Wing Chun (traditional Chinese: 詠春; pinyin: yǒng chūn; literally “spring chant”), also romanized as Ving Tsun or “Wing Tsun” (and sometimes substituted with the characters 永春 “eternal springtime”) is a concept-based Chinese martial art and form of self-defense utilizing both striking and grappling while specializing in close-range combat.
The alternative characters 永春 “eternal spring” are also associated with some other southern Chinese martial arts, including Jee Shim Weng Chun (Yong Chun) and White Crane Weng Chun (Yong Chun).
Wing Chun was originally passed down from teacher to teacher orally rather than through written documentation, making it difficult to confirm or clarify the differing accounts of its creation. Some have sought to apply the methods of higher criticism to the oral histories of Wing Chun and other Chinese martial arts. Others have attempted to discern the origins of Wing Chun by determining the specific purpose of its techniques. Mentions of the art start to appear in independent third-party documentation during the era of the Wing Chun master Leung Jan, making its subsequent history and divergence into various branches more amenable to documentary verification.
The common legend as told by Ip Man involves the young woman Yim Wing Chun (Wing Chun literally means forever springtime or praising spring) at the time after the destruction of the Southern Shaolin and its associated temples by the Qing government. After Wing Chun rebuffs the local warlord’s marriage offer, he says he’ll resconsider his proposal if she can beat him in a martial art match. She asks a Buddhist nun- Ng Mui, who was one of the Shaolin Sect survivors, to teach her boxing; this still nameless style enables Yim Wing Chun to defeat the warlord. She thereafter marries Leung Bac-Chou and teaches him the style, which he names after her.
Since the system was developed during the Shaolin and Ming resistance to the Qing Dynasty many legends about the creator of Wing Chun were spread to confuse the enemy, including the story of Yim Wing Chun. This perhaps explains why no one has been able to accurately determine the creator or creators of Wing Chun.