Ip Man Wing Chun Kuen

Wing Chun Kuen caligraphyIp Man Wing Chun Kung Fu

Can a smaller person defend themselves against someone bigger and stronger? Many people believe that it is impossible. However, in the martial art called Wing Chun Kung Fu, it has been proven time and time again that it can be done. Why is this?

One reason is that we learn how to use less energy to defend ourselves and then use an opponent’s energy against him. Another reason is because Wing Chun uses footwork to move when attacking and defending, creating more possibilities for attacking or defending without using energy.

Wing Chun is not difficult to learn and very quickly you can begin practising techniques and footwork to improve your level. Michael Tse says, “My Sifu, Grandmaster Ip Chun, is only a small man, weighing less than 100 lbs. However, I have seen him do Chi Sau (a way of practising the Wing Chun techniques in training with a partner) with Westerners much bigger and taller than him and every time he easily controls them.”

Master Tse playing Chi Sau with a bigger opponent. Good Chi Sau is important to reach a high level of Wing Chun.
Master Tse playing Chi Sau with a bigger opponent.

“They always try to use strength against him, but being smaller, he knows that he does not have the same strength to fight back. So he uses his sensitivity to “listen” to his opponent’s hands and body movements. In small ways, they will give their intentions away before they have actually committed all of their energy. He can then move or change his position to defend and even change their energy to trap them and attack back. Anyone who sees Grandmaster Ip Chun is impressed by his skill, especially as he is now over eighty years old and still very fit and healthy.”

History of Wing Chun

Statue of Wing Chun grandmaster Ip Man
Grandmaster Ip Man

The martial art ’Wing Chun Kuen’ is named after a woman, and its roots go back some 400 years to the Shaolin Temple. At that time the Shaolin Temple was home to some of China’s best martial artists and a refuge for freedom fighters who opposed the ruling Qing Government. Its strength grew and this aroused the concern and fear of the government.

An army was sent to attack the monastery and wipe out the monks. However at first they were unsuccessful, then with the help of some traitors within Shaolin, the temple was finally burnt down. Many of the monks were killed, though among those who survived was the Abbess Ng Mui.

Ng Mui found refuge at the White Crane Temple on Tai Leung Mountain near the Yunnan-Szechuan boarder. In a town near Tai Leung Mountain lived a bean-curd seller called Yim Yee and his young daughter named Yim Wing Chun, and it was whilst selling bean-curd they met and befriended Ng Mui.

Wing Chun Skill Chi Sau calligraphyYim Wing Chun was engaged to her love, Leung Bok Chau, but a local bandit wanted her for himself and tried to force her to marry him. Seeing this, Ng Mui took pity on her and so taught her martial arts. After training very hard, Yim Wing Chun fought and defeated the bandit, and thus was free to marry her love.

That is the legend and there is a great deal of debate over its accuracy, but certainly Wing Chun Kuen has become one of the most popular styles of Kung Fu in the world.

This widespread popularity can be credited to one person, the late Grandmaster Ip Man. During his younger days, whilst living in Foshan, South China, he became famous for his Wing Chun Kung Fu and was undefeated. He refined and developed Wing Chun, but it was only when he moved to Hong Kong did he begin teaching and spreading his knowledge. Ip Man taught many, the most famous being the film star and martial artist Bruce Lee. Ip Man died in 1972. Since this time his eldest son, Ip Chun, has carried on his father’s teaching.

Wing Chun Ancestor Rules

The Wing Chun ancestor rules in Grandmaster Ip Chun’s school in Hong Kong.
The Wing Chun ancestor rules in Grandmaster Ip Chun’s school in Hong Kong.

Today martial arts are not gaining a good image in the public eye. Classes are often viewed as violent places full of bullies who learn how to intimidate the vulnerable. This is definitely the wrong concept of martial arts.

Training any martial art should make you a better person. Correct training not only makes you healthy, it also makes you happier and nicer to be around. This is the traditional Chinese way and a positive contribution to society as a whole.

Michael Tse says, “My Sifu, Ip Chun, always says that if you want your hands (skill) to be good, then touch a thousand hands. Without doing Chi Sau, our Wing Chun skill cannot be good as we only know the concept and principles of Wing Chun but do not know how to put them into practise. My students start learning Chi Sau within their first few lessons. They also learn how to interact as part of the class itself because to know how to behave with brothers and sisters, juniors and seniors is part of learning any traditional martial art skill. Wing Chun actually has nine ancestor instructions for how to behave and be a good person and martial artist.”

“If you visit my Sifu, Grandmaster Ip Chun’s school, you will see a marble plaque hanging on the wall with these inscribed in Chinese. These instructions help give us a guideline to be a good student, a good teacher and a good person because in order to be a good martial artist we need not only to have just good skill but a good heart.”


  1.    Be disciplined and respect the Wu De (Martial Art morals)
  2.    Understand courtesy and loyalty. Love your country and respect your parents.
  3.    Love your Kung Fu brothers and sisters. Unite and enjoy to be a group.
  4.    Control your passion (including sex). Protect your Jing (spirit).
  5.    Practise the skill regularly. Keep the skill with you at all times.
  6.    Nourish your Qi. Confrontations and fighting are forbidden.
  7.    Be gentle to handle any events and situations.
  8.    Protect the weak and small. Use your martial art skill in the good way with integrity.
  9.    Carry on our ancestors’ path. Strictly follow their instructions.