Many are the legends handed down that tell about the birth of Wing Tiun, and as is often the case, legends merged with history. Is seems everything started in 520 A.D., when biddhist monk Bodidharma travelled from India through the south-east of Asia, to get to the temple of Siu Lam, China (Siu Lam is the Cantonese pronounce for Shaolin). The story goes that Bodiddharma taught the monks some indian fighting exercises, to better their body shape. For this reason Bodiddharma is considered the founder of the Wing Tiun system, and some Wing Tiun lineages still celebrate the anniversary of his birth. Another popular story tells about a nun named Ng Mui, who taught her martial art system, inspired by the fighting of a crane with either a fox or a snake, to the young Yim Wing Tiun, who needed it to defend herself from a rude and violent suitor. From a historic standpoint, a for the latest reasearches, Wing Tiun clearly comes from the Southern Shaolin Temple (Siu Lam). The room of the Eternal Spring : Wing Tiun Dim. There was a room in the temple, a special room, named the room of the Eternal Spring where, for hundreds of years, only the most experience monks were allowed to train and sharpen their Kung Fu.
The Philosophy of effectiveness
For the monks of the southern temple Siu Lam, it was basic to experience reality directly ; in fact, they practicedChan Buddism, the philosophy of which had meant a return to the natural and the simple. This was often is contrast with the philosophies of the styles that were taught outside the temple. Forgedby blind obedience to the ancient generations and their precepts, and often related to myths and legends of magic rather than to reality and effectiveness.
This was the reason that pushed the Wing Tiun Dim monks to include into their system only those concepts that were indeed effective, simple and direct.
The Siu Lam abbot Chi Sim Sim Si, guardian of the Art.
In the 18th Century, the southern temple of Siu Lam was burned and distroied by the Ching dynasty, who had rosen to power and was afraid of conjures by the monks who were faithful to the previous dynasty (Ming). The abbot of the Siu Lam temple, Chi Sim Sim Si, managed to escape with other monks and, after giving false identity, was hired by the Red Junks (boats used to transport acting companies), aiming to hide. Red Junks, being able to move around from city to city for the shows, were a perfect hiding spot for the rebels, who were making use of this situations for organizing the rebellion and to hand down their teachings without allowing any suspect.
Tiger Wong, a ferocious fighter of that time, offered himself as the protector of the Red Junks, in exchange for a lot of money, threatening that, hadn’t they paied, he would manage to destroy them. The leader of the Opera group, Wong Wah Bo, and his fellows, were desperate because they had no money and couldn’t defend themselves, being no Kung Fu experts among them. The actors used to practice a their Opera style, a sort of Kung Fu that had no chances in an actual fight. Therefore, with the fixed day getting closer, all the members of the Red Junks felt the end coming.
The day Tiger Wong came to collect the money, the cook, who had not been given any regard and was considered somewhat crazy, stepped in front of Tiger Wong. The BRIGANTE didn’t take seriously what he saw as a simple cook, and tried to move over quickly. The fight between Tiger Wong and the Abbot, Chi Sin is told in different ways by the Wing Tiun families; the only certain thing is that Tiger Wong had absolutely zero chances against the amazing Kung Fu of Wing Tiun Dim.
The Vital Secret The members of the red boat, were delighted and wanted to learn kung fu from their cook at once. Abbot Chi Sim revealed his true identity and was ready to teach the members of the opera troupe the system, but the members of the opera didn’t had the time to train, thus they learned a simplified system. Creating therefore from the first set of the Wing Tiun Dim, the Wing Tiun Kuen Set, the Siu Nim Tau, chum Kiu and Bui Tse by splitting the form in three parts (there is Another theory for the creation of these forms, and it will be discussed later). Chi Sim was one of the prosecuted man of his time, his pupils had to promise never to use or reveal his real name. That is why so many legends concerning Wing Tiun were invented around this time (for example the story of Yim Wing Tiun etc.) . The first students under the leadership of Wong Wah Bo, the successor of Chi Sim, were San Kam, Leung Yee Tai and Leung Laan Kwai. Only the Wing Tiun masters who learned the entire system from their master were told the truth. During the Ching Dynasty serious male artists often portrait female roles in opera performances as women were not allowed to perform in public. San Kam was an excellent artist, who on the one hand was very good at playing especially female parts in the opera, but on the other hand represented best of all the Wing Tiun kuen system in fights at the time (during it’s time on the red boats, the art of the Wing Tiun Dim became known as Wing Tiun Kuen – Eternal Spring Fist. San Kam was his nickname which meant literarily pretty face. While San Kam was shopping one day for opera costumes for the red boat members in Southern China’s Fatshan, He was mocked and attacked by the young ill tempered tailor apprentice Fung Siu Ching, the bullish Fung Siu Ching had to land in the dust seven times before he noticed that he was no match at all for this strange looking man. Fung Siu Ching wanted to offer tea to San Kam straight away (Chinese Kung Fu custom in order to become a masters pupil). However San Kam turned him down on the grounds that he did not want to teach any hot-heads. After Fung Siu Ching have proofed himself to San Kam in a one year probationary period, he was accepted and introduced to the art of Wing Tiun Kuen. Ten years he learned from San Kam, moreover Fung Siu Ching went on to become one of the most famous Wing Tiun master in Asia. He was able to transform his quick temperedness into an endless creative energy for Wing Tiun. Fung Siu Ching was one of the only masters to be on the red boats and in mainland China, he was responsible for the many different Wing Tiun branches, now spread throughout Southeast Asia, traveling during his life through countries like Vietnam and Malaysia. He was also one of the first to teach Wing Tiun fulltime. Together with Leung Jan, student of Leung Yee Tai, he is the most famous historical figure in the history of Wing Tiun, as many movies and novels are based on their exploits. Fung Siu Ching’s master pupils in Fatshan were his son Fung Tin, the Lo brothers, Tang Suen, Dung Yick and the chemist Ma Chung Yi. During the Ching Dynasty (1644–1911) only the larger cities, were protected by the state police of that day. Small villages were protected by renown kung fu masters. Master Fung Siu Ching’s master pupils guarded many villages in Fatshan and the surrounding area’s. The Lo brothers for example drove off entire bands of robbers only armed with their broadswords. On one occasion the Lo brothers are said to have even chased off 20 armed robbers without severely injuring them. Their Wing Tiun Kung Fu brothers Tang Sun received the honorary title, “King of the Long Pole” from the people from the villages that he protected, because he kept them safe from harm using the pole. Grand Master Wai Yan Wai Yan was born at the beginning of the 1900′s as the son a rich Chinese family in Hong Kong. Via his older friend Lo Chi Woon, the young Wai Yan often came into contact with the martial art Wing Tiun. However Wai Yan, did not really want to know about kung fu, because he had often experienced kung fu practitioners as violent and uneducated. Had his friend Lo Chi Woon (Student of the Lo brothers) not been a Wing Tiun Master and a Chinese academic at the same time, Wai Yan would have certainly not had any contact with him. One day Lo Chi Woon asked Wai Yan whether he would teach his younger son the art of Chinese writing (This is comparable to accepting the role of godfather in western culture) Wai Yan happily agreed to do so, accepting the consequences of this promise. Now he had to share with his friend the responsibility to educate the young Lo, and this also meant for Wai Yan, that he now also had to master Wing Tiun Kuen, which had been practiced in the family tradition of the Lo’s. In this way Wai Yan began to learn Wing Tiun from Lo Chi Woon and his brother Lo Hung Tai around 1930. Wai Yan original dislike of Kung Fu, changed into an incredible passion and love for the art of Wing Tiun Kuen. After Wai Yan attained Mastery of Wing Tiun, he initiated a new project for Wing Tiun to further refine and research the art. Dai Duk Lan Master Wai Yan converted one of his drugstores called Dai Duk Lan into a Wing Tiun research academy, where in the evening all the goods were moved away, in order to create room for the training. He did not want to enroll many pupils in this research academy, but rather bring together and unite the best Wing Tiun of his day. These were to research the art together, the art that was created in the Wing Tiun Dim room of the Southern Shaolin Temple of Siu Lam, train together and discuss theory, without holding back any secrets
The unbeatable Iron Fist of Wing Tiun, Chu Chung Man
When Wai Yan heard of an unbeatable Wing Tiun Master called Chu Chung Man in Macau, he set out straight away to meet him. After fighting him and being in awe of his skill, he became friends with him and showed him his ambitious project. This man was esteemed in Southern China, because he always defeated every challenger without much of an effort and also maintained many contacts to other kung fu masters. Before grandmaster Yip Man’s fame, he was the most famous Wing Tiun master in Hong Kong. Chu Chung Man was so moved by Wai Yan’s project, that he moved to Dai Dak Lan and accepted the position of chief instructor and leader of Dai Dak Lan. Chu Chung Man brought to the project his friend, Wing Tiun master Tam Kong. Tam Kong has specialized in Kam Naa (grabbing and controlling). And could beat most opponents there with ease, because many Kung Fu fighters, did not devote enough attention to grabbing. To make his project complete, Way Yan also wanted to include Tang Suen, the famous “King of the Long Pole”, but he was reported as missing. No being able to find him, he asked his pupil, Master Tang Yick, to take his place. At first Tang Yick did not want to share his knowledge with other Wing Tiun Masters. However the openness and warmth of the others changed his mind. With Sifu Tang Yick the project now included five members. Sifu Wai Yan, Sifu Lo Chi Woon, Sifu Chu Chung Man, Sifu Tam Kong and Sifu Tang Yick. The Wing Tiun Masters discussed and trained Wing Tiun every day. They also invited Kung Fu Masters from other styles to share and exchange their experience. Also the famous Grand Master Yip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee, was seen there often during a period of a few years. Sifu Way Yan studied in those years mainly with G.M Chu Chung Man and G.M. Tang Yick, but unfortunately (due to his extremely busy life), never managed to learn the system entirely. (This information was received from the pupils of G.M. Tang Yik). The project was developing , as for Sifu Wai Yan’s hopes, and so G.M Chu Chung Man and G.M. Tang Yick practiced together for over 20 years, stating that the new curricula of the System had to include the following forms : Sap Yat Sao (Wing Tiun Kuen) (from GM Tang Yik) Chong Kuen (from GM Chu Chung Man) Mook Yan Chong (wooden dummy by GM Tang Yik) Kwan Chong (with the pole, executed on the dummy by GM Tang Yik) Look Dim Poon Kwan (long pole by GM Tang Yik). Thus it was decided that Dai Duk Lan chief instructors were to be G.M. Chu Chun Man and G.M. Tang Yick. When the Dai Duk Lan project, as a training and researching center, came to an end, G.M. Tang Yick kept on teaching until his death at the Playing Field Road in Hong Kong, with the help of Sifu Tang Chung Pak. Sifu Wai Yang also taught privately to some students, but never named his successor, for he wasn’t a Great Master himself. Today the great masters of the Dai Duk Lan are sadly passed away. The art lives on in the western world thanks to the efforts of few men, like Sifu Nicola Colonnata, founder of AWTKA Wing Tiun Kung Fu, who learned privately from G.M. Yip Man’s last pupil, G.M. Leung Ting, from his best students, G.M. Kernspecht and Master Schafer, and learned the Siu Lam Wing Tiun lineage, in Hong Kong and in Europe, through the succersors of the Tang family, G.M’s nephew Tang Yick, Sifu Tang Chung Pak and from the last student of the late Grandmaster, Sifu Sunny So.
GGM Tang Yik with his great-grandson GM Michael Tang
The lineage Wing Sifu Cheung Kwong Tiun by Leung Jan.
From Wong Wah Bo on, lineages split. A part of the path, that coincided with Wong Wah Bo teaching San Kam, has already been described. The other comes from another pupil of Wong Wah Bo’s : Leung Yee Tai, who became famous in Fatshan as the “king of Wing Tiun”. Some recent researches relate the creation of Siu Nim Tao, of Chum Kiu and Biu Tze in the Wing Tiun System to a pupil of Leung Yee Tai’s, Dr. Leung Jan, even though there is no historic evidence that Dr. Leung Yang wanted to simplify the system. What is certain however is that Leung Jan chose to give the Wing Tiun Part of Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Tze and simplified wooden dummy form without footwork to his student Chan Wah Sun, who in turn was the Sifu of Grand Master Yip Man. Chan Wah Sun, also known as “Wah the Money Changer” (chau chin wha) had sixteen students. The last one know being the nowadays famous Grand Master Yip Man. Who got his fame for a big part due to being the teacher of famous movie star Bruce Lee. Grand Master Yip Man Yip Man was the second Wing Tiun teacher to teach Wing Tiun in Hong Kong. The first one being Grand Master Tang Suen. The big difference however is that Yip Man was the first one to teach Wing Tiun Kuen in public. Somewhere around the beginning of the 50`s Grand Master Yip Man visited the research academy Dai Duk Lan having a fight with Grand Master Chu Chung Man. According to eye witness accounts the fight was quickly over in the favor of Grand Master Chu Chung Man (This is not to take anything away from the incredible skill of Grand Master Yip Man its only human, people can loose. Important to note is Grand Master Yip Man lost from Wing Tiun Kuen, his own System. He was never beat by another Kung Fu system).
GGM Yip Man with GM Leung Ting
GM Yip Man and GM Chu Chung Man
After a long research we can safely say that the fight between Grand Master Yip Man and the son of Grand Master Leung Jan, Leung Bik was actually the fight between Grand Master Yip Man and Grand Master Chu Chung Man. After these incident Grand Master Yip Man went often to Dai Duk Lan to exchange knowledge and learn more of Wing Tiun and thus started to improve his system considerably adding footwork, different kicks and Bart Cham Dao to his Wing Tiun. Important to note is for example that the Bart Cham Dao form (double knives) is only found in the Yip Man System, while all the other Wing Tiun lineages have other broadsword forms.
Sifu Nicola Colonnata
Hong Kong 2005 Sifu Nicholas is accepted by GM Leung Ting as private student, the first Italian in history.
is one of the few people in the world to have studied either the last teachings of G.m. Yip Man (enriched by what he had saw at the Dai Duk Lan), and the ones coming from G.M. Tang Yick, as well as the teachings of the 18 Lohan Hands system, coming from the southern Shaolin Temple, which give more skills to the Wing Tiun student, expecially concerning the different “engine” used by this system, transmitting energy based on tendons strength and not only muscles.
Hong Kong, GM Michael Tang with Sifu Nicola
Sifu Nicola decided to gather all his knowledge coming from these researches, in ATWKA Wig Tiun Kung Fu, in order to give students a vision as wide and complete as possible. Sifu Nicola, keeping a promise made to his Masters, with whom he still studies, gives all himself, along with his team of instructors, to spread and preserve the art, teaching everything he knows to every true Wing Tiun passionate that he meets along his road.