Various legends surround Wing Chun Kung Fu’s origins. The one we like goes roughly as follows: The government of Ching was threatened by the combative abilities of Shaolin monks who opposed their political ideology. They intended to attack the temple to eliminate the monks and their political adversaries. The monks were aware of this and believed that they needed to develop a fast-track fighting system so that novice monks’ fighting skills could reach a sufficient level so that they could assist in defending the temple.
According to one version of the legend, the five masters of the temple, including Ng Mui, the recognized founder of Wing Chun, met in the Wing Chun hall (also known as Weng Chun Hall) of the temple to offer their expertise in the development of this system. Out of these meetings, the five masters developed the Wing Chun system. However, before they could teach it, the temple was destroyed, and only Ng Mui survived to pass on the system.
Other accounts disagree with this occurrence and give sole credit to Ng Mui. In either case, it can be assumed that Shaolin’s most advanced or best skills were incorporated into the Wing Chun system. Given this, we can see why the Wing Chun energy training exercises within the forms are very advanced. Because Wing Chun comprises the most advanced and best skills from the Shaolin system, it is implicitly assumed that those learning the Wing Chun energy skills are already familiar with the fundamentals of constructing and controlling chi energy. Each account of Wing Chun’s origins concurs that most of its creation is attributed to a woman who devised it to defeat highly skilled and powerful men. For a woman to successfully beat a stronger and more capable man in combat, she must learn internal Chi-kung techniques.
Additionally, every aspect of Wing Chun is sophisticated. Even the sun punch is a sophisticated technique. You can learn the motion in a day, but it will take months of training and practice to achieve true mastery. This is the defining characteristic of an advanced skill. A fundamental skill is something simple to learn and utilize quickly. A basic karate punch can be known in a single day, and if used that evening, it would cause significant damage. Granted, you would have a different power than a seasoned practitioner.
However, the skill is simple enough that it would be easy to use after learning it. The Wing Chun punch is challenging to master.To do it correctly and with strength requires time spent training. The same holds for all system skills and techniques. Consequently, Wing Chun is an advanced combat form with no fundamental methods. This is also true of the energy skills, as they are all quite advanced, and the system contains no beginner-level energy exercises or abilities. Before attempting to learn the strenuous activities that are classic Wing Chun Chi-kung exercises, a novice to energy work will benefit from learning some basic energy exercises in Wing Chun.
Furthermore, when we teach new students, we start their energy work with the eight pieces of Brocade. This simple moving and breathing series is an excellent introduction to energy. The eight pieces of Brocade are a joint Chi-kung exercise used by numerous Chinese martial arts systems. We should also instruct them in fundamental standing postures to help them develop the energy root and become aware of the sensations associated with Chi. Once they have acquired some proficiency with these more basic chi exercises and skills, we will introduce them to the more advanced Chi-kung movements within the Wing Chun forms.