In the Wing Chun system, a Sifu is a teacher who has achieved a certain level of mastery in the art and has the authority to teach others. The Sifu lineage is an essential aspect of Wing Chun, as it provides a way for practitioners to trace their training back to the source. Each Sifu has their own unique style, and the lineage system helps to ensure that the style remains consistent with the original teachings of Wing Chun.
Many martial arts lineages have their origin stories set far back in time, with the details lost to time and often simplified into legends. The lineage of Wing Chun Kung Fu is itself a long and storied one. It is said that the style was created by Ng Mui, a Buddhist nun who witnessed a fight between a crane and a snake. She was so impressed by the grace and fluidity of their movements that she incorporated them into her own martial arts training. Ng Mui then passed her new style on to her student Yim Wing-chun, who in turn taught it to her husband Leung Bok-chao. Leung Bok-chao named the style Wing Chun Kuen (Wing Chun boxing) to honour his wife.
Wing Chun Kuen was then passed down through the generations, eventually reaching Leung Jan, a famous herbalist and martial artist. Leung Jan taught Wing Chun to his two sons, Leung Chun and Leung Bik, as well as to other students, including Chan Wah-Shun. Chan Wah-Shun was the teacher of Ip Man, who is considered to be the most famous practitioner of Wing Chun.
Ip Man taught Wing Chun in Hong Kong from the 1940s until his death in 1972. He had many students, including Bruce Lee. Wing Chun Kung Fu has since spread all over the world and is practiced by millions of people.
The Ip Man Lineage
Ng Mui → Yim Wing-chun → Leung Bok-chao → Leung Lan-kwai → Wong Wah-bo (and Leung Yee-tai) → Leung Jan → Chan Wah-shun & Leung Bik → Ip Man