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Wing Chun, occasionally romanized as Ving Tsun or "Wing Tsun" (literally "spring chant" and alternatively as "forever spring", or substituted with the character for "eternal springtime") is a Chinese martial art that specializes in aggressive close-range combat.
It should be noted that the characters (永春) "forever spring" Wing Chun/Yong Chun are also used to a different southern Chinese martial arts, including Jee Shim Weng Chun (Yong Chun) and White Crane Weng Chun (Yong Chun).[
The history of most martial arts, including Wing Chun, has historically been passed from teacher to student as an oral history rather than through written documentation, making it difficult to confirm or clarify the differing accounts of Wing Chun's creation.
Some have sought to apply the methods of higher criticism to the oral histories of Wing Chun and other Chinese martial arts. Others have attempted to discern the origins of Wing Chun by determining the specific purpose of its techniques.
Wing Chun starts to appear in independent third-party documentation during the era of the Wing Chun master Leung Jan, making the subsequent history of Wing Chun and its divergence into branches more amenable to documentary verification.
The common legend involves Yim Wing Chun (Wing Chun literally means beautiful springtime), a young woman who has rebuffed the local warlord's marriage offer. He says he'll rescind his proposal if she can beat him in a fight. She asks a local buddhist nun, Ng Mui, to teach her boxing. The style they develop enables Yim Wing Chun to defeat the warlord. She marries her sweetheart and teaches him the style. He names it after her.
Although the above story may be true, another common belief was that Yim Wing Chun was on the run from Imperial soldiers. While hiding in caves, Yim Wing Chun slowly altered her Shao Lin into a more close combat martial art. This also explains why the hands are placed in front of each other and the placing of the legs, which would be the most suitable for fighting in narrow spaces.