Controversy of Wing Chun

Person: William Cheung

Controversy of Wing Chun

As an official successor to Yip Man was not named publicly, some Wing Chun exponents have been involved in the politics of claiming to be the rightful successor. Cheung himself claims to be the only one who was taught what he calls the "Traditional Wing Chun" style, which he says was previously a secret, purer version of wing chun only taught to those expected to become the style's standard bearers. Cheung claims that all the rest of Yip Man's students were taught what he calls the "Modified Wing Chun" system, alleged to be a simpler and less effective style taught to outsiders deemed unworthy to learn the true version. All the other senior students of Yip Man, including the directors of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association (VTAA) and Yip Man's two sons, have disputed Cheung’s claims.

In the 1980s, Cheung made these claims in a series of martial arts magazines, starting a published war of words with other Wing Chun organizations, especially the WingTsun group. He offered to demonstrate the practical (combat) superiority of his system against anybody who wished to try, and he was subsequently challenged to a fight unexpectedly in the midst of a seminar in Germany by a WingTsun fighter named Emin Boztepe. In taped footage of this fight, it appears the Boztepe was the clear winner of this conflict, though Cheung claims that the footage was edited. The incident has turned into something of an Internet phenomenon.

His claimed start date of 1951 with Yip Man is also controversial, as he (by his own admission) started after Wong Shun Leung. Wong said his own start date with Yip Man was early 1954, making the 1951 date impossible.

Cheung also claims to have been a live-in student of Yip Man between 1954-1958. Chu Shong Tin lived with Yip Man up until 1955 and there is no mention made in the literature of Cheung living there as well. Considering the start date controversy, it is possible he could have lived with him starting in late 1955 after Chu Shong Tin moved out. In contrast, the VTAA letter described his training as intermittent

Sources: Complete Martial Arts