Wing Tsun

Claudio Mascarenhas actively practices and teaches Wing Tsun in New York as part of the International WingTsun Association.

For information about private and group classes: claudiomascarenhas (at) gmail (dot) com.

About Wing Tsun

According to legend, Wing Tsun Kung-Fu was founded by a Buddhist nun named Ng Mui more than 250 years ago in China.Ng Mui designed the new system to take advantage of the weak points of traditional Shaolin Kung-Fu, for the purpose of hunting down the traitors of the Shaolin Monastery. She also developed this new system as an antithesis to the theories of Shaolin Kung-Fu. Instead of relying on brute strength, Ng Mui's system would borrow the force of the enemy or "give way" to it. Everything from posture, punching, kicking and stance stepping methods were completely redeveloped.

She passed this new system to a woman called Yim WingTsun. Yim later taught it to her husband, Leung Bok Chau. For the honor of his beloved wife, Leung named it WingTsun Kuen ("Kuen" means fist or fist-fighting art).

Leung Bok Chau later passed on his wife's style to Wong Wah Bo. Wong was a member of an opera troupe living on a Red Junk (boat). A fellow opera player named Leung Yee Tai was a master of pole fighting techniques. The two were good friends and exchanged their knowledge with each other. Thus, Leung Yee Tai learned WingTsun and Wong Wah Bo learned the pole fighting techniques. From this point on, pole fighting techniques have been a part of the WingTsun forms which already included 3 empty hand forms, wooden dummy techniques and very advanced double knife techniques.

Leung Yee Tai passed on his kung-fu to Leung Jan, a famous herbal doctor in Fatshan. Doctor Leung Jan would later be revered as the "Kung-Fu King of WingTsun". He was later the subject of many pulp novels, and even later the subject of some films. Leung Jan was often challenged by other kung-fu masters but always defeated them. He taught only a limited number of students, the last of which being Chan Wah Shun.

Many years later, Chan Wah Shun would accept his final disciple, a young boy named Yip Man. Yip Man trained very hard under his own Si-Fu (father-teacher) until the old Chan passed away. Before Chan died, he made his eldest student Ng Chung So promise to teach the boy further in WingTsun. Yip Man spent a few more years learning from his sihing or older kung-fu brother.

Years later while studying English in Hong Kong, Yip Man would have the chance to continue his WingTsun studies under Leung Bik, a son of Doctor Leung Jan! It was at this time that Yip Man learned the innermost secrets of WingTsun and its theory. Yip Man returned to Fatshan after completing his studies in Hong Kong. He began to teach a couple of students, more out of fun than of financial need. It wasn't until the Communist take over in 1949, when Yip Man fled back to Hong Kong, that he began to teach WingTsun professionally. Being the first to bring WingTsun to Hong Kong and teach it, Yip Man naturally became the Grandmaster of WingTsun.

Among his early disciples were Leung Sheung, Wong Shun Leung, Tsui Sheung Tin, Hawkins Cheung, Victor Kan, and the late great Bruce Lee. WingTsun became famous in Hong Kong due to its reputation in challenge fight matches with other styles. Later, WingTsun would gain more popularity after Bruce Lee revealed that WingTsun was the core of his martial art Jeet Kune Do.

Poor health forced Grandmaster Yip Man to retire from teaching WingTsun. He handed over the teaching to his students. In Chinese tradition one would say that Grandmaster Yip Man had "closed his door".

Grandmaster Yip Man accepted the young Leung Ting as his last student and taught him the most advanced techniques of WingTsun. Leung Ting became the first of Grandmaster Yip Man's students to heavily promote WingTsun in Hong Kong through magazines, newspaper articles and even TV. Leung Ting's school become so full that the Hong Kong press called him the "millionaire kung-fu instructor"! During the last few years of Grandmaster Yip Man's life, Leung Ting helped WingTsun come more into the public eye. With the blessing of Grandmaster Yip Man, Leung Ting became the only one of his students to publish an article about the double knives form in a magazine during his lifetime.

After the death of Grandmaster Yip Man in 1972, Leung Ting began his work to further develop, upgrade and modernize the art of WingTsun. In 1973, Leung Ting exclusively adopted the name "WingTsun" to distinguish his system from the other students of Grandmaster Yip Man who usually spell it as "Wing Chun" or "Ving Tsun".

Grandmaster Leung Ting was the first to refine Wing Chun from a non-systematic teaching style to a complete fighting system suitable for the modern world. The WingTsun system under Grandmaster Leung Ting has been developed all over the world. The International WingTsun Association is now the largest professional Chinese martial arts organization in the world.

In 1975, the European WingTsun Organization (EWTO) was founded by Professor Keith R. Kernspecht as a result of a visit by Grandmaster Leung Ting. Professor Keith R. Kernspecht has been immensely successful in promoting and organizing WingTsun throughout Europe. Today the "father of WingTsun in the West" supervises more than 14 countries including Germany - the European capital of WingTsun. The headquarters for WingTsun, located near Heidelberg, is in a magnificent old castle called Langenzell. Many top WingTsun instructors have received their training there.

(Photo credit: Ixa Faolan)