Wing Chun is a classical Chinese martial art or system of “Kung Fu”. It evolved during the mid-1600s, after the demise of the Chinese Ming Dynasty at the hands of the Manchurian invaders, out of a fighting system called “Weng Chun”. During that time, Weng Chun was synthesized by five different masters from a number of other then-existing fighting systems and was then completely revamped with a laser-like focus on effectiveness and efficiency. In its revamped form it was passed on under the slightly altered name of “Wing Chun.”
What followed was the same ordeal that all weaponless fighting systems of the time were forced to undergo. Martial art masters were then often part of the organized resistance to the Manchu invasion. Many of these masters were also high-ranking members of various secret societies (“triads”) devoted to the overthrow of the foreign regime. Many of them were persecuted, tortured, and killed by the Manchu officials, similar to the way the Spanish Inquisition in Europe dealt with the “heretics” of its time.
Because of that, the early Wing Chun masters were forced to pass on the knowledge of their ingenious new fighting art in secret, and so they were only able to teach their system in small, tightly-knit groups. The teaching method of those days did not require any particular structure since the students usually lived on site as part of the master’s family or household. This enabled the masters to teach each student precisely according to the student’s individual abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.
When Wing Chun training finally became available to a great number of students in Europe during the mid-1970’s and early 1980’s, several different organizations evolved, each of which used a number of different anglicized spellings of the name. Because of their often only sporadic visits to their European students, the Chinese grandmasters were unable to prevent technical inaccuracies and misinterpretations from finding their way into their teachings. This was also caused by the lack of a comprehensive teaching structure, all of which resulted in the loss of a large part of the knowledge that still existed during the early days of Wing Chun’s history.
A once ingenious fighting art of deadly accuracy and power was now taught to the masses in a watered-down format devoid of the constant testing and honing formerly forced upon trainees in almost daily life-or-death combat. Earlier students and masters had no choice but to constantly test their art, either during survival fights with one or more individuals, or during military campaigns on the battlefields of old.
Here in the West, after several decades of training, fighting, and teaching experience, aided by the more analytical nature of the European mind, several of us earlier European instructors discovered mistakes and knowledge-gaps in the then-existing teaching structure of the art. That was the beginning of a veritable Odyssey in the search for the - up to then - incorrectly interpreted and passed-on former knowledge.
In order to avoid the dilemma created by this watered-down teaching method, I founded the “Teaching Academy Sifu Hofmann” in 2004 and, together with my top students, began in earnest my search for the lost secrets of unarmed single combat.
Endless hours of training, testing, reformulating, and retesting were required in order to reform a martial fighting style that was originally designed for the practitioner’s survival. The result of these efforts was a cooperative of like-minded partner schools and a voluminous, precisely structured teaching method that leaves nothing to chance.
My more than thirty years of martial arts experience, in combination with my students’ endless, never-tiring patience in allowing me to test the rediscovered foundations of this fighting art, all finally resulted in the re-alignment of Wing Chun teaching with the unshakable laws of physics and the realities of actual combat.
What evolved from these efforts is a completely redesigned Wing Chun system: The Art of the Warrior.