The origins of Wing Tsun can be found in the foggy historical China of the 17th century: unstable political and social war-conditions inwards and outwards, an insecure environment for its inhabitants. A life was not worth much and the personal goal for the individual was survival.
An exciting legend states, that during this war-shaken time, five grand masters of the Shaolin Kung Fu gathered in a monastery and put together their most effective techniques and experience in teaching, developing a training-program to educate versed fighters in the shortest possible time.
By treason, the monastery could be burned down and the only person that survived was the nun Ng Mui. She fled to the mountains and purified the system. Her knowledge was shared with Yim Wing Chun, whom was seeking help in dealing with a local well-known ruffian that had bullied her for a long time. The acquired skills enabled her to teach the ruffian a lesson, so she wandered in peace from then on. The martial art system owes its beautiful name to this lady Yim Wing Chun. It roughly translates as “lovely spring”. Since then it was passed from generation to generation in a private, family-style way.
May the story be true or only a legend: What can be learned from the origins of Wing Tsun for the practice today? Which skills enabled the dainty and fine-boned beauty to assert herself?
It can’t be only the pure physical power; moreover it might have been the unification of her physical, mental and spiritual qualities that led her to victory.
One could envision Yim Wing Chun as a patient, stable, curious, self-dependent, creative, critical, autodidactic, serene student, that developed these qualities as a practitioner of Wing Tsun within herself. Downright, she could serve us as an ideal and be an example of orientation and safety in difficult situations on our own educational way.
Wing Tsun was taught in public for the first time by Yip Man, the grandmaster was forced to immigrate to Hong Kong during the Chinese Revolution 1949. To earn his bread and butter, he taught the members of the Hong Kong Restaurant Workers Association during the 1950ies. Until he passed away, he taught about 1000 students, among them the actor Bruce Lee and Leung Ting, who brought Wing Tsun to Europe. He and his German disciple Keith R. Kernspecht have rendered service to the world wide spreading of the Wing Tsun System. Leung Ting taught Wing Tsun in a much more direct fashion than the traditional way and arranged the system in an easy to learn and clear structure. Bernd Wagner and Keith R. Kernspecht, who is still leading the EWTO (European Wing Tsun Organization) and were teachers of Hartmut Gebelein who is my teacher.
Remark: All names and names of organizations, especially EWTO (European Wing Tsun Organisation) are only mentioned for historical reasons. In no way their trademark rights should be concerned.