng and became his student. To protect the true identity of Cheung Ng, they made up the Ng Mui legend. According to this lineage, the "Yim Wing Chun" name was chosen for specific reasons, as Yim could be understood as word for "Secret" or "Protected", and "Wing Chun" referring to Siu Lam Wing Chun Tong (the Always Spring Hall). With "Yim Wing Chun" being a secret code for "the secret art of Siu Lam Wing Chun Tong".

  • The Jee Shim/Dai Duk Lan Weng Chun lineage states that it descends from Jee Shim, an abbot of the Shaolin Temple, a survivor of its destruction by the Qing Dynasty and another one of Five Elders of Shaolin. Here, Jee Shim escaped with other Siu Lam Temple monks and would eventually settle as a cook aboard the Red Boat Opera Company and taught his art to the performers of the company, specifically Wong Wah-bo and Sun Kam before building the second southern temple at Jiulian Shan (Nine Lotus Mountain), then later getting killed by Bak Mei in a duel (though some will say the Jee Shim won the duel instead) during the attack on the temple as Bak Mei and Fung Dou Dak joined forces with the Qing army. While in Foshan looking for new costumes, Sun Kam would get into an altercation with Fung Siu-ching, who was then an apprentice of a local tailor. After defeating Fung, the latter would become Sun Kam's apprentice and learn the art. Subsequently, Fung Siu-ching would become a bounty hunter and would teach the art he learned under Kam to various students. The Fujian lineage also says it comes from Jee Shim, but their version of the story says that it was spread to Guangdong by Fong Sai-yuk and Hung Hei-gun, students of Jee Shim before the second temple's destruction.

  • The Pan Nam lineage states that it was a yet unnamed martial art that conceived by an anti-Qing organisation called Tiandihui (also known as "The Heaven and Earth Society" or "Hongmen"), with it being combination of various Shaolin martial arts, such as Taijiquan, Ying Jow Pai, Tong Long Quan, gum gang jeung, Chin Na and other martial arts. A Siu Lam nun known as Yat Chum Um-jee would establish a convent in Hengshan, where she taught the nameless style to select students. Of these students was a man nicknamed "Tan Sao-ng" who handled costumes of Hunanese Kwan Si Opera company. Subsequently, he fled Hunan to Foshan, joined the Red Boat Opera Company and taught the art to its members. In this lineage, the "Wing" in Wing Chun comes from Chan Wing-wah, one of the founders of Tiandihui, and it is said that Tiandihui made up the Ng Mui legend as a fictional cover for either Chan Wing-wah himself or a person nicknamed “White Crane Taoist”, who was a revolutionary from the 1670′s.

  • Some try to combine several origins of the art into a singular narrative; by saying it was based on the knowledge passed by all of the Five Elders of Shaolin, who were training Ming loyalists and anti-Qing revolutionaries at the Sil Lum Temple in order to fight against and overthrow the Qing Empire before the temple's destruction, with Ng Mui's, Miu Shin's and Jee Shim's stories all happening and then it was finally officially systemised within Red Boat.

  • Some will just declare that All Myths Are True and call it a day.

Common Wing Chun forms/movesets (different branches have different variations):

Empty Hand Training Forms:

  • Siu Nim Tau/Siu Lim Tao (小念頭"Little idea"): Boring, but Practical condensed into a training from, this is the first and most important form of Wing Chun. The form teaches the center line concept, balance, proper body structure, and hand movements. Very boring and slow to train, and takes hundreds of daily repetitions before the average practitioner begins to appreciate the value of the form.

  • Cham Kiu/Chum Kiu (尋橋"Seeking the bridge"): Once the practitioner is adept with the basic structure of the form, Chum Kiu introduces the practitioner how to move around while maintaining the form and chasing the opponent's form. Chum Kiu allows the practitioner move into the optimum position where he or she can engage the opponent within the Wing Chun framework.

  • Biu Ji/Bil Ji (標指"Thrusting fingers"): The third form, Biu Ji, is composed of extreme short-range and extreme long-range techniques, and emergency/recovery techniques to counterattack when the structure and/or centerline have been seriously compromised by the opponent. A common Wing Chun saying is "Biu Ji does not go out the door." Some schools interpret this as keeping the form secret and teaching only to most loyal students so the master would not be possibly countered in the case of some students turning against their master, while others interpret is as meaning it should not be used unless absolutely necessary, because over reliance on the emergency techniques will hinder the development of the basic forms and structures.

  • Muk Yan Jong (木人樁"Wooden Dummy"): The Muk Yan Jong form is performed against a wooden dummy, a thick wooden post with three arms and a leg mounted on a slightly springy frame representing a stationary opponent. The wooden dummy form teaches the practitioner proper angles, hand and leg positions, proper body structure, footwork, and developing short range explosive power.

Weapon Forms:

  • Luk Dim Boon Gwun (Six and a half point pole): A tapered wooden pole ranging from anywhere between 8 to 13 feet in length. Also referred to as "Dragon Pole" by some branches. The weapon style teaches further body conditioning, and extends (pun intended) the empty hand concepts into a long range weapon form.

  • Baat Jaam Do (Eight Chopping/Slashing Knives, more commonly Butterfly Swords): An extension of empty-handed combat in Wing Chun, the butterfly sword form is notable because its principles are the basis for all other weaponry. In theory, any object that can be held in the hands of a practitioner will follow the same basic principles of movement as the butterfly swords.

Other Drills:

  • Chi Sao (黐手"Sticky hands"): A form of sparring exercise training designed to teach reflex, sensitivity, and maintaining a forward pressure against the opponent. It would be appropriate to designate chi sao as a hand-to-hand chess, because traditional chess also emphasizes the importance of controlling the central squares and maintain a continuous offensive pressure against the opponent. Chi sao requires the practitioner to (1) dissipate the opponent's forward pressure, (2) maintain their own forward pressure and center line, and (3) find and exploit the opponent's openings.

    • Dan Chi Sao (单黐手"Single sticking hands"): Using one hand each, the two practitioners alternate between striking and defending through some basic hand techniques. Practitioners try not to get into a predictable rhythm and will both vary the speed of the drill randomly to ensure that they are maintaining an acute awareness of their partners movement.

    • Seung Chi Sao (双黐手"Double sticking hands"): Movement is in a fixed and predictable sequence. Both arms are in contact as the two practitioners alternate between basic defensive positions, ensuring that the centreline is defended at all times.

    • Lye Bye Muk Chi Sao (綁眼黐手"Blindfolded sticking hands"): The most advanced form of Chi Sao, adding the extra element of blindfolds to enhance the development of using contact to gauge the position and defences of the other practitioner.

  • Lap Sao (擸手"Taking hands"): A form of a more repetitive sparring drill designed to further teach reflex and maintaining structure when shifting stances.

  • Poon Sao or Luk Sao (盤手"Rooting hands"): A variant of the Chi Sao practice that turns it into a drill and focus only on maintaining one's own forward pressure and dissipating the opponent's forward pressure, with both practitioners utilizing most of their core strength compared to then when they are practicing Chi Sao. This practice is for strength and structure conditioning. Imagine the arms of both practitioners as tree roots extending towards one another in competition for more soil.

  • Chi Gerk (黐脚"Sticky legs"): Another variant of the Chi Sao practice, using the legs instead of the arms to develop sensitivity in the legs for sweeps, deflections, redirections and counter kicks. Sometimes used in combination with Chi Sao to train both arms and legs simultaneously.

Wing Chun Kuen Kuit

Translated as "Martial Sayings", "Fist Poetry" or "Fighting Songs", they are concise, rhythmic verses which present the methods and philosophies of the art and also capture, in poetic terms, the finer attributes of Wing Chun. It contains things like rules of conduct, maxims of the art, training proverbs, sayings for all training forms, etc. Different lineages have different sayings, but many are recognized and shared.

    Wing Chun Jo Fen ("The Ancestral Rules of Wing Chun", also known as "Wing Chun's Traditional Rules of Conduct") 

Ip Man's 9 rules of conduct that he established from the start of his career as a Wing Chun teacher in Hong Kong in the 1950s. Said to have been passed down to him and developed by his predecessors in the art.

1) Sau Gei Leut Seui Seung Mou Dak: "Remain disciplined - Conduct yourself ethically as a martial artist."

2) Ming Lai Yi Oi Gwok Juen Chan: "Practice courtesy and righteousness - Serve the society and respect your elders."

3) Oi Tung Hok Tuen Git Lok Kwan: "Love your fellow students - Be united and avoid conflicts."

4) Jit Sik Yuk Bou Sau Jing San: "Limit your desires and pursuit of bodily pleasures - Preserve the proper spirit."

5) Kan Lin Jaap Gei Bat Lei San: "Train diligently - Maintain your skills."

6) Hok Yeung Hei Gaai Lam Dau Jaang: "Learn to develop spiritual tranquility - Abstain from arguments and fights."

7) Seung Chyu Sai Taai Dok Wan Man: "Participate in society - Be moderate and gentle in your manners."

8) Fu Yeuk Siu Yi Mou Fu Yan: "Help the weak and young - Use martial skills for the good of humanity."

9) Gai Sin Seui Gan Chi Jo Fen: "Pass on the tradition – Preserve the ancestral rules."

    Maxims of Wing Chun 

  • Loy Lau Hoi Sung, Lut Sau Jik Chung: "Retain what's coming in, send off what's retreating, rush in upon loss of hand contact."

  • Do not be lax when your opponent is not advancing.

  • Once your opponent moves, his center of gravity changes.

  • Make the first move to have control. Attack according to timing.

  • Timing is achieved through practice.

  • A strong attitude and posture gives an advantage over your opponent.

  • Being alert and adapting to the situation allows maximum results for minimum effort.

  • The body follows the movement of the hands. The waist and the stance move together.

  • Complement the hands with posture to make good use of the centerline.

  • The eyes and the mind travel together, paying attention to leading edge of attack.

  • Charge into the opponent. Execute three moves together.

  • Strike any presented posture if it is there. Otherwise strike where you see motion. Beware of sneak attacks, leakage attacks and invisible centerline attacks.

  • Soft and relaxed strength will put your opponent in jeopardy.

  • Coordinate the hands and feet. Movement is together.

  • Do not take risks and you will always connect to the target.

  • Have confidence and your calmness will dominate the situation.

  • Occupy the inner gate to strike deep into the defense.

  • To win in an instant is a superior achievement.

  • The Yin Yang principle should be thoroughly understood.

  • The theory of Wing Chun has no limit in it applications.

  • Be humble to request your teacher for guidance.

  • Understand the principles for your training.

  • Upon achieving the highest level of proficiency, the application of techniques will vary according to the opponent.

    Wing Chun Training Proverbs 

  • There are not many sets of training exercises in Wing Chun. They are easy to learn but to master them requires determination.

  • Learning the usual ways will allow later variations.

  • Short arm bridges and fast steps requires practicing the stance first.

  • Sil Lim Tau mainly trains internal power.

  • Lan Sau in Chum Kiu is a forceful technique.

  • Bui Jee contains life saving emergency techniques.

  • Muk Yan Jong develops use of power.

  • Fancy techniques should not be used in sticky hand practice.

  • Sticky leg practice is inseparable from the single leg stance.

  • The steps follow turning of the body like a cat.

  • The posture complements the hands to eject the opponent.

  • Luk Dim Boon Gwun does not make more than one sound.

  • Baat Jaam Do techniques have no match.

  • The thrusting and fast attacks are well suited for closing in.

  • Eyes beaming with courage can neutralize the situation.

  • Unknown techniques are not suitable for training practice.

  • Those who completely master the system are among the very few.

    Seventeen Keys to Wing Chun 

1) Be ferocious when clashing.

2) Be fast with your fist.

3) Be forceful when applying power.

4) Be accurate with timing.

5) Be continuous when applying Fan Sau.

6) Do not use all your strength.

7) Protect your own posture.

8) Be alert with your eyes.

9) Unite your waist and stance.

10) Coordinate your hands and feet.

11) Movements must be agile.

12) Comprehend the principles of Yin and Yang.

13) Remain calm.

14) Be steady with your breathing and strength.

15) Sink your inner Ch’i.

16) Be commanding with your fighting demeanour.

17) Be quick to end the fight.

    Sayings on Forms and Stances 
Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma:

  • Pull in the chest, push out the upper back, and bring in the tail bone.

  • Fill the Tan Tien with Ch’i and distribute the strength to all parts of the body.

  • Point the knees and toes inward.

  • Form a pyramid with the center of gravity in the center.

  • Fists are placed by the side of the ribs but not touching the body.

  • Sink the elbows, the shoulders, and the waist.

  • Hold the head and neck straight and keep the spirit alert.

  • Eyes are level, looking straight ahead, and watching all directions.

  • The mind is free of distractions and the mood is bright.

  • There is no fear when facing the opponent.

  • Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma is the main stance.

  • Develop a good foundation for advanced techniques.

Sil Lim Tau:

  • Sil Lim Tau comes first; do not force progress in training.

  • A weak body must start with strength improvement.

  • Do not keep any bad habit.

  • Yee Jee Kim Yeung Ma – train the Ch’i by controlling the Tan Tien.

  • To maintain good balance of strength, grip the ground with the toes.

  • To release Ch’i from the Tan Tien, will enable proper release of power.

  • Sink the elbow and drop the shoulders; guarding the centerline to protect both flanks.

  • There are one hundred and eight moves, all practical and real; thousands of variations can be used, aiming for practical use and not beauty.

  • Internally develop the Ch’i; externally train the tendons, bones and muscles.

  • Taun Sau, Bong Sau, Fok Sau, Wu Sau, and Huen Sau; their wonder grows with practice.

  • Each movement must be clear and crisp. Timing must be observed.

  • Practice once a day, more will cause no harm.

Chum Kiu:

  • Chum Kiu trains the stance and the waist; the arm bridge is short and the step is narrow.

  • Eyes are trained to be alert; the chi flows in a perpetual motion.

  • Strive to remain calm in the midst of motion; loosen up the muscles and relax the mind.

  • Turning the stance with a circular movement, will allow superior generation of power.

  • When the opponent's arm bridge enters my arm bridge, use the escaping hand to turn around the situation.

  • Pass by the opponent's incoming arm bridge from above, without stopping when the countering move has started.

  • Lon Sau and Jip Sau put an opponent in danger.

  • Do not collide with a strong opponent; with a weak opponent use a direct frontal assault.

  • A quick fight should be ended quickly; no delay can be allowed.

  • Use the three joints of the arm to prevent entry by the opponent's bridge; jam the opponent's bridge to restrict his movement.

  • Create a bridge if the opponent's bridge is not present; nullify the bridge according to how it is presented.

  • The arm bridge tracks the movement of the opponent's body; when the hands cannot prevail, use body position to save the situation.

  • Using short range power to jam the opponent's bridge, the three joints are nicely controlled.

  • Where is the opponent's bridge to be found? Chum Kiu guides the way.

Biu Jee:

  • The Biu Jee hand contains emergency techniques.

  • Iron fingers can strike a vital point at once.

  • The stepping in elbow strike has sufficient threatening power.

  • The phoenix eye punch has no compassion.

  • Fak Sau, Ginger Fist, and Guide Bridge; their movements are closely coordinated and hard to defend and nullify.

  • Springy power and the extended arm are applied to close range.

  • The situation is different when preventing from defeat in an emergency.

  • The Biu Jee is not taught to outsiders.

  • How many Sifu pass on the proper heritage?

Muk Yan Jong:

  • There are 108 movements for the Muk Yan Jong; repeated practice brings proper use of power.

  • Steps vary and always maintain close contact with Muk Yan Jong.

  • Power starts from the heart and shoots towards the centerline of the Muk Yan Jong.

  • Up, down, back and forth, the movements are continuous.

  • Power improvement cannot be predicted.

  • The arm bridge sticks to the hands of the Muk Yan Jong while moving; adhesion power when achieved will be a threatening force.

  • Power can be released in the intended manner; use of the line and position will be proper and hard to defeat.

    General Sayings 

  • There is no difference in who started to study first; the one who achieves accomplishment is first.

  • Students from the same teacher will differ in their skills.

  • Touching the opponent's arm bridge makes the situation more favorable.

  • When facing multiple opponents, it is easy to manage the situation.

  • When chasing the opponent's arm bridge, beware of being led.

  • When pushing the opponent's elbow, beware of being pulled.

  • Learning the techniques without developing the skills will never bring any accomplishment.

  • The ideal in Martial Arts is humanitarianism. Accomplishment uses diligence as a goal.

  • When the opponent passes your arm bridge, avert the danger by turning the stance and facing with the appropriate posture.

  • Ying Da Juck Da, But Ying Da, But Ho Da: "Strike when you should. Do not strike when you should not."

  • Do not be too eager to strike. Do not be afraid to strike. One who is afraid of getting hit will finally be hit.

  • Persistent attacks will surely gain you entry. Staying on the defensive too long will surely get you into trouble.

  • The punch starts from the heart. The staff does not make two sounds. A kick does not miss.

  • Power is generated from the joints. Strength originates from the heels.

  • Store mental energy with the mind. Move chi with mental energy. Exert strength with chi. Generate power with strength.

  • No harm will come if chi is nurtured naturally. Power can be stored but with enough to spare.

  • Chi comes out of the Tan Tien, and travels along the waist, the thighs, and the back.

  • Know yourself and your opponent, and you will always win.

  • People do not know the extent of my skills, but I know their abilities.

  • Go along with your opponent's failing posture in order to take advantage of it.

  • Glass-like head, cotton-like belly, and iron-like arm bridge.

  • You can strike anywhere when your arm bridge has passed beyond your opponent's three joints.

  • Pass by the opponent's incoming arm bridge from above. Jam the opponent's bridge to restrict his movement.

  • Create a bridge if the opponent's bridge is not present. Nullify the bridge according to how it is presented.

  • Know the difference between Yin and Yang, real and feigned. Take advantage of any available opportunity.

  • Sticking to the opponent while shifting hand position shows good control of the situation.

  • Being stuck to by the opponent while attempting to shift your own hand position cannot produce the intended result.

  • Bong Sau must not remain. Faan Sau should be closely paced.

  • Know your own limit in the use of power. Releasing all out is 90% of the way to defeat.

  • The knees lead the stance. The waist links the body. Where the mind goes, the eyes go, and the hands and feet follow.

  • Strive to remain calm in the midst of motion. Loosen up the muscles and relax the mind.

  • The three terrors of Wing Chun are Taun Sau, Bong Sau, and Fok Sau.

  • Feet and hands work together, and the threat comes to an end.

  • Beware of brute strength when facing someone from the same style. Beware of the situation in a confrontation.

  • In uniting the waist with the stance, power can be generated.

  • In a match do not expect any compassion.

  • Grasping the throat is a ruthless technique. Once commenced, it cannot be stopped.

  • Storing energy resembles pulling a bow. Releasing power is like shooting an arrow.

  • Circular and straight accompany each other. Bent and straight complement one another.

  • Extreme softness enables one to be hard. Being extremely natural enables one to be agile.

  • Direct the mind to store spirit, not chi, in the body. Otherwise it leads to sluggishness. No power is obtained when occupied with chi.

  • Use alterations in stepping forward and backward. Hands and feet should be closely coordinated.

  • Invisible posture. Invisible kick.

  • As long as you are sticking to your opponent, you are unlikely to lose. A well trained waist can prevent loss of balance.

  • Hand techniques must follow the Yin Yang principle. Strength must be applied with inner power. There is a counteraction to every attack.

  • Rapid moves are hard to guard against. Go in when the opponent slows down.

  • Kicks lose nine times out of ten.

  • The feet are like wheels, and the hands like arrows.

  • A hand used for attack serves also to parry.

  • Do not collide with a strong arm bridge. Get out of the way and take initiative to attack.

  • During sticky hand practice, the hand which has entered beyond the elbow will win nine times out of ten.

  • Do not follow, force, or butt against the opponent's hands.

  • Destroying the opponent's center line will control his bridge.

  • In Bong Sau the forearm inclines, the wrist is on the center line, and the fingers droop. A raised elbow weakens the force.

  • The elbow must be strong. Then you can take on any attack.

  • If the opponent grasps your arm bridge, do not oppose him with brute force. Go with the opponent's force and change into rolling hands. Turn around the situation to control him.

Other Popular Sayings

  • Wing Chun Chuen Jing Tung: "Wing Chun authentically passing down."

  • Chew Ying Joi Ying: "Face toward and chase the opponent."

  • Chum Jong Sau Jone: "Sink the elbow, protect the center."

Tropes that are present in Wing Chun:

  • Complexity Addiction: Even the most basic blocking technique in Wing Chun aspires to parry perfectly a strike and try to capitalize on it to trap the opponent's arm. While this allows for long, beautiful chains of attacks and counterattacks between two skilled practitioners, it is much more difficult to master than simpler blocks. Ironically some practitioners will claim the essence of wing chun is simplicity and directness.
  • Counter-Attack: What the other hand does when the first hand blocks. Practically the tenet of the art.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: One of the main caveats and sources of criticism of the style. Wing Chun is heavily specialized to work on a very niche range between close and medium-quarters, which means that it lacks the tools to engage in either of those two or any other rango (for instance, it lacks the clinch work essential for close-quarters fighting and the long kicks and punches needed for medium to long range). This also goes for its preference for a rigid lineal footwork that excludes the possiblity of circling or utilizing mobility.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: To be good at Wing Chun, a practitioner must adhere closely to the fundamental concepts of the art. Add that to getting the proper structure, body conditioning, and combat sensitivity, not to mention maintaining a forward pressure against the opponents, it's safe to say that the art requires a lot of investment in order to be combat effective. This can make a lot of people argue for Awesome, but Impractical, as said in the main text.
  • Dynamic Entry: Wing Chun specializes in breaking down the opponent's balance and structure using fast and precise short range strikes.
  • Extremity Extremist: Barely subverted. The style uses very few kicks and kept at low angles.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Aside from Ng Mui due to the multiple different origin stories above, Cheung Ng, also known as Tan Sao Ng, comes a close second when he is mentioned in several origin stories of the art. The only constants are that he ended up with the Red Boat Opera Company and taught his martial knowledge to a group he founded called the King Fa Wui Goon.
    • One account said he was from Wu Pak (northern China) and a man highly skilled in both the dramatic and martial arts, was said to have fled south to take refuge in Foshan sometime between the early-1720s and mid-1730s. Hoping to promote the development of the opera, Cheung organized the local Red Boat Opera Company actors, founded the King Fa Wui Goon, and taught the performers traditional opera and Shaolin martial arts.
    • Another account says he was known as Tan Sao Ng, translated as "Polio Arm" Ng, due to a slight disfunction in his left arm, and was an opera singer and rebel who was forced to flee Beijing when the Manchurians discovered he'd been including anti-Qing mottos in his songs. Travelling south, he settled in Foshan between the early-1720s and mid-1730s where he founded the King Fa Wui Goon among the members of the Red Boat Opera Company.
    • The Hung Fa Yi/Hung Suen/Hung Gu Biu lineage says he was known for his peerless skill with the Tan Sao (Dispersing Arm), which earned him the name Tan Sao Ng. He was a Shaolin disciple who studied under Shaolin Grandmaster Yat Chum Dai Si. In the early-1700s, in order to hide from the Qing, Cheung joined the Red Boat Opera Company and founded the King Fa Wui Goon where he passed along his skills.
    • The Pan Nam lineage says he was a former Mo Sang (martial lead actor), known as Tan Sao Ng (Dispersing Arm Ng), who worked as the master of props for the Hunanese Kwan Si Opera company. He learned the martial arts from a 22nd generation Shaolin nun known as Yat Chum Um Jee on Mt. Heng in Hunan province. He was said to have moved to Foshan much later, sometime around the turn of the 19th century, and joined the Red Boat Opera Company, where he taught his knowledge of Kam Gan Jeung (Buddhist Palm), Tong Long Kuen (Mantis Boxing), Tai Gik Kuen (Taijiquan, Great Extremes Boxing), Ying Jow Pai (Eagle Claw System) and other methods which later became known as Wing Chun.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Invoked. The art focuses on aggressive stepping to the opponent's space in order to disrupt their balance and enter the optimum range to deliver close range blows, though without actually getting in an excessively close range itself.
  • Power Trio: Yao Choy, Ip Man and Yuen Kay-shan were called the "Three Heroes of Wing Chun" and often mentioned together since their reputations in Foshan grew at around the same time.
  • Pummel Duel: What happens when two wing chun practitioners spar and exchanging chain punches left and right.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Wing Chun chain punching. Arguably the Trope Codifier in Martial Arts.
  • Super-Reflexes: Trained to maximum human level through sensitivity and Chi Sao drills. A proficient Wing Chun practitioner can theoretically fight with his or her eyes literally closed - they perceive using the change of pressure (or lack thereof) from their hands.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer…: Wing Chun moves are not as wide and sectacular as other martial arts styles, because all the hand movements are derived from a single concept: a straight punch delivered from the center line of the practitioner. All the other moves are derivatives designed to clear the center line from impending attacks or barriers to deliver the straight punch. This makes the moves simple to learn, but requires considerable sensitivity training and reflexes to be used competently in combat.

Famous or notable Wing Chun practitioners:

  • Ip Man (or Yip Man): Bruce Lee's original master. Founder of the Yip Man Branch of Wing Chun, arguably the most popular and well known branch in the world. Has enjoyed a surge of popularity in the wake of Donnie Yen's (mostly fictional) portrayal of him in a film series.
  • Wong Shun Leung: Student of Ip Man, the man who codified the Yip Man Branch of Wing Chun into a complete system, also Bruce Lee's tutor. Bruce Lee once wrote in a letter to Wong that "Even though I am (technically) a student of Yip Man, in reality I learned my Kung-fu from you."
  • Bruce Lee: Legendary martial artist. Learned Wing Chun from Ip Man for a few years before moving to the United States and developed his own style Jeet Kune Do.
  • Robert Downey Jr.: According to him, Wing Chun was one of the things that got him out of drug abuse. He uses some Wing Chun moves in the Iron Man films, and was used as Sherlock Holmes' primary fighting style in the Guy Ritchie movies.
  • Jackie Chan: You can see his Wing Chun in Rumble in the Bronx, where his character Keung practices on a wooden training dummy commonly used in Wing Chun practice.
  • Sammo Hung: Jackie Chan's classmate back when he studied Chinese School of Opera. Appears in numerous Kung Fu movies.
  • Nicolas Cage: Demonstrated a respectable level of wing chun in Bangkok Dangerous 2008.
  • Donnie Yen: The modern media Wing Chun ambassador to the world. Showcases it best in the aforementioned Ip Man film series.
  • Michelle Yeoh: Portrayed Yim Wing Chun in a 1994 film of the same name that tells the story of the Wing Chun style founder of Ip Man's lineage.

It is worth noting that a majority of Hong Kong action film community members (artists, choreographers, stunt people) are familiar if not proficient with the style, both men and women alike. Not surprising considering its use in Chinese Opera throughout its history.