The History and Translation of Wing Chun


The vast majority of Wing Chun that is taught throughout the world today can trace it's lineage back to one man; the late Grandmaster Yip Man (Ip Man). Yip Man was the first Wing Chun Sifu (teacher) to teach in an 'open way' and as such over the course of his teaching life he had many students. Many of Sifu Yip Man's students became teachers themselves and went on to have their own students throughout the world. His most famous student, Bruce Lee is probably still primarily responsible for Wing Chun being the most widely taught of the Chinese Martial Arts, apart from Tai Chi Chuan (however this system is now primarily taught for health rather than self defence).

Wing Chun is of course a Chinese Martial Art and as a result it has been translated into English by lots of different people. The most common way of writing the Chinese Characters is 'Wing Chun' but it was originally written 'Ving Tsun' and since then a whole host of other ways of writing the characters have come into existence, including 'Wing Tsun' and 'Yong Chun' which is often associated with Mandarin translations (as opposed to the more common Cantonese translations).

Some of the translations are associated with particular Wing Chun Masters for example Ving Tsun is most commonly associated with students of the late Sifu Wong Shun Leung (WSLVT) and Wing Tsun (WT) is associated with students of Sifu Leung Ting.

Due to the nature of how Wing Chun has grown in the West there are many different variations and ways of teaching this awesome system. This is simply down to people being different and so interpreting the concepts of Wing Chun in different ways. At Cambridge Kung Fu we are as interested in education as martial arts and so the way in which we teach all our classes is a blend of the best of what we are taught by our teachers and how we feel our students learn best, which is based on modern scientific educational psychology.

The Chinese Characters of Wing Chun can be translated as 'Eternal Springtime', we feel that this, like the Wing Chun legend, is a metaphor for the qualities we are aiming to nurture in our training. The ability to recycle energy so that we never run out and so become 'eternal' and the ability to recover and rise again; like 'springtime'. So Wing Chun is the science of internal energy recycling and continuous recovery from 'failed' plans and the art is created through our own unique practise! “Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm,” Scott Sonnon.