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History

history

According to legend in 520 AD the Buddhist monk Bodidharma travelled from India throughout south east Asia finding his way to the Siu lam monastery in China (Siu lam is the Cantonese pronunciation for Shaolin, which is the more popular mandarin pronunciation) Bodidharma (Taat moh) laid the foundation for the Wing Tjun Kuen system. In some Wing Tjun lineages, the birthday of Bodidharma is still celebrated every year.

According to the latest research, Wing Tjun clearly descended from the Siu Lam (Shaolin temple). Unlike the story which is most popular today, which refers to a crane and fox or snake and the Buddhist mistress Ng Mui teaching Lady Yim Wing Chun.

 

templeWing Tjun Dim
Together in the course of hundreds of years to refine and improve their Kung Fu. The hall acquired the name Wing Tjun dim, which means the eternal spring hall.

 

The philosophy and principle of effectiveness

For the Southern Siu Lam (Shaolin) monks it was paramount to experience reality directly. Their philosophy of Chan Buddhism meant a return to the natural and simple.
This often stood in contrast to the philosophy of fighting styles taught outside of the temple. These often referred to magic fate or obedience of older generations. This is why the monks of the Wing Tjun dim incorporated only those fighting concepts which were really effective, simple and direct.

Siu Lam Abbot, Chi Sim Sim Si, guardian of the art

Fear and treachery led to the southern Siu Lam (Shaolin temple) being destroyed, by the 18th century ruling powers. The southern Siu Lam (Shaolin Abbot), Chi Sim Sim Si, was able to flee with other monks and got taken on as a cook, on the red boats under a false name.
The red boats were a favourite place for rebels etc… to hide and perfect for the rebels to transfer information from town to town. The red boats travelled around with a lot of freedom, in order to entertain the people with Chinese opera.

Tiger Wong

One of the most brutal Kung Fu fighters of his day, Tiger Wong, tried to extort protection money from the opera troupes. He gave them an ultimatum, should they not pay, then he would destroy their boats and with it, their livelihood. The leader of the opera troupe, Wong Wah Bo and his followers, were in a state of despair. They had no money and moreover could not protect themselves, because they had no real kung fu skills, only the flashy opera style, which was not actually effective for real life confrontations. As the deadline expired, the members of the red boat felt that their end was near.

The Cook
On the day that Tiger Wong came to collect the money. The cook who, up till now, was not taken into consideration and was thought to be a little crazy, blocked Tiger Wong’s path. Tiger Wong did not take, what seemed to be a cook, seriously and tried to overcome him quickly. The fight between Tiger Wong and the Abbot, Chi Sim, is told by many Wing Tjun families differently. It is certain that Tiger Wong did not have a chance against the formidable kung fu of the Wing Tjun 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 (this was the first possibility in history, were the simplification of the system started, as the members of the opera, certainly didn’t have the time that the monks had to learn, in the temple. Creating therefore, from the first set of the Wing Tjun Dim, the Wing Tjun Kuen Set, came the Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Bui Tze, by splitting the form in to three parts. Another theory about the creation of these forms is discussed later and has to do with doctor Leung Jan. Chi Sim, as he was one of the prosecuted men of his time, had his pupils promise to never use or reveal his real name.

That is why it came about that many legends concerning Wing Tjun were invented around this time (for example the story of Yim Wing Tjun ect…),so as to protect Master Chi Sim. 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 Tjun masters who had learned the entire system from their master were told the truth.

During the Ching Dynasty serious male artists often portrayed 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 female roles in the opera, but on the other hand, he represented the best of what the Wing Tjun kuen system had, in fights. At the time (during this period on the red boats, the art of the Wing Tjun Dim became known as Wing Tjun Kuen – Internal Spring Fist, The Kung fu from the Southern Siu Lam (Shaolin Temple) San Kam was known by his nickname which meant literally, 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 and ill tempered tailors 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 immediately (the 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 ill tempered people.

After Fung Siu Ching had proved himself worthy to learn from San Kam, in a one year probationary period, he was accepted and introduced to the art of Wing Tjun Kuen. For ten years, he learned from San Kam, moreover Fung Siu Ching went on to become one of the most famous Wing Tjun masters in Asia. He was able to channel his quick-temperedness into an endless creative energy for Wing Tjun.

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 Tjun branches that are now spread throughout Southeast Asia, travelling during his life through countries like Vietnam and Malaysia. He was also one of the first to teach Wing Tjun fulltime. Together with Leung Jan, student of Leung Yee Tai, he is the most famous historical figure in the history of Wing Tjun and many movies and novels have been 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 renowned kung fu masters. Master Fung Siu Ching’s master pupils guarded many villages in Fatshan and the surrounding areas. 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 chased off 20 armed robbers without severely injuring them.

Their Wing Tjun Kung Fu brother Tang Suen 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.

 

Sifu Wai Chek YanSifu Wai Chek Yan (the owner of Dai Dak Lan).
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 Tjun. however, Wai Yan, did not really wish to know about kung fu, as he had often experienced kung fu practitioners to be violent and uneducated. Had his friend Lo Chi Woon (Student of the Lo brothers) not been a Wing Tjun Master and a Chinese academic at the same time, Wai Yan would certainly not have 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 the West). Wai Yan happily agreed to do so, without being aware of the consequences his promise. He now shared the responsibility to the young Lo, controversially this meant for Wai Yan, that he now also had to master Wing Tjun Kuen, which had been practiced in the family tradition of the Lo’s. In this way Wai Yan began to learn Wing Tjun from Lo Chi Woon and his brother Lo Hung Tai, around 1930. Wai Yan’s original dislike of Kung Fu, changed into an incredible passion and love for the art of Wing Tjun Kuen. After Wai Yan had attained mastery of Wing Tjun, he initiated a new project to further refine and research the art.

Dai Dak Lan
Master Wai Yan converted one of his trading houses, called dai dak lan, into a Wing Tjun research academy in the evening all the goods were put aside in order to have space to train. He did not want to enrol many pupils in this research academy, but rather bring together and unite the best Wing Tjun practioners of his day. These masters were to research the art together, train together and discuss theory, without holding back any secrets.

The former Siu Lam (Shaolin temple) served as a model. Siu Lam (Shaolin Kung Fu) was developed and tested again and again in the Wing Tjun hall for more then a thousand years.

 

GM Chu Chung ManThe 2 Grandmasters of Dai Dak Lan and teachers of Wai Chek Yan. The unbeatable iron fist of Wing Tjun Chu Chung Man: When Wai Yan heard of an unbeatable Wing Tjun master called Chu Chung Man in Macau, he set out straight away to meet him. He became friends with him after challenging the esteemed master, being in awe of his skill. This man was infamous throughout 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 Ip Man’s fame, he was the most famous Wing Tjun 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 became the leader of Dai Dak Lan. Chu Chung Man brought to the project, his friend, Wing Tjun master Tam Kong. Tam Kong was specialised in Kam Na (grabbing and controlling). Sifu Tam Kong also joined the project not much is known about sifu Tam Kong. The Grandmaster of the IWKA interviewed the remaining students of Dai Dak Lan and it seems that Tam Kong died very early and was not for very long in Dai dak Lan.

 

GM Tan YickIn Fatshan grandmaster Tang Suen’s Wing Tjun master pupil, Grandmaster Tang Yick was called the King of the Long Pole.

Master Pak Cheung had been regarded as missing since the Chinese cultural revolution but in 1978, Cheng Kwong found the old Grandmaster on a remote farm near Fatshan.

The sifu of Sergio Iadarola grandmaster Cheng Kwong was over 15 years a private student of him.

Grandmaster Tang Yick was found by Sifu Wai chek Yan in Hong Kong.

At first grandmaster Tang Yick did not want to share his knowledge with other Wing Tjun Masters.

However the openness and warmth of the others soon changed his mind.

The four dragons of Wing Tjun Kuen and their student Wai Chek Yan
With grandmaster Tang Yick, the project now included four members: , Sifu Lo Chi Woon, grandmaster Chu Chung Man, Sifu Tam Kong and grandmaster Tang Yick. The Wing Tjun masters discussed and trained every day. They also invited Kung Fu Masters from other styles to share and exchange their experience. Also, the famous Grand Master Ip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee, was often seen there, during a period of a few years. sifu wai yan studied during this time mostly under grandmaster Chu Chung Man and grandmaster Tang Yick unfortunately he was not able to learn the whole system due to his busy business life style (info obtained from the students of Grandmaster Tang Yick). The four Wing Tjun Masters were called the “The four dragons of Wing Tjun Kuen” by the Chinese Kung Fu community. The project was carried out, by Sifu Wai Yan as he provided the training facility Dai Dak Lan, Grandmaster Chu Chung Man and Grandmaster Tang Yick practised together for over 20 years and the decision was made to take the Wing Tjun Kuen form from grandmaster Tang Yick, the Chong Kuen from grandmaster Chu Chung Man, the Mook Yan Chong(wooden dummy)from grandmaster Chu Chung Man and the long pole system(Luk Dim Poon Kwan)with its Kwan Jong(pole dummy)from grandmaster Tang Yick, The Chief-Instructors and Grand Masters of dai dak lan were therefore Grand Master Chu Chung Man and grandmaster Tang Yick together.

Dai dak lan was closed in the beginning of the 1990`s but Grand Master Tang Yick kept on teaching until his death with the help of Sifu Tang Chung Pak. In the Playing Field Road in Hong Kong. Grand Master Wai Yan also kept on teaching a few closed door students until his death and appointed nobody as his successor as he was not the legitimate grandmaster of the system however his last todai sifu Cheng Kwong carries on his teachings mainly Wai Chek Yans speciality the Saam Bai Fat, in the mid eighties sifu Cheng Kwong brought a German student of his on three occasions to his sigung to learn.

Today, all of the Grand Masters of the dai dak lan project have sadly passed away. The art lives on in the west through efforts of a few men like the Grand Master of the IWKA sifu Sergio Iadarola, who learned privately in Hong Kong from the last master student of Grand Master Ip Man, Grand Master Leung Ting, his master student Allan Fong Wai Hung and learned the Siu Lam wing tjun lineage through sifu Cheng Kwong and the successor of the Tang family and nephew of grandmaster Tang Yick sifu Tang Chung Pak and the last todai of grandmaster Tang Yick sifu Sunny So all in Hong Kong.

The Leung Jan lineage of Wing Tjun
From Wong Wah Bo on, the lineages separated. One path can be traced back as in the above told story, with Wong Wah Bo’s teaching to San Gam and one path through the story of Wong Wah Bo’s teaching to Leung Yee Tai.

Leung Yee Tai taught Leung Jan who became know in Fatshan as the “King of Wing Tjun”. Through latest research there are two possibilities for the creation of the most popular part of the Wing Tjun system, consisting of Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze.

1. This part of the Wing Tjun system was formed by some of the Wing Tjun people on the red boat, as they simply did not have the time to learn in the traditions of the monks had in the Siu Lam (Shaolin temple), therefore, another method had to be developed to transmit the Wing Tjun Kuen system. The solution found was Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze.

2. Dr. Leung Jan was the creator of Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze. There is historical proof that Grand Master Leung Jan liked to simplify things. Proof of that is his creation a few years before his death of Gu Lo Wing Tjun. Again a simplification of Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Biu Tze and assimilating it in to one curriculum. The Gu Lo Wing Tjun system was so named after his native village of Gu Lo, where he spent the final years of his life after his retirement.

What is certain, however, is that Leung Jan chose to give the Wing Tjun parts of Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu, Biu Tze and the simplified wooden dummy form (without footwork) to his student Chan Wah Sun, who in turn was the Sifu of Grand Master Ip Man. Chan Wah Sun, also known as “Wah the money changer” (chau chin wha) had sixteen students. The last one being the currently well known and famous Grand Master, Ip Man, who got his fame for a big part due to being the teacher of the famous movie star Bruce Lee. Had his friend Lo Chi Woon (Student of the Lo brothers) not been a Wing Tjun Master and a Chinese academic at the same time, Wai Yan would certainly not have had any contact with him.

 

GM Yip ManGrand Master Ip Man Ip Man was the second Wing Tjun teacher to teach Wing Tjun in Hong Kong. The first one being Grand Master Tang Suen. The big difference, however, is that Ip Man was the first person to teach Wing Tjun Kuen to the public. during the 50 ties and 60 ties, Grand Master Ip Man visited the research academy dai dak lan very often incorporating many techniques into the wing tjun system he received from his sifu chan wha sun.

 

Two photos of grandmaster Ip Man with the grandmasters of Dai Dak Lan

normal_001_big normal_002_big

 

 

 

 

 

 

(NOTE ON THE LEFT PHOTO GRANDMASTER Ip MAN HOLDING THE ARM OF GRANDMASTER CHU CHUNG MAN AND SMILING TO GRANDMASTER TANG YICK WHO IS SMILING BACK IN THE BACKGROUND OF THE PHOTO, BEHIND GRANDMASTER CHU CHUNG MAN IS STANDING SIFU WAI YAN)

According to eyewitness accounts there was a comparison of skill in the favour of Grand Master Chu Chung Man. (This is not to put anything away from the incredible skill of Grand Master Ip Man as it’s only human that even extraordinary people can lose. Important to note is that Grand Master Ip Man lost from another Wing Tjun Kuen master, his own System. He was never beaten by another Kung Fu system).

GM Ip Man and GM Chu Chung Man

After a long research we can safely say that the fight between Grand Master Ip Man and the son of Grand Master Leung Jan, Leung Bik was actually the fight between Grand Master Ip Man and Grand Master Chu Chung Man.

After this incident, Grand Master Ip Man went often to dai dak lan to exchange knowledge and learn more of Wing Tjun and thus started to improve his system considerably by adding footwork, different kicks and Bart Cham Dao to his Wing Tjun. Important to note is that the Bart Cham Dao form is only found in the Ip Man system and that throughout the whole of China its nonexistent its safe to say that probably it was created by grandmaster Ip Man, all other Wing Tjun lineages have in place, other broadsword forms.

sifu_dummyThe Grand Master of the IWKA sifu Sergio Iadarola
In sifu Sergio Iadarola’s opinion, all the variations found today amongst the different students of Grand Master Ip Man, and their interpretation of the forms of Wing Tjun Kuen, came in to being, due to the different periods of time that they studied under the late Grand Master. His constant changing of the things he taught depended heavily on what he learnt in Dai Dak Lan that’s why his latest student grandmaster Leung Ting one of the teachers of sifu Sergio Iadarola has the most similair Wing Tjun style to that of Dai Dak Lan

Sifu Sergio Iadarola is probably the only one in the world who says that all of the students of Grand Master Ip Man are right. There were just many variations in the Grand Master teachings throughout the years he taught. It’s sad to see all the lineages fighting; the Wong Shung Leung lineage putting down the Leung Ting lineage and vice versa. Wong Shun Leung Ving Tsun brought along great fighters and Wing Tjun masters as well as the Leung Ting lineage and Leung Sheung lineage, without mentioning the many more.
Sifu Sergio Iadarola is one of the only people in the world who has had an in-depth study of both the latest period teaching of Grand Master Ip Man, plus the teachings from dai dak lan, descending from the teachings of Fung Siu Ching, plus having visited practically every other Wing Tjun version being taught in Hong Kong during the 90`s he has been a student of wing tjun from the 80’s studying and finishing the Ip Man system under Leung Ting and studying the siu lam wing tjun (Dai Dak Lan) under sifu Cheng Kwong, sifu Pak Cheung Kau and sifu Tang Chung Pak.

 

sifu Sergio with GM Leung Ting sifu Sergio with GM Cheng Kwong Sifu Sergio with sifu's Tang Chung Pak and Sunny So
Sifu Sergio with GM Leung Ting after private lessons in 1999 Sifu Sergio with sifu Cheng Kwong receiving his master certificate in Siu Lam Wing Tjun Hong Kong 2006 Sifu Sergio with sifu’s Tang Chung Pak and Sunny So receiving Wing Tjun scrolls Hong Kong 2008

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