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"A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer."

- Bruce Lee

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History of Wing Chun by Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes

History of Wing Chun - Origins

Ip ManProgressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes follows a Wing Chun system that has been passed down through the generations. Read through this page to find out about the history of this fine art.

The founder of the Wing Chun Kung Fu system, Miss Yim Wing Chun was a native of the Canton Province in China. As a young girl, she was intelligent and athletic, upstanding and manly. She was betrothed to Leung Bok Chau, a salt merchant of Fukien. Soon after that her mother died. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongly accused of a crime and nearly went to jail. So the family moved far away and finally settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain at the Yunnan-Szechuan border. All this happened during the reign of Emperor K'anghsi (1662-1722).

At the time Kung Fu was becoming very strong in Siu Lam Monastery (Shaolin Temple) of Mount Sung, Honan. This aroused the fear of the Manchu government, which tried to get the monks to teach their fighting skills to the army. The monks refused and the temple was attacked numerous times but the warrior monks could not be defeated. A man called Man Wai came top of his graduation class in the civil service examination that year. He was seeking favour with the government and suggested a plan. He plotted with Ma Ning Yee a corrupt monk and others on how to bring about the destruction of Siu Lam. Ma Ning Yee got hold of the plans to the temples lay-out and started fires in the inside of the temple. At the same time soldiers attacked it from the outside the monks caught unaware were massacred. But as with all massacres there is survivors the Venerable five. Buddhist Abbess Ng Mui, Abbot Chi Shin, Abbot Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak, and Master Mui Hin escaped through some of the secret passageways and fled their separate ways.

Instead of joining the others in rebelling and finding a way of over throwing the government Ng Mui walked the countryside looking for shelter she found the white Crane temple on mount Tai Leung and stayed there. She was the best boxer in the temple and she analysed the way the styles being taught to the government troops were full of faults as the styles were copied from animals such as eagles and tiger styles low stances and long swinging punches. These were mainly for shows and demonstration and not practical for fighting. She watched a fight between a Crane and Snake noting how the Crane covered using its Wing and counter attacked with its beak and the Snake's direct striking method. She decided to create a fighting style based upon these principles. Whilst taking refuge in the temple she ventured down to the village and brought bean curds at the stall where Yim Yee and his daughter Yim Wing Chun and became friendly with them.

Wing Chun was a young woman then and her beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him. She and her father were very worried. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing Chun; she agreed to teach Wing Chun her new fighting techniques so that she could protect herself. Then she struck a deal with the bully to take Wing Chun away for a year and teach her to fight then if the bully could beat her she would have to marry him. A year passed and the day of the fight arrived Wing Chun easily defeated the bully and his gang and was free to marry Leung Bok Chau. Ng Mui then set off on more travels around the country, but before she left she told Wing Chun to strictly honor the Kung Fu traditions, to develop her Kung Fu after her marriage and to help overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty.

This is how Abbess Ng Mui handed down Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Ip ChunThe Kung Fu techniques of the Wing Chun system were passed down through many individuals. The most recognised Wing Chun Master of the modern era is without doubt Grandmaster Ip Man whose teachings have influenced millions of practitioners of the Wing Chun system all over the world. Grandmaster Ip Man passed away in 1972, however his network of knowledgeable and talented instructors still continue to keep Wing Chun amongst the most respected and effective Martial Art of the present day.

Ng Mui. "Mui" is "Mai" flower in Vietnamese? We can ascertain that "Mai" is unquestionably the plum flower in English. Put these two together, now you can see why there is often the plum flower symbol in the design of WC logos.

Grandmaster Ip Chun the eldest son of Grandmaster Ip Man, has continued to promote the Wing Chun system across the World with great success. One of his greatest success stories has been Master Samuel Kwok, the chief overseas representative of Ip Chun Martial Arts Association. Master Kwok has raised the standard of Wing Chun in this country consistently over the years and has parted his knowledge onto thousands of students. One in particular has been taught from an early age and has grown up to be the leading representative in the UK in Wing Chun Sifu Gary Payne. Sifu Gary Payne's physical ability and knowledge of Wing Chun Kung Fu is unique and can only benefit Wing Chun within this country.

The journey we have taken through the history of the Wing Chun Ip Man Kung Fu system has led to Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes Chief Instructor Neil Sydenhams instructor Master Gary Payne and then onto Sifu Neil Sydenham himself.

Despite being taught by Gary Payne for well over 10 years, Sifu Neil Sydenham has always looked to other sources for answers about wing Chun and new methods of training that can only benefit his knowledge and training. Sifu Neil Sydenham has been teaching Wing Chun for well over 10 years and his knowledge and training methods are tried and tested.

Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes and its instructors continues teaching the core principles of Wing Chun laid down by Ip Man and those that have followed, in addition we also include a great deal more to compliment Wing Chun in a modern world.

A Chronicle of the life of Ip Man.

Ip Man was Born on October 14th, 1893

1899 - 1905 - Ip Man 6 to 12 years old (Foshan)
Studied Wing Chun kung fu with Chan Wah Shun (Money Changer Wah) at Ip's family hall, Main Street of Foshan (Song Yuen Dai Gai)

At that time studying together with Ip Man were Lui Yui Chai, Ng Chung So, Chan Yui Min, Ng Siu Lo and others.

1905 - Ip Man 12 years old (Foshan)
Chan Wah Shun died, but before he died he asked Ng Chung So to help Ip Man to complete the system. Chan Wah Shun's body was taken by his kung fu disciples to Chan village in Shunde for burial.

1905 - 1907 - Ip Man 12 to 14 years old (Foshan)
Ip Man followed the last words of his teacher to study with Ng Chung So's school situated in Sin Heung Street of Foshan.

1908 - Ip Man 15 years old (Hong Kong)
With the sponsorship of his relative, Pong Wai Ting, Ip came to Hong Kong to study in St Stephen College. Ip lived at Craine Road, Hong Kong Island .

1909 - 1913 - Ip Man 16 to 21 years old (Hong Kong)
Ip knew Leung Bik, the second son of late Grandmaster Leung Jan, through his classmate and studied with him for four years.

1914 - 1937 - Ip Man 21 to 44 years old (Hong Kong, Japan, Foshan)
In 1914, with the help of Ip's brother, Ip Gai Gak, he originally planned to further his study in Kobe , Japan but this plan was spoiled for some reasons.

During these 20 years, Ip's job was mainly in the army and police force. He married Cheung Wing Sing and had four children, sons Ip Hok Chun (Ip Chun), Ip Hok Ching (Ip Ching) and daughters Ip Ar Sum and Ip Ar Woon.

When Ip was not working, he liked to get together with other martial artists to practice and exchange kung fu ideas with his wing chun schoolmates in his house. Ip installed a wooden dummy in the corner of his living room. Practicing at that time with Ip Man were Yuan Kay Shan, Yiu Choi, Ip Chung Hong, Lai Hip Chi, Tong Gai and others. He became famous among the martial arts community of southern China.

1937 - Ip Man 44 years old (Foshan)
The Japanese invaded China

1937 - 1945 - Ip Man 44 to 52 years old (Foshan)
China was occupied by Japan. Ip Man swore not to be used by the puppet Japanese government so he became very poor. Luckily his good friend, Chow Ching Chuen gave him financial support from time to time. In order to repay his friend's kindness, Ip accepted his son, Chow Kong Yiu as student.

1941 - 1943, he taught Wing Chun Kuen in Luen Cheung Cotton Mill at Wing On Road
Other than Chow Kong Yiu, Kwok Fu, Chan Chi Sun, Ng Ying, Lun Kai, Chow Sai and others. These were the first batch of Ip Man's students. Kwok Fu and Lun Kai are still alive and teaching Wing Chun Kuen in Foshan today.

1945 - Ip Man 52 years old (Foshan)
Japan surrendered.

1945 - 1949 - Ip Man 54 to 56 years old (Guangzhou, Foshan)
This period was the busiest period at work of Ip Man. Ip even had to leave his beloved Wing Chun Kuen for a time. In spite of Ip's busy work, Ip still coached Pang Nam on the Wing Chun forms in Sheung Sha Chung Yee Athletic Association because of his good friend Tong Gai and Pang Nam's sincere request.

1949 - Ip Man 56 years old (Macau, Hong Kong)
Ip Man went through Macau to Hong Kong . Ip had stayed 2 weeks at Cho Dui Street with friends who owned a bird shop.

1950 - 1953 - Ip Man 57 to 60 years old (Hong Kong)
In July 1950, through Lee Man's introduction, Ip Man started teaching in Tai Lam Street, Shamshuipo, Kowloon . The first Wing Chun class was for the Restaurant Workers Association. There were only people including Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu in the first class. Later, the class was joined by Tsui Sheung Tin, Ip Bo Ching, Chiu Wan, Lee See Wing, Law Ping, Man Siu Hung and others. This period of time was called the forefront of the Restaurant Workers Association. Ip Man also taught in the Restaurant Workers Union Headquarters, Sheung Wan in Hong Kong Island . Students there included Lee Wing, Yue Mei King, Lee Ngan Foon and others.

1953 - 1954 - Ip Man 60 to 61 years old (Hong Kong)
The school was moved to Hoi Tan Street . Students at that time were Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu, Wong Chok, Ng Chan and others. Ip Man also taught private lessons at Three Princes Temple on Yui Chow Street , Shamshuipo. Students were Lee Hon and others.

1954 - 1955 - Ip Man 61 to 62 years old (Hong Kong)
The school was moved back to Restaurant Workers Union Headquarters, Sheung Wan. This period is called the later stage of the Restaurant Workers Association. At this time, Ip was joined by Lee Kam Sing, Kan Wah Jeet (Victor Kan), Lo Man Kam, Cheung Cheuk Hing (William Cheung) and others.

1955 - 1957 - Ip Man 62 to 64 years old (Hong Kong)
Ip Man moved the school to Lee Tat Street , Yaumatei, Kowloon . Students like Chow Tze Chuen, Lee Siu Lung (Bruce Lee), Chan Shing, Cheung Hok Kin (Hawkins Cheung), Siu Yuk Man, Poon Ping Lid, Pang Kam Fat and others joined by that time.

1957 - 1962 - Ip Man 64 to 69 years old (Hong Kong)
Ip Man moved the school to Li Cheng Uk Estate. At this time, students were Chow Tze Chuen, Ng Chan, Wong Chok (Wong Tsok), Mak Po, Yeung Hei, Moy Yat and Ho Kam Ming. Most of Ip Man's private lessons were taught during this period of time. They were:

  • Shun Kei Pottery Shop, Shaukeiwan. Students were Wong Bak Yee, Wong Wing, Yeung Chung Hon, Wong Kwok Yau and others.
  • Po Lak Hong, Tsimshatsui. Students were Tong Cho Chi, Lee Wai Chi, Chan Tak Chiu, Tam Lai and others.
  • Tai Po Road . Students were Chung Kam Chuen and Chung Wing Hong.

1962 - 1963 - Ip Man 69 to 70 years old (Hong Kong)
School was moved to Hing Ip Building , 61 Tai Po Road , Shamshuipo. Students were Cheung Yiu Wing, Ho Luen, Cheung Ching On, Chan Luen Lam, Chan Tai Yim and Kwok See Yan. Private lessons were taught at Yee Wah Tailor Shop at Tsimshatsui. Students were Peter Cheung and old students of Po Lak Hong.

1963 - 1965 - Ip Man 70 to 72 years old (Hong Kong)
The school was moved to the top floor of the Tai Sang Restaurant on Fook Chuen Street, Taikoktsui. Originally, this had been the storeroom and owned by Ho Luen who let Ip Man use the place. Most of the people from the school at Hing Ip Building also moved there. Added to Ho Luen, there were also Yeung Chung Hon, Wat Yung Sang, Pang Kam Fat, Cheung Ching On, Lee Yan Wing, Yau Hak So and others. During this period, Ip Man also taught students, mainly from the police, privately on Hin Hing Street , San Po Kong. These included Tang Sang, Nam Yin Fat, Yuen Chi Kong, Lee Yiu Fai, Wong Kwok and others.

1965 - 1972 - Ip Man 72 to 79 years old (Hong Kong)
The school at the Tai Sang Restaurant finished and Ip Man lived in his apartment on Tung Choi Street . Because of his advanced age, Ip Man was partly retired. Despite this, he was still teaching one to one private tuition. Going to Ip Man's home during this period of time were Wong Chung Wah, Wong Hei, Hon Chak Chuen and others.

He also went out teaching to three places.

  1. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association, which in 1967, was the first martial arts society to be officially registered with the government. The Association then decided to open Wing Chun classes at VTAA. The classes were in charge by Ip Man. Assisting him were Chung Ching On, Fung Hon, Wong Hon Chung and others. However, this was only for about 3 months.
  2. Chan Kai Hong's home on Waterloo Road . Learning here were Chan Kai Hong, Siu Lung brothers, Wong Tze On, Chan Kam Ming, Chung Yau, Lau Ying Kau, Man Yim Kong and othrs.
  3. Tze Yau Road . When Chan Kai Hong could not continue offered the place at Waterloo Road , Ip Man moved to the roof top of Lau Ying Lam's home. Joining here were Wong Chi Ming and a female student called Ng Yuet Dor.
  4. Siu Fai Toi at Ip Sing Cheuk's home. Ip Sing Cheuk was a solicitor. Apart from him, the rest of students were also mostly solicitor. This was the last place that Ip Man taught Wing Chun.
  5. Ip Man passed away at his home on Tong Choi Street in December of 1972. He lived to be 79 years old. His tomb is now in Fanling.

Bruce lee - Little Dragon

Ip Man and Bruce LeeBorn San Francisco, 1940, year of the dragon, Bruce Lee is perhaps the most famous Martial Artist in the world. There are hundreds of books, seminars and films featuring Bruce Lee in one form or another.

Bruce was a graduate of University of Washington majoring in philosophy. He trained in Wing Chun developing his own style, Jeet Kune Do based on Wing Chun principles, feeling that martial arts were too restrictive. He never completed Wing Chun's system having only got as far as Chum Kiu; however he learnt enough to show the world his famous one inch punch and phenomenal speed.Ip Chun Understanding Chi and relaxation Bruce carried on training in these principles throughout his life.

His Hollywood movie career began in the 60's in a series called The Green Hornet.

It was Hong Kong that gave him the opportunity to develop his own films, Fist of Fury, followed by Enter the Dragon, The Chinese Connection and Return of The Dragon.

Bruce Lee died aged 32 of a brain edema whilst making a movie in Hong Kong. He was survived by his wife Linda and two children Brandon and Shannon.

Brandon Lee tragically died in 1993 making the film The Crow.

© Progressive Wing Chun Milton Keynes 2017