Ip Man more than likely created the world’s first MacDojo, teaching students basic Kung Fu moves.

Thinking Hats on guys.

This is a warm-up piece to set some sort of ‘context’ to when I try to explain what I ‘THINK’ it means to be a Concept Driven Martial Art.

To understand Wing Chun today we need to have some idea of where it came from, which is almost impossible as most of what is thought as our history is just B.S. pushed out by unscrupulous Martial Arts Entrepreneurs such as William Cheung and Leung Ting, and all who copy them today.

The history of Wing Chun is at best vague and mostly fictitious but after decades of serious research by dedicated professionals, we think we know that what we call Wing Chun was formulated by Doctor Leung Jan from Guangdong in S.E. China.

Dr Leung was a Shaolin Kung Fu practitioner of some merit and a medical doctor that is reported to have worked closely with the Red Boat Opera Company.

Opera companies consisted of a troupe of performing Martial Artists that used most styles of Kung Fu to tell their stories.

Dr Leung’s role in today’s terms would be that of a physiotherapist and sports doctor, and then, as now, his main job would have been to keep the Opera Martial Artists fit, healthy and able to perform.


In this way, he would have automatically compiled a catalog of movements that caused serious physical injuries to the person performing them and other movements that did not cause any injuries to the person performing them.

Keep this in mind, I believe it is central to getting this thing of ours.


Throughout the 1600s to 1800s Guandong, especially the Peral River Delta, was in a state of constant war, rebellion, or just plain old social disorder.

There is no need for extravagant Martial Art mythologies, the reality of the times was far worse than any movie.

The Pearl River Delta experienced an almost continuous assault from Japanese Pirates to the Portuguese Navy to the British Navy, French Navy {the opium Wars}, the Taipings and then the Heaven and Earth Society it is no wonder that Foshan became a center for respected Martial Arts learning.

Those skills were needed to survive.

For whatever reason in the mid-1860s, Dr Leung decided that his chosen Martial Art was not quite fit for purpose, it is easy to imagine that with him being a well known wealthy businessman and the breakdown of social order he would have been the target of many attempted muggings or robberies.

He decided to do something about that.

Aided by his medical knowledge and years of repairing the damage to the Red Boat Opera Crew he devised a way to refine everything he knew.
At first, this was just a family thing.

Outside of his apothecary was a money lender named Chan Wah Shun, we can only imagine the problems he faced at this unstable time.
Dr Leung passed his knowledge onto Chan Wah Shun, it is highly unlikely that Chan Wah Shun did the same Martial Art as Leung Jan as he was reported to be a very large and strong man, but he was able to use Leung Jan’s method to improve what he knew.

Chan Wah Shun was the first person to teach this new method publicly, his last and most famous student was Ip Man.

From the beginning Wing Chun, if it was called that back then, was about refining and improving a known set of physical movements.

Ip Man and Hong Kong.

After the Chinese Civil War, Ip Man was in Hong Kong and found himself in a perilous position, not only was he from a wealthy landowning family but he had also worked with the K.M.T. The Nationalist government, so he would have definitely been on the communist hit list because of this he stayed in Hong Kong.

Ip Man needed to live so he began to teach Wing Chun publicly at the Restaurant Workers Union.

These Unions were not like our Labour Unions they were more an employment agency that provided workers to employers, Kung Fu lessons were provided free by the Union as a way to get people to sign up to that Union.

Ip Man more than likely created the world’s first MacDojo, teaching students basic Kung Fu moves.

Then as now, students came and went rarely attending for more than three months, to try to keep up with the requirements of the post-war young men Ip Man would change what he taught as Wing Chun in an attempt to placate the paying customers.

Let’s be fair he needed to eat.

When his children rejoined him after a ten-year forced absence they did not recognise what he was teaching.

However, if anyone stayed long enough to learn those basic Kung Fu moves he would then introduce them to what has always been the true work of Wing Chun, how to refine and improve what is already known.

This description of our history and about Ip Man upsets many students and I have had many heated conversations, but it should not, it is honest and for my money, it helps us get to the place where Wing Chun lives.

All Wing Chun Schools are MacDojos until the students have genuine skills that can be refined.

I think that this is actually a very good thing and not as negative as it sounds, the trick will be ‘can I convince you’.

 Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. 

– Arthur Schopenhauer 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s