Ving Tsun Gung Fu (wihng chun gung fu), 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 were greatly facilitated by their "homes," the Tùhngs in which they met and practiced. The Tùhng 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 chun miuh sÏ ‰m) events have given the Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun practitioners worldwide 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 g‡) to accomplish the lifelong dream of Grand Master Yip Man (yihp mahn daaih sÏ) of providing a place where Ving Tsun practitioners from all over the world can gather and pay respects to every previous generation of Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun in 1997.
- The first Martial Arts Preservation facility 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 chun t·i yuhk w˙ih) in Hong Kong (heung gong). 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 Ving Tsun Gung Fu in November 1998 and September 1999 respectively.
- The first organization to introduce the Southern Temple final, fielded version of Ving Tsun to the public with the presentation of the Hung Fa Yi lineage in May of 1999, April and July of 2000.
- The first organization to introduce 4 different lineages of Ving Tsun together in one place at one time (May 1999).
- The first organization to promote and standardize Ving Tsun into an international competition event.
- United States Representative to the First World Ving Tsun Conference in Hong Kong and China (j˘ng gwok) in November of 1999.
To understand the full significance of these events, we must first summarize the roots of the Museum itself.
Today's Ving Tsun could not be possible without the studies and dedication put forth by the Grand Masters of today, their Sī Fu's and their Sī Fu's 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 was born in Faht Sāan, China into a wealthy family. In his youth, he studied Ving Tsun Gung Fu (wihng chun gung fu) from a gentleman who rented a space from the Yip family. This gentleman was Chahn Wāh Seuhn. Later on, when Yip Man was sent to attend high school in Hong Kong, he displayed his skills learned from Chahn Wāh Seuhn 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 Ving Tsun teacher named Lēuhng Bōk. Lēuhng Bōk then arranged to see Yip Man and later became his second teacher. Yip Man spent several years in Hong Kong studying with Lēuhng Bōk and greatly increased his skill. He returned to Faht Sāan 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 Ving Tsun style and his name quickly spread. Yip Man was a humble teacher of traditional values whose goals were not of fame or fortune. However, as his abilities became known, it was clear that he held profound knowledge of the Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun Tùhng (wihng chun tùhng). However, due to the staggering cost of real estate in Hong Kong and the taxation levied, there was simply no way at that time to dedicate a place for the Ving Tsun 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 Sī Fu's vision die. Moy Yat (m˘ih yaht) was very close to Yip Man and spent countless hours discussing and acting upon his Sī Fu'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 Sī Fu's death. He has produced many skillful and famous students. Not only has Moy Yat become famous as a Grandmaster of Ving Tsun but also as an artist, known worldwide for his paintings, stone carvings, writing, and other works of art.
Moy Yat, like his teacher, has traditional roots. It could be said that he's proud and sentimental about his Ving Tsun history. He has continued to strive to ensure his Sī Fu's dream of establishing a Ving Tsun Tùhng 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 f˘ng), about the creation of the museum. After many meetings with Master Meng, his Sī Hing Daih (g˘ng fu brothers), Yip Man's sons, and the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, Dayton was accepted as the site and Yip Man's dream became reality.
4, the Ving Tsun Museum Planning Committee was formed and began planning the Museum. Three Grand Masters of Ving Tsun; Yip Chun (yihp jÈun), Yip Ching (yihp jing), and Moy Yat, as well as Masters Pete Pajil, Miguel Hernandez, and 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.
In November 1995, construction of the Museum began and was completed by June 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: Jeffrey Chan, Sunny Tang (Dunn Wah), Henry Moy, Mickey Chan, Pete Pajil, William Moy, Miguel Hernandez, Benny Meng, and Leo Imamura, and attended by 150 Ving Tsun 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 book--The Voice of the Ving Tsun System--being published, the collection of more Ving Tsun artifacts, and the physical completion of the building that will house the museum.
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 Ving Tsun Gung Fu.
The history-making began with a seminar in the western United States on October 23rd to 25th, 1998, that covered four Grand Masters' accumulated knowledge and Gung Fu wisdom. Sī Fu 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 (chËuih seuhng tÏhn), 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 Sī Fu. 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 Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun 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 the 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 pÛu), Moy Yat, Yip Chun, Yip Ching, Hawkins Cheung (jÈung hohk gin), and Moy Bing Wah (m˘ih bÌng w‡h). Over 110 teachers and practitioners representing the families of Moy Yat, Yip Ching, Yip Chun, Chu Shong Tin, Hawkins Cheung, Ho Kam Ming (hÚh g‡m mÏhng), Leung Sheung (lËuhng sËung), Wong Kiu (wÚhng kÏuh), William Cheung (jÈung cheuk hing), and Duncan Leung (lËuhng siuh h˘hng) 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 worldwide, attended these gala events to witness the realization of Yip Man's lifetime dream - the creation of a center where all Ving Tsun 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 future. It will include outdoor training facilities that encompass Chī Sāu platforms, a Geuk Júng (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 Ving Tsun books and more than 300 videos from the various Ving Tsun families and styles practiced all over the world. Past this, you'll see a timeline of the history of Ving Tsun with all the most up-to-date information about all known Ving Tsun generations. In the right corner of the museum are the various apparatus and tools used to teach Ving Tsun over the centuries, including one of the few and last Deih Júng (ground dummy) made by Grand Master Koo Sang (g˙ sāng). 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, there is a large stone tablet on the last 50 years in Ving Tsun containing information on the development of Ving Tsun and its organizations of today. Next, in the center of the hall, are displayed the priceless V
ing Tsun Kuen Kuit Chops, made and donated to the museum by Grand Master Moy Yat. Lastly, you will see a family tree of the Ving Tsun 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 Ving Tsun'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, Danny 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 Ving Tsun 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 among 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. The museum's web page address is www.vtmuseum.org.
Originally, the museum was to be called the Ving Tsun Tùhng. 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 Ving Tsun. 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, sÏ, ‰m. He noted an interesting relationship. In Chinese, "miuh" means skillful, "sÏ" means nun, and "‰m" 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!