What is Wing Chun?

A brief description by Jeff Martin, Maureen Wang and fellow students.

Wing Chun is a traditional Chinese Kung Fu system. As legend has it the story begins with the destruction of the Song Mountain Shaolin temple at the beginning of the Qing dynasty (about 300 years ago). One of the five that survived the massacre was a nun named Ng Muy. While she was in hiding she met a young girl named Yim Wing Chun (“Song of Springtime”) who was having problems with an arrogant local hoodlum. Ng Muy took Wing Chun as a student, and in a matter of months enabled her to publicly defeat the bandit in a challenge match.

As a system designed by an Asian woman to prevail over bigger, physically stronger opponents, Wing Chun is ideal for people of smaller stature. It enables a practitioner to defeat a potentially more powerful opponent through its highly developed concepts. Some of these concepts, such as the centerline theory have been made popular by Wing Chun’s most famous student, Bruce Lee. He also used the Wing Chun Theory of Interception as a foundation for his style, which he named Jeet Kune Do (The Way of the Intercepting Fist).

Among Chinese fighting arts Wing Chun most closely fits into the Southern Shaolin boxing styles of quick hands and strong legs. Wing Chun is difficult to categorize as hard or soft. It is not a hard style (such as Karate or Tae Kwon Do) nor is it a soft style (such as Bagua or Tai Chi). Wing Chun is somewhere in-between, often called a soft-hard style relying on internal strength and explosive power. In the opinion of Yip Chun (the son of well known Grandmaster Yip Man) the difference between Wing Chun and pure hard styles is that in Wing Chun one must know which instant to be hard.

Wing Chun is a style that involves simultaneous attack and defence. A combination of trapping (momentry pinning and control of the arms and legs ) and short , precise movements makes this an aggressive fighting style. Wing Chun is known for attacking and evading through the use of angles and body structure. By enhancing the sensitivity of touch through training, and the use of its concepts, a Wing Chun practitioner is able to sense, predict and adapt quickly to an opponents’s attack. One training method that involves all of this points is to do “Chi Sao” ( “sticky hands”— a sensitivity exercise) blindfolded.

Wing Chun has often been called the style of the intellect. This does not mean that it is complicated; the opposite is probably true. However, because this system is so condensed and elegant much practice is needed to be precise and accurate. Yip Chun has said “There are no secrets in Wing Chun.” A technique that might seem mysterious or impossible to a student at first eventually becomes trivial as he or she improves. The word Kung Fu (Gung Fu in Mandarin) literally means a skill gained from a lot of hard work. So it makes sense that the ‘secret’ technique of any Kung Fu system is to work hard with ones body and spirit. For a student to succeed in Wing Chun or any art requires time and dedication.