History of Buddhist Style Wing Chun - By Santo Barbalace

Buddhist style Wing Chun originated in the province of Kwang-Sai (Guangxi) some 200 plus years ago. It's creation can be credited to a Master Monk named Miu Sun (Miao Shan). Legend has it that Miu Sun was born in the 1760's. Miu Sun was most famous for teaching a man by the name of Yim Yee Gung. Yim was a well known Tofu shop owner and father to Yim Wing Chun. Other legends say that Yim Yee Gung was also a former monk and that was how he was able to train with Miu Sun. Even though he was no longer a monk, Yim Yee Gung still did not eat meat and this is why he ran a tofu shop.

Yim Yee Gung later went on to teach his daughter and the man who would eventually become his son-in-law Leung Chin Lao. Sometimes referred to as Leung Bok Lao. Leung Chin Lao also taught a few well known and highly skilled Wing Chun practitioners such as Dai Fa Min Kam (Painted Faced Kam) and his nephew Dr. Leung Jan. While stories suggest that Dr. Leung Jan was taught by Wong Wah Boh and Leung Yee Tai, the Fut Sao family records him as studying directly with his uncle, Leung Chin Lao. Dai Fa Min Kam later went on to train such people as Lok Lan Koon, Fok Boh Chuen, Fung Siu Ching, and others. Dr. Leung Jan went on to teach such people as Leung Bick, Leung Chun, Chan Wah Soon, Fung Wah, Leung Kai, Han Loi Ho, Ju Yuk Kwai and others. Though we did not keep records on most of the people in this family tree, we do say that Dr. Leung Jan was born in 1860 and died in 1946. His son Leung Bick was born in 1927 and is very possible that he is still alive today.

The reason we kept these birth and death dates and not the others, is because the Leung family of Dr. Leung Jan and the Leung family of Henry Leung were friends.

Another branch of the Wing Chun tree that is lesser known but originating from the same source is our family. Miu Sun, much later in his life had a second student nick-named Gao Jhi Fut Sao (Nine Finger Buddha Hand). Gao Jhi Fut Sao was born in 1839 but didn't officially start training with Miu Sun until the early 1850's. The art that Gao Jhi was taught was called Gu Yee Kuen or Ancient Chivalrous Fist. This was the original name of what was later known as Wing Chun. The name Wing Chun has many different origins but I will give you the 3 most popular. First, was that it was named after the training hall at the temple, second, that it was a password used by the secret societies and lastly, it was named after Yim Yee Gung's daughter.

Gao Jhi later left Kwang Sai and wandered to Canton (Guangzhou) and started teaching the art at the local temple. Gao Jhi was said to have taught five people the whole system. One of his students was Leung Chang Sun. Leung Chang Sun taught his nephew Leung Chi Man (Henry Leung) who went on to train under Gao Jhi and become his last disciple. Some of Gao Jhi's other disciples were Leung Kai Chu, Leung Ma Lay, and Leung Lop Fung. (Note that all five of Gao Jhi's pupils were members of Henry Leung's family) Henry Leung born in 1926 trained with Gao Jhi until his death in 1959 at the age of 120. (It is well documented in many books that Gao Jhi lived to be 120 years of age) Henry Leung eventually moved to N.Y. Chinatown and taught the art behind closed doors for many years. Henry Leung also changed the name of the art he was taught from Gu Yee Kuen to Fut Sao "Buddha Hand" Wing Chun to honor his Sifu. (He also realized that most of the world didn't call the art Gu Yee Kuen any longer) His top disciple is Santo Barbalace who also teaches the senior members of the clan now and some others behind closed doors in N.Y.. Henry Leung, a semi retired Sifu/Doctor, is alive and well living in N.Y. Chinatown.


  • Oral and written tradition Henry Leung
  • Oral and written tradition Santo Barbalace
  • Santo Barbalace Copyright holder