Richmond Moy Yat Kung Fu
Ving Tsun Lineage
Shaolin and the lineage of Ving Tsun Kung Fu Grandmasters
Moy Yat Ving Tsun (wing chun) Kung Fu has been handed down to us today through a known lineage of masters. The roots of the Ving Tsun system are in the Shaolin Temple in Southern China in the late 17th or early 18th Century. There, it grew out of a need to quickly train the southern Han Chinese people to fight the Manchus invading from the North. Teaching kung fu in the temple were the ‘Venerable Five’ kung fu masters – two generals, two Buddhist monks and a nun – Fung To Tak, Mui Hin, Pak Mei, Chi Shin and Ng Mui. The temple was betrayed from within and burned, but the Five escaped and went their separate ways.
According to the legend handed down, Ng Mui took refuge in White Crane temple. She saw a snake and crane fighting, which gave her an idea to modify the kung fu she knew. Ng Mui became friends with a local shop owner and his daughter, Yim Ving Tsun, and taught her certain kung fu techniques, principles and training methods, so she could defend herself from a warlord trying to force her into marriage. After training day and night, Ving Tsun challenged the bully and defeated him in hand-to-hand combat. In her mastery of fighting she personified the system, so it became known and named for her.
Yim Ving Tsun taught her husband, Leung Bok Toa, who passed his kung fu on to Leung Lan Kwai. In turn, he taught Wong Wa Bo, a member of the Red Boat Opera, which was secretly supporting the resistance while traveling from town to town. He shared the system with Leung Yee Tai, who showed him the Luk Dim Boon Kwan pole techniques he learned from Abbot Chi Shin. Together they incorporated the pole training into the system. Leung Yee Tai taught the doctor Leung Jan, who also became famous for defeating all challengers. Leung Jan taught Chan Wah Shun, who taught Yip Man
Yip Man, introduced Ving Tsun to the modern world
Yip Man (1893-1972) (aka Ip Man) was born in Fatshan, China. He began training Ving Tsun Kung Fu there at the age of 7, when his sifu Chan Wah Shun was quite old, passing just three years later. At his sifu’s direction, Yip Man completed his kung fu training under one of his sihings, Ng Chung So. He lived in Fatshan for much of his adult life, and taught Ving Tsun Kung Fu informally there. In 1949 he emigrated to Hong Kong because of the Communist takeover of mainland China.
He became famous thereafter by becoming the first person to teach Ving Tsun openly. Ving Tsun Kung Fu became one of the world’s most popular martial arts because his students and grand students were winning the challenge matches in the streets and on rooftops. Yip Man taught many who are well-known in martial arts circles. Among them are Wong Shun Leung aka ‘the King of Gong Sao’, the iconic Bruce Lee, and the man whose name our school bears, the late Moy Yat, who was one of Yip Man’s closest disciples for 15 years, until Yip Man’s passing in 1972. Yip Man was such an influential leader that several feature films have been made about his life, including some released in the United States.
Grandmaster Moy Yat, master of the martial arts and many others
Grandmaster Moy Yat (1938-2001) is remembered and respected around the world as one of the most skilled and influential martial arts masters and teachers. He began Ving Tsun Kung Fu training under Yip Man in Hong Kong in 1957 and remained one of his closest disiples until his sifu’s passing in 1972. At the age of 24, with five years of training, Moy Yat became the youngest Ving Tsun sifu at that time.
His kung fu name ‘Moy Yat’ was given to him by his sifu, Yip Man. The meaning of the name is ‘number one plum tree’, metaphorically depicting a man with very strong kung fu roots, and honoring him with the number one, meaning the beginning, and the first. By the time he left Hong Kong in 1973 to settle in New York City, Moy Yat had opened three schools and was well-respected among his kung fu brothers and in the Hong Kong martial arts community.
He became well-known in international martial arts circles after opening his Chinatown Manhattan school – many well-known martial artists and teachers were once his students. He taught many in Hong Kong and New York to be sifus – teachers of authentic Ving Tsun Kung Fu, including Anthony ‘Moy Tung’ Dandridge, founder of the Richmond Moy Yat Kung Fu Academy.
Teaching Ving Tsun Kung Fu was his life, but Moy Yat was a man with many interests and talents. He was also a master acupuncturist, and a pioneer of acupuncture of the ear. He was a prolific artist, creating a painting style he called ‘blush strokes’, and carving a set of Ving Tsun sayings in stone, the Kuen Kuit. He also published several books on Ving Tsun Kung Fu, and produced, directed and appeared in over 30 videos.
Grandmaster Moy Yat’s website MoyYat.com is preserved at Archive.org. For more history and a special story, see this Moy Yat memorial on the website of his son, Grandmaster William Moy.
Grandmaster Moy Tung, teacher of sifus, founder of the Richmond Moy Yat Kung Fu Academy, 1986
Grandmaster Moy Tung began training under Moy Yat in 1980 and remained one of his closest disciples until Moy Yat’s passing in 2001. He had begun training martial arts seriously at the age of nine at his military father’s direction, and he began training under Moy Yat at twenty. After a very short time training, he was pleased and amazed to find the incredible power available in even the most basic of the Ving Tsun principles and techniques he had learned. Within a year or two of Ving Tsun training, he noticed that sparring partners who had previously been formidable opponents were no longer a challenge.
Moy Tung realized that such a powerful system deserved and required his complete dedication. He became a student in the truest sense of the word, looking at this new martial art as a beginner despite his vast previous experience in other martial arts. During his first years of training at the Chinatown School in New York City, Moy Tung commuted from Philadelphia. Within two years Moy Tung embraced the training of Ving Tsun Kung Fu as a full-time commitment.
He was accepted as a member of Grandmaster Moy Yat’s Special Student Association (SSA) in 1984 on Moy Yat’s birthday, June 28. His received his kung fu name, Moy Tung, meaning ‘Man from the East’, because he approached kung fu training and life with the right awareness, respect and discipline – as one from Moy Yat’s own culture.
Two of Moy Tung’s first six years of training (1983-1985) were spent living with his Sifu as a close personal student, a practice carried out only by certain members of the SSA. During this time he also maintained residence in Philadelphia so as to be able to give his Sifu space and privacy when necessary. However, he spent the entire time living the Kung Fu life: training constantly and intensely, and being a devoted student and constant companion to his Sifu. This was a period of great personal effort and sacrifice on the part of Moy Tung. He made it a cornerstone of his training to spend as much time with his Sifu as possible while always being able to support himself and take care of business and personal matters for his Sifu.
Moy Tung founded the Richmond, VA Moy Yat Kung Fu Academy in 1986 after six years of Moy Yat Ving Tsun Kung Fu training. He teaches the system the same way it was passed on to him. During Grandmaster Moy Yat’s lifetime, he regularly brought him to Richmond to give seminars for his students. He made frequent training trips to New York City, often taking students with him to give them full exposure to kung fu training and kung fu life.
Beginning in 1997, Moy Tung began turning over regular classroom instruction at the Richmond school to instructors and sifus under his direction. He focused his time and energy on teaching workshops at branch schools around the US, as well as the growing number of sifus and personal students in his lineage. Today, the Moy Tung Kung Fu Association has grown to more than twenty branches around the US, three generations of sifus teaching in the Moy Tung lineage. Moy Tung has worked hard to develop his own kung fu and that of his students to the highest level, authentically preserving the complete Ving Tsun Kung Fu system. The kung fu in the hands and horses of his great-great-grandstudents is proof of this.