3 minutes reading time (675 words)

William Cheung

l_william-cheung_01Founder Wing Chun, TWC

Born 1940

Is a famous Wing Chun Kung Fu practitioner and currently the “Grandmaster” of his version of the Wing Chun, entitled Traditional Wing Chun (TWC). He also heads the sanctioning body of TWC, the World Wing Chun Kung Fu Association.

In 1951, at the age of ten, Cheung started his training in Wing Chun Kung Fu under the late Grandmaster Yip Man. From 1954 to 1958 Cheung was a live-in student of Grandmaster Yip Man. Yip Man’s training studio was located in his Hong Kong apartment.

Between 1957 and 1958 Cheung won the Kung Fu elimination contests in Hong Kong, defeating opponents with many more years’ experience. In early 1954 Cheung introduced Bruce Lee to Grandmaster Yip Man.

In 1959, after completing his training under Grandmaster Yip Man, Cheung left Hong Kong to pursue an academic career at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. After moving to Melbourne, Australia to teach Wing Chun professionally in 1973, Cheung began operating a very successful Martial Arts School. In 1976 he was elected the President of the Australian Kung Fu Federation.

In 1979, Cheung was sponsored by the USS Oklahoma City (CLG-5), Flagship of the Seventh Fleet, to instruct a select group of officers and enlisted personnel in the unique art of Traditional Wing Chun Kung Fu as part of the ship’s Welfare and Recreation program. Instruction took place at the ship’s homeport of Yokosuka, Japan at the U.S. Navy Base there and included a strict regimen of close quarter, hand-to-hand combat training over a five week intensive period.

From 1979 forward Grandmaster Cheung and many of his senior students conducted special programs for special law enforcing officers and special operation groups in the Armed Services in U.S.A. and other countries. They taught the military unarmed combat, restraining, disarming assailants, and a firearm retention program.

Controversy

As an official successor to Yip Man was not named publicly, some Wing Chun exponents have been involved in the politics of claiming to be the rightful successor. Cheung himself claims to be the only one who was taught what he calls the “Traditional Wing Chun” style, which he says was previously a secret, purer version of wing chun only taught to those expected to become the style’s standard bearers. Cheung claims that all the rest of Yip Man’s students were taught what he calls the “Modified Wing Chun” system, alleged to be a simpler and less effective style taught to outsiders deemed unworthy to learn the true version. All the other senior students of Yip Man, including the directors of the Ving Tsun Athletic Association (VTAA) and Yip Man’s two sons, have disputed Cheung’s claims.

In the 1980s, Cheung made these claims in a series of martial arts magazines, starting a published war of words with other Wing Chun organizations, especially the Wing Tsun group. He offered to demonstrate the practical (combat) superiority of his system against anybody who wished to try, and he was subsequently challenged to a fight unexpectedly in the midst of a seminar in Germany by a Wing Tsun fighter named Emin Boztepe. In taped footage of this fight, it appears the Boztepe was the clear winner of this conflict, though Cheung claims that the footage was edited. The incident has turned into something of an Internet phenomenon.

His claimed start date of 1951 with Yip Man is also controversial, as he (by his own admission) started after Wong Shun Leung. Wong said his own start date with Yip Man was early 1954, making the 1951 date impossible.

Cheung also claims to have been a live-in student of Yip Man between 1954-1958. Chu Shong Tin lived with Yip Man up until 1955 and there is no mention made in the literature of Cheung living there as well. Considering the start date controversy, it is possible he could have lived with him starting in late 1955 after Chu Shong Tin moved out. In contrast, the VTAA letter described his training as intermittent

 

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