Today the ‘umbrella’ term for all Chinese Martial Arts is Kung Fu or Gung Fu, which literally means a well-mastered skill or a long-practiced physical prowess. The term was used to refer to Chinese Martial Arts in general in the 1970s due to the popularity of Bruce Lee and the fact that his skill was referred to in Chinese as “hao kung fu” (or great physical prowess). The word “Kung Fu” can actually be used to refer to other physical skills, which take time to master such as cooking, painting, carving or dancing, etc. Today, to avoid confusion, China officially refers to Chinese Martial Arts as “Wu Shu” which literally means ‘Martial Arts’.
Wing Chun is one of the many Chinese Martial Arts available and legend says it was developed during the reign of Emperor K’angshi (1662 – 1722) by a nun called Ng Mui. The style that she developed was purely for practical effectiveness and she designed it to defend herself against much younger, stronger, and fitter opponents. When the Shaolin Temple in which she lived was burned to the ground she was forced to flee to Tai Leung mountain, in Southern China, and it was here that Wing Chun Kuen was born.
Traditionally Chinese Martial Arts were taught through their respective family lines and Wing Chun is no different. The system has been passed down over many years and has been continually refined through the fighting experiences of practitioners. It was passed on in this way until 1949 when Grandmaster Ip Man fled Fatshan in China to settle in Hong Kong. It was here that circumstances forced him to teach Wing Chun in order to earn a living and this was the first time that Wing Chun had been taught openly. Until his death in 1972, Ip Man taught many esteemed students including his own two sons, Ip Chun and Ip Ching, and the late Bruce Lee.
Wing Chun has spread around the globe and gained popularity for its simple yet effective techniques. Students of Grandmaster Ip Man have moved from China over the years in order to pursue education and/or occupation, taking their perception of Wing Chun with them. As a result of this many knowledgeable practitioners with their own personal interpretation of Wing Chun now teach around the World.
Indigenous to Wing Chun is a set of principles that define it as a unique defense system. If the practitioner adheres to these principles and passes them on, the successful continuation of Ip Man Wing Chun Kung Fu is ensured. Emphasis is placed on the education of students in the control and use of his/ her body as this is key to the development of the Martial Artist and the person. Age, sex, size, or physical ability should not be the deciding factor in developing a Wing Chun practitioner but an individual’s ability to use it is!
Ip Chun, the son of Ip Man, continues to promote the art that his father was instrumental in developing and is still teaching even in his progressing years. This is a testament to the inherent health benefits of the Wing Chun system and Cheltenham Wing Chun Kuen is proud to teach Ip Man Wing Chun.