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What is Wing Chun?


SHAOLIN TEMPLEAround 350 years ago, China was conquered by the Manchurians from the Northeastern Region of Mainland China. This conquest of the Han people put an end to the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty. While over ninety percent of the people in China were Han, the Han has always longed to take back control of mainland China from the Manchurians. During that time the Manchurians set many restrictions on the Han people. The Han were prohibited from owning weapons or practicing Kung Fu (Wushu in Mandarin). Kung Fu had been practiced by the Han for thousands of years and was an integral part oftheir culture. Though the practice of Kung Fu was banned, it was impossible to stop it completely. The Han practiced Kung Fu secretly inside their homes mostly during the nighttime. Temples and monasteries also became ideal places to practice Kung Fu. 


The most respected was in the Shaolin Temple in the Honan Province of Southern China. In the Shaolin Temple there was a nun named Ng Mui who practiced Kung Fu regularly. While practicing Kung Fu, Ng Mui realized what she had been practicing a style of Kung Fu invented by men that was meant for men. The style did not account for the female form. Kung Fu required a great deal of physical strength and reach. As a woman she had little physical advantage. She needed a system which would allow her to fight smarter not harder. She began to work on a more efficient fighting style. A system that included a lower stance and resourceful techniques. Lastly, it also factored in sensitivity for better flow and timing. Before Ng Mui finalized her new fighting system, the Qing Dynasty attempted to capture the "the men who ate the nighttime congee". The Qing Dynasty successfully burnt down the Shaolin Temple. Fortunately, Ng Mui was able to escape to the Southern Kwantung Providence. It is here where she met Yim Wing Chun, a simple lady who made tofu for a living. It turned out that Yim Wing Chun was also a Kung Fu enthusiast. They shared the same passion for Kung Fu and started to develop a new fighting system for women. They named the new system Wing Chun after Yim Wing Chun.


Class of Leung Sheung 1968Yim Wing Chun taught the art of Wing Chun to her husband, Leung Bok Toa. Later Leong Bok Toa taught this style to two opera performers, Leung Yee Tei and Wong Wah Bo. These two opera performers would later travel to Fatshan City in Kwantung Providence where they would pass down the art of Wing Chun to Dr. Leung Jon. Fatshan City proved to become a landmark of development for Wing Chun. About a hundred years ago, Yip Man was born. At age of ten, Yip Man began to study Wing Chun under Dr. Leung Jon's disciple Chan Wah Soon. Later, Yip Man also studied from Dr. Leung Jon's son Leung Bik. In 1950, Yip Man like many other Chinese ran away from the Communism Party and moved to Hong Kong.

Wing Chun Lightning Hands Master Ng Wah SumIn Hong Kong, Yip Man started to teach Wing Chun and gained numerous followers. His most senior student was Sifu Leung Sheung (Sifu Chow's Sikung). Other student included Yip Po Ching, Lok Yiu, Chu Shong Tin, Wong Shun Leung, Bruce Lee and many more. Under Leung Sheung there were 7 best students nicknamed 7 tigers. Sifu Ng Wah Sum was the Short Legged Tiger. Then, he earned his respect in Wing Chun after fighting in two key events. In 1968, Ng Wah Sum represented Wing Chun Pei to fight in the first Far East Kung Fu Tournament in Singapore and took second place. It was Wing Chun's first title in any public tournaments. The second fight was at a Beimo* in 1980. It was a hot and humid summer evening, on the roof top of a building in Mok Kwok, Kowloon. His opponent was a Choy Lee Fut instructor. At one point his opponent used an overhead blow. Sikung Ng Wah Sum responded to the blow by a side shifting and a Wu-Sao. Followed by two Chung-Kuens. He was able to knock his opponent off his stance. A journalist captured the entire event and printed it in the next day's daily newspaper. The headline read, ÒWing Chun Lightning Hands...Sifu Ng Wah Sum of Wing Chun defeated his opponent with a lightning speed blocks and strikes.

For more information about Sifu Ng Wah Sum, log on


Wing Chun is a stand-up, close-range fighting style. Its techniques and training are mainly for hand close range. Bruce Lee integrated Wing Chun with higher kicks and western boxing in order to fill in the gaps. Bruce announced this new style as Jeet Kune Do in the late 1960s. Jeet Kune Do proved to be a system that influenced the entire martial arts world including the Wing Chun practitioners. In the early 1990s, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu came to United States and the rest of the world. Jiu Jitsu has proven that ground fighting is another effective and important fighting range. However, there is a big disparity between the striking range and the ground range. Wing Chun's fighting range has been caught somewhere in the middle. Sifu Chow's Integrative Wing Chun (IWC) uses Wing Chun to bridge the gaps from entry to Sticky Hand, from Sticky Hand to Sticky Body onto the ground. Today Sifu Chow's IWC is an all range fighting system which includes long range, close range and ground submissions.









What is the definition of a Complete Fighter? Someone who can defeat an opponent in all ranges of combat (distance, close range, takedowns, ground grappling). What is "sticky hands"? A close-range hand and arm training used in Wing Chun Kung Fu. What does "sticky body" mean? A natural companion to and more penetrating approach of sticky hands, in which the entire body is involved in fighting. What can offer this transitional type of fighting? Sifu Chow's Integrative Wing Chun System. Practitioners of Wing Chun are familiar with single and double sticky-hands (chi-sao). These drills allow the student to develop sensitivity and timing through feeling an opponent's commitment. Sifu Chung Chow cautions his students to be conscious of whether or not they feel commitment (or energy) on their wrist or elbow. If an opponent grabs his wrist, the student brings up the elbow into a Bong-Sao (Wing Block). Conversely, energy applied to the elbow should cause the student to immediately drop the elbow into a Tan-Sao (Upper Side Block). The main concept to remember is to "be like water" as Bruce Lee often told his students, and to flow with the energy.

Sifu Chow's IWC covers all ranges of fighting, and he breaks down close-range, stand-up fighting into four sections or "phases". Phase 1 refers to the passing of the wrist, which occurs when the student initially makes contact with an opponent (such as after a "break" in chi-sao). Phase 2 means gaining control of, or making a cutting angle on the opponent's elbow. Phase 3 is the actual trapping of the elbow with one hand while penetrating the opponent's blindside for a side choke with the other. Phase 4 is gaining control of the space behind an opponent's back, where s/he can no longer fight. Sifu Chow emphasizes that no one can get to Phase 4 in just one move, and encourages his class to take many steps, as if climbing a ladder. If it is difficult to get a good choke on one side of the opponent, he demonstrates to his students how to flow with the opponent's energy and immediately choke the other side. This tactic can be repeated until a rear naked chokehold, and a Phase 4 position, is achieved. Keep in mind that in Phases 1 through 4, the student is sticking to the opponent the entire time. At Phase 4, the IWC student has completed the distance and close ranges of fighting. Traditional Wing Chun only goes as far as Phase 2 in stand up fighting, and sensitivity extends to the hands and the legs but what about the rest of the body? What about takedowns and ground grappling? The IWC practitioner wants to STICK to the opponent's body, just like with the hands in chi-sao! IsnÕt that a better way to reserve more energy to achieve your goal? This is when we get into "sticky body" territory. After Phase 4, the IWC student initiates a takedown. Takedowns can be achieved by the traditional Kau-Gerk from Phase 3, or simply placing the foot behind the opponent's knee in Phase 4 and stepping down. With either of these methods, the student continues to stick to the opponent. With a Kau Gerk, the studentÕs thigh becomes a leverage point to control the opponent's back. If stepping behind an opponent's knee, the studentÕs foot stays there until the opponent reaches the ground. This is the time for control. The transition between takedown and ground grappling is all about controlling and not slamming the opponent. You donÕt want to throw your opponent away if you've spent all of your effort breaking down his/her structure! If an opponent's structure is broken, s/he cannot fight. This will give you time to set up your body mechanics to ensure a proper trapping position. After that, you can easily finish out the fight by either striking or tap-out techniques like joint locks or choking.

For those traditional Wing Chun practitioners unversed with takedown and ground grappling, this probably sounds very technical and time-consuming. However, the benefits of this type of training are immeasurable. By sticking to the arms and then body of an opponent, IWC naturally bridges the gap between stand-up and ground fighting. This unique approach gives the student more options and helps him/her to become a more well rounded fighter.