The Leung Ting lineage is one of the largest branches of Wing Chun Kung Fu founded by Grandmaster Yip Man. Leung Ting was Yip Man’s private student and opened his first Wing Chun school in Hong Kong in the late 1960s. Over the next 50 years, Leung Ting’s Wing Tsun lineage spread to Europe, the Americas, and globally. However, recently, the lineage has declined in schools and students. This article covers Leung Ting’s biography, training under Yip Man, founding his schools, global growth, recent decline, and unique training methods and techniques of his lineage.
Leung Ting’s Early Training
Leung Ting was born in 1947 in Guangdong, China. At age 13, in Hong Kong, he started learning Wing Chun. He trained for 8 years under Leung Sheung, Yip Man’s first student, and later became a closed-door private student of Grandmaster Yip Man himself, eventually becoming his last closed-door disciple before Yip Man’s 1972 death. Leung Ting intensively trained with Yip Man for over several years, mastering the complete system.
After finishing his training in the late 1960s, Leung Ting opened his first Wing Chun school in Hong Kong. He started a class at a college which became very popular, and within a relatively short period of time, had hundreds of students, with several having finished the whole system.
Global Spread of the Lineage
In the 1970s, Leung Ting began teaching his lineage of Wing Tsun in England, Germany, Spain, and across Europe, attracting many students. He promoted his art through books, magazines, and films. He eventually formed a partnership with Keith Kernspechet, who was responsible for the phenomenal growth of the style throughout Europe, where, in its heyday, there were over a thousand schools in Germany alone.
An Eastern European branch, under Sifu Mayday, exploded in popularity after the fall of the iron curtain.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Leung Ting Wing Chun spread worldwide, including the Americas, Australia, and Eastern Europe.
By the 2000s, Leung Ting’s lineage was one of the largest branches globally, with thousands of schools and students in dozens of countries. He created the International WingTsun Association (IWUF) to govern his lineage and instructor programs.
Recently, Leung Ting’s lineage has declined significantly in size and influence. Controversies over Leung Ting’s true status as Yip Man’s student have damaged his reputation. Infighting within the IWUF, often centered around money issues, has also fractured the organization.
There was also a scandal where he was arrested and convicted for assaulting his mistress in Hong Kong. He was able to get the charges dismissed by the appellate court, but his image still took a significant hit. The number of schools and students has decreased markedly compared to other prominent lineages like those of Ip Chunand Wong Shun Leung..
Unique Training Methods & Techniques
Despite its diminished influence, Leung Ting’s lineage retains some distinctive aspects. There is a core syllabus of 3 forms and multiple two-man set open-hand forms, as well as 8 two-man forms for the wooden dummy, and also weapons sets. Chi Sau (sticky hands) and Lat Sau (free sparring) are emphasized to develop skill.
Leung Tings’s lineage is a very rich system, which includes standing joint locks, throws, sweeps, elbow and knee strikes, a refined system of Chi Gerk (“sticking legs”), and even anti-grappling.
While most of Yip Man’s students who became teachers made at least some modifications to the system, Leung Ting, while keeping to most of the traditional techniques and movements, did radically change the stance as well as the footwork. He taught a stance where all of the weight was placed on the back foot, and both feet were on a single line, with the hips and shoulders facing square , but the legs facing at a 45 degree angle. He also modified the turning stance, by having the feet turn separately instead of together, and by shifting his weight during the turn.
The lineage incorporates a highly formalized teaching program, along with uniforms and ranks which he based upon the highly successful Kyokusihkai style of Karate. He also instituted grading exams, and extensive instructor certifications. These contribute to the unique character of the system.
Since he had schools all over the world, he emphasized practising wing chun against other martial arts styles that were common in different parts of the modern world, and not just sparring of wing chun vs wing chun.
Finally, his teaching program was designed to emphasize self-defense. Defenses against the most common attacks were taught first, with uncommon attacks taught later in the program. His schools also practiced full power sparring using protective equipment and there were special programs which taught defense against multiple attackers and anti-grappling.
Leung Ting and his European headman, Keith Kernspecht, produced many high level masters, showing that his system, if developed to a high level of proficiency, was practical for actual combat situations.
In Germany, there were special classes which were held regularly to train the German commandoes and swat teams.
In Europe, the EWTO or European Wing Tsun Assodiation, had a relationship for many years with Escrima grandmaster Rene Latosa, and escrima was taught as a supplementary training for self0defense at many schools.
Leung Ting was instrumental in spreading Wing Chun worldwide, though his lineage has declined in recent years. Still, his personalized system retains distinctive aspects and continues impacting Wing Chun’s global evolution and growth into the future.