You may have heard about Wing Chun, or even seen videos online, but where exactly did this martial art come from? And what, if any, are the benefits of learning Wing Chun? As it turns out, the history of Wing Chun is somewhat debated due to the fact that it’s said to have originated more than 300 years ago. During this time, the Manchus rose to power in China. Since the Shaolin monks supported the Ming, they were greatly oppressed by the Manchu. All of this led to the uncertainty surrounding the origins of Wing Chun.
The Ng Mui Story
The most common story behind Wing Chun’s origin begins with Ng Mui, a Buddhist nun. During the late 17th or early 18th century, the Shaolin Temple was destroyed. In the wake of this destruction, The Five Elders made it out alive — one of them being Ng Mui. As the legend goes, it was at this time that Ng Mui decided to create a form of martial arts which worked for people of all sizes and genders. To achieve this goal, Ng Mui took inspiration from the world around her, specifically the movements of animals. Mui noticed that, when mimicked by humans, the crane’s delicate movements provide a natural ease, making it easier to move the hands for strikes and blocks.
The first student to train under Ng Mui’s new discipline was Yim Wing Chun, a beautiful young girl who, at the time, was being pressured into marrying a warlord. Yim Wing Chun decided to learn the then-unnamed discipline as a means of fighting him off. After some time, she mastered the martial art and used it to fight off her would-be husband. In honor of Ng Mui’s first student having mastered the martial art, Ng Mui named her discipline “Wing Chun.”
Grandmaster Ip Man
Although Wing Chun was passed on throughout history, it was never really officially documented as a martial art. This is another reason why its origins are difficult to pin down. Throughout history, the strongest supporter of Wing Chun was a man named Grandmaster Ip Man. He is generally considered the most revered and talented Wing Chun teacher. In 1948, Ip Man’s move to Hong Kong (and subsequent teaching of Wing Chun) was the driving force behind making Wing Chun what it is today.
Grandmaster Ip Chun and an Alternative Story
Today, the grandson of Grandmaster Ip Man, Grandmaster Ip Chun, teaches Wing Chun in Hong Kong. Although he enjoyed the story of Ng Mui teaching Yim Wing Chun the martial art to fight off her oppressor, Ip Chun wanted to learn more about the historical facts behind Wing Chun. Recent findings have shown that there was another man who may have been responsible for the spread of Wing Chun: Cheung Ng.
Cheung Ng was a student in the ancient Shaolin temple before its eventual destruction. During this time, he learned the art of Wing Chun as a self-defense method against the Manchus. When the temple was destroyed, Cheung Ng sought refuge with various families to whom he taught Wing Chun. His nickname, Tan Sau Ng, comes from the term “Tan Sau,” a block in Wing Chun.
Some people believe the story of Ng Mui was fabricated as a means of protecting people like Cheung Ng who were secretly teaching Wing Chun to the families they were staying with.
The Benefits of Wing Chun
Because of the fast-paced nature of Wing Chun, there are many obvious benefits, such as general physical fitness. However, there are some benefits that are specific to the fighting styles used in Wing Chun. Here are a few of the health benefits of practicing Wing Chun:
- Physical fitness: It goes without saying that any martial art will improve your physical fitness. However, due to the quick hand movements required by Wing Chun, it’s especially good for getting your heart rate up and shedding weight.
- Coordination: While the blocks and strikes used in Wing Chun are designed to work for everyone, their efficacy only improves as you get better. Constantly training your hands to block and strike quickly — especially in accordance with enemy attacks — is a great way to improve your coordination.
- Mental health: Like many forms of martial arts, Wing Chun has many mental health benefits. The first and most obvious benefit comes in the form of stress relief — the kind you get from any kind of physical activity. Beyond that, though, it’s a great way to remove yourself from the constant swirl of thoughts in your brain. When you’re using all of your energy to focus on blocking or landing a strike, your brain doesn’t have the energy to think about the negative things going on in your life. In this sense, Wing Chun is somewhat of a form of meditation.
- Better speed and power: Where as lifting weights will make your muscles stronger, Wing Chun will teach you how to use your muscles to be stronger. Wing Chun uses proper striking techniques to provide an added boost of explosiveness and speed to your strikes, a skill that translates well into other activities.
- Improved eye focus: Hand-eye coordination didn’t get its name by accident. To fully maximize your hand-eye coordination, you must train your eyes to quickly recognize and process visual cues. Learning blocks in Wing Chun trains your eyes to quickly process a threat and your hands to properly respond.
Wing Chun’s origins may be debatable, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great martial art. If you’re looking to build hand-eye coordination while reducing stress and improving your mental health, give Wing Chun a try.
To learn more about either Wing Chun history, Wing Chun benefits, or even Wing Chun in general, please do not hesitate to contact us as soon as possible. Better still, subscribe to use to get our 5 day video course free of charge as well as an e-book on the Ngo Dac Na system. A combination that serves as an excellent introduction to Wing Chun while also providing more than enough advanced material to make things interesting even for more advanced practitioners of Wing Chun.