History & Timeline
According to legend, Wing Chun was founded by Fujian Yan Wing Chun during the Jiaqing period of the Qing Dynasty. Southern Shaolin Wu-Mei Master traveled to Jiulian Mountain in Guangdong and lived in a courtyard in the middle of the mountain. Wing Chun’s father Yan Er immediately took Wing Chun to the mountain to meet Master Wu Mei. After meeting Master Tai liked Wing Chun very much. Yan Er also seized the opportunity to ask Master Wu Mei to accept Wing Chun as his apprentice and teach the unique Southern Shaolin “internal style” kung fu. Master Wu Mei agreed to teach Wing Chun and pass down her martial arts technique to her. Wing Chun got a lot of new inspiration from Wu Mei Master’s shaolin “internal style” martial arts, and became reborn as the new martial art master.
One day Wing Chun was practicing exercises by the lake in the back mountain. Suddenly, she heard the call of cranes from the woods beside the lake. Wing Chun saw a poisonous snake facing the crane and was about to fight. She saw the white crane flying in the air and the snake talking on the ground. Facing each other, ready to fight, the white crane attacked the venomous snake on the ground with its wings and long beak, and the venomous snake coiled up its body to prepare for the battle. Wing Chun saw that the body of the snake was very flexible and not only did not retreat, but it wrapped around the white crane’s neck nearly strangling the white crane. This is the snake’s legal weapon, the long spine contracted muscle power to strangle the prey.
(This became Wing Chun’s hand method of circling, reeling, winding, spinning, turning, rubbing, stealing and leaking in Wing Chun. )
The second method is an instant lightning attack, which is fast, aggressive, accurate, and with lightning speed.
(This is called “the lightening hands” in Wing Chun, and the wings of the white crane are the arms in Wing Chun, elbow hands, spreading hands, swallowing and cutting, and double grasping, which means tuck, hold, catch, and beat hands).
Wing Chun’s mind was preoccupied with the posture, footwork and fast changing of strategy in the fight between the snake and the crane. Suddenly, she realized that it was in line with the theory of martial arts. She immediately went to her Seefu and asked for comment of her thoughts. Since Wing Chung had already learned kung fu of Fujian “Yongchun Neijiaquan” from her, combining with the fascinated strategy seen in the “snake and crane fight” they created a new form of martial art. The characteristics of the snake form are flexible footwork, a relaxed upper body but can move freely, and using a great deal of grappling. Superb body coordination, meaning when the upper body moves the lower body follows, is the key. When the middle body moves, the limbs follow as well. That is to say when a part of the body moves, the whole body moves. In crane’s characteristics the wings suggest the arms, and the legs of the crane are analogous to the legs. With footwork pacing like a crane, and with “flicking power” and with equal emphasis on rigidity and softness, all these are the characteristics and emphasis of this new form. That is why this form is best suited for close combat, grabbing, throwing, and body strikes.
The earliest Wing Chun form only had the “circle hands” exercise. The form itself has but one long sequence of movements and it was also subdivided into a few sections, and many of them were repeated. Fung, later, restructured and reorganized the whole system and split it into 3 forms known today as “Siu-Lin-Tau”, “Sinking Bridge”, and “Biu Ji” when he was residing in Yuen’s house in Foshan. He also incorporated the “six and a half pole” of the Red Boat Shaolin Yongchun into the Wing Chun system, which emphasized the Wing Chun style. “The six and a half pole was exchanged by Fung Siu Ching with Chunquan, because they both appreciated and recognized the greatness in each system. That proved our predecessor’s generosity and vision. “Wooden Dummy” is a tool for practicing boxing. It is available in most of the Guangdong Lingnan Boxing Techniques, but it is different from each other. Wing Chun’s “Wooden Dummy” is the grounding stake, which has a certain degree of resilience so it suits best for the clinging hands style. The play style is absolutely different from that of Red Boat Yongchun’s wall-mounted scorpion.
In the early days, the training of sticky hands was only the circle hands. Fung Siu Ching added the “reel hands” training technique, which strengthened the body strike, shoulder strike, grappling, and throwing. It further enhanced the offensive and defensive nature of Wing Chun. Those additions and enhancements were the sum of his experience in using Wing Chun in real combat situations as a senior military officer. Besides, there were also twelve methods: “take, cut, sink, dart, stick, rub, press, swing, swallow, cut, steal and leak.” These methods would help significantly in the overall strategy in sticky hands.
Fung Siu Ching’s Wing Chun series includes three sets of boxing, Siu-Lin-Tau, Sinking Bridge, and Biu Ji. Twelve methods. Circle hands, reel hands, sticky hands, wooden dummy form, six-and-a-half stick form, and butterfly sword form.
Fung’s series of Wing Chun was taught to people in Foshan such as Yuen Kay Shan. Yuen Kay Shan then taught it to Master Cen Neng, the disciple of his friend Zhang Bao. Master Cen Neng then incorporated the Wing Chun 12-Move taught by Zhang Bao into Wing Chun in the boxing series; Wei Yusheng’s Internal qigong and Lingnan medicine are then incorporated into the Wing Chun series making Wing Chun a multi-aspect and complete system. This is what we have today.
For more information on the history of Wing Chun, please refer to the book “The History of Wing Chun” and “Authentic Foshan Wing Chun”