Ng Mui Si Tai (Wumei Shitai or “Five Plums Nun”), was said to have been a Buddhist Nun, that was a supporter of the Ming Royal Family. Ng Mui is also one the legendary Shaolin (Young Forest) Temple’s fabled “Five Ancestors”, who escaped the Fujian temple’s burning and destruction. She was said to be a master of “Weng Chun County Bok Hok Kuen” (Eternal Spring White Crane Boxing), and one of the most skilled, of the surviving “Five Ancestors”, and most attributed in the creation of Wing Chun Kuen. After escaping the Fujian Temples destruction, hunted by the Ching army, fleeing for her life, Ng Mui made her way to the Sichuan area, and the Emei Mountain range, taking refuge in the “Bok Hok Jee” (White Crane Temple).
The true identity of Ng Mui, has been under debate, within Chinese Martial Art circles, for over two hunderd years.She was sometimes said to have been Lui Sei-Leung, the Forth Daughter of the Ming General, named Lui. Lui Sei-Leung was said to have attempted the assasination of the the Ching Emperor, using very advanced martial art skill.Some research suggests “Ng Mui” was a fictional cover for Chan Wing-Wah or a person nicknamed “White Crane Taoist”, who was a revolutionary from the 1670′s. It has also been suggested that “Ng Mui” and the traditional Yim Wing Chun story, was based on the Weng Chun County White Crane Oral tradition of Fang Qi Niang, the female practioner that founded the White Crane boxing system. It is possible that the oral tradition of Fang, was embeded in the Wing Chun Tradition, as a key, for opening the door, for the Wing Chun Clan, to trace the truth, of who their parent system really was.
Modern research from the AWCKRI suggests “Ng Mui” was a 3rd,4th or most likly a 5th generation practioner, of Weng Chun County White Crane Fist. It is believed the version of White Crane that she practised was Pre-Pan Family(pre-1850) and maintained the older San Sik method of organization. Ng Mui evolved the system, with softer/Rou “Ging Faat”(energy/force expresion methods), than is typicaly found in the harder “Ging” methods still preserved by the Pan Gar, and it was this refined Crane system, she taught to Miu Shin, in the Guangxi area. It was than Miu Shin, that used Ng Mui’s Softened White Crane and combined it with his Internal Snake Boxing method, to create the earlist version of the Wing Chun Kuen System.
The Term “Ng Mui” or 5 Plum’s, makes referance to the “Ng Dim Mui” or “5 Points Plum”, which is a a concept found in the Weng Chun County White Crane Fist system, which relates to a method of “Mah Faat” or Horse/Stance method, that is unique to the White Crane system, and was also passed down to the Wing Chun Kuen System.
Most Branchs of Wing Chun Kuen, trace themselves to Ng Mui, in some form or another, except the so called “Shaolin Wing Chun”, “Chi Sim Weng Chun”, or Northern Wing Chun like “Pao Fa Lien” branchs. She is the root ancestor, most attributed, to the creation of the Wing Chun Kuen system, with Abbot Chi Sim following in second place as contributing the Look Dim Boon Gwun method and at times replacing Ng Mui as the root ancestor.
Most beliefs about Ng Mui break down into two schools of belief as to her role in the Wing Chun Kuen creation traditions. In the first, she must be considered the founder who passed along a fairly complete system to Yim Wing Chun. In the second, she must be considered the primary source who passed down the raw materials, later shaped by Yim Wing Chun or Miu Shin, who later founded the art proper known as “Wing Chun Kuen”.
Two popular folk stories say Ng Mui went to Yunnan’s White Crane Temple where one day she witnessed a fight between a fox and a white crane. The fox lost and Ng Mui used the crane as inspiration create a new style she named Bok Hok Kuen (White Crane Boxing). The other story relates that one day, Ng Mui’s practice was interrupted by a snake and a crane, locked in combat. Ng Mui watched the snake and the crane, and came to admire their fighting methods. Observing, Ng Mui began to incorporate the unique strengths and tactics into her already well developed martial skills, creating a remarkable new method. At this point the oral and written traditions of Yuen Kay Shan and Cho Family picks up where Ng Mui then journeyed to Guangxi where she met Miu Shin. She accepted Miu as a student, passing on to him, her refined boxing methods. Miu Shin than mixed Ng Mui’s Bak Hok Kuen, with the snake boxing methods he all ready practised, and created the style which would eventually be named Wing Chun, after Yim Yee’s daughter.
Yip Man - Oral and written tradition on Ng Mui and the creation of the Wing Chun Kuen System
According to Yip Man’s written and oral traditions, it is typically maintained that when the Shaolin Temple of Sung Shan, in the Honan Province was burned, due to the schemes of Chan Man Wai and a Siu Lum monk named Ma Ning Yee, the 5 ancestors, incluing the nun, Ng Mui, survived and escaped to various places. Ng Mui was said to have sought refuge in the distant Bak Hok Jee (Baihesi or White Crane Temple, of the Daliangshan Mountains, on the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces (or Mr.Tai Leung/Chai Har). There, she practiced her meditation and martial arts. One day, her practice was interrupted by a snake and a crane, locked in combat. Ng Mui watched the snake and the crane, and came to admire their fighting methods. Observing, Ng Mui began to incorporate the unique strengths and tactics into her already well developed martial skills, creating a remarkable new method.
Later, in the village below, she met Yim Yee and his daughter Yim Wing Chun from whom she often bought bean curd from, on her way home from the market. Yim Yee had been falsly accused of a crime, around the time of Yim Wing Chun’s mothers death. After which he relocated his family to the area between Yunan and Szewhan to live a quit life. At fifteen, with her hair bound up in the custom of those days to show she was of an age to marry, Yim Wing Chun’s beauty attracted the attention of a local bully. He tried to force Wing Chun to marry him, and his continuous threats became a source of worry to her and her father. Ng Mui learned of this and took pity on Wing Chun. She agreed to teach Yim Wing Chun fighting techniques so she could protect herself. Wing Chun followed Ng Mui into the mountains, and began to learn fighting skills. She trained night and day, until she mastered the techniques. Then she challenged the bully to a fight and beat him. She eventualy married her betrothed Leung Bok Lau a salt merchant from Fukien. According to Yip Man’s written tradition Leung Bok Lau than taught one student named Leung Lan Kwai who than passed on the Wing Chun system to the Opera troupe actors.
The end of Yip Mans tradition places Chi Sim in hiding, on the same Opera boats, that Leung Lan Kwai had passed the Wing Chun Kuen system to. It was Leung Yee Tai supposedly that learned the Look Dim Boon Gwun method from Chi Sim, and was later traded to Wong Wah Bo, for his knowledge of the Wing Chun System.
Yuen Kay Shan, Cheung Bo, Chan Gar and Cho Gar - Oral and Written Traditions on Ng Mui and the creation of the Wing Chun Kuen System
Acccording to both Sum Num(Inheritor of Yuen Kay Shan) and Cho Family Oral and written traditions, Ng Mui, a Shaolin Buddhist nun, taught her own refined method of Bok Hok Kuen (White Crane fist) to Miu Shin in the Guangxi area. Miu Shin than combined Ng Mui’s art with the Snake Boxing system he already practised, and created the first version of Wing Chun Kuen. Miu Shin passed his art onto Yim Yee, who taught his daughter Yim Wing Chun and Leung Bok Lau, who than brought the early version of Wing Chun Kuen onto the Hung Suen Hei Ban (Red Junk Opera Boats).
According to Sum Num’s oral tradition,Cheung Bo passed down the tradition that Wing Chun Kuen, was derived from the Fujian Weng Chun County White Crane Boxing system, which migrated to the Guangdong area, and was imported onto the Red Boats. It is also known that in Cheung Bo’s ancestoral tablet, “Founder of Weng Chun Bok Hok Kuen” was also considered the founder of his branch of Wing Chun Kuen. This is also the same for Chan Wah Shun’s decendents, who also have the “Founder of Weng Chun Bok Hok Kuen” as their core ancestor, as inscribed on the Families Ancestral tablet.
- Yuen Kay Shan - Roots and developments -Ritchie, Rene
- Roots of Wing Chun - by Leung Ting
- Oral and Written Traditions of Yuen Kay Shan, Cheung Bo, Sum Nung,Yip Man, Cho Hong Choi, Mai Gai Wong, and Cho Gar.
Ng Mui General Traditions
Ng Mui is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders - survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty. She is said to have been a master variously of the Shaolin martial arts, the Wudang martial arts, and Yue Fei Kuen, the family style of Yue Fei. She is also credited as the founder of the martial arts Wǔ Méi Pài (Ng Mui style), Wing Chun Kuen, Dragon style, White Crane, and Five-Pattern Hung Kuen. She has been associated with various locations, including the Shaolin Temple in either Henan or Fujian, the Wudang Mountains in Hubei, Mount Emei in Sichuan, a supposed White Crane Temple, the Daliang Mountains on the border between Sichuan and Yunnan, and additional locations in Guangxi and Guangdong. According to one folk story, she was the daughter of a Ming general.
Another old legend states that Ng Mui’s art had a different source. The famed Song Dynasty General Ngok Fei (Yue Fei) created several martial arts including Xingyiquan (Form of Intention Boxing), Yingzhaopai (Eagle Claw Style), and Ngok Ga Kuen (Ngok Family Boxing). Ngok Ga spread to several areas, one of which was the Taoist temples on Mt. Emei. There, the priests passed along the art for generations. Two of the disciples who eventually inherited the style were a priest named Bak Mei (White Eyebrows) and a nun named Ng Mui (Five Plums). Bak Mei went on to create the style which came to bear his name, Bak Mei Kuen, and Ng Mui passed along her art to people who eventually named it Wing Chun Kuen (Praise Spring Boxing).
Ng Mui is also often named as the founder of many, many other systems, including Mui Fa Kuen (Plum Blossom Boxing), Lung Ying Kuen (Dragon Shape Boxing), Chu Ga Tong Long (Chu Family Mantis), Gao Kuen (Dog Boxing), Bak Hok Kuen (White Crane Boxing), Ng Mui Pai (Five Plums Boxing), and Wing Chun Kuen (Praise Spring Boxing). Also, variations of the stories exist where she is case as a Shaolin nun from Fujian rather than Henan, or as a Taoist from Hebei’s Wudangshan.
Ng Mui in the traditions of Five-Pattern Hung Kuen
It is believed that the Five-Pattern System was jointly created by the Buddhist Mistress Ng Mui, and Miu Hin, an unshaved disciple of the Siu Lam Monastery. Through careful observation, and imagination, these two kung fu experts imitated the movements of the creatures - how they jump, how they paw, and how they use their wings, beaks, jaws, or claws, how they coil up, how they rush forward and retreat, and finally they created this kung fu system consisting of movements modified from those of the named creatures, and adjusted the techniques to suit human limbs. (Leung, 1980)
Ng Mui in the traditions of Dragon style
Modern Dragon style historians relate that Shaolin nun Ng Mui, who is said to have originated the Dragon style, was one of the last members of the temple before its first destruction, which they date to 1570 (Chow & Spangler, 1982). The Shaolin Gung Fu Institute of the Pacific Northwest agrees with the date of 1570 for a destruction of the temple and states explicitly that Dragon style was created at the Henan Shaolin Temple c. 1565.
Ng Mui in the traditions of Wǔ Méi Pài
As the daughter of a general in the Ming imperial court, Ng Mui enjoyed not only the education that a young lady of her social standing could expect, but the finest martial art training available. The personal style she developed was geared toward combat rather than performance, as befits the daughter of a soldier. Ng Mui was traveling in the countryside when her parents were killed in the Manchu capture of the Ming capital. She took refuge in the White Crane Temple, which this legend locates in Kwangsi Province, where she became a leader in the anti-Qing rebellion. She led raids on Manchu palaces and, on one occasion, even assassinated the Manchu prince. To keep it away from the prying eyes of Manchu spies, she taught her style only within the confines of the White Crane Temple. Her method was fully developed in the Ming Imperial palace before she entered the Monastery. She is noted to have invented the Plum Flower Posts, 3 inch wooden posts driven into the ground at various heights to train balance and leg strength. While in the White Crane Shaolin Temple, Wu Mei (Ng Mui) in Cantonese dialect, learned Bodhidharma’s Form of Longevity, and Bodhidharma’s Sinew Change Classic, adding Chi Gung [Qi Gong] (Pin Yin), to her method. This internal training advanced her form of martial art to “Internal” status, allowing her to produce the “Five Treasures”: “Tung Tiu Yiu” Flexible Reed Spine, “Bak Fu Bui” White Tiger Back, “Mo Yin Kuen” Formless Movements,”Tiet Tsien Lien Wan” Iron Wire continuous Return, “Ji Dong Lik” Automatic Force, and the “Five Breath Transformations”: “Hung Hei” Atmosphere, “Hei” Breath, “Hei Gung” [Qi Gong] (Pin Yin) Breath Work, “Dien Gung” Electrical Effort, “Shen Gung” Force of Spirit. Wu Mei used no animal forms but understood the Ten Small Creatures: Beetle, Spider, Butterfly, Dragonfly, Mantis, Gnat, Sparrow, Swallow, Rooster, Rat, and the Ten Great Creatures: Mythical Dragon, Mythical Horned Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Elephant, Snake, Monkey, Eagle, Crane, Horse. Self development follows the metaphysical Five Stage Cosmic Involution: “Mo Ying” Formlessness, “Tai Chi” Ultimate Void, “Leurng Yi” Ying Yang Duality, “Sei Fong” Four Great Directions (Form), “Ba Gua” the Eight Trigrams (of the I Ching) [Formula]. Fighting Strategy is based on the interaction of the Five Elements (Ng Han) and the directions of the Eight Trigrams “Ba Gua”. Sifu Ken Lo, Seventh Generation World Wide Head of Wu Mei Pai www.wumei.com (Admin must approve this site before the link works.)
Ng Mui in the traditions of Tibetan White Crane
According to the genealogy of Tibetan White Crane, “Ng Mui” is the Chinese name of the Tibetan monk Jikboloktoto, who was the last generation of transmission before Sing Lung, who brought the art to Guangdong.
References and Sources:
- Chow, David; & Spangler, Richard (1982). Kung Fu: History, Philosophy and Technique. Burbank: Unique Publications. ISBN 0–86568–011–6.
- Chu, Robert; Ritchie, Rene; & Wu, Y. (1998). Complete Wing Chun: The Definitive Guide to Wing Chun’s History and Traditions. Boston: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0–8048–3141–6.
- Leung Ting (1980). Five-Pattern Hung Kuen, Part I. Hong Kong: Leung’s Publications. ISBN 962–7284–09–2.
- Leung Ting - Roots of Wing Chun. Leung”s Publications
- Riding the Wind: Dragon Style Kung Fu. Retrieved on August 26, 2005.
- Ritchie, Rene - Yuen Kay Shan Wing Chun: History and Traditions