Yim Wing-chun

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Yim Wing Chun
StyleWing Chun
Teacher(s)Ng Mui
Years activefl. c. 1700
SpouseLeung Bok-Chau

Yim Wing Chun (simplified Chinese: 严咏春; traditional Chinese: 嚴詠春; Cantonese Yale: Yim4 Wing6Cheun1; pinyin: Yán Yǒngchūn) is a Chinese legendary character, often cited in Wing Chun legends as the first master of the martial art bearing her name. Wing Chun, though a person's name in Chinese language, translates literally to "spring chant", or may be substituted with the character for "eternal spring".[1]


Different accounts of Yim Wing Chun's story exist, but the central sequence of events remains largely the same, beginning with the origin of her teacher. During the Qing Dynasty, a Shaolin Buddhist nun and abbess, Ng Mui (五枚師太), reportedly fled the destruction of the Shaolin temple at the hands of the government; the temple was believed to be harbouring revolutionaries.[2] According to one legend, after being inspired by witnessing a crane and a snake fighting, Ng Mui incorporated their movements into her style of Chinese kung fu to form a new, yet-unnamed martial art system.[2]

Ng Mui later took on a disciple, Yim Wing Chun, and passed the art on to her.[2] Yim Wing Chun was well known for her beauty and sold tofu for a living.[3] A local bully tried to force her to marry him, but she used the art to defeat him.[2] Some accounts claim that Ng Mui taught Yim the art specifically for the purpose of defending herself against the man's unwanted advances.[4]

Yim Wing Chun later married Leung Bok-Chau, a salt merchant, who named the art "Wing Chun Kuen" (Wing Chun Fist) after her.[2][4] Lee (1972) attributes significant development of the art to Yim Wing Chun, crediting her with the invention of the Chi Sao (sticking hands) exercise.[5] From there, the art passed through several men's hands before coming to Ip Man.[3]


Lineage in Wing Chun
Sifu Ng Mui; creator of Wing Chun
Yim Wing Chun (嚴詠春)
Only student Leung Bok-Chau (梁博儔); her husband

In popular culture[edit]

Stranger from Shaolin (1977) uses the character of Yim Wing Chun in an action film genre starring Cecilia Wong Hang-Sau.

The movie Wing Chun (1994) loosely portrays Yim Wing Chun's life within the action film genre, with Michelle Yeoh portraying the central character and Donnie Yen (now famous as Ip Man in 4 films) playing Leung Pok-To, Yim Wing Chun's childhood friend and fiancé.

Meng and Rudnicki (2006) have written a critical analysis of the legend surrounding Yim Wing Chun.[6]

A more recent movie, Kung Fu Wing Chun (2010), Yim Wing Chun was portrayed by Bai Jing and Leung Bok-chau was portrayed by Yu Shaoqun.


  1. ^ Ritchie, R. (c. 2007): What's in a name? Retrieved on 9 May 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e Chu, R., Ritchie, R., & Wu, Y. (1998): Complete Wing Chun: The definitive guide to Wing Chun's history and traditions. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing. (ISBN 978-0-8048-3141-3)
  3. ^ a b Ing, K. (2008): Wing Chun warrior: The true tales of Wing Chun Kung Fu Master Duncan Leung, Bruce Lee's fighting companion. Hong Kong: Blacksmith Books. (ISBN 978-9-8817-7422-4)
  4. ^ a b Stanford Wing Chun: History and principles of Wing Chun Kung Fu (c. 2001). Retrieved on 9 May 2010.
  5. ^ Lee, J. Y. (1972): Wing Chun Kung-Fu: Chinese art of self-defense (p. 13). Santa Clarita, CA: Ohara Publications. (ISBN 0-89750-037-7)
  6. ^ Meng, B., & Rudnicki, S. (2006): Misconceptions of Wing Chun (13 October 2006). Retrieved on 28 December 2013 (Internet Archive Wayback Machine).