About the Museum

Wing Chun Gung Fu (wihng cheùn gùng fuh), like most martial arts, has its roots in a family setting with its founders and original practitioners bound together in a close-knit brotherhood. Learning and growth in the martial arts was greatly facilitated by their "homes," the Tongs (tòhng) in which they met and practiced. The tòhng gave teachers and practitioners alike a sense of identity and purpose --something that has greatly diminished with the 20th Century spread of the arts across the planet. Recent Ving Tsun Museum (wihng cheùn miuh sì äm) events have given the Wing Chun world back its "home" for learning, growth, and a shared identity.

In a very brief window in time, the Ving Tsun Museum has set an incredible pace for Wing Chun practitioners world-wide with an amazing string of first-ever events:

  • Founded in 1993, the Museum is the first organization in the entire Yip Man Family (yihp mahn gà) to accomplish the lifelong dream of Grand Master Yip Man (yihp mahn daaih sì) of providing a place where Wing Chun practitioners from all over the world can gather and pay respects to every previous generation of Wing Chun Masters.  
  • The first organization to host all of the top instructors of the Moy Yat International Ving Tsun Federation in a joint hands-on teaching seminar featuring two Grand Masters and nine Masters of Wing Chun in 1997.  
  • The first Martial Arts Museum of its kind in the Western World, with an official Grand Opening Celebration in 1998.  
  • Hosted the first Senior Instructor Certification Program (November 1998) held outside of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association (wihng cheùn tái yuhk wúih) in Hong Kong. This one was hosted in the United States.  
  • The first organization to gather 8 original students of Yip Man together to give technical workshops on Wing Chun Gung Fu in November 1998 and September 1999 respectively.  
  • The first organization to introduce the Southern Temple system of Wing Chun to the public with presentations of the Hung Fa Yi lineage in May of 1999, April and July of 2000, and September and November of 2001.  
  • The first organization to introduce 4 different lineages of Wing Chun together in one place at one time in May 1999 and May of 2001.  
  • The first organization to promote and standardize Wing Chun into an international competition event.  
  • United States Representative to the First World Ving Tsun Conference in Hong Kong and China in November of 1999.  
  • Key Promoter of the Wing Chun Friendship Seminars
To understand the full significance of these events, we must first summarize the roots of the Museum itself.
 

Today's Wing Chun could not be possible without the studies and dedication put forth by the Grand Masters of today, their Sifu (sì fuh ) and their Sifu before them. The idea of the Ving Tsun Museum was originated by perhaps the most famous of all these ancestors; Yip Guy Man (yihp gai mahn).


  Yip Man's profile
© 1998-2001 Ving Tsun Museum. All Rights Reserved

Yip Man was born in Fatshan (faht sàan), China into a wealthy family. In his youth he studied Wing Chun Gung Fu from a gentleman who rented a space from the Yip family. This gentleman was Chan Wah Shun (chahn wàh seuhn). Later on, when Yip Man was sent to attend high school in Hong Kong, he displayed his skills learned from Chun Wah Shun by coming to the aid of a Chinese gentleman who was being beaten for no apparent reason. Yip Man's classmate witnessed this and relayed the event to another Wing Chun teacher named Leung Bik (lèuhng bïk), the eldest son of Leung Jan (lèuhng jaan), the teacher of Chan Wah Shun. Leung Bik then arranged to see Yip Man and later became his second teacher. Yip Man spent several years in Hong Kong studying with Leung Bik and greatly increased his skill. He returned to Fatshan after finishing school and remained there until the Communist takeover of China in 1949. At that time he was forced to flee back to Hong Kong as he had worked in the police force of the Nationalist government and would certainly have been killed had he stayed.

Upon returning to Hong Kong permanently, Yip Man began teaching select students the Wing Chun style and his name quickly spread. Yip Man was a humble teacher of traditional values who's goals were not of fame or fortune. However, as his abilities became known, it was clear that he held profound knowledge of the Wing Chun system and was a very capable teacher. It was only a matter of time before he had produced many famous students including Bruce Lee and the recognition of Wing Chun Gung Fu became widespread, reaching around the world.

One dream that Yip Man had and was not able to realize was that of a place where Wing Chun players and students could call home. This was to be a place for fellowship, a place to learn from, and a place to show respect for those who had come before. This idea was initially conceived in 1968 when Yip Man expressed his desire to establish a Wing Chun Tong (wihng cheùn tòhng). However, due to the staggering cost of real estate in Hong Kong and the taxation levied, there was simply no way at that time of dedicating a place for the Wing Chun Temple. So, instead of the temple, the Ving Tsun Athletic Association was born and still functions today in Hong Kong.

One of Yip Man's students never let his Sì Fuh's vision die. Moy Yat (mùih yaht) was very close to Yip Man and spent countless hours discussing and acting upon his Sifu's ideals and dreams, thus achieving fame in his own right; a recognized Grandmaster in all areas of the world. Moy Yat taught in Hong Kong for many years and he moved to New York in 1973 following his Sifu death. He has produced many skillful and famous students. Not only has Moy Yat become famous as a Grandmaster of Wing Chun but also as an artist, known worldwide for his paintings, stone carvings, writing, and other works of art. He passed away in January of 2001.


Moy Yat and Yip Man
© 1998-2001 Ving Tsun Museum. All Rights Reserved

Moy Yat, like his teacher, had traditional roots. It could be said that he was proud and sentimental about his Wing Chun history. He continued to strive to assure his Sifu's dream of establishing a Wing Chun Tong by carefully searching for the proper time and place to make it a reality. Grand Master Moy Yat kept Yip Man's dream alive for over 30 years. During a trip to Dayton, Ohio in October, 1993, he began discussions with his Disciple, Benny Meng (maahng hing fùng), about the creation of the museum. After many meetings with Master Meng, his disciples, Yip Man's sons, and the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, Dayton was accepted as the site and Yip Man's dream became reality.


Moy Yat and his student Benny Meng
© 1998-2001 Ving Tsun Museum. All Rights Reserved

In 1994, the Ving Tsun Museum Planning Committee was formed and began the planning of the Museum. Three Grand Masters of Wing Chun; Yip Chun (yihp jéun), Yip Ching (yihp jing), and Moy Yat as well as Master Benny Meng attended the groundbreaking ceremonies on July 26, 1995. This was the first time all three Grand Masters were together in the United States.


Moy Yat, Yip Ching, Yip Chun, Benny Meng, Sunmi Meng
© 1998-2001 Ving Tsun Museum. All Rights Reserved

In November of 1995 construction of the Museum began and was completed by June of 1996. The Museum held its First Annual International Workshop from May 2nd to 4th, 1997, conducted by two Grand Masters: Yip Ching and Moy Yat, nine Masters: Benny Meng , Sunny Tang (Dunn Wah), Leo Imamura, Jeffrey Chan, Henry Moy, Mickey Chan, Pete Pajil, Miguel Hernandez, and William Moy; it was attended by 150 Wing Chun enthusiasts from various parts of the world. Since that time, major strides have taken place including much historical information being gathered, the transcription of tapes, the boo--The Voice of the Ving Tsun--being published, the collection of more Wing Chun artifacts, and the physical completion of the building that will house the museum.


The 1st Annual International VTM Workshop
© 1998-2001 Ving Tsun Museum. All Rights Reserved

When the elder martial arts brothers of the late Bruce Lee decided to introduce the Ving Tsun Museum in Dayton, Ohio to martial artists from all over the western hemisphere, they agreed to a series of historic events planned by Master Benny Meng, the museum's Curator, culminating in the Grand Opening of the museum itself. Each event represented a "first of its kind" achievement in the history of Wing Chun Gung Fu.

The history-making began with a seminar in the western United States on October 23rd to 25th 1998, that covered four Grand Master's accumulated knowledge and Gung Fu wisdom. Sifu Richard Loewenhagen of Chandler, Arizona, the Director of West Coast Affairs for the Museum, and the students of Meng's Martial Arts of Arizona, hosted the event in high style. This historic event brought masters, teachers and students to the Phoenix area from as far away as Sao Paulo, Brazil and Vancouver, Canada.

Grand Masters Chu Shong Tin (chèuih seuhng tìhn), Moy Yat, Yip Ching, and Yip Chun, all senior students of the late Yip Man, came together for the first time in 30 years, along with Ving Tsun Museum Curator, Master Benny Meng, to initiate a series of events commemorating the Grand Opening of the Ving Tsun Museum in Dayton, Ohio. The West Coast Seminar in the Phoenix area was the first such event. It began with a gala banquet at the historic Landmark Restaurant in Mesa, AZ and proceeded with intensive seminar sessions at the Mesa Sheraton Hotel's Rendezvous Center. Following the daytime seminar sessions, the Grandmasters selflessly shared their evening hours with the students in Gung Fu Life activities at many of the area's restaurants and showplaces.

The second major grand opening event involved five days of closed door training and senior instructor certification from China's Ving Tsun Athletic Association for select Masters and Sifu. This event was held at the Ving Tsun Museum itself from October 26th to 30th 1998, and represented the first time in history that seven Grand Masters of Wing Chun Gung Fu came together to witness and certify advanced instructors. The historical significance of this event is even more striking in light of the fact that the Ving Tsun Athletic Association is the only certifying body recognized by the

Government of China for Wing Chun Gung Fu, and this was the first time its most advanced level of teaching certification was granted outside of Chinese borders.

The final museum grand opening event consisted of the ribbon cutting on October 31st, 1998, followed by an induction ceremony for the museum's Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. The first two inductees were late Grand Master Yip Man and Grand Master Moy Yat. The grand opening concluded with yet another intensive two day event, the Second Annual International Ving Tsun Museum Seminar, this time taught jointly by all seven Grand Masters: Chu Shong Tin, Mak Po (mahk póu), Moy Yat, Yip Chun, Yip Ching, Hawkins Cheung (jéung hohk gin), and Moy Bing Wah (mùih bíng wàh). Over 110 teachers and practitioners representing the families of Moy Yat, Yip Ching, Yip Chun, Chu Shong Tin, Hawkins Cheung, Ho Kam Ming (hòh gàm mìhng), Leung Sheung (lèuhng sèung), Wong Kiu (wòhng kìuh), William Cheung (jéung cheuk hing), and Duncan Leung (lèuhng siuh hùhng) were all represented. They came from Brazil, Canada, China, England, Mexico, and the United States to participate in this workshop.

Major martial arts magazine and newspaper editors, along with martial artists world-wide attended these gala events to witness the realization of Yip Man's lifetime dream - the creation of a center where all Wing Chun Gung Fu practitioners, regardless of lineage, could preserve their heritage and exchange knowledge and Gung Fu wisdom free from political constraints.

Currently, the museum consists of 4,500 square feet of floor space with 2,000 square feet allocated to training, 1300 square feet of exhibits, and 1,200 square feet dedicated to administration, lobby, and locker rooms. Another 2,000 square foot expansion is planned for the 2000 calendar year. It will include outdoor training facilities that encompass Chi Sau (chï sáu) platforms, a Geuk Jong (geuk jòng - kick dummy), and other training apparatus.

As you enter the museum's hall, you will find a list of those who have sponsored it to date. To the right is a collection of over 200 Wing Chun books and more than 300 videos from the various Wing Chun families and styles practiced all over the world. Past this you'll see a timeline of the history of Wing Chun with all of the most up to date information about all known Wing Chun generations. In the right corner of the museum are the various apparatus and tools used to teach Wing Chun over the centuries, including one of the few and last Deih Jong (deih jòng - ground dummy) made by Grand Master Koo Sang (gú sáng). Turning to the left brings you to the display area dedicated to Yip Man. It includes numerous historic photos and a few of his personal artifacts. These articles are extremely rare and irreplaceable as Chinese tradition requires that personal possessions be burned upon one's death in the hope that they will follow him to the life hereafter. The museum possesses the largest collection of personal artifacts and pictures of Yip Man outside of his family in Hong Kong.

As you continue, is a large stone tablet on the last 50 years in Wing Chun containing information on the development of Wing Chun and its organizations of today. Next, in the center of the hall are displayed the priceless updated version of the Wing Chun Kuen Kuit Chops, made to include all lineages of Wing Chun, not just one particular family. Lastly you will see a family tree of the Wing Chun lineage from all the major styles. Throughout the rest of the museum's building are numerous pictures and other items displayed along with a retail section to purchase memorabilia to take home with you to remember the trip to Wing Chun 's archives.

As the museum project evolved, so did the committee guiding it. While a core group has remained, others have left and been replaced with new members to carry on to completion this very important and historic project. Moy Yat is the Honorary Chairman. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association has given its full support, along with Yip Man's two sons, Yip Chun and Yip Ching. They remain as Honorary Technical Advisors to the committee. Master Benny Meng remains as Chairman and Curator, with his wife, Sunmi, now filling the role of Treasurer. Other positions have been created and filled to form the existing working committee: Richard Loewenhagen is the West Coast Affairs Director, and Leo Imamura is the South American Affairs Director. The committee is rounded out with Mike Mathews as Certification Director, Jeremy Roadruck as Events Coordinator, Dan Wells as Webmaster, and Rick Howard as the museum's Project Director.

The Ving Tsun Museum is sure to be a part of Gung Fu history for many decades and generations to come. As support from the many families of Wing Chun grows, so will the museum. Over the last five years Master Benny Meng has traveled to numerous tournaments, seminars, associations, schools, and private homes all over the world to gather historic information and artifacts, while promoting the museum and its ideas and goals of unity amongst all styles and families of this system. Over $500,000 has already been spent making this dream a reality. It is a place for all of the truly great masters of this art to be remembered and honored. It is a place for a living art form to continue to evolve. Anyone interested in finding out how to make a financial contribution, become a member, or donate an artifact or research about their family's history can simply call the museum at (937) 236-6485 or write to: The Ving Tsun Museum, 5715 Brandt Pike, Dayton, Oh, 45424.

Originally, the museum was to be called the Wing Chun Tong. However, the committee and the Ving Tsun Athletic Association were concerned that there would be some confusion as the VTAA building is already called that. Therefore, a new name had to be found. Late one night Moy Yat, Yip Ching, and Benny Meng were examining appropriate names. Both organizations make use of the letters "V" and "T" for Wing Chun. These were the letters used when the Chinese characters were translated and written into English for the first time. Being sentimental and traditional, the museum would make use of that original spelling. Moy Yat began to compare the word "museum" with the phonetic counterparts from the Chinese language, miuh, sì, äm. He noted an interesting relationship. In Chinese, "miuh" means skillful, "sì" means nun, and "äm" means hall. Together the words mean "Hall of the skillful nun". This was perfect as a suitable name for the Ving Tsun Museum. So, when you visit the museum, you can pronounce it in English or Chinese. Either way, welcome home!


 

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