View Full Version : Wing Chun Legend is false?

03-21-2000, 12:14 PM
New article in inside kung fu says that the wing chun legend that ti came from Ng Mui is false. Has anyone read it? ANy comments?

03-21-2000, 02:23 PM
Hello Word,

The story of Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun is probably not accurate for a variety of reasons. I suggested in another post to pick up a copy of Complete Wing Chun. Wing Chun seems to have a history of being developed as a revolutionary method of fighting and seems to stem from the Red Boats. However, it is unlikely that we will ever know the full story. One reason given for the development of the Ng Mui/Yim Wing Chun story is to protect the founders as the art was developed for fighting the government.

This is an interesting topic and we could go back and forth for a bit. It is important to have a grasp of where the art came from but don't let it's origins or stories of them destract you from training.



03-22-2000, 03:23 AM
I was very surprised by that article. Its hard to believe that all this time authentic Wing Chun teachers have been going by the Yim Wing Chun and Ng Mui story and have it be fake. What a shocker. I like the fake story more than the real story.

03-25-2000, 04:53 AM
James Cama Sifu published the alternate story in 87 Inside Kung Fu. Fut Sao Gu Yee Chuan Was Known to all the surviving Five Elders and passed on through Fut Sao Wing Chun.

03-26-2000, 05:02 AM
Hello SAM,

Just to set the record state that is only ONE version of the "alternative" histories. No one has a corner on the historical origins of Wing Chun or any other art.

The legend was most likely used to distract Officials from identifying the true leaders of Wing Chun as it seems to have been developed specifically to fight the government and even for assasination. There are many branches of the tree and each has its own version of the history. Each is right in the view of its own practicioners.



03-27-2000, 10:52 PM
If you check most styles decended from Shaolin and the Five Elders you will note a form with reference to Fut Sao or a link to Wing Chun Concepts. During revolutionary times Shaolins High Abbots taught the Ancient Chivralous fist concepts which were adapted to the specialized styles of the Five Elders. These concepts were also adapted to the five branches of Wing Chun which are; Ancient, Buddha Hand, Red Boat, Village, and Royal Family.

[This message has been edited by Sam (edited 03-29-2000).]

03-28-2000, 07:45 PM
Hello Sam,

Please do not take offense but I would like you to elablorate more on the "Five Branches of Wing Chun" I am going to make an assumption that Yip Mans family falls under the Village branch but would be interested in the others as well. For example what are you referring to by "Royal Family" etc? I would also like some clarification as to most MA tracing their roots to the Shoalin Temple. I think that association with the Shoalin Temple was used to promote arts that had nothing to do with the Temple. Several arts were developed outside of the temple but it seems like almost everyone claims to have come from the temple. Again, I only wish to enlarge my understanding of this subject.



03-28-2000, 09:34 PM

Which five elders? Ng Mui, Gee Sim, Bak Mei, Fung Do Duk and Mew Hing? Are you claiming that the five elders studied fut sao wing chun as well? These elders developed different systems. They may have similar southern principles but are you claiming their roots are found in fut sao wing chun?


03-29-2000, 02:43 AM
Thanks for the imput guys. I am no way an historian. I am just relating things I heard or was told. The Five Elders were not taught Fut Sao Wing Chun but may have been taught its predisessor Gu Yee Chaun (Ancient Chivralous Fist). The concepts are the same and if you look at the history of Hung, Bak Mei, Choy Li, Chow, And others there is a mention of Fut Sao or Wing Chun. It makes sense that during revolutionary times the Five Elders combined their vast knowledge with the Ancient knowledge of Shaolin they came up with highly evolved concepts which they kept in their individual systems at advanced levels. What do you think? Royal Family Kung Fu was taught to the elite guards and Royal Family.

[This message has been edited by Sam (edited 03-29-2000).]

[This message has been edited by Sam (edited 03-29-2000).]

03-29-2000, 03:58 AM
I heard a story once that Wing Chun was actually developed by a bunch of intermediate level kung fu guys who were hung out at the docks of south china, knew some other forms of kung fu, and wanted to create something so that they wouldn't get their collective a$ kicked by American and British boxers. According to Robert W Smith, kung fu started out with a de-emphasis on strikes to the head, as they were seen as lower class and not as deadly as strikes to the body.
How many open hand forms does wing chun have? i've only seen 3, which is why I have such a hard time reconciling it with being a very old fashioned form.
The techniques in the forms i've seen were not unique to Wing Chun, and they seemed pretty short.
I wouldn't be suprised if it turned out that the forms were created by the boxers in order to quickly teach a large number of people in a short time.

Furthermore, wasn't the credibility of Wing Chun one of the reasons behind the infamous "Roof Top Wars" that Bruce Lee was supposedly inolved in?
Just some thoughts...

Please don't mistake me for having any ill will towards Wing Chun, it's a good style with some good techniques, and I definitely will NOT underestimate a practisioner of Wing Chun if I am sparring one.

03-29-2000, 04:19 AM

You're mixing up the five elders and the five families. This depends on who you ask, but generally the five elders are Gee Sim, Ng Mui, Mew Hing, Bak Mei, and Fung Do Duk. These elders have been credited with many systems. Ng Mui has been credited more than I can remember but here's some general information. Gee Sim known for northern shaolin. He's also credited for teaching Hung Shi Gun (pick your choice of spelling) who later developed hung gar. Ng Mui is known for Plum Blossom fist (later devloped to wing chun). Mew Hing had own system. Bak Mei(white eyebrow) had own system. Fung Do Duk developed Bak Fu (white tiger).

The five families: Hung, Li, Lau, Mok, and Choy. Again, there are variations here too.
Most history/legend/myth comes from oral tradition so there are numerous versions. The five families had their own systems and some were combined to develop some of today's systems. Hung developed Hung Ga (translates to Hung family), Li Ga (Li family), ...you get the idea. Choy Li Fut combines Choy Ga and Li Ga with some Buddhist training (fut), possibly shaolin training.

My brain is mushing so I'm going to stop writing. I hope this information is helpful to someone. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

03-30-2000, 06:00 AM
Interesting discussion but assassination? Of who? Those that dont pay their gambling debts?

The red boat story seems a bit strange since many hakka have a genetic link to these "barbarians" they were running, er, plotting to overthrow.

Wing chun like alot of short hand southern systems seem based on health/spiritual exercises and someone made up martial application. I'd like to explain more but its a secret. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Anyone seen the wu tai chi chi kung form? I just looked at a book at the library on do in (japanese). Has a lot of those esoteric, reiki and mudra standing/kneeling meditations.

Its not a martial art, its not presented as a one shot kill art and not attached to some romanticism about criminal, parasitic societys overthrowing legitimate government and social systems.

03-31-2000, 09:06 PM
I too will not comment to much on this subject as I have been told that what I know about this is secret but what do the principles and strategies revolve around?
What sort of times were around during most of Wing Chuns development?
Why did it flourish on the red boats?
I have more regurgitated info which seems to make sense but this is as far as I can comment.
Take it for what it's worth as I am only a beginner.

[This message has been edited by flavour54take2sameperson (edited 04-01-2000).]

04-05-2000, 11:31 AM
The Hung Suen Wing Chun kung fu system dates back over 200 years to the Sil Lum Temple. As a result of the political atmosphere of the times, this branch of Wing Chun has never been taught outside it's direct lineage. Instead it was handed down in secrecy from family member to family member.

From 1644 to 1911, the Manchurians ruled China in a period known as the Qing Dynasty. Early in the 1700's, the Manchurians became concerned about the Sil Lum Temples' rebellious activities and their continued development of the fighting arts. Under the decision to eliminate the threat of these rebels and thier leaders, the Manchurians attempted to exterminate the Sil Lum monks to prevent them from spreading their martial arts skills and knowledge. Eventually, both Sil Lum Temples were destroyed and burned.

According to Huen Suen tradition, prior to the destruction of the temples, a comprehensive martial art system was developed and known as Wing Chun.Wing Chun was formulated through generations of Sil Lum knowledge. Wing Chun was conducted under a silent code. This meant that in order to prevent abuse, it was passed down to only a few chosen disciples and was never documented.

With such a hidden past, we now heavily rely on the direct teachings of the elders for historical material. As told by teacher to student, two Sil Lum monks escaped the Manchurians massacres and were able to keep the Wing Chun system alive. One of these monks was the twenty second generation Sil Lum grandmaster. Yat Chum Dai Si. The other monks name was Chueng Ng. Before his death, grandmaster Yat Chum Dai Si passed on his high level of Wing Chun knowledge to Chueng Ng.

In order to keep his identity and background a secret from the Manchurians,Chueng Ngjoined the Red Boat Opera Troupe. The name was given to the organisation of talented stage performers who travelled in red boats.
Accomplished in kung fu and gymnastics, they formed their own organisation and stage names, the Red Boar Opera was Cheung Ng's safest refuge.

Cheung Ng became known in the opera troupe as Tan Sao Ng (Spread out arm Ng) from his skillful of the Wing Chun manuever "tan sao" to subdue others during challenges. His level of skill allowed him to use "tan sao" move to represent one thousand moves. He demonstrated that a basic technique sych as "tan sao" must be fully understood, in concept and application, prior to the next thousand techniques. After learning the next thousand techniques they became one again.

Harsh Manchurian actions such distrust among the people that they resulted in the formation of underground organisations or secret societies such as The Haeven and Earth society and the White Lotus society. Within a secret society, the identity of the leaders, members and activities were only known to a few within the society itself.

One of the Red Boat Opera troupe actors by the name of Hung Gun Biu(Red Bandanna Biu), was a secret society leader and brought Tan Sao Ng into the organisation. The safety of the opera troupe combined with the security of secret society allowed Ng to spread his Wing Chun knowledge in confidence.

As a trusted leader, Hung Gun Biu one of Ng's clsest disciples. However in order to protect the systems origin and and the identities of Yat Dai Si and Tan Sao Ng a story was created.(Hence the Ng Mui bit)
in the story Ng Mui teaches the system to a girl named Yim Wing Chun who's name happens to carry a different meaning."Yim" can be translated to protect or prohibit. The term Wing Chun refers to the Sil Lum Wing Chun Tong(Always Spring hall). Thus Yim Wing Chun was a code meaning the secret art of the Sil Lum Wing Chun Hall.

The system was passed on to other opera troupe members who had the obligation of keeping the system's history a secret. Based on their individual understanding and degree of training in Wing Chun, these disciples, all previously trained in other martial art styles, may have passed on their skills with inherently different emphasis.
Hung Gun Biu's lineage followed tradition of to pass down the system to family members only who took the traditional and ceremonial vow of secrecy. The system's lineage shows that Hung Gun Biu taught his relative Chueng Gung who passed it down to his great nephew, Wang Ting who taught his son, Dr Wang Ming, of Saiquan, China who taught the entire system with it's original concepts to only 4 disciples.

Boy I wish I had a scanner.

04-11-2000, 05:29 AM
Most interesting discussion by far. The views here seems to come favor historically friendliness. I personally think that it is possible that NG Mui was not the creator of the all the branches of Wing Chun. Instead she could have "help" Yim Wing Chun to develope a fastfood version of Shaolin Kung FU for women's self defense. Evidences? The highly held chambered hands (protecting the "honor" of the ladies) and the ergonormically correct stances and hand strikes are still there to testify the genesis of the system. According to Dragon Sign's history, Ng Mui played a role in passing down the Dragon Sign's System which has a male founder. She could have "helped" or "inspired" many other styles, if we take into the account that she travels quite a bit. Knowledge is gendre neutral. Why is it not possible for a female practitioner to pass on Knowledge of combat to more than one system? Especially, during the turbulant time when the more pratitioners of martial arts there are , the better for the cause. One thing I know for sure is that by relating the story of Ng Mui's inspirations in both styles, I benefit more in practising the Dragon Sign system. Please forgive me if step on somebody's toes. I mean no disrespect.


04-11-2000, 07:01 PM
Ng Mui is involved in a lot more than a couple.
She was also the instructor for the Manchu's(The opposition of the Sil Lum monks) in Hop Gar. The name Ng Mui appears in a lot of CMA.

04-13-2000, 04:30 AM
Here is another version of the history of Taun Sau NG:Cheung Ng

Cheung Ng (Zhang Wu), known as Tan Sao Ng (Tan Shou Wu), is connected to both Hung Mun (Red Sect) Rebellion and the founding of the Hung Suen (Red Junk) Opera's King Fa Wui Goon (Precious Jade Flower Union), and sometimes the spreading of Wing Chun Kuen.

Among those who received Cheung Ng's teachings were reported to have included Wong Wah-Bo, Leung Yee-Tai, "Dai Fa Min" Kam, Lai Fook-Shun, "Hung Gun" Biu, and others.

In tales of the Guangdongese opera, it is recorded that:

Cheung Ng of Wu Pak, a man highly skilled in both the dramatic and martial arts, was said to have fled south to take refuge in Foshan sometime between the early-1720s and mid-1730s. Hoping to promote the development of the opera, Cheung organized the local Red Junk actors, founded the Red Flower Union, and taught the performers traditional opera and Shaolin martial arts.
A slightly different account related:

Cheung Ng, known as Tan Sao Ng (Polio Arm Ng) due to a slight disfunction in his left arm, wa an opera singer and rebel who was forced to flee Beijing when the Manchurians discovered he'd been including anti-Qing mottos in his songs. Travelling south, he settled in Foshan between the early-1720s and mid-1730s where he founded the Precious Jade Flower Union of Red Junk Opera members.
According to the history of Pan Nam Wing Chun:

Tan Sao Ng (Dispersing Arm) was a former Mo Sang (martial lead actor) who worked as the master of props for the Hunanese Kwan Si Opera company. He learned the martial arts from a 22nd generation Shaolin nun known as Yat Chum Um Jee (Yat Chum, Founder of Convernt) on Mt. Heng in Hunan province. He was said to have moved to Foshan much later, sometime around the turn of the 19th century, where he taught Wong Wah-Bo, Leung Yee-Tai, Dai Fa Min Kam, and Lai Fook-Shun his knowledge of Kam Gan Jeung (Buddhist Palm), Tong Long Kuen (Mantis Boxing), Tai Gik Kuen (Taijiquan, Great Extremes Boxing), Ying Jow Pai (Eagle Claw System) and other methods which later became known as Wing Chun.
A similar story is recorded by the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun style. It maintains that:

Cheung Ng, known as Tan Sao Ng for his peerless skill with the Tan Sao (Dispersing Arm) was a Shaolin disciple who studied under Shaolin Grandmaster Yat Chum Dai Si. In the early-1700s, in order to hide from the Qing, Cheung joined the Red Junk Opera and founded the Red Flower Union where he passed along his skills to Wong Wah-Bo, Leung Yee-Tai, Dai Fa Min Kam, Hung Gam Biu, Lo Man-Gung, Go Lo Chung, and others.



04-13-2000, 04:34 AM
Below please find a history for NG Mui found at www.wingchunkuen.comNg (http://www.wingchunkuen.comNg) Mui

Ng Mui Si Tai (Wumei ****ai or Nun "Five Plums"), was a nun from the legendary Shaolin Temple and one of the fabled five ancestors who escaped the temple’s destruction. In one account, her true identity was said to be Lui Sei-Leung, the daughter of a Ming general. Ng Mui is often named as the founder of many, many systems, including Mui Fa Kuen (Plum Blossom Boxing), Lung Ying Kuen (Dragon Shape Boxing), Chu Ga Tong Long (Chu Family Mantis), Gao Kuen (Dog Boxing), Bak Hok Kuen (White Crane Boxing), Ng Mui Pai (Five Plums Boxing), and Wing Chun Kuen (Praise Spring Boxing). While often cast as a Shaolin nun, both in Henan and Fujian, she has also been mentioned in connection to Hebei's Wudangshan, Sichuan's Emeishan, and Yunnan's Liangshan Temples.
A very popular legend, told with many variations, holds that:

When the Shaolin Temple was burned, the nun, Ng Mui sought refuge in the distant Bak Hok Jee (Baihesi or White Crane Temple) on the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. There, she practiced her meditation and martial arts. One day, her practice was interrupted by a snake and a crane, locked in combat. Ng Mui watched the snake and the crane, and came to admire their fighting methods. The battle was hard fought, but the crane proved victorious. Observing, Ng Mui began to incorporate the unique strengths and tactics into her already well developed martial skills, creating a remarkable new method she named Bak Hok Kuen (White Crane Boxing).
Some versions state she then taught this art directly to Yim Wing-Chun while others maintain it passed from her to Guangxi monk Miu Shun who taught Yim Wing-Chun's father, Yim Yee.

Another variation tells that Ng Mui came to Shaolin from the Taoist temples in Hubei’s Wudang Mountains, bringing with her knowledge of the internal styles.

One old legend states that:

The famed Song Dynasty General Ngok Fei (Yue Fei) created several martial arts including Xingyiquan (Form of Intention Boxing), Yingzhaopai (Eagle Claw Style), and Ngok Ga Kuen (Ngok Family Boxing). Ngok Ga spread to several areas, one of which was the Taoist temples on Mt. Emei. There, the priests passed along the art for generations. Two of the disciples who eventually inherited the style were a priest named Bak Mei (White Eyebrows) and a nun named Ng Mui (Five Plums). Bak Mei went on to create the style which came to bear his name, Bak Mei Kuen, and Ng Mui passed along her art to people who eventually named it Wing Chun Kuen (Praise Spring Boxing).

I suppose the above is where one gets the reference to NG Mui teaching the Manchus but I doubt that she was ever in the employ or symapthetic to the Manchus.



04-16-2000, 06:34 PM
Sorry Sihing 73
You are correct. It wasn't Ng Mui that taught the manchu guards Hop Gar.
It was the disciple of a disciple of a MAN named Ng Mui who taught them.


12-13-2000, 05:06 AM
Hi Sihing73 and Flavour54,
You memtioned about Hung Gun Biu in your posts. Was this name belonged to a group of boxers in china? What's the relationship between Hung Gun Biu and Hung Hei Goon? Could they be the same person? Any comments from Wing Chun and Hung Gar people here? Thanx!!!


12-13-2000, 09:52 PM
what a shocker. word, you know all your faves? All their stories are false too. You know what's behind all the magic/mysterious/anonymous monks they say they learned from? DARKNESS...

12-15-2000, 03:09 AM
Mo Q , you just know it all don't you!Master of all systems. :rolleyes:

12-15-2000, 06:19 AM
the story of Yim Wing Chun is probably just that, a story. But it does serve a purpose other than hiding the real founder. It stresses that a woman should be able to use wing chun to defend herself against a bigger stronger adversary. To laugh at this story is wrong, but to accept it as history is ignorant. The names of the founders don't really matter. Their intentions do, and they are shown in the legends. People putting forward alternate stories can't really be sure of the past either. So we should still take the story of Yim Wing Chun serious, and not laugh it into extinction.

South Paw
12-15-2000, 10:28 AM
Punchdrunk wrote: 'the story of Yim Wing Chun is probably just that, a story.'

That's right.
These stories tell us a lot. Although they are fictional they tell us about the moral ethics of Kung Fu and other values of the style involved. These are some of the main purposes of these legends. And we must secure that they will not die.

South Paw

[This message was edited by South Paw on 12-16-00 at 02:34 AM.]

12-15-2000, 10:30 AM
Is that all YOU know?

Nevermind, I see the problem...

12-15-2000, 10:58 PM
Believing these stories are even SUPPOSED to be "true" and wallowing in the delusion that casting aspersions and doubt is a sign of helpful insight is THE SAME IGNORANCE.

12-17-2000, 09:44 PM
MOQ,What's your wing chun lineages? Can you share some of your KF history with us? My WC lineages are from Ken Chung, Yip Chun , William Cheung and Hung Suen( from my brother who learned under Ah suk in Fukien China ).

12-18-2000, 11:23 AM
Hmm... were you asked about your lineages or something? Thanks anyway.

12-22-2000, 02:53 AM
one of my Sifus told me not to talk about this, because it would upset all the wing chun practitioners out there, but hey, this is just a theory. If you read the history of Fukien White Crane(this can be found in Yang Jwing Ming's book)there is mention of Fong Qiniang who was a woman who studied under her father, the style was Fukien White Crane. She was from Youngchun (wingchun)county, and the style was referred to as Youngchun-(wing chun) Fukien white crane. There is a strong possibility that she would therefore be referred to as Fong Wing Chun. So there might be a Fong Wing Chun, but not a Yim Wing Chun.Unless there is a translation of the word yim which has significance. Perhaps she was beautiful as well? I think this might be upsetting but we all know that martial history is refferred to as traditional history-part legend, part myth.

Kong Jianshen
12-22-2000, 06:36 AM
What month of inside kung fu is that article in?

Always seeking to learn,
Kong Jianshen
Humble disciple of the ancient Boxing Arts

old jong
12-28-2000, 01:22 AM
Everybody can have his theory on this subject and they all could be valids.But we have to consider the"marketing"value of these "fairy tales"in these times and culture.Many branches of martial arts have some kind of a beautiful story as a beginning,sometimes it was revelation from the gods or animals or in our case,a romantic story!It makes me think of the word... publicity!


C'est la vie!