Wing Chun is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilizing both striking and grappling while specializing in real world, close-range combat.
The earliest known mentions of Wing Chun date to the period of Red Boat Opera.
The common legend as told by Yip Maninvolves the young woman Yim Wing-chun, (Wing Chun literally means ‘forever springtime’ or ‘praising spring’,) at the time after the destruction of the Southern Shaolin Temple and its associated temples by the Qing government:
After Yim Wing-Chun rebuffed the local warlord’s marriage offer, she said she’d reconsider his proposal if he could beat her in a martial arts match. She soon crossed paths with a Buddhist nun–Ng Mui, who was one of the Shaolin Sect survivors, and asked the nun to teach her fighting. The legend goes that Ng Mui taught Yim Wing-Chun a new system of martial art that had been inspired by Ng Mui’s observations of a confrontation between a Snake and a Crane; this then-still nameless style enabled Yim Wing Chun to beat the warlord in a one-on-one fight. Yim Wing-Chun thereafter married Leung Bac-Chou and taught him the style, which was later named after her.
Since the system was developed during the Shaolin and Ming resistance to the Qing Dynasty, many legends about the creator of Wing Chun were spread to confuse enemies, including the story of Yim Wing Chun. This perhaps explains why no one has been able to accurately determine the creator or creators of Wing Chun.
Balance, structure and stance
Some Wing Chun practitioners believe that the person with better body structure will win. A correct Wing Chun stance is like a piece of bamboo, firm but flexible, rooted but yielding. This structure is used to either deflect external forces or redirect them.
Balance is related to structure because a well-balanced body recovers more quickly from stalled attacks and structure is maintained. Wing Chun trains the awareness of one’s own body movement derived from muscular, tendon, and articular sources. Performing Wing Chun’s forms such as Chum Kiu or the Wooden Dummy form greatly improve proprioception. Wing Chun favours a high, narrow stance with the elbows kept close to the body. Within the stance, arms are positioned across the vitals of the centerline. Shifting or turning within a stance is carried out variantly on the heels, balls, or middle (K1 or Kidney 1 point) of the foot depending on lineage. All attacks and counter-attacks are initiated from this firm, stable base. Wing Chun rarely compromises structure for more powerful attacks because this is believed to create defensive openings which may be exploited.
Structure is viewed as important, not only for reasons of defense, but also for attack. When the practitioner is effectively “rooted”, or aligned so as to be braced against the ground, the force of the hit is believed to be far more devastating. Additionally, the practice of “settling” one’s opponent to brace them more effectively against the ground aids in delivering as much force as possible to them.