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Chiu Lau Kung Fu History

Wing Chun is one of the most advanced Kung Fu styles from the Shaolin Temple. It was developed to counter and defeat other fighting systems and Kung Fu styles which mirrored the movements of animals. It is told that a battle witnessed between a snake and a crane was the inspiration for Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Out of fear that the fighting ability of the Shaolin Kung Fu monks could overthrow the ruling Manchurian government, the Shaolin monastery was attacked by government forces and burned down. Five Shaolin disciples escaped, one of which was a Shaolin nun by the name of Ng Mui.

After years in meditation and hiding, Ng Mui encountered a young woman named Yim Wing Chun who was being bullied into a forced marriage by the local warlord. Ng Mui decided to help her by teaching her a unique style of Kung Fu that does not rely on overpowering opponents. When the warlord returned to take Yim Wing Chun as his bride, she fought back and easily defeated her much larger and stronger opponent, winning her freedom. Yim Wing Chun then taught this Kung Fu style to her new chosen husband Leung Bac-Chou and trained others working towards overthrowing the Manchurian government. Eventually this style was named after her and is known as Wing Chun.

One of Wing Chun’s students became a member of an opera troupe. The troupe would sail by red junk boat from town to town entertaining crowds to earn a living and trained Kung Fu when not performing. These performers were affiliated with the revolution to overthrow the government and had to train in secret. Wing Chun spread underground for years, passing through many different ports in southern China to revolutionaries who wished to overthrow the Manchurian government and restore power to the Ming Dynasty.

Grandmaster Ip Man

In his early years, Ip Man lived in Foshan during the Japanese occupation of China. He learned Wing Chun from a very young age and became the youngest disciple of Grandmaster Chan Wah Shun.

Ip Man became well known for his Wing Chun skill and talent as a fighter. He was also regarded as a humble scholar, free from arrogance, and was respected for his gentlemanly conduct. Foshan was peaceful and free of crime during Ip Man’s period as captain of the local police force.

Word had travelled of Ip Man’s skill and successes. During the occupation of China, Ip Man refused several invitations to train Japanese soldiers and survived many deadly challenge matches.

Ip Man escaped to Hong Kong where he continued his Wing Chun training and academic studies. He eventually opened a Kung Fu school to teach the Wing Chun fighting system. His students won many fights, which helped boost Ip Man’s reputation as a teacher and prove the power and effectiveness of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Ip Man passed away from an illness in 1972. Before his death he helped found the Hong Kong Ving Tsun Athletic Association (VTAA). Within thirty years of his life in Hong Kong, Ip Man established a training system for Wing Chun that eventually spread internationally.

Ip Man is recognized as the 9th generation Grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Ip Man
Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, famous martial artist, actor, and philosopher, learned part of the Wing Chun system from Ip Man before moving to America to pursue academic studies in philosophy.

In America, Bruce Lee opened a martial arts school. He admitted local students and taught them the basic techniques and concepts of Wing Chun. This did not agree with Chinese Kung Fu elders who disapproved of Lee openly teaching sophisticated Chinese fighting arts to “foreigners.”

Lee felt stagnant with the traditional approach to Chinese martial arts and set to put forth an effective fighting philosophy free from the constraints of traditional ways. Using Wing Chun concepts as his foundation, he incorporated various Western fighting arts such as boxing, wrestling, and fencing into his martial art philosophy.

Bruce Lee’s fighting movements were influenced by the Wing Chun way – simple, direct and to the point. He shocked the world with his fighting skill and philosophy of life. Bruce Lee said, “Be like water, my friend.” Water is soft and flowing. It can take the shape of any container yet be hard enough to destroy rocks. The power of Wing Chun is in its ability to be as soft as cotton and as hard as steel. Softness allows you to go with the flow, feel energy accurately and react with perfect timing. Relax and feel what is happening to react naturally.

Ip Man’s Students

Ip Man taught many highly skilled fighters such as Wong Shun Leung, William Cheung, Moy Yat, his nephew Lo Man Kam and his sons Ip Chun and Ip Ching. Yip Man’s students were eager to test their acquired fighting skill and became notorious for their successes in fights on the rooftops and streets of Hong Kong.

Ip Man’s students eventually went on to start their own Kung Fu schools. Each of these new masters had different skills and specialized in different aspects of the Wing Chun system such as fighting, chi gung and health, sticky hands, and forms. Wing Chun established itself as an effective and viable martial art and its popularity spread throughout the world.


Grandmaster Chiu Lau, founder of Chiu Lau Wing Chun Kung Fu College, studied various martial arts beginning at the age of fourteen. Not fully satisfied with any particular style, he continued to search for one that would fit his characteristics and physique. When he discovered Wing Chun, he knew at last that he had found the style he had been searching for all those many years – a style with which he could become as one. He studied faithfully for twenty years and mastered the complex techniques of Wing Chun. Grandmaster Lau then turned his attention to teaching others. His diverse experiences were merged with his knowledge of various martial arts styles to provide insightful explanations to his students on the advantages of Wing Chun. Grandmaster Lau continually worked to strengthen and enhance his teaching abilities. The following lists his many teaching experiences:

  • 1973: Lakehead Karate Club, Lakehead University
  • 1974: University of Toronto
  • 1975: Private Classes
  • 1976: University of Saskatchewan
  • 1978: Vancouver School Board (public classes)
  • 1980: University of Alberta; Dickensfield Library (junior classes); Private Classes
  • 1981: Grant MacEwan College; University of Alberta Kung Fu Club
  • 1986: Alberta Kung Fu School
  • 1992: Aldergrove Kung Fu School
  • 1995-Present: Chiu Lau Kung Fu College

Throughout his life, Grandmaster Lau also continued his academic studies and held a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto in Economics and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Saskatchewan. He also founded Lee Garden restaurants to commemorate the late martial arts hero Bruce Lee. Grandmaster Lau took advantage of the opportunities available to him in Hong Kong and China to improve his teaching skill. In 2005, he became an Honorary Shaolin Monk after studying with the monks in China.

Chiu Lau Kung Fu College is part of the Ip Man Wing Chun lineage.

Our Wing Chun Family Tree:

  • Master Ip Man
  • Master Wong Cze Wing
  • Master Dennis Chau Lin Fat
  • Master Chiu Lau
Grandmaster Chiu Lau