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The Legend of Redboat Wing Chun

The philosophy and principle of effectiveness of the Southern Shaolin monks was based on the experience of direct and tangible reality. The philosophy of Chan Buddhism meant a return to naturalness and simplicity. This often stood in contrast to the methods of the styles outside the temple. Those often sought after magic and idolatry. The fate lied in the hands of the elders, to whom one owed unconditional obedience. This is the reason why the monks of the Wing Chun Tong implemented only the simplest and most efficient concepts into their teachings. They were meant to be comprehensible to everyone and directly applicable in every situation.

The red boat as a shelter and keeper of Shaolin knowledge

The abbot of the monastery, Chi Sim Sin Si, was also guardian of this special knowledge. In the 18th century the southern Shaolin Temple was betrayed and destroyed by the ruling powers, the Manchus. Chi Sin Sim Si was able to flee and hide on a "Red Boat" as a cook under cover identity. The red boats, which were used by opera troupes, were a favorite place for rebels and resistance fighters to hide. Because these sailed the coast from place to place, they were perfectly suited to organize the resistance fighters and pass secret messages from town to town, unnoticed by the watchful eyes of the authorities. The red boats had permission to move freely to the coastal resorts to entertain the population in which the performances of Chinese opera were very popular.

 The struggle of the "crazy cook"

Tiger Wong, one of the most brutal Kung Fu fighters of his time was racketeering the opera performers. He sat them a time period to pay the sum that he demanded. He threatened to destroy their boats and thus their livelihood if the opera company refused to pay him.

The leader of the opera troupe, Wong Wah Bo and his followers were, understandably desperate. They had no money and weren’t able to protect themselves in the event of an attack, since they had no real kung fu skills, only the opera style Kung Fu performances. As the deadline had expired, the members of the red boat saw their end approaching.

As Wong came and went to pick up the money, the supposedly crazy, old cook stood in his way. Tiger Wong did not take the supposed old cook seriously and tried to push him roughly aside and give him a beating. This conflict between Tiger Wong and the abbot of the monastery is passed on differently by the different Wing Chun families. But all of them passed on that Tiger Wong had no chance against the superior Kung Fu of the old master.

The secret knowledge of the southern Shaolin Monastery

The members of the red boat were enthusiastic and wanted to learn the outstanding Kung Fu system of their cook. Abbot Chi Sim gave away his true identity and was ready to teach the opera troupe. In order to learn the system on the narrow boats, moreover, in a relatively short time, they developed a new systematization of the learning path. The first form “Wing Chun Kuen”, as well as the “Saam Pai Fut” have been divided into three seperate forms. (Siu Nim Tau, Chum Kiu and Bui Tze).


The legends about the Wing Chun system

In order to protect the identity of the master and the resistance, different legends and stories of Wing Chun were invented. (For example the story of Yim Wing Tsun.) Wong Wah Bo was a very talented and diligent student. His first students were San Kam, Leung Yee Tai and Leung Laan Kwai. Only to those who had mastered the whole system, the truth was revealed about the background of the art.

During the Ching Dynasty male artists were playing female roles in the opera, because women were not allowed to appear in public. San Kam was an excellent artist who could represent the female roles very well on the one hand; on the other hand, he represented the community in real fights. At that time the art of Wing Chun Dim became known as Wing Chun Kuen - Internal Spring Fist (The martial art of the everlasting spring). This was the true Kung Fu from the southern Shaolin Temple. San Kam was known by his nickname: Painted face Kam.


Fung Siu Ching spreads the Kung Fu of the Red Boats

As San Kam bought opera costumes for the members of the red boat, he was mocked and attacked by a young vivacious tailor's apprentice named Fung Siu Ching. The strong and hulking Fung Siu Ching was beaten seven times into the dust before he realized that he had no chance against this strange man. Fung Siu Ching immediately wanted to pass the tea to San Kam (Chinese Kung Fu tradition to seal the student - master agreement), however, San Kam turned him down on the grounds that he wouldn’t teach Kung Fu to uncontrolled, aggressive people.

After a year of probation, Fung Siu Ching proved worthy to learn from San Kam. He was accepted and introduced in order to learn the art of Wing Chun. He learned ten years and became one of the most famous and celebrated masters throughout Asia. He finally managed to control his temper and convert it into creative energy for Wing Chun. Fung Siu Ching was one of the masters of the red boats, which also taught in mainland China. Among others he founded many Wing Chun schools in Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

He was also one of the first Wing Chun masters, which taught Wing Chun professionally. Together with Leung Jan, student of Leung Yee Tai, he probably was the most famous historical figure in the history of Wing Chun. Countless films and novels were written and directed based on their history. Fung Siu Ching`s master students in Fatshan were his son Fung Tin, the Lo brothers, Tang Suen, Dung Yick and the chemist Ma Chung Yi.


Wing Chun protects the weak

During the Ching Dynasty (1644-1911) only the larger cities were protected by the State Police. In smaller villages this task was transferred to Kung Fu masters. Fung Siu Ching`s master students guarded many villages in Fatshan and the surrounding regions.

The Lo brothers drove away a gang of robbers, armed only with butterfly knives. The people from the villages he had protected gave their Kung Fu brother Tang Suen the honorary title of “King of the Long Pole”. His long pole saved the people from the attacks of foreigners.


Wing Chun in Hong Kong

Grandmaster Wai Yan, the son of a rich Chinese family in Hong Kong, was born at the beginning of the 19th century. Via his older friend Lo Chi Woon, the young Wai Yan came into contact with the martial art Wing Chun. Wai Yan knew nothing about Kung Fu, because in his opinion, Kung Fu practitioners were too violent and uneducated.

But Lo Chi Woon (who was a Student of the Lo brothers) did have an academic title next to his title in Wing Chun. That’s why Wai Yan kept in touch with him.

One day, Lo Chi Woon asked Wai Yan whether he would teach his son the art of chinese writing (This is comparable to accepting the role of a godfather in the West). Wai Yan accepted without overlooking the consequences of his promise: Now he was responsible for the young Lo. This meant for Wai Yan, that he had the responsibility to master the Wing Chun Kuen too, because this art was an integral part of the Lo’s family tradition.


The Kung Fu Dojo "Dai Duk Lan"

In 1930 Wai Yan began to learn Wing Chun from Lo Chi Woon and his brother Lo Hung Tai. Wai Yan`s original aversion to Kung Fu turned into an incredible passion and love for the art of Wing Chun Kuen. Having mastered the art, he initiated a new project. He wanted to further explore the art and it’s fighting capabilities. The best Masters of the time should gather and bring Wing Chun to its glory again: An art without secrets. He founded a Wing Chun research academy in one of his buildings and called it Dai Duk Lan.

The concept of a Shaolin temple served as a model for this, where Shaolin Kung Fu was constantly tested and improved over a period of over thousand years. 


The five dragons of Wing Chun

As Wai Yan heard about an unbeatable Wing Chun master named Chu Chung Man (the unbeatable iron fist of Wing Chun) who lived in Macau, he wanted to meet immediately. This man was infamous throughout Southern China, because he could defeat any challenger without much effort. Chu Chung Man liked Wai Yan`s project so much that he followed him to Dai Dak Lan and accepted the position as the head of the research facility. Chu Chung Man also brought his friend, Wing Chun master Tam Kong into the project. Tam Kong was specialized in Kam Na concepts (Ground fighting and locking techniques to control the opponent). He was able to beat the most challengers with ease.

Sifu Wai Yan found Sifu Tang Yick in Hong Kong. At first, Tang Yick refused to share his knowledge with other Wing Chun masters. However, the openness and warmth of the others quickly changed his scepticism.

Tang Yick and Pak Cheung, the protégés of Grand Master Tang Sun who were living in Fatshan, became the kings of the longstaff. Master Pak Cheung was regarded missing since the Chinese Cultural Revolution. However, he was found on a remote farm near Fatshan by Cheng Kwong in 1978.

With Sifu Tang Yick the project now included five members: Sifu Chu Chung Man, Sifu Wai Yan, Sifu Lo Chi Woon, Sifu Tam Kong and Sifu Tang Yick. Those five men practiced and structured Wing Chun for 20 years.  

The Wing Chun masters trained every day and never missed to verify the concepts and principles. Kung Fu masters of other styles were invited to share their knowledge and exchange experiences. Also the famous Grand Master Yip Man, teacher of Bruce Lee, was often seen among the masters.


Redboat Wing Chun in the West

Sifu Jörg Weidner learned from the Wing Chun Grandmaster Andreas Hoffmann for 15 years. He also had the great honor to learn from grandmaster Cheng Kwong and Sifu Tang Chung Pak. Today the art of Wing Chun is passed on by Sifu Jörg Weidner in Neu-Ulm. To honor the outstanding role of the red boats for the preservation of the art of the Shaolin, we named our Wing Chun: Redboat Wing Chun.

What is REDBOAT?

Redboat Wing Chun is a martial art that is based on principles developed by Shaolin monks. These principles allow you to deal better with stressful situations of daily life.


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