Snake in Wing Chun?
Do all Chinese Martial arts have an association to snakes? Is there a snake in Wing Chun? Lets have a quick look at the history.
China can trace its historical roots in unbroken line for more than 4000 years. Its mythological roots extend even farther back in time. The Chinese known as the Xia people dominated the northern regions of China from about 2000 to 1500 BC. The Xia worshiped the snake, and this creature appears in some of the Chinese oldest myths. Eventually, the snake changed into the dragon, which then became one of the most enduring symbols of Chinese mythology and culture.
For the Chinese people, the snake symbolises intelligence, happiness and auspiciousness. In certain part of China (Yixing, East China’s Jiangsu Province), people call the snake as the “black dragon” or “savage creature”
There are several Chinese martial arts known as Snake Boxing or Fanged Snake Style (Chinese: 蛇拳; pinyin: shéquán; literally: “snake fist”) which imitate the movements of snakes. It is a style of Shaolin Boxing. Adopting the fluidity of snakes allows you to entwine with an opponent in defense and strike from angles they wouldn’t expect in offense. Snake style is said to especially lend itself to applications with the Chinese straight sword.
Superstitions About Snakes
In some places, the snake symbolises wealth or fortune. In both Western and Chinese cultures snake is associated with the bravery of men and beauty of women. In Japan, some people put the skin of a snake into their wallet because they believe it brings luck and can make them rich. Snake is a symbol of wealth and money to the Japanese. They also say that if you meet or see a white snake, you will be lucky in life.
That is why some people put a picture of a white snake on their wall. People in thailand believe that if you dream a snake is holding you tightly, you will meet your soul mate soon.
Because of its supernatural powers, the snake is regarded with awe and veneration. Snakes are cared for by the priests and these reptiles are often seen around the Buddhist temples. The Chinese believe that fairies, elves and demons often transform themselves into snakes.
There are many superstition related to the snake:
People in Yixing consider it lucky to see the snake in the bed or in the granary but unlucky to see this reptile on the beams or eaves of the house.
If there’s a snake entering your home, it is believed that you will live a peaceful life in the time to come. You are also told not to kill the snake as they believe the snake might be a peace patroller sent by the family’s ancestors.
But in Dangtu, people believe it is a bad omen to see a snake at home, it indicates that the head of the house-hold will die or some unexpected disaster wiIl befell the family. To avoid this, people burn joss sticks in order to ward off baneful influence. They even present special food such as fish, tofu, tea or wine as offerings. People will send the snake to the wild (if it is still alive), but if it is dead, it will be buried with respect. At Qingjiang, burying a dead snake is also equal to prostrating before the Buddha.
If you see several snakes intertwining with each other by the roadside, you are supposed to tear off your button and then throw it away as a way of showing repentance. After that you should act as if you have not seen it. To see snakes mating is considered going against all the heavenly laws of morality.
Martial arts styles – Southern Style
The Southern Shaolin Temple in Fukien Province was sometimes known as “the snake temple.” Snake style kung fu was practiced at this temple as well as dragon kung fu and praying mantis kung fu. Fukien temple was a refuge for the Henan Temple monks when that temple was destroyed. With them they brought all the martial arts knowledge they had.
Martial arts styles – Northern Style
Snake is one of the archetypal Five Animals of Chinese martial arts; the other four being Crane, Tiger, Leopard, and Dragon.
Snake style is based on whipping or rattling power which travels up the spine to the fingers, or in the case of the rattler, the body shake which travels down the spine to the tip of the tailbone. The ability to sinuously move, essentially by compressing one’s stomach/abdominal muscles, is very important.
Snake in Wing Chun
In Wing Chun there is tale of the nun Ng Mui observing a fight between a snake and crane, devising a whole new fighting style from this. Ng Mui (Chinese: t 五枚) is said to have been one of the legendary Five Elders—survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Temple by the Qing Dynasty.
According to the Wing Chun master Ip Man, Ng Mui was Abbess at the Henan Shaolin Monastery and managed to survive its destruction by Qing forces during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor (1662–1722). She fled to the White Crane Temple. She met a girl of fifteen named Yim Wing-Chun whom a bandit was trying to force into marriage. Ng Mui taught Wing-Chun how to defend herself by distilling Shaolin martial art knowledge into a system that Wing-Chun could learn quickly, and use without developing great strength.
Buddhist Nun Ng Mui teaches Yim Wing Chun