Opera Wing Chun – History

It was said that at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (circa 1644 AD) an unknown Wing Chun practitioner from Guangzhou joined one of the opera houses. His exceptional skill impressed many, giving rise to the popularity of this new style aboard the Junks. The name of Opera Wing Chun gradually became associated with this unique system which continued to evolve on board the Junks.

Leung sifu, had two Opera Wing Chun instructors; Wang Fu Huang and Liang Fu Dou . Little is known about them, although whispers suggested that they had been revolutionaries using the opera as cover.

Leung sifu, held various offices with the opera including; actor, choreographer, enforcer and Gung Fu instructor. Being one of the more physically imposing members of the troupe, Leung found himself putting his skills to use by fending off gangsters wanting to extort the opera. The fight agreement would require that if Leung beat the strongest fighter the extortionists had to offer, then the racket would not be able to collect a levy from the troupe. Leung, was guarded about such encounters, commenting that he did not enjoy fighting, promoting the idea that it should be avoided wherever possible. Additional tales recounted by Leung’s associates have been of sworn blood oaths, and the movement of secret cargo across China.

Leung sifu retired from the opera in 1983, but continued teaching people in a training hall in the west of Canton, often teaching street urchins and vagabonds for free. In the early 1990’s Leung Sifu moved to England to be close to his family. It was at this time that I started training privately with him in a leafy back garden in Tottenham, London.

***additional Gung Fu forms were taught to students of Leung sifu. During his time spent in the Guangzhou Opera, Leung amassed an encyclopedic knowledge of various styles.

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