The history of Wing Chun has been passed down through word of mouth over many generations. Often, this type of storytelling results in many different versions of the story appearing over time. Thus, the story of Wing Chun is not necessarily accurate down to the exact detail. Instead, it is a guideline for what generally happened. Recent history contains more accurate facts, due to the writings and recordings of modern society.
The Story of Wing Chun
Shaolin Temple, aBuddhist temple in China and the birthplace of all martial arts styles, was divided into chambers or rooms with each chamber teaching a different style, weapon or skill. Suspecting it as a hub for the rebels, the temple was burnt down by the Manchu government about 300 years ago, killing many of the monks and nuns. Among the few who escaped were the Five Elders, each of whom had mastered the skills of every chamber. Among the Five Elders, one was a nun by the name of Ng Mui.
After the temple burnt down, Ng Mui traveled the country hiding from the Manchus. She settled on top of a mountain in Sichun, southern China where she began to think about the martial arts knowledge and skills she had earlier acquired. She realized that much of what she had learned was not very effective or impractical for a small, frail woman to use against a larger man. She then began to revise everything she knew, discarding those techniques that relied on strength or size, were inherently slow, too fanciful or with wasted motion. She organised and re-invented a new set of moves and concepts based on the economy of time, strength and motion. It was simple, fast, direct and deadly as a female could not afford to waste much time dragging on in a fight due to the smaller and weaker body frame, lack of muscular strength and stamina. The new system was designed to surprise his opponent by deflecting off the incoming forces with simultaneous defense and counter attacks, striking at the most vulnerable points of the opponent's body using short range explosive penetrating power.
One day Ng Mui made her usual trip to the village at the bottom of the mountain to buy food and supplies. While at a bean curd stall owned by a father and his daughter, Ng Mui noticed that the two seemed troubled. She soon found out that the girl, named Yim Wing Chun, was being pressured into marriage by a local bully who had threatened her father with physical harm if she refused. Sensing their desperation, Ng Mui revealed her identity and offered to train the girl in kung fu. She suggested that Wing Chun challenge the bully to a fight in one year’s time. If the bully won, the girl would marry him; if the girl won, the bully would have to leave her alone. Wing Chun and her father agreed and the bully who was the best fighter in the area, laughed at the challenge and gladly accepted.
Ng Mui trained the young Wing Chun in her newly revised system. She trained diligently day and night for one year.
When the year was up, Wing Chun returned to the village and faced her challenger. Each time the bully charged in at her, she would quickly drop him with a simple technique. The bully could not believe he was being defeated - much less by a young girl. He became more frustrated and charged in harder. Each time he was knocked down by Wing Chun until he stayed down.
The system became known as Wing Chun, after the woman who made it famous throughout China.