The Origins of Wing Chun.
Wing Chun Kung Fu was created in the Southern Shaolin Temple in China.
The shào (少) in “Shaolin” refers to “Mount Shaoshi”, a mountain in the Songshan mountain range and lín (林) means “forest”. With sì (寺), the name literally means “monastery/temple in the woods of Mount Shaoshi”. Others, such as the late master Chang Dsu Yao translate “Shaolin” as “young (new) Forest”or sometimes translated as “little forest”.
The monastery has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. In 1641 the troops of anti-Ming rebel Li Zicheng sacked the monastery due to the monks’ support of the Ming and the possible threat they posed to the rebels. This effectively destroyed the temple’s fighting force. Perhaps the best-known story of the Temple’s destruction is that it was destroyed by the Qing government for supposed anti-Qing activities.
Variously said to have taken place in 1647 under the Shunzhi Emperor, in 1674 under the Kangxi Emperor, or in 1732 under the Yongzheng Emperor, this destruction is also supposed to have helped spread Shaolin martial arts through China by means of the five fugitive monks Ng Mui, Jee Shin Shim Shee, Fung Doe Duk, Miu Hin and Bak Mei.
Mt. Shaoshi, Honan China.
The Ming Royal Family.
Ming Military Experts.
5 Elders of Shaolin.
2 Monks that survived the temple burning, and were left to spread Wing Chun.
Yat Chum, 22nd Generation Shaolin Monk.
Yat Chum Dai Si passed on his high level Wing Chun knowledge to Cheung Ng.
(Late 1600’s)In the Wing Chun Hall (Tong) they create a style of Kung Fu, designed to train a rebellion army.
Pooling all of their knowledge and strategy, to build a master style. A martial art that could defeat all other styles. Not based on the movements of an animal or based on brute strength. Instead based the reality of the 3 dimensions as they are affected by time, space and energy.
Specifically using inherit human physics and capitalizing on the known weaknesses of the human frame. Developing methods and techniques that are perfectly effective, regardless of size, strength, or gender.
Aka “Tan Sao” Ng
Aka “Tan Sao” Ng_ Cheung Ng.
Aka “Tan Sao” Ng
In order to keep his identity and Siu Lam background from the Manchurian government, Cheung Ng joined the Red Boat Opera Troupe. The name was given to this organization of talented stage performers who traveled in red boats. Accomplished in Kung Fu and gymnastics, they formed their own organization and stage names: the Red Boat Opera was Cheung Ng’s safest refuge.
Cheung Ng became known in the opera troupe as Tan Sao Ng (Spread-Out Arm Ng) from his skillful use of the Wing Chun maneuver tan sao to subdue others during challenges. His level of skill allowed him to use one tan sao to represent over one thousand moves. He demonstrated that a basic technique such as tan sao must be fully understood, in concept and application, prior to the next thousand techniques. After learning the next thousand techniques, then they all become one again.
Harsh Manchurian actions created such distrust among the people that they resulted in the formation of underground organizations or secret societies such as the Heaven and Earth Society and the White Lotus Society. Within a secret society, the identity of the leaders, members, and their activities were known only to a few within the society itself.
One of the Red Boat Opera Troupe actors by the name of Hung Gun Biu (Red Bandana Biu), was a secret society leader and brought Tan Sao Ng into the organization. The safety of the opera troupe combined with the security of the secret society allowed Ng to spread his Wing Chun knowledge in confidence.
As a trusted leader, Hung Gun Biu became one of Ng’s closest disciples. However, in order to protect the system’s origins and the identities of Yat Chum Dai Si and Tan Sao Ng, a story was created. It was said that a Siu Lam nun named Ng Mui taught the martial arts to a young woman named Yim Wing-Chun. As Yim Wing-Chum taught it to others, the system became known as Wing Chun kung fu. Many versions of the story exist around the world today. However, the name of ‘Yim Wing Chun’ also has a different and special meaning. ‘Yim’ can be translated to mean ‘protect’, ‘prohibit’ or ‘secret’. The term ‘Wing Chun’ referred to the Siu Lam Wing Chun Tong (Always Spring Hall). Thus, ‘Yim Wing Chun’ was actually a code, meaning the secret art of the Siu Lam Wing Chun Hall.
Hung Gun Biu became one of the first generation disciples to learn Hung Suen Wing Chun, outside the Siu Lam Temple. The other opera troupe members who learned Hung Suen Wing Chun from ‘Tan Sao’ Ng also had the obligation to protect the origin of the system. These other first generation disciples included Wong Wah-Bo, Leung Yee-Tai, Dai Fa Min Kam (Painted Face Kam), Lo Man-Gong, Siu-Sang Hung Fook, and Gao Lo Chung (Tall Man Chung). Based on their individual understanding and degree of training in Wing Chun, these disciples, all previously trained in other martial art styles, may have passed along their skills with inherently different emphases.
Wong Wah Bo (黃華寶)
Leung Yee Tai (梁二娣)
Leung Yee-tai (梁二娣) was a Wing Chun master.
He was a strong boatman who steered riverboat by pushing a long pole against the river bottom. A Shaolin monk Chi Sin (至善禪師) saw that he was a natural successor to the Shaolin pole fighting skill called six and a half point long pole.
He taught Wong Wah-bo his pole fighting skill in exchange for the Wing Chun fist-fighting skill. Though he was a student of Wong in Wing Chun, he was actually Wong’s sifu in the pole fighting skill. Wong modified the pole fighting skills using Wing Chun principles. The modified pole skill is now part of Wing Chun training.
He met Leung Jan, an herbal doctor, when he was sick. He then trained Leung Jan when he was already an old man at over sixty years of age.
Leung Jan (梁贊)
Leung was a Chinese herbal doctor in Foshan. His name became well-known due to his wins in competitive bouts. Leung Jan earned the title of “Wing Chun Kuen Wong” or “King of Wing Chun Fist” over the course of his life from winning over 300 challenges in which he remained undefeated. He was also one of the first to defeat a wide range of fighters from different martial arts styles using Wing Chun.
Chan Wah-shun (陳華順)
Nicknamed ‘Money Changer Wah’, was a student of the wing chun grandmaster Leung Jan.
Chan owned a coin changing stall near Leung’s herbal medicine clinic in Foshan. He carried heavy loads of coins every day, and so developed great strength over the years. Chan had learned martial arts from others before learning wing chun.
The Qing government recruited Chan to be the head instructor of the army, but he served in that position only temporarily before returning home. Chan also learned de da (跌打) healing techniques from Leung, eventually closing his money changing business and opening a healing clinic.
Chan accepted his last student, Yip Man, when he was 70 years old, but was only able to teach him for three years. Before dying, he asked his second student, Ng Chung-sok, to continue Yip’s training after his death.
Yip Man (葉繼問)
(1893 – 1972)
Yip Kai-Man, was a Chinese martial artist. Yip is considered the first martial arts master to teach Wing Chun openly.
He had several students who later became martial arts teachers in their own right, including martial arts film actor Bruce Lee.
Yip started learning Wing Chun from Chan Wah-shun when he was 13. Since Chan was 70 at the time, Yip was Chan’s last student. Due to his teacher’s age, Yip learned most of his skills and techniques from Chan’s second oldest disciple: Ng Chung-sok. Chan died three years after Yip’s training started and one of his dying wishes was to have Ng to continue teaching Yip.
Yip Man allegedly liked to test his Wing Chun skill and as a young man, fought a great many challenge matches.
In 1949 Yip fled to Hong Kong due to the communist take over of China and trouble with the occupying Japanese.
When in Hong Kong he decided to openly instruct Wing Chun.
It has been recently released that while in Hong Kong, he was actively learning and studying with many other high level Wing Chun master in a meeting place named Dai Duk Lan.
After an early challenge match that left Yip Man the victor, he was offered a class full of students and a formal request for discipleship from his very first disciple, Leung Sheung.
Leung Sheung (梁相)
(1918 – 1978)
Leung Sheung was a Wing Chun Kung Fu master. He is known as the first Hong Kong student of Yip Man (葉問) and senior to all of Yip Man’s students including Bruce Lee.
Although Leung Sheung was Yip Man’s most physically prominent student, he propagated a powerful yet relaxed approach. An extremely humble man, Leung Sheung was known to speak about his Wing Chun in very modest terms.
He instead preferred to elevate Yip Man’s martial prowess. However, living and studying earnestly with Yip Man for many years, as well as being Yip Man’s first student in Hong Kong, Leung presented Yip Man with obvious reasons to train him well. Leung Sheung’s undeniable fighting abilities played a significant role in promoting Yip Man’s Wing Chun in Hong Kong.
Ng Wah Sum
In Kung Fu, Sifu Ng Wah Sum’s first love was Hung Ga. It was Hung Ga’s exaggerated movements that he particularly enjoyed. It was a very physical style that was dramatic to watch.
After Sifu Ng Wah Sum had studied Hung Ga for a few years, he faced a beimo (a skill comparison, which usually took place in an alley or rooftop) that led to a change of his life. During the beimo, Sifu Ng Wah Sum lunged to attack into his opponent, however, before he could strike, his opponent landed several punches on his chest. Sifu Ng Wah Sum was stung by these swift punches, both physically and mentally. When Sifu Ng Wah Sum next saw Sifu Lam Fei Hung, he asked why this opponent was able to punch him several times before he could do anything.
Several months later, Sifu Ng Wah Sum spotted the opponent who was also a guest while attending a friend’s banquet. His friend introduced him and found that the opponent practiced Wing Chun under Leung Sheung, who was a disciple of the legendary Yip Man. At that time, most people did not know much about Wing Chun and it was commonly regarded as women’s style. After some conversation with the opponent, Sifu Ng Wah Sum discovered he was hit by the Wing Chun’s chain punches easily. Although the beimo was long over, Sifu Ng Wah Sum still felt the sting of those punches and became skeptical of Hung Ga’s techniques. After a couple of months, through his friend, Ho Gay, Sifu Ng Wah Sum visited Leung Sheung’s school (in fact, Sifu Leung Sheung had been expecting him). The school was located at 10 Liberty Road in Kowloon. The visit went well. Thus, Sifu Ng Wah Sum began to study Wing Chun under Leung Sheung in 1961.
For Ng Wah Sum, studying Wing Chun was not an easy task. Hung Ga’s training made Sifu Ng Wah Sum very hard and stiff. He had to change his style from the hard physical Hung Ga to the soft feminine Wing Chun. Sifu Leung Sheung told him to relax and gently shaked his wrists every day in order to make himself softer.
At that time, Wing Chun was still a “small family”. Sifu Ng Wah Sum was able to practise with the Yip Man’s other disciples. Afterwards, Sifu Ng Wah Sum joined them to watch or participate in beimos.
Sifu Ng Wah Sum’s school was opened in 1967 and was only two blocks away from Yip Man’s residence. When Yip Man was semi-retired, he dropped by Sifu Ng Wah Sum’s school a couple of times weekly to have tea with Sifu Ng Wah Sum. Sometimes, they would also play mahjong or go for a movie. Although he was a legend, Yip Man was always quiet and humble.
One evening, Yip Man and Ng Wah Sum took a stroll in the neighborhood, Ng Wah Sum was fascinated by a display in a store’s window. As he picked up his pace he saw three men approaching him and asking for money. Yip Man spoke calmly to the three men and said, “Why don’t you guys come back with some weapons, because just three of you guys are not enough to handle me”. The three men got scared and immediately ran away.
Sifu Ng Wah Sum took on many students, through the years. Among his very first disciples was Sifu Chung Kwok Chow.
Chung Kwok Chow
Sifu Chung Kwok Chow was born in Hong Kong on 1951. At age of fifteen he studied body building under Mr. Koo Fone who was a Kung Fu star under Run Run Shaw. A year later, Sifu Chow began studying Chinese Karate under Master Carter Wong, who was best known for his role as Thunder in the Kung Fu movie “Big Trouble in Little China (1986)”. An array of styles has touched Sifu Chow’s curiosity but he continued looking for a style best suited for him. He had studied the Hung Ga from an elderly man next door. He had studied Dragon Style from Master Choa Sum. On the weekends he would go to local parks and watch grownups practice their Kung Fu. At the age of seventeen, Sifu Chow finally found Sifu Ng Wah Sum and began his traditional training of Wing Chun. He was fascinated by Wing Chun’s economical techniques. He especially liked the Sticky Hand Sensitivity training.
Sifu Chow moved to New York City in 1971.
He opened up his first Wing Chun School in New York City in 1972. New York Wing Chun Kung Fu Club was set on 224 Lafayette Street, New York City. The school was an instant success.
Later, Sifus like Moy Yat, Duncan Leung, and Jason Lau also came to New York and started their Wing Chun teaching. In one incident, Sifu Chow was challenged by one of the Sifus who wanted to test Sifu Chow’s Wing Chun skills. Sifu Chow was forced to engage in Sticky Hand combat with one of the Sifu’s top students. In the first challenge Sifu Chow used a “Lop Dar Chung Kuen” to his challenger’s face, causing the opponent’s face to swell up like a melon. During the second challenge, after a couple of moves Sifu Chow used his Sifu’s famous lightning fast Fak Sao and landed a chop on the challenger’s neck and stunned him badly, the challenger gave up quickly. Then, came the third challenger who was a much bigger Spanish fighter. After a couple of spars, surprisingly the fighter started to ask questions about how Sifu Chow executed his techniques. Sifu Chow patiently explained his approach to his opponent. Soon after other students also gathered around Sifu Chow to watch his demonstration.
Sifu Chow accepted many students among which was Sifu Kevin Becker, certified in Sifu Chow’s original Wing Chun system, prior to the creation of Sifu Chow’s IWC. (Integrative Wing Chun.)
Sifu Chow is a pioneer in Wing Chun, researching, testing and innovating in new ways to improve upon his own Martial Arts skill and system of Wing Chun.
He has studied and trained with nearly all of the best Yip Man disciples and through the years has pooled his knowledge into his current endeavors.
( August 30 1970 -January 3 2009)
Sifu Kevin Becker held a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do under master Song. He fought in many point sparring competitions and won trophies and prizes. During his training, he achieved champion of the state of Connecticut in his division.
Kevin loved hard core music In the mid to late 80’s and was an avid follower of the hard core movement, went to many shows and participated in what is called “slam dancing” which consists of a bunch of punk kids and adults attacking each other in a circle while listening to hard core music. He loved to use his TKD with in this arena.
One day he attacked a guy and was defended and then knocked down. The fight was intervened by his friends that quickly came to his rescue, but the event had affected his confidence in his martial arts ability. “How could I be knocked down, I have a second degree black belt!” he thought. Disgusted with the experience, he threw out all of his trophies and medals and began his search for real martial art.
In 1987 he studied for 2 years under Philip Chan in Lake Havasu City in AZ, learning the first 2 forms in the Leung Ting System. In 1989 his family moved back to Connecticut and he began learning from Sifu Chung Kwok Chow in China Town, New York City.
One noteworthy experience of Kevin’s was his participation in an underground Chi Sao competition in NYC under the advanced division where he won the first prize medal, despite him only being at Chum Kiu level.
In 1999 he was given a certificate of instructorship under Sifu Chow.
During his training with Sifu Chow he also sought to continue his Wing Chun development and did a correspondence with Sifu Augustine Fong. Learning many finer points of the empty hand art and weaponry.
Kevin was an Iron Palm master learning the conditioning and dit da jow herbal formulas from Master Brian Grey during the time he spent living in Delaware in the early 90’s.
In addition to his deep study into Wing Chun, he also pursued high level skills in Kun Tao, Kali, and Jeet Kune Do / Jun Fan Gung Fu under Guru Ron Kosakowski, Judo and Brazillian JuJitsu under Sensei John Perreria, Mandemuda Silat under Herman and Shannon Suwanda. He also attended countless seminars with the likes of the various Gracie brothers, Paul Vunak, Dan Inosanto, Rita Suwanda, Lily Lau and others.
Kevin Becker created 5 Black Sash Disciples in Wing Chun including:
Sifu John Borque, Sifu Andy DiGuiseppi, Sifu Pete Gerardi, Sifu Clint San Antonio, Sifu Thom Abrams.
He also taught and certified several other students to wooden dummy level including:
Si Hing Mike Tran, Si Hing Wayne Svendberg,
Si Hing Eric Feeney, Si Hing Gerard Noel.
Andrew Di Guiseppi
(1980 – Present)
Sifu Andrew DiGuiseppi is one of the 5 black sash disciples under Sifu Becker.
With the blessing of his Sifu Becker, Mr. DiGuiseppi founded the Connecticut Wing Chun school of Kung Fu in August of 2006.
In this same year he also began to study under Sifu Chung Kwok Chow.
He has continued to pursue study in the original wing chun system and is ever seeking what the master sought.
Andrew DiGuiseppi has created 5 Black Sash Disciples in Wing Chun including:
Sifu Mike Scarmozzino, Sifu Jake Lavallee, Sifu Wayne Svendberg, Sifu Israel Andujar, Sifu Brian Teagarden, Sifu Ken Nardi
For a full biography please visit our instructors page here. http://www.ctwingchun.com/instructors/
Leung Sheung seated next to Yip Man 1950s.
Sifu Chow with Sifu Becker circa 1990s.
Sifu Becker presenting Sifu DiGuiseppi with his Black Sash Certificate.
Sifu DiGuiseppi with Sifu Chow after an NYC seminar. 2006
Early class photo at Becker Wing Chun 2003.
Sifu Becker with Guru Ron Kosakowski 1999.
Early class photo of CT Wing Chun 2010.