BY THE LATE GRANDMASTER YIP MAN
(From “Genealogy of Ving Tsun Kung Fu” from the Ving Tsun Atheltic Association)
The text in Chinese was a rough draft written by the late Grandmaster Yip Man and was supposed to be the preface for the purpose of organizing the “Ving Tsun Fellowship.” The Ving Tsun Fellowship never came into existence as Grandmaster Yip Man first envisioned it. Instead, we now have the “Hong Kong Ving Tsun Athletic Association” which was established on August 24, 1967. This is the history as it was passed down by Yip Man.
The founder of the Ving Tsun Kung Fu System, Miss Yim Ving Tsun, was a native of Canton, China and lived during the reign of Emperor K’anghsi (1622-1722). As a young girl, she was intelligent and athletic, upstanding and manly. She was betrothed to Leung Bok Chau, a salt merchant of Fukien. Soon after that, her mother died. Her father, Yim Yee, was wrongfully accused of a crime and nearly went to jail. So the family moved far away and finally settled down at the foot of Tai Leung Mountain at the Yunnan—Szechuan border.
At the time, Kung Fu was becoming very strong in Siu Lam Monastery (Shaolin Monastery) of Mt. Sung, Honan. This aroused the fear of the Manchu government, which sent troops to attack the monastery. They were unsuccessful. A man named Chan Man Wai was the First Placed Graduate of the Civil Service Examination that year. He was seeking favor with the government, and suggested a plan. He plotted with Siu Lam monk Ma Ning Yee and others. They set fire to the Monastery while soldiers attacked it from outside. Siu Lam was burned down and the monks scattered.
Buddhist Abbess Ng Mui, Abbot Chi Shin, Abbot Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak and Master Miu Him escaped and fled, going their separate ways. Ng Mui took refuge in White Crane Temple on Mt. Tai Leung (also known as Mt. Chai Har). There, she came to know Yim Yee and his daughter, Yim Ving Tsun. She bought bean curd at their store and they became friends.
Ving Tsun was a very young woman then and her beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Ving Tsun to marry him. She and her father were very worried. Ng Mui learned this and took pity on Ving Tsun. She agreed to teach Ving Tsun fighting techniques so that she could protect herself and solve the problem with the bully and marry Leung Bok Chau, her betrothed husband. So, Ving Tsun followed Ng Mui into the mountains and started to learn Kung Fu. She trained night and day, and eventually mastered the techniques.
She challenged the local bully to a fight for her freedom and was able to beat him using the system that Ng Mui had taught her. Ng Mui set off to travel around the country, but before she left, she told Ving Tsun to strictly honor the Kung Fu traditions, to develop her Kung Fu after her marriage, and to help the people working to overthrow the Manchu government and restore the Ming Dynasty. This is how Abbess Ng Mui first handed down Ving Tsun Kung Fu.
After her marriage, Ving Tsun taught her Kung Fu to her husband Leung Bok Chau. He passed his Kung Fu techniques on to Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai passed it on to Wong Wah Bo. Wong Wah Bo was a member of an opera troupe on board a small boat called a junk. The boat and the troupe were known to the Chinese as the “Red Junk.” Wong worked on the Red Junk with Leung Yee Tei. It so happened that Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Siu Lam, had disguised himself as a cook and was now working on the Red Junk. Chi Shin taught the six and a half point Long pole techniques to Leung Yee Tei. Wong Wah Bo was close to Leung Yee Tei and they shared what they knew about Kung Fu. Together they collaborated and improved their techniques, and thus the Six and a half point Long pole techniques were incorporated into Ving Tsun Kung Fu.
Leung Yee Tei passed the Kung Fu on to Leung Jan, a well-known herbal doctor in Fat Shan. Leung Jan grasped the innermost secrets of Ving Tsun and attained the highest level of proficiency. Many Kung Fu Masters came to challenge him, but all were defeated. Leung Jan became very famous and later he passed his Kung Fu on to Chan Wah Shan, who took me as his student many decades ago. I studied Kung Fu alongside my brothers such as Ng Siu Lo, Ng Chung So, Chan Yu Min and Lui Yu Jai. Ving Tsun was thus passed down to us and we are eternally grateful to our Kung Fu ancestors and teachers.
We will always remember and appreciate our roots and this shared feeling will always keep our Kung Fu brothers close together. This is why I am organizing the Ving Tsun Fellowship, and I hope my Kung Fu brothers will support me in this. This will be very important in the promotion of Kung Fu.