Yim Wing-chun

Yim Wing Chun
Born China
Died China
Style Wing Chun
Teacher(s) Ng Mui
Years active fl. c. 1700
Spouse Leung 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 Siu Lam 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]

The movie Wing Chun (1994) loosely portrays Yim Wing Chun's life within the action film genre, with Michelle Yeoh portraying the central character. 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. Meng and Rudnicki (2006) have written a critical analysis of the legend surrounding Yim Wing Chun.[6]


Lineage in Wing Chun
SifuNg Mui; creator of Wing Chun
Yim Wing Chun (嚴詠春)
Only studentLeung Bok-Chau (梁博儔); her husband


  1. Ritchie, R. (c. 2007): What's in a name? Retrieved on 9 May 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 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. 1 2 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. 1 2 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 9 May 2010.
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