The Warrior Nun

They are rarely mentioned in historical records but female warriors have increasingly been studied and researched. Of female martial artists, the accounts are rarer still, and generally become a mix of historical facts and legends. One such story is the Shaolin Abbess Ng Mui, her student Yim Wing Chun, and their roles in the conception of a martial art called the Wing Chun Kung Fu.

It is widely accepted that Wing Chun Kung Fu originated during the 17th century as a more concise version of the rigorous and complex art forms taught in the Shaolin Temple of Southern China. It then evolved into a very popular Chinese martial art of Wing Chun, which literally means “everlasting springtime”. Wing Chun Kung Fu, therefore, means “everlasting springtime achieved through great effort.”

Although Ip Man is widely credited for bringing awareness to the style and made it famous, the originator of Wing Chun was a woman. She was Shaolin Abbess Ng Mui, a master of Shaolin Kung Fu who used this knowledge to invent a way to take advantage of the weaknesses found in other Shaolin systems.

Thus, understandably, in its time this new system was well-guarded and passed on to only very few students.  This style became known as Wing Chun, after Ng Mui’s first student, also a woman, named Yim Wing Chun.

In 1644, with inside help from a Ming general, Manchurian invaders from northern China penetrated the Great Wall. Occupying Beijing, the Manchurians ousted the ruling Ming Dynasty, and established the Qing Dynasty. While they went on to control the rest of China for 267 years, anti-Qing sentiment continued over much of their rule. Renowned for its Kung Fu, the Shaolin Temple became a secret haven for many anti-Manchurian rebels.

File:Meridian Gate (Forbidden City) 2015 December (morning).jpg

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