Wing Chun Kung Fu in China History
The true history of wing chun kung fu is still shrouded in mystery, hearsay and legend. Today, there are many theories and stories about wing chun’s origins, but categorically, there is still no significant proof or evidence to verify its true grass roots.
The most popular belief is, that the idea of wing chun fighting was conceived at the shaolin temple, and upon its destruction by the Manchus, all the intellectual prowess fled into southern china. We do know however, by the mid 1800’s, that wing chun kung fu had found its way into southern china, and established itself with the red boat opera performers of Foshan and Canton. The Red Boats Members were a revolutionary group of kung fu experts who were opposed to the Qing rule and were intent on restoring the Ming Dynasty.
Leung Yee Tai, Wong Wah Bo and Dai Fa Min Kam were 3 members of the red boats which were instrumental in establishing and structuring wing chun into forms, training sets and weapons.
The most outstanding student of Leung Yee Tai and Wong Wah Bo was the legendary Dr, Leung Jan, a herbalist, who worked in Foshan but came from Gulao village in southern China.
The most renowned disciple from Dai Fa Min Kam was the legendary Yuan Kai San.
Wong Wah Bo’s wing chun legacy stayed in Foshan through Leung Jan’s teachings, to 4 major disciples.
Dr. Leung Jan and Yuan Kai San would each forge their own brand of wing chun from Canton to Foshan, and become the 2 most influential exponents in teaching and spreading wing chun kung fu in southern china, from the mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s.
Chan Wah Shun, a student of Leung Jan, became renowned for creating an alternative lineage of wing chun, teaching a different expression of wing chun.
Yip Man, a student of Chan Wah Shun, was also instrumental in establishing a unique style of wing chun in the 1950’s and began teaching it to the general public in Hong Kong. Yip Man taught legends, Bruce Lee, William Cheung and Wong Shun Leung.
Red Boat Opera members Wong Wah Bo and Leung Yee Tai had as many as 11 peers that were ancestors to other lineages of wing chun kung fu.
Wang Family wing chun lineage
Cho family wing chun lineage
Way Yan wing chun lineage
Also, outside the Red Boat Opera Troupe, there was a monk “Dai Dong Fung” who was the ancestor of Pao Fa Lien wing chun lineage.
Wing Chun Practitioners around the World, regardless of lineage and back ground have one essential responsibility, and that is to maintain a high standard of Integrity in Mankind through their teaching of Wing Chun Kung Fu.