Tag Archives: Yip Man

The Original Wing Chun

I’m looking for the original Wing Chun.

I’m looking for the complete Wing Chun.

This is a common goal/question I’ve encountered over the years talking to prospective students and art lovers regarding Wing Chun Kung Fu (aka Wing Chun Kuen). It’s a very reasonable question— but a question with no answer. Wing Chun has its history, just like everything else in life.

To illustrate my meaning, let us start with the premise that Wing Chun Kung Fu, as taught by Yip Man is the original and complete Wing Chun. Yip Man had hundreds of students who learned Wing Chun. So who learned the original and complete Wing Chun? Let’s say for the sake of argument, the best of the best learned the original and complete Wing Chun. Does this mean they learned everything Yip Man knew? Does this mean they would do everything Yip Man would do? The answer is obviously no. Yes, they learned Wing Chun. Yes, they learned what Yip Man taught them. But it is never original or complete. The student will take the concepts and drills they learn, study, and apply them to the situations they face. They will learn from their mistakes and improve upon what they learned, and always continue learning. It is in this way that Wing Chun is constantly developing and evolving.

Repeat and apply this to every generation and the situations they encounter, and you will quickly see that its hard to know what is the original and complete Wing Chun.

For those curious to know how large the Wing Chun Pai (family) really is, read [amazon_link id=”0804831416″ ]Complete Wing Chun[/amazon_link] by Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie and Y. Wu. The Yip Man side of the family is one branch of a long and broad family tree.

Yes there are many great SiFus out there that come from a stellar lineage and training history. Yes there are many SiFus that are world renowned and famous in their own right. They all have my highest respect and gratitude for learning and passing on the art of Wing Chun. Yet, in regards to prospective students seeking the art of Wing Chun, my recommendation is, and will always be, to be less concerned with names and more concerned with substance. Wing Chun is an applied martial art. So the questions you should ask yourself are, “What will I learn?” and “How applicable do I think this is in what I might encounter?” Having the proper questions will keep you true to Wing Chun.

Find the Wing Chun Kung Fu for you and sing the coming of spring…

SiFu James Sasitorn

Wing Chun Poetry

Wing Chun Kung Fu was named after the girl Yim Wing Chun, by her instructor, the Shaolin buddhist nun Ng Mui. People who have heard about Wing Chun understand that it is a martial art developed by these two women over 300 years ago, and is simple and efficient martial art, that can be used to protect you and your loved ones against bigger, stronger, and more powerful attackers.

Typically when people think of Wing Chun they think of Yip Man, Bruce Lee, and the symbols of Wing Chun: the crane and snake, and also the double knives.

Yet, Wing Chun is more than a person, school, or image. It is more than a collection of techniques and concepts. Wing Chun is a martial art, and as with any art, develops creativity, presence of mind, and most importantly, the spirit.

Here is one of the lesser known symbols of Wing Chun, the Wing Chun Poem. It’s meaning is not one of words, but of concepts and ideas, and the spirit. This is true in both English, and the language of its writing, Chinese. The Chinese version is shown below, as well as a rough transliteration of the poem in English. Study the meaning, and share your interpretations of this artful symbol.

SiFu James Sasitorn
Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy, Houston

Sing of the coming plum blossoms,
Heaven’s wonderful way,
Spring engenders peaches and plums,
amazing, fragrant forests.

The Rise and Fall of the Wing Chun (Ving Tsun) Family?

From our SiGong, SiFu Duncan Leung‘s website http://members.tripod.com/wing_chun/.

DURING THE EARLY FIFTIES in Hong Kong the Chinese martial arts were very popular to the young people and the working class. There were all kinds of styles available such as Hung Gar, White Crane, Dragon Style and Choy Lai Fut, but Wing Chun no one had heard of. A young man from Foshan, China, Yip Man, was there in those days. He learned the style in China and later on furthered his training from Leung Bik. He began his teaching in the Restaurant Association. Later on he had his own little school in his house in the resettlement area with 100-150 sq. ft. of space. Years went by and he had taught quite a few good students; therefore, the style was becoming known to the public. At that time different styles challenged each other privately and often. Early students from Yip Man like Lok Yiu and Wong Sheung Leung were the most active and did very well in all the fights. The Kowloon Motor Bus Company main service station was located only a few blocks from Yip Man’s school and the workers were first to join the school after the restaurant workers. Then the school kids from nearby St. Frances Xavier started to join including Bruce Lee and Hawkins Cheung. The economy was very bad at that time. Refugees from China entered Hong Kong by the hundreds daily and finding a job for everyone was hard. Wages were low and the hours were long. This made it very hard to find time for students to train. The early students like Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu and Wong Sheung Leung opened their own schools and some like Tsui Sheung Tin began to teach privately.

In 1957 another early student of Yip Man’s, William Cheung, immigrated to Australia. On the way there an incident occurred when he locked himself in the sailor’s cabin and fought more than 10 sailors. This got into all the newspapers and so Wing Chun was even known in Australia then. About a year later, Bruce Lee left for the United States. Americans were exposed to his ability in the martial arts with the start of the television series Green Hornet. He began to teach the Wing Chun style to the celebrities and other famous people in California. Later on he went back to Hong Kong and made several movies that shocked the world. People from all over the world were beginning to hear about Chinese Kung Fu, especially a styled called Wing Chun. After Bruce passed away, a student of Leung Sheung by the name of Leung Ting taught a student named Gainsburg in Germany and brought Wing Chun to Germany. Then Victor Kan brought Wing Chun to England. Yip Man’s nephew, Lo Man Kam, brought the art to Switzerland and to Taiwan, his home country. Wing Chun was becoming the most popular martial art in the world. At about this time when Wing Chun peaked in popularity, Grand Master Yip Man passed away.

Prior to his death in 1972, Yip Man had stopped teaching but was consulted about Wing Chun. He had a hard life in the early years in Hong Kong but in his old age some rich students like Dung Sing and Chan Jee Chu, police detectives of The Hong Kong Royal Police, began to support him. He was considered the head of the Wing Chun family and had a few good years before his death. Unfortunately, he did not name a successor to carry on the leadership of Wing Chun. It is possible that he had not found anyone he liked, may never have found anyone who was worthy, or he was just not concerned with the issue at that late stage of his life. Whatever the reasons Grand Master Yip Man was truly the last Grand Master of the style. After his death and as time passed family members began to realize that they were on their own.

Wing Chun today is a very big family with schools all over the world. Any successful organization needs a leader to unite everyone and to help everyone work together. For a variety of reasons, those heirs and students of Yip Man who would be most qualified to unite and lead us have either been unwilling or unable to do so.

Now, 40 years after Yip Man’s death the Wing Chun family is drifting further and further apart. Without leadership, some begin to teach in their own way and some criticize others who do not agree with their way of teaching. Some even develop theories which Yip Man never taught. There are also those who claim that they are the only “true” teachers of Wing Chun. They suggest that the only legitimate teachers of Wing Chun are those whom they have tested and found qualified. Unfortunately, such claims detract from the credibility of the entire movement and will serve only to divide the Wing Chun family. Wing Chun is a style of martial art we are talking about, an art of fighting. One has to learn and train with it for a long period of time. One has to use it in fighting to gain the applied experience. This is very serious; it can lead to life and death. It is not something you pay me money for and I xerox a copy for you. It is not that simple. Anyone who learned, trained, and fought with it for a long period of time should have understood some truths of the art. How can anyone discredit all other’s experiences and call himself the only “true” artist in the world and try to lead others with such an attitude?

The basics of Wing Chun are exhibited in the forms that Yip Man left us, but principles and theories were verbally instructed by him. Each one may interpret the ideas a little differently. I am sure Yip Man would be happy to know if we, who learned from him, would carry on the benefits he gave us. I learned to apply what Yip Man taught me. So, my style is Applied Wing Chun®. Others have their interpretation of what they learned from Yip Man. If we could have a good leadership to unite everyone together, to exchange and to accept each other’s experience and ideas with open minds then Wing Chun could thrive. Everyone would benefit in the knowledge. Without this strong bonding and support among Wing Chun members the principle and theories Yip Man left us will be diminished from generation to generation and one day no one will recognize the style. Then Wing Chun will be just a name in the history of Martial Arts.

SiFu Duncan Leung

Wing Chun Warrior by SiFu Duncan Leung

I’ve heard conflicting reports from my students regarding the availability of  the book: Wing Chun Warrior by my SiGung, SiFu Duncan Leung. I wanted to get a copy to keep at the school, and was able to order the book through SiGung’s website at:


The book is also available on Everything Wing Chun:


Unlike most of the Wing Chun books you’ll find, this isn’t the typical instructional book with history, theory, techniques, and applications. Instead, its a collection of stories from SiFu Duncan Leung about his experiences learning and applying Wing Chun, intermixed with philosophy and Wing Chun theory. This book helps elucidate the more intangible and profound aspects of Wing Chun and martial arts in general. It also provides us a deeper understanding up the character of Yip Man and his teachings. Here are two reviews on it:

The story of Duncan Leung – childhood friend of Bruce Lee and disciple of Wing Chun master Yip Man – is valuable not only for the insights it offers into Chinese martial arts but also for its portrayal of the lost Hong Kong of the 1950s and 1960s. Reading Ken Ing’s Wing Chun Warrior, which chronicles Leung’s Kung Fu escapades, will be a jarring revelation to anyone familiar with the manic but orderly and largely peaceful city of seven million people that is Hong Kong today. The city described by Ing is a place where Kung Fu practitioners wielded eight-chop knives in the streets and literally battled their way from one martial arts studio to another to prove their fighting prowess. — Asia Times, May 16, 2009

There are some gems in the text that have the feeling of a 1950s Hong Kong film. For example, when Leung is queueing up for an evening function and two triads jump the queue, he decks them, much to the admiration of the crowd. But he has only a moment to enjoy their adulation before he spots 20 men with broken bottles heading for him. He then runs 2km, loses his entourage and comes to rest at the Queen Victoria statue in Victoria Park, where he promptly vomits. There are also his references to his friend Bruce Lee, who to a certain extent has become more legend than man — that as well as fighting, they were Elvis Presley fans and enjoyed dancing, at which they were apparently skilled. The book describes the two teenagers going to weekly dance classes so they could swivel their hips like the King. –South China Morning Post, March 1, 2009

SiFu James Sasitorn
Houston Wing Chun Boxing Academy