Snake Crane Wing Chun Mun
“A promise cannot be broken and
Loyalty should always be borne in mind”
One branch of Wing Chun (‘Snake Crane Wing Chun’) has been hidden for over a
century. Compared to the other branches, it has a very low profile and is largely
unknown. There are different rules governing the followers of this branch; no
demonstrations; no fighting with others; and no relations with the rest of the martial
art community. This is a strictly family-oriented branch.
Accordingly, ‘Snake Crane Wing Chun’ was developed in the Wing Chun House, one
of the houses in the Shaolin Temple. It was used to train the guardian monks the
Shaolin martial art. In the house, there are two statements :『永行忠義堪歌詠 言出
九鼎志更春』. The name ‘Wing Chun’ (詠春) is derived from the last word of each
Wing Chun was developed by the monk "Master Chi Sin" and the nun "Master Ng
Mui", as well as numerous experienced guardian monks of the Shaolin Temple.
Master Chi Sin was good at the "Snake form" and Master Ng Mui was good at the
“Crane form”, and they observed the daily activities of the life of the Snake and the
Crane. Because a lot of the Snake's ‘hands’ and the Crane's ‘hands’ can be found in
Wing Chun Kuen, it is called ‘Snake Crane Wing Chun Kuen’. Later, these two
statements became the discipline of Snake Crane Wing Chun Mun and have governed
the followers of this branch.
During the Qing dynasty, in order to reduce the influence of the Saholin temple in the
martial arts community and among the anti-Manchurian collaborators, the Qing
government encouraged one of the Shaolin traitors, Ma Ling Yee, to rebel against
Shaolin. He was very familiar with the Shaolin martial art, and a lot of Shaolin
monks and related people were killed. Master Chi Sin and Master Ng Mui then gave
up the traditional big motion style of the Shaolin martial art and evolved a new
concept of the fighting technique that Ma Ling Yee did not know; it was characterized
by reflex and quick attacks within a short distance to cope with this traitor.
After the fire of the Shaolin Temple, Master Chi Sin and Master Ng Mui escaped to
the Southern part of the China from the persecutions of the Qing government and
developed Wing Chun very quickly in the area. The Snake Crane Wing Chun Mun
branch is descended from Master Chi Sin. After the fire of the King Fa Wui Goon
(瓊花會館), related to the TaiPing Heavenly Kingdom, in order to avoid the
persecutions of the Qing government, Snake Crane Wing Chun Mun was concealed in
the GuongDong area.
There are two interrelated names in Snake Crane Wing Chun Kuen: one is called
‘Blind Kuen’. Eyes can be covered during practice to develop quick reflexes. The
other is called ‘Home Kuen’ because training is always done at home, never in the
The mastery of Snake Crane Wing Chun was bequeathed to Master Sun Kam, a
member of Red Boat Opera. In his late age, Master Law Tiu Wen was one of his
students. The governing rules of the Snake Crane Wing Chun Mun had already
become very strict; open demonstrates were forbidden to avoid persecution from the
Qing government; the teaching of foreigners was prohibited, as in the late Qing
dynasty, Chinese were often bullied by foreigners; and no relationship with other
martial art organizations was allowed. In order to continue the skills and not practise
openly, it has kept a very low profile until today.
The Great grandmaster, Law Tiu Wen, was a qualified student during the late Qing
dynasty, and loved Chinese martial arts. During the Revolution of 1911, the Chinese
democratic revolution led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who overthrew the Qing Dynasty., Law
Tiu Wen worked as the secretary of General Mr. Li Fok Lam. In the beginning of the
Republic of China, he quit his government official job and returned to his birth place,
Fu Shan Sai Chiu, as a practitioner of Chinese medicine. Afterwards, he taught his
son, Law Ting Chau, the skill. Law Ting Chau came to Hong Kong in the 1940s,
before liberation, when the People’s Republic of China formed. He worked as a
police officer and then worked in cultural-related jobs. He passed the skill to his son,
Law Chiu Wing. All successors since Master Sun Kam are in the lineage of the
same family. They have kept the Snake Crane Wing Chun in a very low profile
during each generation.
The relationship with the other branches of Wing Chun is very difficult to examine
because, in the past, verbal teaching was usual and there was no formal
documentation. After the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864) and the fire of
King Fa Wui Goon, Snake Crane Wing Chun hid itself to avoid trouble from the Qing
government, and Master Sun Kam, the ancestor, in the Red Boat Opera did not
mention much about the ancestor chart to the Great grandmaster Law Tiu Wen, again
to avoid any trouble from the Qing government. The only thing Law knew about the
source of this lineage is from Master Chi Sin. Also, it is not been allowed to teach,
join any martial arts organizations, or have relations with the other branches. That is
why some parts of its history are missing during this period. Admittance to this
branch is attained via a very old traditional ceremony. Perspective members must
kneel down, displaying red and yellow papers in front of the master, offer a cup of tea
and name all the ancestors’ ‘woods’. In addition to the woods , a glassed picture of
the Chinese word "佛", the Buddha, should be related to the Shaolin Temple.
Ancestor Master Sun Kam
Ancestor Master Law Tai Wen
Ancestor Master Law Ting Chau
Master Law Chiu Wing
Snake Crane Wing Chun appeared in Hong Kong in the 1940s, after Master Law Ting
Chau and his family moved to Hong Kong. His descendant is his son, Law Chiu
Wing. Up to now, there are only a handful of students in this branch.
The content of Snake Crane Wing Chun includes "Siu Lim Tau", "Chum Kiu", “Biu
Chi”, “Luk hands”, sticky hands, dummy techniques, long pole and double knives.
There are also many associated training poems complied with the practices.
The 21st Century
In the late Qing Dynasty, as the Snake Crane Wing Chun came from Shaolin, it was
one of the targets to be removed by the Qing government. After the Taiping
Heavenly Kingdom and the fire of King Fa Wui Goon, it kept a very low profile in
order to survive. The governing rules of this branch were defined very strictly in
order to retain the skill over succeeding generations. Today, in the 21st century, long
after the passing away of the Qing dynasty, after the Republic of China moved to
Taiwan, and after the People’s the Republic of China became the governing party in
the mainland, the situation of Snake Crane Wing Chun has totally changed since its
beginning 150 years ago. The Qing dynasty disappeared a century ago and now a
Chinese satellite is orbiting the moon. In addition, the daughters of Master Law
Chiu Wing are not interested in inheriting this skill. In order to retain the skill,
Master Law has modified the rules of this branch, and made it public. Now, Snake
Crane Wing Chun is open to all. We hope that our descendants will maintain it and
pass it on to future generations.