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History of Wing Chun

Yip man and Bruce Lee - Chi Sao, Wing Chun

The origin of Wing Chun Kung Fu can be found in the turbulent, repressive Ching dynasty of over 250 years ago. It was a time when 90% of the Chinese race were known as the Hons and were ruled by the minority, who were the other 10% and were known as the Manchus. The Manchus placed a great amount of unjust law on the Hons. For instance, all the female Hon infants were made to bind their feet so that when they grew up they would be dependent upon their parents or husband. The work opportunity of the Hons was also very restricted. They were unable to hold office in Government higher than a certain level. Heavy tax burdens were placed on the country so that the Manchus could have economic control of the Hons. Kung Fu training was also banned for the Hons. Nevertheless, the Manchu Government eventually began adopting the Hon culture and they respected the Shil Lim Temple as a Buddhist sanctuary.

When all weapons were outlawed by the Manchus, the Hons began training a revolutionary army in the secret art of Kung Fu. The Shil Lim Temple became the secret sanctuary for preparatory trainings of a classic style which took 15 to 20 years for each person to master.

Five of Chinas Kung-Fu Grandmasters met to discuss the merits of each of the various forms of Kung Fu in a bid to develop a new form that would have a shorter training time and would provide the practitioner with effective and efficient skills. The Grandmasters decided on the best techniques and created programs to develop an efficient martial artist within 5 to 7 years (one third the original time). Unfortunately before this new form could be put into practice, the Shil Lim Temple was raided and burned by the Manchus.

Ng Mui, a nun, was the only survivor of the original five grandmasters. She passed her knowledge onto a young orphan girl whom she named Yim Wing Chun. The name represented “hope for the future”. In turn Yim Wing Chun passed her knowledge on to her husband. Throughout the years the style solely became known as Wing Chun and its techniques and teachings were only passed onto a few, always carefully selected students.

In 1950 Yip Man started to teach Wing Chun in Hong Kong. One of his first students was Grandmaster, William Cheung.

Master Joe Sayah began training with William Cheung at the age of 9.