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Wing Chun Martial Arts

Wing Chun History

There are mixed arguments among Martial Arts historians concerning the legends behind Wing Chun’s origin.  An example of this is: Some historians believe that Yim Wing Chun was an orphan child and others historians believe that she had a living father.  In other words, there are historians who believe these legends to be nothing more than fanciful mythology, while other Kung Fu historians claim that they are historical facts.  The following is what most historians accept.

Wing Chun originated during the turbulent period between the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  During the reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820), rebels who fought against the Qing Dynasty’s

Manchurian soldiers were Shaolin fighting monks.  With the fall of the Ming Dynasty, many Shaolin monks fled and hid with the aid of other Ming followers.  Eventually, numerous fighting monks were hunted down and killed, and the Shaolin temples were burned to the ground.  The remaining Shaolin Kung Fu masters managed to escape death but fled into hiding.  The rebels continued to train in secret.  They invented new fighting methods to exploit weaknesses of the Manchu soldiers in the battlefield.  One fighting method emerged from the conflict utilizing very direct strikes and trapping techniques at a short-range distance.  This style of fighting eventually would come to be known as Wing Chun.

Yim Yee was one of the Shaolin Kung Fu masters who fled from Quanzhou in Fujian province.  He took refuge with his family in Liancheng while living as a tofu merchant. Yim Yee had a daughter named Yim Wing Chun.  She secretly trained in Kung Fu with her father since early childhood.  As a teenager, Yim Wing Chun had fallen in love with Leung Bok Chau.  She eventually caught the eye of a local warlord before marrying Leung Bok Chau.  The warlord made a startling offer of marrying Yim Wing Chun but pledged to rescind his marriage proposal if she could beat him in a fight.  She agreed but her father negotiated with him for training time. She was given until the following spring to prepare for the fight or become his bride.  News of her predicament spread throughout the small village. She soon was approached by an older female nun by the name of Ng Mui whom she quickly befriended at their tofu shop. 

Ng Mui was one of the Shaolin Five Elders or Grandmasters who managed to escape the last burning of the temple.  During her exile of the temple’s burning, Ng Mui used her time in seclusion to synthesize a new fighting system from the Snake and Crane styles of Shaolin Kung Fu.  This method of fighting was developed to better suit a woman who had to protect themselves against wicked men.  Other fighters who didn’t have the advantage of size and strength would eventually find this to be a suitable method of fighting.

Yim Wing Chun began to train in this new style by only concentrating on the essential elements that could be absorbed in just a few months.  Once the warlord returned in the following spring, she was ready.  She demonstrated a type of Kung Fu that had never been seen before in front of the entire village.  Despite her weight difference by nearly a hundred pounds, Yim Wing Chun was able to throw her bodyweight into specific targets which broke the warlord's balance which left him vulnerable to repeated strikes.  She was able to use the warlord's mass and strength against him as she flowed around his attempts to strike and grab her.  Yim Wing Chun was able to defeat the warlord as he fell unconsciously at her feet.

Yim Wing Chun eventually was able to marry her true love, Leung Bak Chau.  As a custom during that era, she passed on her Kung Fu knowledge to her husband, Leung Bak Chau.  After witnessing the power and defeat of the warlord, many villagers wanted to learn this new style of fighting.  Yim Wing Chun and Leung Bak Chau established a secret school to teach those who wanted to learn but eventually moved to Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province after her father’s death.

In memory of her, the system ultimately came to be known as Wing Chun.  Yim Wing Chun and Leung Bak Chau would eventually spread the art through their disciples and descendents such as: Leung Lan Kwai, Wong Wah Bo, Leung Jan, Leung Chun, Leung Bik, "Woodman" Wah and Chan Wah Shan.  
Because of Leung Jan's fame, the Qing government wanted him to become the head instructor for the Qing military.  Chan Wah Shan went in his place, but only served a short time before retiring and opening up a health clinic.  He continued teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu until his death. Chan accepted his last student at the age of 70 years old.  This final student’s name was Ip Man.

Ip Man began his training at the age of 12 years old, and studied under Chan Wah Shan for four years until his teacher’s death.  He eventually made his way to Hong Kong to study under Leung Jan’s surviving son, Leung Bak for four years.  When Ip Man returned to Fatashan, he defeated his seniors in the modified system of Wing Chun and ultimately became the Grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Since then, Wing Chun has become widely spread around the world.

The ancestral Plum Flower masters of our system.

The ancestral Plum Flower masters of our system.

Except for Grandmaster Cheng Wu Chen (bottom right)

Grandmaster Cheng Wu Chen, bottom right, Grandmaster Cheng Wu Chen and his son with Great, Great Grandmaster Wu Ti Pang

This picture was taken 5/18/1964 the day before Great, Great Grandmaster Wu passed away. He requested that Grandmaster Zhang Wu Chen and his son take this picture with him to show he had descendants to carry on our branch of Mei Hua Men

Great, Great, Great Grandmaster, Wu Ti Pang

Grandmaster Andrew Lee’s Great, Great, Great Grandmaster, Wu Ti Pang, My Si Gong's Grandmaster and Teacher

The late Grandmaster Wu Ti Pang was the founder of the Mei Hua Men in Taiwan. He was born in Heze, China in Shangdong Province to a martial arts family; and, as a youngster, he was required to study traditional Chinese Kuoshu. After he reached a level of proficiency with his boxing and weaponry, he joined the Mei Hua School. Not long after he joined the Mei Hua School, his teacher recognized his talents and his above average physical strength. He became his teacher’s favorite and his continued dedication and loyalty eventually earned him the position of 13th generation lineage holder of the Mei Hua system.

Wu Ti Pang was a just man who despised prejudice and bigotry as well as immorality. His strong political beliefs inspired him to join the army and fight against injustice and inequality. He devoted his life to Dangguo fighting in Beifa, the Anti- Japanese war and in domestic wars during his military career. He was duly recognized for his military achievements and his contributions.
As Wu Ti traveled across China, he humbly befriended other skilled martial arts experts to obtain more knowledge and improve his skills. In 1929 he was encouraged by 15th generation Mei Hua men disciple, Yang Shiwen, to compete in the 1st National Martial Arts Competition in Nanjing. Wu Ti Pang came in second place losing to Yang only in the weight lifting event. He achieved national recognition after the competition and was invited to coach the Kuomin Revolutionary Army.

In 1949 Wu Ti Pang went to Taiwan with the Kuomintang after the Peoples Republic took control of China. He retired from the army in 1951 to establish a Mei Hua martial arts school in Taiwan. It was located on An’dong Street in Taipei, which attracted many students. He was especially devoted to developing and teaching newly interested students with no martial experience. He also instituted rules in his school with restrictions against the use of alcohol and sex, as well as the forbiddance of belligerence, disrespectfulness and greed. It was required that the students adhered to these rules, and it was very rare that any of his students were troublemakers or bullies.

Wu Ti Pang was as an esteem member of the Martial Arts Committee and because he was extremely knowledgeable, persuasive, and an admirable person, he set up a module for promoting Martial Arts throughout Taiwan. He promoted Mei Hua Chuan by participating in every Provincial Sports Games as well as giving numerous Martial Arts performances. He also led a Martial Arts Committee to the frontier camps in Jinmen and Mazhu. Because of his influence and popularity, he was invited to take charge whenever the Martial Arts competitions were held. He was highly respected for his moral principles and his Martial Arts.

Cheng Wu Chen

Grandmaster Andrew Lee’s Si Gong:
16th Generation Head in Taiwan & China, Cheng Wu Chen

This biography was written by Guozhang Chen and revised by Yanwen (Zitan) Zhang, both 18th Generation students of the Mei Hua system in Taiwan.

Guozhan Chen, grand student of Zhang Wu-Chen, states that Grandmaster Zhang is the second generation head of the Mei Hua system in Taiwan as well as the 16th Generation lineage holder.
Grandmaster Zhang Wu-Chen was born in the 9th year of Minguo (1920) in Dingtao County, Shandong Province, China. His teacher was Ma De Fu, 15th Generation Mei Hua Head Master.
Below is a brief biography of Zhang Wu-Chen, 16th Generation Head Master and also the second generation patriarch of the Mei Hua Men in Taiwan. It was translated by my friend Helen Lee and revised by me, Andrew Lee, 18th Generation Mei Hua Chuan and my student, Cathleen Witt, 19th Generation of the Mei Hua branch in the USA:
Date: April 23, 2012
Time: 1:33am

As a child I was very fortunate to start learning Mei Hua Chuan under Grandmaster Wu. He was a close friend of my grandfather’s, so I was able to learn the Mei Hua techniques under his very careful supervision. Later, I became a student of Ma Defu, the 15th Generation Head Master. Since then, I have devoted my life to spreading this branch of Mei Hua Chuan.

In 1937, when the Japanese invaded China, I lost contact with my Sifu and my Grandmaster; however, I was eventually reunited with Grandmaster Wu in the 42nd year of Minguo (1953) in Taiwan. The following year, Grandmaster Wu established the Feng Pang Martial Arts School, located on Dong’An Street. I was appointed head coach. My martial arts dramatically improved with teaching. I also benefitted greatly from the special training I received from other experienced martial artists. Several years later Grandmaster Wu established a subsidiary school in Muzha. He put me in charge and thus began a new and challenging phase of my martial arts career.
In subsequent years Grandmaster Wu fell ill and there were few people available to care for him. During the course of two hospitalizations, he received substandard care and this accelerated his decline.

Grandmaster Wu now required full time care. After soul searching and deliberation, the elderly 14th and 15th Generations Masters Hansan Li, Mianqi Zhao, Bingkun (Xingbang) Liu concluded that I should become Grandmaster’s caregiver and inheritor of the Mei Hua system. As the youngest and most able-bodied, I was given the responsibility to develop and pass on the system to the next generation.

At 2PM, May 19th, in the 53rd year of Mingguo (1964), my Grandmaster, Wu Ti Pang passed away. Prior to his death, he adamantly expressed the wish that I pass on this branch of Mei Hua. His last request, was that a photographic document be made of his descendants. This meant the world to him. Thus it was that Grandmaster Wu, Xiao Yao, and I were photographed together. He passed away the day after this picture was taken. I was grief stricken and no words could express my heartache over losing the best teacher I ever had.
Despite the five decades since my Grandmaster’s death, I can still hear his voice, as well as his dying wish for me to pass on Mei Hua Chuan, and that encourages me to carry on, even during the most difficult of times. It is my hope that this Mei Hua branch of techniques can continue to benefit people.

Early on, when this Mei Hua branch was virtually unknown, I traveled all over Taiwan to promote it. Due to my efforts and hard work, the renown of this branch of Mei Hua Chuan has even spread beyond Taiwan. As more and more people joined our branch of Mei Hua Chuan, a committee was established to further promote the system. Now Mei Hua Chuan is in public schools like Winwu, Zhiguang, Yuda, Haizhuan, and Huaxia. More importantly, the subsidiaries of the Mei Hua committee are well established in the middle of Taiwan, Italy, the U.S.A., and Korea. I am optimistic that one day this Mei Hua branch will be known all over the world.

 GM Tsai, 17th Generation Mei Hua Chuan; GGM Cheng Wu Chen, 16th Generation Mei Hua Chuan; Grandmaster Wong Chen Mao, 17th Generation Mei Hua Chuan.

Left to right: GM Tsai, 17th Generation Mei Hua Chuan; GGM Cheng Wu Chen, 16th Generation Mei Hua Chuan; Grandmaster Wong Chen Mao, 17th Generation Mei Hua Chuan.

17th Generation Head Son of Cheng Wu Chen

17th Generation Head Son of Cheng Wu Chen

Grandmaster Tsai

Grandmaster Tsai, 17th Generation Mei Hua

Grand Master Andrew Lee

Grand Master Andrew Lee

Sifu Andrew Lee, 18th generation Mei Hua Chuan, has been involved with martial arts since 1972. Motivated by his early teacher, GM Chi Yuan Tsai, Andrew Lee worked endless hours perfecting his art. As a result of his obsession with perfection, he was a top competitor in the Chicagoland area. His reputation for lightning fast and powerful kicks, and flexibility and jumping ability is what is said to have made him unsurpassed when competing in forms, weapons and fighting. In 1988, Andrew Lee founded Bei Shaolin Institute and dedicated himself to passing the art on to all interested students, regardless of age, innate athletic ability or skill level.

What makes his school unique is his uncompromising position to teach the art in its pure, traditional form, and his profound understanding of and insight into Chinese Kung Fu and martial arts in general. Most importantly, he possesses a rare ability to inspire and bring out the absolute best in all students. He has hand molded local and national champions and has promoted over 40 students to instructor level. Bei Shaolin Institute has now spread to Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas and Florida. Sifu Lee’s love of the art is demonstrated with his continued interest and personal training in all aspects of Chinese Martial Arts. His special interests are Mei Hua Chuan, Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Nei Gong.

Sifu Lee and his wife, Simu Jessica Lee, devote their time spreading and promoting traditional Chinese kung fu. Sifu is also a founding member of the Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Coalition (TCMAC) and a member of The Kuo Shu Federation R.O.C.; both organizations are dedicated to preserving and spreading the interest in traditional Chinese Martial Arts.



Growing up on the ruff streets of Chicago as a child was no easy thing to do for a young boy but making it through all the obstacles guided Kevin Miller to the art of Kung Fu.  Kevin was a twenty-five years old black belt studying Southern Hung Gar, Praying Mantis, and Snake Style Kung Fu before becoming a student under Master Andrew Lee in 1991. He first began his training in 1978 under his older brother, Danny Miller at the age of twelve.  Master Danny was often challenged in the streets of Chicago as gangs wanted to test his fighting ability. Master Danny was never defeated, no matter if it was one or by multiple fighters.  Master Danny gained the highest respect from those whom he fought.

Later, Kevin Miller joined a Kung Fu school in the Memphis area and was certified as a Sifu under Grand Master William R. Vardeman (founder of Golden Talon Kung Fu Association of the Ching Jua Gong System).  Sifu Kevin Miller taught Chinese Kung Fu at Golden Talon Kung Fu Association in Memphis from 1988-1991.

Having the privilege of training under a prominent master named Andrew Lee out of Chicago Illinois, Kevin Miller gained the skills of Northern Shaolin Long-Fist, and Tai Chi Chuan.  He is also a 19th generation Mei Hua descendant.Since then, Andrew Lee has received the honorable title of “Grandmaster”.  Like his mentor Grandmaster Andrew Lee, Sifu Kevin has won numerous tournaments in South Central United States and is now spreading the knowledge of Chinese Kuo Shu.  Sifu Kevin Miller is also the first African American to ever open a traditional Chinese Martial Arts school in Memphis, TN.  He currently owns and operates Bei Shaolin Kung Fu Institute in Memphis Tennessee.

Coach Nicholas Montanaro

Coach Nicholas Montanaro

Born in Miramar Florida in June of 1987, Nicholas Montanaro moved to Racine, WI in 2002.  He began his training in Tae Kwon Do at age of 13 years old where he eventually earned his second degree black belt.  While at the Tae Kwon Do school, he studied Krav Maga as well as well.  Montanaro then moved to Southaven, MS in 2007 where he soon returned to the Martial Arts at the Bei Shaolin Kung Fu Institute of Memphis in 2010 under the tutelage of Sifu Kevin Miller.  Through his diligent training, Nicholas earned the title of Jao Yin (meaning “Coach” in Chinese Mandarin).  Coach Nicholas (Nick) started in Shaolin Kung Fu but continued his training soon after in Wing Chun Kung Fu.  Since then, Wing Chun has been his main focus in Martial Arts with the plan of becoming a full pledge master of Kung Fu.  Coach Nick hopes to one day open up his own Kung Fu school in the near future.