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WingTsun: Means "Beautyful Spring" – The story of a fascinating martial art Hardly any martial art has such a fascinating origin and history as WingTsun Kung Fu. And no wonder, for this martial art is one of the very few that is said to take its origin from a woman. Intensive research, especially by GGM Leung Ting, has since shown that the stories about the founder of this style Ng Mui and her student Yim Wing Tsun do not correspond to historical facts. Historically verifiable persons and events are mixed with traditional accounts,

political agitation and Asian symbolism. However, this by no means lessens the unique fascination of this legend, and the impact of myths is never dependent on their historical authenticity.
 

The Shaolin Monastery

Side view of the main hall of the shaolin monastery of Sung Shan.

More than two hundred and fifty years ago, during the reign of Yung-Cheng (1723-1736) of the Ching Dynasty, it is said that there was a fire at the Siu Lam Monastery when it was under siege by soldiers of the Manchu Government. The incident gave rise to two different tales passed among two groups of people in China. One tale, which is spread among secret societies (Triad Societies), tells that the siege of the Siu Lam Monastery was led by high officers of the Manchu Government, notably Chan Man Yiu, Wong Chun May and Cheung King Chow. They were helped by defectors from the Monastery, notably one by the name of Ma Ning Yee, who set fire to it from within, as a means of retaliation for being dismissed from the Monastery. The story revealed that only five monks escaped from the ruin. They later went into hiding and organised secret societies working for the over-throw of the Ching-Dynasty.

Another tale, which is passed among the martial arts circle in Southern China, reveals different happenings, except for the part about the fire that burnt down the Monastery. It tells that the number of survivors exceeded five and their names were quite different from those mentioned by people of the triad societies.

It is said that during the fire at the Siu Lam Monastery, which was ruined by the treachery, most of the monks and the unshaved disciples who were skilled in martial arts were killed or burnt to death. Many skilful pugilists however managed to escape from the calamity. These included the Five Elders, leaders of the five systems of Siu Lam – who were the Buddhists Mistress Ng Mui, Master Chi Shin, Master Pak Mei, Master Fung To Tak and Master Miu Hin and their disciples, notably Hung Hay Kwun, Fong Sai Yuk and Luk Ah Choy who scattered and went into hiding.

One of the Five Elders fo the Siu Lam Monastery, Master Chi Shin the Abbot, who had adopted the largest number of disciples in the Monastery before the fire, led them to fight against the Manchus. So Chi Shin and his favourite disciples, Hung Hay Kwun, Tung Chin Kun, Tse Ah Fook, were all wanted by the Manchu Government. To avoid being caught, Chi Shin ordered his disciples to disperse, then he disguised himself as the cook of a "Red Junk".

Others like Master Miu Hin and his daughter Miu Tsui Fa, for a time went into hiding among the Miao and the Yao tribes between Szechwan and Yunnan Provinces, but later travelled around, thus adding to our legends many fantastic adventures, of which the most notable were, "Fong Sai Yuk challenging the defender of a tournament" and "Ng Mui killing Lee Pa Shan on the Plum-blossom-Piles".