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The History of Wing Chun Kung Fu

Before Kung Fu, 18 Hands of Lohan On right:  Bodhidharma's actual cave.
Shaolin kung fu is the older root of many other martial arts in the world today (including Karate and Taekwondo), but kung fu itself originated elsewhere. Bodhidharma (also known as Pu Tai Ta Mo in Sanskrit) was a Buddhist Master in India around 482 AD.  In his travels, Bodhidharma came to China & climbed Bear's Ear Mountain near the Shaolin Temple. He meditated in a cave there for nine years and took pity on the Shaolin monks who were in terrible physical condition, similar to the extreme asceticism Siddhartha Buddha endured before finding the Middle Way. Bodhidharma not only brought Zen Buddhism to China, he created an exercise and meditation program for the monks which involved physical techniques that were efficient, strengthened the body and could be used for practical self-defense.

His goal was to make the monks stronger to be capable of better meditation, but the techniques also formed an efficient fighting system known as the 18 Hands of the Lohan or Yi Gin Ching (Changing Muscle/Tendon Classic). Martial arts helped the monks defend themselves against warlords and bandits, but Bodhidharma taught that it could be used only in self defense. One of the oldest axioms being "One who initiates combat has already lost the battle".

5 Animal Styles of Kung Fu
After Bodhidharma died, the Shaolin monks gradually evolved their own martial arts style out the the 18 Hands of the Lohan by observing fighting moves used by animals, creating the 5 Animal Styles of Kung Fu. The animal styles each had unique moves that emphasized the style of movement inherent to each animal, creating flowing and beautiful techniques that express the Chinese esthetic as well as the fundamental ideas in what Bodhidharma had taught the Shaolin. The Kung Fu (or Gung Fu) was excellent physical training and effective defense for the monks after many years of training.

Origin of Wing Chun - Sil Lum Temple
The Wing Chun style originated 250 years ago. Wing Chun was created in the Sil Lum Shaolin Buddhist Temple of Mt. Sung, in Honan Province in China as a reaction to the repressive Manchu government during the Ching Dynasty.

Opinions differ on some details in the lineage, but according to late Grand Master Yip Man, Wing Chun was created by 5 Shaolin Grand Masters at Sil Lum as a new fighting style that would dominate other fighting arts and require much less training time to master. The problem with the Animal Styles of Kung Fu was that they required great speed, dexterity and long years of training to attain effective proficiency. The 5 masters were Abbot Chi Shin, Abbot Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak, Master Miu Hin & aged nun Ng Mui. The new system took only the best from the Animal Styles, carefully cutting out all inefficiencies in movement and form, it's moves based on scientific efficiency and effectiveness in real combat, not on aesthetic or cultural appeal. Kung Fu became very strong at Sil Lum, arousing the fear of the Manchu government [a non-Chinese people from Manchuria in the North, who ruled China at that time], which attacked the Temple. Although they were unsuccessful, a civil servant seeking government favor named Chan Man Wai, devised a treacherous plan to burn Sil Lum temple to the ground.

After Sil Lum was burned down, the monks and disciples scattered, forming a secret society of Wing Chun. The masters escaped and went their separate ways. Ng Mui took refuge in the White Crane Temple on Mt. Tai Leung. Ng Mui met Yim Yee and his daughter Yim Wing Chun from whom she often bought bean curd. Miss Yim Wing Chun was a native of Canton Province in China. She was an intelligent and athletic young girl, upstanding and forthright. At fifteen, Wing Chun's beauty attracted the attention of a local warlord who tried to force Wing Chun to marry him (on threat of killing her father). Ng Mui learned of this and agreed to teach Wing Chun fighting techniques for self defense. Wing Chun trained night and day until she mastered the techniques. Then she challenged the bully to a fight and beat him soundly. Ng Mui charged Wing Chun to develop and honor the kung fu after she later married.

Yim Wing Chun -> Yip Man (Ip Man)
Wing Chun translates as "hope for the future" or "beautiful spring". She taught her husband Leung Bok Chau who taught Leung Lan Kwai. Leung Lan Kwai passed it on to Wong Wah Bo, a member of an opera troupe on board a junk, known as the Red Junk. Wong worked on the Red Junk with Leung Yee Tei. Abbot Chi Shin, who fled from Sil Lum, was in hiding as a cook working on the Red Junk. Chi Shin taught the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole to Leung Yee Tei. Wong Wah Bo & Leung Yee Tei shared & improved their techniques. Thus the Six-and-a-half-point Long Pole was incorporated into Wing Chun Kung Fu. Leung Yee Tei taught Leung Jan, an herbal Doctor in Fat Shan who attained the highest level of proficiency (as in comedy movie The Prodigal Son). Leung Jan became very famous. Later he passed his Kung Fu on to Chan Wah Soon, who took Yip Man as his last student. Yip Man received additional instruction from Leung Bik, Leung Jan's son. On right: Bruce Lee and Yip Man practice Wing Chun Sticking Hands (Chi Sao) drill.

It can thus be said that the Wing Chun System was passed on to Yip Man in a direct line of succession from its origin. Regardless of any debate about how it came to the Red Boat Opera troupe, the direct lineage is unquestionable.

William Cheung, Bruce Lee & Brian Lewadny
Yip Man taught current world Grand Master William Cheung in Hong Kong where William Cheung was senior student. After Yip Man passed away, William Cheung opened Traditional Wing Chun to the world, teaching the once-private style widely across the world. William Cheung's two most exceptional students were Bruce Lee and Brian Lewadny.
On left: William Cheung. On right: Bruce Lee.

Canadian Wing Chun Kung Fu Association
The Canadian Wing Chun Kung Fu Association headed by Grand Master Lewadny has been successfully training students across Canada since 1987. Sigung Brian Lewadny has 37 years of Kung-fu training and has traveled the world to learn only the most effective techniques to teach to his students here in Canada. He mastered two different styles of Wing Chun, first, a more common modified Wing Chun system as well as the different Traditional Wing Chun system. He teaches a complete version we simply call Wing Chun which encompasses the best of both. The Canadian Wing Chun Association has academies in Calgary, Kelowna, Penticton, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Victoria, as well as other satellite locations. Click here for more information. Association web site is

  Dynamic Defense Wing Chun Academy (Victoria)
Instruction at the Victoria Wing Chun Academy is lead by Sifu Bill Stewart. We offer beginner, intermediate and advanced Wing Chun and Women's Self Defense classes. Adult classes include chi sao, weapons, grappling and multiple attacker training. Grandmaster Brian Lewadny is the head of our system, a complete version of Wing Chun that embraces the best in all Wing Chun styles, including weapons, chi sao, straight combat and grappling applications.  Dynamic Defense Wing Chun is part of the Canadian Wing Chun Kung Fu Association.

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Sifu Bill Stewart - Instructor Profile
 Sifu Bill is the senior instructor of Dynamic Defense Wing Chun Academy in Victoria BC, accredited by the Canadian Wing Chun Kung Fu Association and a member of the National Association of Professional Martial Artists. With 16 years of Wing Chun experience, he teaches and practices Wing Chun every day, combining life-affirming elements of martial arts, self defense, fitness and stretching. Confidence, inner balance and fun are the main ingredients to his instruction. Previous to Wing Chun, he trained in karate, jujitsu and kung fu but only began serious about training when he came to Wing Chun, learning under Canadian Grandmaster Brian Lewadny and serving as an apprentice instructor in Calgary before coming to Victoria.

How I Came to Wing Chun
People come to martial arts for different reasons. I was always intrigued by martial arts, particularly kung fu because practitioners always seemed so gracefully athletic, totally in control of themselves and peaceful in the face of adversity. Like most people, I had known moments of anxiety and stress, thinking "What if someone attacked me, my girlfriend, my kids? Would I know what to do?", so I definitely wanted something that really worked. Like a lot of people, I had the idea for a long time before actually committing myself to getting off the couch and doing it. I tried other martial arts but was not
satisfied until I began Wing Chun Kung Fu when my first daughter was born.

I was surprised to find it was better than I expected. It wasn't merely learning to defend myself. It was a holistic experience, including breathing, stretching, conditioning and realistic defenses against any sort of attack that raised my energy level a lot. As an analytical person, I liked the logic and science behind Wing Chun. Practice and corrections made techniques easier, faster and stronger and we never had to go outside Wing Chun to defend special cases like close contact, ground fighting and weapons. It was a positive encouraging atmosphere. Even when I didn't feel good, if I dragged myself to class, I'd feel great coming out. While some are naturally talented, I could also see that the best students were not the most talented, they were the ones who stuck with it and committed to themselves. I progressed quickly because I practiced and paid attention to my instructors. Learning to handle things you couldn't do before is empowering for confidence. 

Teaching Wing Chun
After years and a lot of work, I was honored when asked to teach classes at the Calgary Academy (Wing Chun Association HQ). I knew I wanted to share this powerfully effective martial art and positive experience with others. When I came to Victoria after many years in Calgary, I opened the Dynamic Defense Wing Chun Academy. It has been an excellent experience as student and instructor over the years. I do my best to impart not only the full range of Wing Chun techniques and defenses, but to keep everyone's focus on the mind and body experience, the joy and fun of perfecting the art of Wing Chun as handed down to me by Grandmaster Lewadny. I also get the joy of introducing my own kids and loved ones to kung fu and teaching them useful, empowering skills to have fun while learning to be safe.

Improve Yourself and You Improve Everything
There are many materialistic things people do to try to make their lives better, but the best thing you can possibly do is improve yourself. A better house or car won't make you a better person, but consistently committing some time to kung fu could do just that. It's the purest way to work on yourself, making yourself strong on the inside, not just the outside. Our classes teach empowering lessons and realistic kung fu, but beyond that, our classes raise students' energy and confidence, the two most important factors to success in life. I've had students who could barely do the warmup and were afraid of combat when they started and after a few months, they've lost weight, they sleep better, they enjoy self defense and have a lot of physical and mental energy they take into the rest of their life. When students commit to what they're doing, positive change is unmistakable.

Kung fu isn't your whole life, but it does offer a direct path to self-improvement. Anything you can do to improve yourself will enhance every element of your life,  More energy and confidence improves everything (work, play, family, relationships).

Sometimes people think they don't have the time. It comes down to "what do you want?" Having more energy and confidence should not be put off until you aren't busy. You'll always be busy, that isn't the point. You must make time for what's important. The question to ask yourself is this: Is my well-being, my confidence, my personal safety important to me or not? If it is, then make the time to do empowering activities such as learning Wing Chun. If you have free time, that's great, but if you're stressed or don't feel so good, you *need* a class like this to boost you up, get rid of that stress and recharge for tackling life. The most important thing I impart to students is to commit to improving themselves, and do activities in line with that goal. When they do that, they attend as regularly as they can, learn quickly and find the power lurking within each of us.

Wing Chun - Effective Kung Fu
Wing Chun is the world's most effective martial art because it does not require great strength, speed or a long period of practice to get results. It is a simple, direct and complete system of martial arts for men and women of varying fitness levels.

Wing Chun is sought out for its simplicity and effectiveness around the world for defense against any size of opponent.


Dynamic Defense Wing Chun, Victoria's Best Kung Fu!

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