Yip Man’s Wing Chun
Wing Chun – A Chinese martial art form that teaches self-defense while allowing one to get involved in close range combat. Most people who have watched the 2008 Chinese film Ip Man must be aware of this martial arts’ form and the person who popularized it – Yip Man. No body exactly knows who created Wing Chun, but it is believed that the form was first heard of between the years 1826-1901. But this martial arts’ form achieved its popularity only after Yip Man started using it.
The History of Wing Chun
According to Yip Man, the legend of this martial arts’ form is associated with a woman named Yim Wing-Chun. Yim refused the marriage proposal of a local warlord who took insult to it, and challenged Yim to a duel. Yim then sought a Buddhist nun’s, by the name Ng Mui, to teach her martial arts. Ng Mui, it seems just developed this new martial arts’ form, inspired from a duel between a snake and a crane, and taught this to Yim.
Yim later confronted the local warlord and took him down, and the martial arts’ form that she learned earned her name ‘Wing Chun’ from then on. Legend goes that she was the one who started the school of Ring Chun and started teaching it. But again, this is only a legend, and there exist many other stories about the advent of Wing Chun.
Wing Chun literally translates to ‘praising spring’.
‘Sifu’ in Chinese and teacher/master in English. Yip Man, more popularly known as Yip Sifu is the one who is known to have popularized Wing Chun.
Yip was born into a wealthy family and started learning the art of Wing Chun in his hometown Foshan from the age of 13. His teacher was Chan Wah-shun. In fact, Chan’s last disciple was Yip, and after teaching Yip Wing Chun for three years, Chan passed away. Yip later mastered the art under the tutelage of Chan’s disciple, Ng Chung-sok, who was instructed by Chan to continue teaching Yip.
Yip later moved to Hong Kong for his schooling. In Hong Kong, Yip intervened with a police officer who was beating a woman, and struck him down. The news spread around and Yip was then confronted by a person, who told Yip that his martial arts was nothing, and challenged him to a duel. Yip accepted the challenge only to be defeated.
The person who defeated Yip revealed that he was Leung Bik, a senior to Master Chan. Yip, became a student of Leung Bek and started learning from him.
Yip Man later combined the forms that he learnt from his Masters and refined Wing Chun. Yip later returned to Foshan, his hometown, and became a police officer, where he taught the form. to his subordinates. Though Yip never ran a formal school, he started spreading the martial arts’ form. Only in 1949, after Yip Man moved to Hong Kong back again, did he set up a school. The students who learnt from him spread Wing Chun, and popularized Yip Man, enabling him to become Yip Sifu.
It was from Hong Kong, that Wing Chun began spreading to other parts of the world.
Yip Man taught his form of Wing Chun to a very few people in his entire career, and one of the very famous disciples of Yip Man was Bruce Lee, who started learning from Yip Sifu at the age of 16. Another popular disciple of Yip Sifu is Ho Kam Ming, who in fact finished the entire Wing Chun art under the direct tutelage of Yip Sifu.
There are only a few accomplished Sifus today who can actually teach us the art of Yip Man’s Wing Chun.