Battle Creek Traditional Wing Chun Club
History of Traditional Wing Chun

The origin of Wing Chun Kung Fu can be found in the turbulent, repressive Ching (Manchurian) dynasty of over 250 years ago. It was a time when 90% of the Chinese race, the Hans, were ruled by the 10 minority, the Manchurians. The Manchurians treated the Hans unjustly. For instance, all the female Han infants were made to bind their feet so that when they grew up they would be dependent upon their parents or husband. Men were made to shave the front of their heads and were forced to wear a pigtail (queue) to distinguish them as Han males not Manchurian.

The work opportunity of the Hans was also restricted. They were not allowed to hold a position above a certain level in the Government. Heavy tax burdens were placed on the country, so that the Manchurians could have economic control of the Han people. Kung fu training was also banned for the Hans, however the Manchurian Government was adopting the Han culture. The Manchurians respected the Shaolin Temple as a Buddhist sanctuary, since the Manchurians were Buddhists as well.

When all weapons were outlawed by the Manchurians, the Hans began training a revolutionary army in the banned art of kung Fu. The Shaolin Temple became the secret sanctuary for preparatory training of a classic style which took 15 to 20 years for each person to master. Five of China's grandmasters met to discuss the merits of each of the various forms of kung Fu, in order to develop a form with a shorter learning period. By choosing the most efficient techniques from each style, they developed training programs that would develop an efficient martial artist in 5 to 7 years, one-third the original time. However before this new form could be put into practice, the Shaolin Temple was raided and burned by the Manchurians.

Ng Mui, a nun, was the only survivor of the original five grandmasters. She passed her knowledge onto a young orphan girl whom she named Wing Chun. The name means, "Praise Spring", representing "hope for the future". A future without Manchurian domination and injustices. In turn Yim Wing Chun passed her knowledge to her husband, Leung Bok Chao. Through the years the style became known as Wing Chun. Its techniques and teachings were passed onto a few carefully selected students. After Yim Wing Chun passed away, Leung Bok Chao taught his nephew Wong Wah Bo.

Wong Wah Bo joined the Red Junk Opera Company and taught Leung Yee Tai who was an actor in the company. Leung Yee Tai and Wong Wah Bo both taught Leung Jan who in turn became famous for his skill in Wing Chun kung fu. Leung Jan opened an herbal shop in Fatshan, where he practiced medicine. At night he trained his sons and Chan Wah Shun. After Leung Jan passed away, Chan Wah Shun took over the instruction of Wing Chun and Leung Bik left the province. In time, Chan Wah Shun accepted Yip Man as his last disciple.


Yip Man
Yip Man and Grandmaster William Cheung
Yip Man and Bruce Lee

Yip Man

Yip Man was born in the year 1898 in the town of Fatshan in Namhoi County, Kwangtung Province, in Southern China to a wealthy merchant family. The Yip family permitted Wing Chun master Chan Wah Shun to live and teach a small group of disciples in the family temple, since Chan's local reputation as a fighter discouraged thieves and highwaymen from attacking the family businesses.

Yip Man would watch Chan Wah Shun drill his disciples in the ways of Wing Chun. Soon the boy's visits became more regular until, Yip Man was about nine years old he approached Chan and asked to be accepted as a student. Chan Wah Shun was about 60 years old at the time and didn't want to accept another disciple this late in life.

To discourage him, Chan told Yip that he would admit him as a student as soon as he could pay the tuition price of three taels of silver. But when Yip Man returned the next day with 300 pieces of silver, which was his entire life savings. So once Chan and Yip Man's parents saw that this boy had such a strong desire to learn Wing Chun, his parents agreed to let him study. And Chan Wah Shun accepted him at which point, Yip Man became the last of Chan's 16 disciples.

Yip Man studied with Chan Wah Shun for four years, until the old master's death. Yip subsequently spent another two and a half years training with his senior, Ng Chung So. When Yip was 16 years old, his parents sent him to Hong Kong to attend St. Stephen's College. There, he quickly fell in with a clique of classmates who liked to offer and accept kung fu challenges. He welcomed the opportunity to put his Wing Chun training to the real test.

Yip discovered that he liked to fight. He would accept a challenge on the slightest provocation. On one such occasion, a classmate named Lai dared Yip to go after an old kung fu practitioner who worked at the silk company of Lai's father. The man was well into his 50s and very eccentric, but Lai insisted the man's kung fu was very good.

That evening Yip Man found the man living on a fishing boat anchored near the typhoon breakers in Hong Kong Bay. Yip first performed the entire Siu Lim Tao form of Wing Chun. After that the old man agreed to a match. Yip promptly attacked the old man and quickly found himself in Hong Kong Bay. After repeated attempts and repeated soakings, Yip Man wanted to learn from the old man. Yip Man soon found out that the old man was Leung Bik. Leung Bik explained the difference in his Wing Chun compared to Chan Wah Shun's and proceeded to take Yip Man as a student. Yip Man studied with Leung Bik for two and a half years.

Yip Man returned to Fatshan and told his seniors about the old man that he had met. When his seniors scoffed at him, Yip Man challenged them and defeated them with his newfound knowledge. Yip Man stayed in Fatshan where he was involved with the police and raised a family. In 1948 Yip Man fled to Hong Kong during the People's Movement.

In Hong Kong, a homeless and penniless Yip Man was given refuge at a restaurant. Yip Man watched the instructor(Leung Sheung) there conduct a kung fu class. Leung Sheung at the time was a practitioner of Bak Mei and Dragon kung Fu. After watching the class for a time, Yip Man demonstrated his skill to Leung Sheung and Leung Sheung promptly became Yip Man's first student in Hong Kong. After this Yip Man started teaching Wing Chun to the Restaurant Worker's Association. Yip Man eventually moved his place of instruction.

Yip Man trained excellent fighters, chief among them are Wong Shun Leung, Grandmaster William Cheung, and Bruce Lee. After 20+ years of teaching in Hong Kong, Yip Man passed away in 1972.


Grandmaster William Cheung
Grandmaster William Cheung
Grandmaster William Cheung and Bruce Lee

Grand Master William Cheung

On November 22, 1998, Grandmaster William Cheung was inducted into the 1998 Blitz Hall of Fame, receiving the award for "Lifetime Tribute for Martial Arts".

He has been called the Masters' Master; he was considered by Bruce Lee to be the "ultimate fighter": William Cheuk Hing Cheung was the sole inheritor of the Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu system, and was the person responsible for introducing Bruce Lee to Wing Chun Kung Fu.

In 1951, at the age of ten, Cheung started his training in Wing Chun Kung Fu under the late Grandmaster Yip Man. From 1954 to 1958 Cheung was a live-in student of Grandmaster Yip Man. It was during this time that he inherited the complete system of Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Between 1957 and 1958 Cheung won the Kung Fu elimination contests in Hong Kong, defeating opponents with many more years' experience. In early 1954 Cheung introduced Bruce Lee to Grandmaster Yip Man, and became his personal trainer. Throughout the four and a half years the two men developed a very close friendship, and Cheung passed on to Bruce Lee most of his techniques and helped developed his overall confidence and experience in fights. In later years he was to use these techniques in competitions, and also in his movies.

In 1959, after completing his training under Grandmaster Yip Man, Cheung left Hong Kong to pursue an academic career at the Australian National University in Canberra. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Economics.

After moving to Melbourne to teach Wing Chun professionally in 1973, Cheung began operating a very successful Martial Arts School. In 1976 he was elected the President of the Australian Kung Fu Federation.

Cheung was appointed as Chief Instructor to the U.S. Seventh Fleet based in Yukosuka, Japan, during 1978 to 1980. Throughout this time, he was in charge of the intensive mental and physical development program of close quarter hand to hand combat for the marines.

Many of Cheung's students have achieved international recognition for their martial arts prowess. In 1982 his students, Joe Moahengi and Rick Spain, won the heavyweight and middleweight divisions respectively in the World Invitation Kung Fu Championships held in Hong Kong. Furthermore, Cheung himself, in 1983, was inducted into the "Black Belt Hall of Fame" as Kung Fu Artist of the Year and again in 1989, into the "Inside Kung Fu Hall of Fame" as Martial Arts Instructor of the Year.

From 1979 Grandmaster Cheung and many of his juniors conducted special programs for special law enforcing officers and special operation groups in the Armed Services in U.S.A. and other countries, teaching unarmed combat, restraining and disarming assailants and a fire arm retention program.

It was at the Harvard University, Boston, in 1984 that Grandmaster Cheung set the world speed punching record of 8.3 punches per second . To promulgate his ideas and stimulate and enliven the art, Cheung has authored a variety of books for the general public including "Wing Chun Biu Jee", "Wing Chun Butterfly Swords", "Wing Chun Dragon Pole", "Advanced Wing Chun", "How to Develop Chi Power", "Wing Chun Kung Fu" (in French), "A Comparison of Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do" Volumes I and II. He has also produced a number of videos, including the well-known "The Wing Chun Way", "Tao of Wing Chun" and "PRO-TEKT: A Personal Protection Program".

From his early training in Martial Arts, Grandmaster Cheung has become an expert in Meridian, Pressure Points and Meditation dealing with internal energies. Over the last ten years he has used this knowledge to develop many successful programs treating sports injuries and teaching stress management. Grandmaster William Cheung has been honoured by the China Guangzhou Medical University and Hospital Research Institute as a Research Professor for his Cheung's Meridian Therapy (CMT) program. This appointment is for the two year period from January 2000 until January 2002. As the result of these, Grandmaster Cheung's seminars, workshops and treatments are now much sought after all over the world.


Master Phillip Redmond
Master Philip Redmond and Grandmaster William Cheung

Master Philip Redmond

Master Phillip Redmond's martial arts career started after his first of two tours in Vietnam. After his first tour he was stationed in Okinawa. While he was stationed there he had the opportunity to study with Eizo Shimabuku in Shorin-Ryu (Okinawan karate). After 4 years of duty in the Marine Corps (USMC), Master Redmond was honorably discharged in 1970 and then he moved to New York City.

After moving to NYC 1970 Master Redmond started training in Fu Jow Pai (Tiger Claw) under Grandmaster Wai Hong. During the same year Master Redmond was introduced to Wing Chun by a friend.

After a period of time Master Redmond, started training under Sifu Duncan Leung. When Duncan Leung left NYC to move to Virginia, Sifu Redmond, studied under a succession of Wing Chun instructors in NYC's Chinatown. Master Redmond studied under prominent instructors such as Sifu Lee Moy Shan, Sifu Alan Lamb, Sifu Henry Leung, and Sifu Moy Yat. In 1983, Master Redmond saw an ad for a seminar being in held in Los Angeles, CA. Master Redmond immediately bought plane tickets and flew to California for two weeks. During those two weeks, Master Redmond realized that the Wing Chun he learned prior to the seminar was a shadow of what Grandmaster Cheung was teaching. From that point on, Master Redmond gave up his instructor standing in a previous Wing Chun style and started as a beginner in Grandmaster Cheung's Wing Chun. Master Redmond became a sifu in GM Cheung's system in 1991 and earned his provisional Master rank in 1994.

During Master Redmond's training in Wing Chun in NYC, he also studied many other styles. A list of the styles Master Redmond has studied or has a working knowledge of are: Hung Ga kung fu under Sifu Bill Chung of Chinatown's Hung Mun, Baat Gua from Sifu Kenny Gong, Bak Mei, Seven-Star Praying Mantis, Juk Lum, Vee-Jitsu te from Professor Florendo Visitacion, and Aiki-Jujitsu from Sensei Robert "Sugar" Crosson. Sort of an anomoly, Master Redmond speaks Cantonese which has given him a deeper understanding of the arts, and has lead to some unusual circumstances with people who were unaware of this ability. Master Redmond has earned a black belt in AikiJiu Jitsu and Kobudo from Sensei Ronald Duncan. Yoel Judah, the US kickboxing champion, trained Sifu Redmond for his first full contact bout which he won.

In 1989 Master Redmond moved to New Haven, CT and started the Yale University Wing Chun Kung Fu Club. From 1990 to 1994 Yale University's Physical Education Department hired Master Redmond to teach Wing Chun. In 1995 Master Redmond moved to Detroit. In July 2006 Master Redmond moved to the North American headquarters in Southern New Jersey. He left the Detroit school in the care of Provisional Master Carmelino Guiao.

Master Redmond has made Grandmaster Cheung's Honor List
This is a list, compiled by Grandmaster William Cheung, of people who have contributed to The World Wing Chun Kung Fu Association above and beyond normal measures.These special people have contributed their services to Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu for a minimum period of ten years, showing respect, dedication, honor and self-sacrifice.

In December 2007, Master Redmond was featured in Urban Dragons: Black and Latino Masters of Chinese Martial Arts, a documentary that explores the journey of urban Black and Brown men within the world of Asian martial arts. To view a clip of the movie premiere, click here


Sufy Vahovick and Grandmaster Cheung
Sifu Vahovick and Master Redmond

Sifu Robert Vahovick

Sifu Robert Vahovick was born in the Detroit area and learned to fight boxing style from his father.  Later, he pursued the martial arts, discovering the Kung Fu lineage that made Bruce Lee famous. It was Wing Chun Gung Fu, as taught by Grandmaster William Cheung. William Cheung was best friend to Bruce Lee, and brought Bruce to his teacher (Yip Man) to  learn Gung Fu. As Senior student to Bruce, William was charged with teaching and guiding Bruce along his way in Wing Chun. Bruce went on to pursue his acting career utilizing this system, while William became Grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Sifu Robert received his training from Master/Sifu Phillip Redmond becoming one of his top students.  After four years of intensive training, and many one-on-one private lessons and seminars with Grandmaster William Cheung, he achieved his rank with honors and decided to open his own Wing Chun club in Battle Creek.


Sifu Vahovick and Grandmaster Cheung