Thread: Wing Chun Origin Stories
8/20/2005 6:03pm, #1
Wing Chun Origin Stories
The standard story that seems to be passed down the Yip Man lines about Ng Mui developing a system for Wing Tsun to beat up an admirer seems to be about the only one around on the internet. Wikipedia offers a different and as far as I can determine unique origin story with Wing Chun having been developed by assassins to get past guards.
there doesn't seem to be much in the way of references for this account though.
Anyway, does anyone know whether there's any real basis for this alternative?
Also, how many other origin stories are there floating around?
8/20/2005 7:26pm, #2
8/20/2005 7:29pm, #3
However it originated, it still sucks."Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." – Voltaire.
8/20/2005 8:05pm, #4
Thought this was supposed to be a troll free bit of the forum?
8/22/2005 1:12am, #5
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- Mar 2005
There is an Origin story that Assasians on the Red Junk used it. When the boat was in town for an Opera, the assasians would sneak into town to kill evil political figures. This version has something like 24 forms, the same first 6, plus others that each specialize in a different attack or weapon. The Third form, Biu Tze, in WT has some "darting Finger" movements. This other version has a form for throwing Darts, specifically. It is all covered in "complete Wing Chun" by Chu, Richie, and Wu.
Another origin is that the Nun story was made up to hide the rebels. They would travel as Nuns to avoid searches and molestation from the Manchurians.
Another Story told by Yip Man was that the Nun witnessed a Fox and Crane fighting. Leung Ting Traced the Fox aspect of the story to southern China/ Northern Burma, where a Flying Fox or Monkey Style is the root of Muy Thai. This root style has a similar form to Siu Nim Tau and the Southern White Crane temple is very close to there. Leung Ting theorizes the Nun must have meet up with these other Flying monkey stylists and combined the two. He has found evidence of both the Nun Ng Mui and the girl Yim Wing Tsun in the Historical records, but WC people don't want to hear it. Since Snake and Crane is really a Tai Chi Chuan story, I always get a laugh when WC people use it.
My version is that the clans of China all banded together to fight the Manchurians. All Kung Fu was refined by the rebel leaders into a fast quick to learn simple style. After the Revolution slowed down, the Clans all returned to their homes, becoming Tiger and Mantis and Hung Gar or whatever again. Some people had nowhere to return to, and thus the style of the revolution was all they had. So they called it Wing Tsun and practiced it in secret or small groups. The Temple Monks must have had a High level style in secret, which helped them teach this new fast style to the revolutionary's. Maybe some of them created what we think of in this time.
Some people think it was just Hung Gar.
Dr. Leung Jan was a famous Pharmacist in more modern times. He perfected it and refined it into what we see today, in the Yip Man branches, and possible some others. If it was really just small style hung gar before, it was Dr. Jan that made it into it's own thing.
Last edited by Dr._Tzun_Tzu; 12/13/2006 9:28pm at . Reason: spelling
8/22/2005 8:28am, #6Originally Posted by Dr._Tzun_Tzu
Thanks for the info.
What sources did you use?
8/22/2005 10:19am, #7
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"Roots of Wing Tsun" by Dr. Leung Ting
"Complete Wing Chun" by Chu, Richie, and Wu
8/23/2005 3:03am, #8
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- May 2003
What most people in North America do not realize is that Wing Chun is an offshoot of Crane Boxing. That fact seems well known in Fukien and here in Taiwan but fairly unknown in the west. Simply because the Wing Chun folks were trying to establish a brand name recognition for their version of Crane Boxing in their english language stuff they have made up the bullshido about being a separate art created out of thin air by the nun fighting the crane and/or the daughter trying to get out of a marriage.
My sources include:
1 .永春鄭禮叔教傳教本Yongchun Zheng Li-Shu’s Teaching Text
2 .白鶴仙師祖傳真法 “Authentic Teaching Passed Down from White Crane Immortal Teacher”
3 . 白鶴拳家正法Authentic Methods of White Crane Boxing
4 . 自述切要條文` Major Points in My Account
5 . 桃源拳術Taoyuan Boxing
6 . 方七娘拳祖 “White Crane Boxing’s Founder Fang Qi-Niang
7. 拳理妙法 Ingenious Methods of Boxing Systems
8. 白鶴門食鶴拳 White Crane Feeding Crane School Boxing by Liu Gu 劉故
9. 金台山勤習堂傳習錄Jintai Mountain Qinxu Hall Study Manual
The history of Crane Boxing and its offshoots (including Wing Chun) is interesting but I suspect will remain hard to pin down barring some remarkable new historical documents being discovered.
p.s. if you ever want to do an Official Bullshido investigation "Dr." Leung Ting would be a great starting point. Him and his books "red line" the b.s. meter.
8/23/2005 6:31am, #9Originally Posted by brianlkennedy
8/23/2005 11:24am, #10
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This makes more sense that anything else I'w sen written on WC history.
One thing I'm trying to understand: why would one pick a helpless and fragile creature like crane to be a mascot of his deadly fighting art? It must be something cultural.
Originally Posted by brianlkennedyCurrent stage of death: denial
8/23/2005 2:55pm, #11Originally Posted by Bil Gee
The major problem with the claim that the style was developed by assassins to get past guards is found by examining its training progression. The style's realm is one on one, hand to hand, face to face, straight up dueling. If it were assassins which developed the art for the expressed purpose of improving their craft, then they did a great disservice to an assassin's need of the right tool for the right job.
There is no stealth, no ambushing, no pincer maneuvours, no multiple on one overpowering, no long distance projectile weapons (e.g. crossbow), no poison formulas, or anything an assassin would need to accomplish their goal. Even in obscure variants of the style which claim a weapons arsenal which could conceivably be used by an assassin, the training methodology and progression does not support the required means assassins have known throughout the ages about what it takes to do their craft.
Does this mean that assassins didn't learn it? No, not really. However, if they did, it was entirely incidental. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that there were assassins at the time who knew how to perform Chinese Opera, too. However, no one could reasonably suggest that a assassin was better equipped for their work because they learned to sing baritone instead of sweeping the stage.
Last edited by Tom Kagan; 8/23/2005 2:57pm at .
8/23/2005 3:39pm, #12Originally Posted by Tom Kagan
There is a LOT of emphasis on strikes to the throat which would stop people from shouting for help and disabling your opponent very quickly, and butterfly knives would have been easily hidden in traditional flowing robes.
I agree though the getting passed body guards thing sounds like a more specialist skill, and I'm more inclined to think it was a trimmed down para-military version of one of the more traditional systems that could be taught to "foot soldiers" in a relatively short time span. (3 years as opposed to living as a monk for 20 years).
But, the information is so sketchy with (from what I can gather) nothing in writing until the middle of the 20th century. So I guess we may never get passed the point of speculation.
8/23/2005 5:25pm, #13
Speculation on the past? Sure, why not. But examination of the DNA is today. No great speculation is required during an objective analysis giving strong inclination that such stories are just that: stories.
An assassin is essentially a hunter. Such a style tailored for the craft would show characteristics of hunting: tracking, stalking, camouflage, baiting, etc. The style's DNA does not show any of this. In fact it shows the opposite: One on one, hand to hand, face to face, straight up dueling - and with a specific set of rules to conduct such a "fair fight" to boot!
The "throat strikes" of which you speak are not a specific emphasis of the style over any other style's emphasis. Additionally if, indeed for the intent is to silence people before they can cry out and alert others, then there would be specific training on how to execute such moves from behind a potential target in a sneak attack. There is barely a shred of evidence to suggest this even when you examine the tactics of the style's knife work.
The particular knives of the style are not suited for this task, either. Additionally, they are not a specific emphasis of the style any more than other knife based system.
If you want to discuss the alternative folklore regarding the need to train masses quickly for some sort of insurrection, again, there would be more evidence than what is shown. First off, the style's training progression appears to be almost completely inverted. Armies throughout the ages give primary emphasis to group unity, heavy conditioning, and weapons at a very early stage of training. But when you look at the style, you find heavy conditioning and the introduction of weapons towards the end of the training progression. And at the beginning you find SiuLimTao: a solitary, detail oriented meditative form. No where else has anyone of any land trained an army this way.
Also, armies need their soldiers in 6 weeks to 6 months. Even 3 years is too long of a period. This becomes even more acute when considering that life expectancy has only surpassed 50 years of age relatively recently,
Additionally, if the style were used to train masses in a systematic method of a counterinsurgency, far more evidence would have survived. That's just the nature of raising an army regardless of how much a conquering force tries to eradicate records. (Besides, if it were useful to them in such a task, the conquering group would have co-opted it and the style's DNA of a training progression would be found within other clearly marked military arts.) Sorry, you may think that I am speculating, but it is a stretch of the imagination of the faith in such folklore to believe the style's DNA has a military pedigree when it has all the markings of a relatively small regional civilian art of a non-elite class of people.
8/23/2005 5:50pm, #14
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I hate to burst anyone's bubble but by the time Crane Boxing and Wing Chun underwent most of their development as systems (i.e. the mid to late 1800s) the favored martial arts "system" of Chinese assassins was a Colt revolver at close range after having bribed the victim's bodyguards to look the other way. This approach did not require much "ninja skills" nor any great skill in Wing Chung/Crane Boxing or anything else. It required having enough political connections to get a pistol and enough money to bribe off the guards.
Chinese martial artists of the 1800s, just like American cowboys of the 1800s, really were impressed with Sammuel Colt's little invention. As Sun Lu Tang (one of China's most famous martial artists of the late Qing dynasty) put it; "if you want to fight, get a gun".
8/23/2005 7:22pm, #15Originally Posted by Tom Kagan
I don't think that you're really making an analysis that could be reasonably compared with a DNA analysis in terms of its guaranteed accuracy.
What sources have you used for you analysis of insurgency tactics 200 years ago in China. Do records exist of how insurgents, operated? Would it have been similar to the terrorists of today?