Wong Shun Leung

Wong Shun Leung was considered by many to be "the most famous fighter of the Wing Chun clan in the early 1950's". He was one of the four students considered to be closed-door students of Yip Man. During his training with Yip Man, he developed a reputation as a fierce and skilled fighter by taking part in many challenge matches.


Wong Shun Leung studied Wing Chun kung fu under Ip Man and is credited with training Bruce Lee. Wong reportedly won at least 60, and perhaps over 100, street fights against martial artists of various styles. Due to his reputation, he came to be known as 'Gong Sau Wong' or 'King of Talking Hands')

 


Wong's fascination with the stories of legendary Wing Chun figures, such as Chan Wah Sun and Leung Jan led Wong to look for a Wing Chun teacher. Friends of his older brother took him to meet Ip Man. According to one version of events, after defeating at least two of Ip Man's students, Wong had a match with Ip Man himself and was defeated easily. Wong soon joined the Wing Chun group and eventually came to assist Ip Man with teaching, with students including Bruce Lee. Lee once wrote in a letter to Wong, "Even though I am (technically) a student of Yip Man, in reality I learned my Kung Fu from you."
 


Wong became active in beimo : semi-organised bare-knuckle challenge fights in Hong Kong (sometimes known as 'kung fu elimination contests'). There were no rules, protective equipment, or time limits. As Wong recalled in an interview, "When I competed, it was in secret. We went into a room, and the door was shut and there were no rules. The government did not allow them. They were illegal, but we didn't care. We fought until the other guy was knocked out." Beimo competitions were held anywhere that was found to be convenient. Some beimo competitions were held on the streets in Hong Kong.

 


 

In the early 1950s, compared to other kung fu styles, wing chun was hardly known. It was a style of kung fu practiced by a minority mostly members of the Association of Restaurant Workers of Hong Kong. Different kung fu schools met secretly with each other for challenge matches. Wong was said to have faced opponents from many disciplines "virtually every style of martial art in the colony." He defeated many opponents in beimo matches in Hong Kong between the ages of 17 and 32, and his reputation grew as he continued winning these matches. Some have attributed Wing Chun's fame in Hong Kong to Wong's beimo reputation. 

 

 


 

Once asked if he was the best fighter in the world, he replied, "No, only the second best". When then asked who was the best, he said, "I have not met him yet.

 

 


 

Wong once defeated a fencing champion on television with his wing chun butterfly knives. Gary Lam recounted that "several years ago my Sifu, the late Wong Shun Leung, sparred with a champion western fencer on television. Wong easy beat the fencer, and when the fencer complained Wong had an unfair advantage with two swords, Wong offered him a second blade and beat him again."

 

 


 

Wong Shun Leung

(1935 -1997)