Little Idea Wing CHun
Real Wing Chun Lineage
Little Idea Wing Chun is led by Peter Morson, who received his Wing Chun foundation within the highly respected Duncan Leung lineage, training under SiFu Chas Fisher at the renowned Real Wing Chun school in Seattle, WA.
Wing Chun Legend
The true history of Wing Chun is shrouded in the mythos and legend that has been passed on to each generation of the family. While there is undoubtedly some historical truth to be found in the “official” story, one can be sure that there can also be found embellishment and fabrication. Thus the true history of the art will probably never be known. To honor our Wing Chun Pai, we pass on the story as told by the late Grandmaster Yip Man….
Origins of Wing Chun
By Yip Man
The founder of the Wing Chun style, Yim Wing-Chun was a native of Guangdong in China. She was an intelligent and athletic young girl, upstanding and forthright. Her mother died soon after her betrothal to Leung Bok-Cho, a salt merchant of Fujian. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongfully accused of a crime and, rather than risk jail, they slipped away and finally settled down at the foot of Daliang Mountain near the border between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. There they earned a living by running a shop that sold bean curd.
During the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1662-1722) fighting skills became very strong in the Shaolin Monastary of Songshan, in Henan Province. This aroused the fear of the Manchurian government, which sent troops to attack the Monastery. Although they were unsuccessful, a man named Chan Man-Wai, a recently appointed civil servant seeking favor with the government, suggested a plan. He plotted with Shaolin monk named Ma Ning-Yee and others who were persuaded to betray their companions by setting fire to the monastery while soldiers attacked it from the outside. Shaolin was burned down, and the monks and disciples scattered. Ng Mui, Jee Shim, Bak Mei, Fung Do-Dak and Miu Hin escaped and went their separate ways.
Ng Mui took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Daliangshan. It was there she met Yim Yee and his daughter Wing-Chun from whom she often bought bean curd on her way home from the market. At fifteen, with her hair bound up in the custom of those days to show she was of an age to marry, Wing-Chun's beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing-Chun to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing-Chun. She agreed to teach Wing-Chun fighting techniques so she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began to learn fighting skills. She trained night and day, until she mastered the techniques. Then she challenged the bully to a fight and beat him.
Ng Mui later traveled around the country, but before she left she told Wing-Chun to strictly honor the martial arts traditions, to develop her fighting skills after her marriage, and to help the people working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty.
After her marriage Wing-Chun taught martial arts to her husband Leung Bok-Lao. He in turn passed these techniques on to Leung Lan-Kwai. Leung Lan-Kwai then passed them on to Wong Wah-Bo. Wong Wah-Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a Red Junk. Wong worked on the Red Junk with Leung Yee-Tai. It so happened that Jee Shim, who fled from Shaolin, had disguised himself as a cook and was then working on the Red Junk. Jee Shim taught the Six-and-a-Half-Point Pole techniques to Leung Yee-Tai. Wong Wah-Bo was close to Leung Yee Tei and they shared what they knew about martial arts. Together they shared and improved their techniques, and thus the Six-and-a-Half-Point Pole was incorporated into the Wing Chun style. Leung Yee-Tai passed his knolwledge on to Leung Jan, a well known doctor in Foshan. Leung Jan grasped the innermost secrets of Wing Chun, attaining the highest level of proficiency. Many masters came to challenge him, but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous. Later he passed his knowledge on to Chan Wah-Shan who took me and my sihing, such as Ng Siu-Lo, Ng Jung-So, Chan Yu-Min and Lui Yiu-Chai, as his students many decades ago.
It can thus be said that the Wing Chun system was passed on to us in a direct line of succession from its origin. I write this history of the Wing Chun system in respectful memory of my forerunners. I am eternally grateful to them for passing to me the skills I now possess. When drinking of the the water, a man should always think of the source; it is this shared feeling that keeps our brothers together.
Is this not the way to promote martial arts, and to project the image of our country?
Wing Chun History
While we continue to pass on Yip Man’s legend of Wing Chun’s origins, we can also take a more academic look at Wing Chun’s roots.
The ancient Ming Dynasty of China was ended upon the 1644 invasion of China by the Manchus, who established the Ching Dynasty, which did not end until 1911. The occupying Manchus, although an ethnic minority, introduced a number of onerous and repressive measures to control the majority Han Chinese. These included the prohibition of weapons, work restrictions, and the infamous binding of women’s feet, making women entirely dependent on men, thus constraining men’s ability to participate in revolutionary efforts to overthrow the Manchus.
The Shaolin Temples were a long-revered Buddhist institution in China and respected and feared by the ruling Manchus. These Shaolin temples became both a sanctuary for Ming revels and a center for revolutionary planning and training by Ming loyalists determined to overthrow the repressive Manchu regime.
Traditional Shaolin fighting systems were based on animal movements and required the mastery of dozens if not hundreds of intricate, complex forms, requiring up to fifteen or twenty years to master as a fighing art.
Ming revolutionaries recognized that this approach to training soldiers for battle with the Manchus was inadequate for rapidly training a fighting force. They developed a new system of kung-fu based entirely on bio-mechanics and principles of combative theory, achieving a streamlined fighting system which took only five years to train a recruit into an efficient fighter, versus the 15-20 for a traditional Shaolin fighter.
The system was called Wing Chun, named after the Eternal Springtime (Wing Chun) training hall of the temple.
The Manchus, alerted to the rebel activity at the temple, orchestrated the destruction of the temple. All temlple monks and rebels were killed, except five monks who escaped – Bak Mei, Fung Do Dak, Mui Min, Jee Sin and the nun Ng Mui. The five went their separate ways.
Ng Mui took refuge in the faraway White Crane Temple in Yunnan. This is the point at which most Wing Chun myths and legends diverge, producing numerous and rich legends as to the dispersement of the Wing Chun system.
For another well-crafted essay on the possible origins of Wing Chun, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wing_Chun.