Everybody in the world, whether a martial arts practitioner or not, knows of Bruce Lee – the single most iconic figure in martial arts and the person responsible for making martial arts mainstream. For the modern day kung-fu film genre enthusiasts, an action-packed movie called “Ip Man” starring Donnie Yen was released in 2008 loosely documenting the life and times of Grand Master Yip Man. What do both individuals have in common? Other than the fact that Lee was a student of Yip Man, both studied a popular Kung-fu style called Wing Chun.
This segment of Hyper’s Respect Tradition not only focuses on the style of Wing Chun itself but its founder. Unlike previous Masters featured here, Wing Chun founder Ng Mui has the distinction of being the most famous FEMALE martial arts founder in martial arts history.
Most of Ng Mui’s life is chronicled through fables and folklore and after hearing some of the stories, one would think that it came out of a movie or fictional storybook. She has been associated with many locations, each of them which could serve as a backdrop to a Hong Kong kung-fu classic film. These places include the Shaolin Temple in Fuzhou, the Wudang Mountains and the White Crane Temple. According to Wing Chun Master Yip Man, Ng Mui was the daughter of a Ming General and was Abbess at the Henan Shaolin Temple. She is said to have been one of the legendary “Five Elders” – the survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty forces. Ng Mui then ran to the White Crane Temple (located between the Yunnan and Sichuan territories in China) and there she met Yim Wing-Chun – a vulnerable 15 year old girl who was being forced into marriage by ruthless bandits. It was here where Ng Mui taught the girl Shaolin kung-fu to help her build strength and to fend off her attackers. It was because of this relationship that Ng Mui decided to name her style Wing Chun.
In addition to Wing Chun (which is also known as Ving Tsun), she is also credited as the founder of Wu Mei Pai (the style she actually created before naming it Wing Chun), Dragon Style, and Five-Pattern Hung Kuen (based on the imitated movements of creatures).
Over the years, the mainstream popularity of Wing Chun has come from iconic figures such as Bruce Lee, who used Wing Chun as the primary foundation for his Jeet Kune Do. Most recently, Ng Mui’s legacy and essence of Wing Chun was displayed in Donnie Yen’s “Ip Man” and “Ip Man 2″. Wing Chun is practiced in over 60 countries and it considered the World’s most popular form of Southern Kung-fu.
“The Legacy” Wing Chun documentary showing Wing Chun history and technique starring William Cheung – direct student of the legendary Ip Man and trainer and friend of Bruce Lee