Wing Chun was developed in China. It is a dynamic principle-based Chinese martial art mainly utilized for self-defense. It is a form of close-range combat and it involves movements like strikes and grappling. There is a lot of confusion about the origins of this martial art, but that does not take away the effectiveness of this fighting style which enables a person to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually.
History / Origins
‘Wing Chun’ is Chinese for ‘pinyin’. When translated, it simply means ‘spring chant’. Other terms that are associated with ‘Wing Chun’ are ‘Ving Tsun’ and ‘Wing Tsun’.
It is also sometimes represented with characters that imply the meaning of ‘eternal springtime’. Some other explanations include ‘forever springtime’, or ‘praising spring’ as well. The phrase ‘eternal spring’ is also used to represent the southern Chinese martial arts, Weng Chun Kung Fu and Yong Chun.
Tracing the roots of Wing Chun in history can lead you into oblivion. The knowledge of this combative art had been passed over through word of mouth with no written records to prove its existence. Its accounts began appearing in 3rd party narrations during the times of Master Leung Jan, and thus began the documentation process which could be verified. The history of Wing Chun is laced with mystery, and it is said that myths were created to hide the identity of the political rebels who had developed the art.
Coming out of the myths to the testimonies in history, evidence pointed to the development of the art around the time of civil turmoil between 1644 and 1911. It was the time when China was ruled by Manchurians, whose population accounted for just 10%, the remaining 90% were Hons. Hence iron fist was required to prevent the takeover, and the Manchurians banned all weapons and martial arts of Hons, which forced the masters of the art to go underground, only to regroup and instigate an uprising against the oppressive rulers. When the different underground rebels met, they coined secret hand signals to identify themselves and these are still practiced today as formal greetings. Hence, to out throw the Manchurians, the rebel masters developed a new fighting system, which came to be known as Wing Chun.
The 3rd Saturday of March has been allocated to International Wing Chun Day. And the day is observed by its diehard followers who have kept the flames of Wing Chun burning. On this day, all the lineages of Wing Chun prove their salt by organizing events that promote awareness of Wing Chun. On this day free demonstrations, seminars, free introductory classes, and speeches are commonly held.
There is a legend of a young woman named Yim Wing-Chun, a martial art expert, as narrated by Yip Man. It takes you to the time when the Southern Shaolin Temple was destroyed by the Qing government. The legend says that a warlord was bent on marrying Yim Wing-Chun, but she turned down the offer. Upon persuasion, she laid down a condition that if the warlord beats her in a fight, she might think of giving herself up to him. She sought the services of a Buddhist nun, Ng Mui, one of the survivors of Shaolin Sect, to teach her the art of fighting. The legend further states that Ng Mui opened up her heart to Wing-Chun, and taught her a new art of fighting which she had developed by watching a snake and crane in combat.
It is said that Yim Wing Chun beat the warlord to a pulp in one-to-one combat using this style. And since the new art was still without a name, Wing Chun was considered appropriate.