Wing Chun Kung Fu originated in the 17th century southern China. Although historians argue about the origin of Wing Chun, the legend implies that the originator was a woman, a Shaolin Abbess named Ng Mui. She developed this style to help a fighter gain the upper hand against a bigger and stronger opponent. The art was later named after a student, Yim Wing Chun, who used it to beat a warlord that wanted to force her to marry him.
Wing Chun was brought from China to Hong Kong by Grandmaster Yip Man. The art has enjoyed great attention based on its efficient, scientific, and logical fighting methods. One of Yip Mans most notable first-generation students was the late Wong Shun Leung. He made a reputation for himself and for Wing Chun by fighting and winning over 60 skill comparison matches (beimo) early in his career. As Yip Man's head coach, he was considered the principle Wing Chun instructor of Bruce Lee.
One of Wong Shun Leung's most prominent student is Gary Lam (Lam Man Hog). Gary Lam trained with Wong Shun Leung for over 15 years and was his head coach for 6 years. Gary Lam distinguished himself by winning the Hong Kong full contact elimination tournament in 1978 and 1979. Gary Lam has also been a competitive Hong Kong Thai boxer and has served as a judge for Thai boxing matches in Hong Kong. Gary Lam has been teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu and training Thai Boxers for over 20 years. He was also the president of the Hong Kong Wing Chun Society in 1991. He was awarded Sifu of the year in 2006 and received an award from the World Ving Tsun Athletic Association Hall of Fame for his contributions to Wing Chun.
Grandmaster Gary Lam describes the Wong Shun Leung/Gary Lam Wing Chun system as having five main branches of study. These branches serve to categorize the bulk of the open hand techniques that are developed throughout the students training experience, giving an overall framework for the entire system. There are three forms, Siu Nim Tao, Chum Kiu, and Biu Jee. Additionally, the Wooden Dummy (Muk Yan Jong), Dragon Pole (Luk Dim Boon Gwan) and Double Knife (Baat Jaam Do) are also taught.
Wing Chun is a close quarter combative concept-based art that teaches the student to efficiently redirect the incoming energy with least amount of force and simultaneously attack and defend at the same time. The strength in Wing Chun comes by using the ground as a source of power. It uses sensitivity drills to hone the student's ability to feel and control the opponent's actions. One learns to always attack the opponent's center while facing them allowing the student to utilize both hands equally. Wing Chun's low kicks are used in close proximity, which makes them difficult for an opponent to see.
Wing Chun teaches relaxation to optimize sensitivity and speed.
Desiree Khalatbari-Lee at the age 10 was inspired by the late Bruce Lee and his fighting style. Growing up half way around the world, the culture frowned on a young girl participating in a male dominated activity.
It wasn't until she came to the United States that she was able to take martial arts classes. At the time she was not able to find a Wing Chun school and took Kenpo Karate from David Hebler who was previously Elvis Presley's bodyguard.
In 1993, Desiree started Wing Chun under a different lineage. However, martial arts was put on hold due to her pursuit of an advanced degree. Her passion for Wing Chun never diminished and she found the Gary Lam Wing Chun system in Orange County. This was taught by Sifu Brian Hester, a direct student of Grandmaster Gary Lam. She studied under Sifu Brian Hester for seven years with five of those years as his assistant instructor.
Desiree transferred to Gary Lam Wing Chun Los Angeles Headquarters to study under Grandmaster Gary Lam, who learned from Wong Shaun Leung, one of Yip Man's notable first generation students. Desiree was re-certified for level one and level two by Grandmaster Gary Lam and on April 18, 2023 she earned the coach certificate (completion of level three with the title of "Sifu"). Desiree continues to take private lessons from Grandmaster Gary Lam extensively.
Desiree has taught women's self defense classes and has nine years teaching experience in Wing Chun. Her background includes personal security and has been a member of her church's security team since 2018. She regularly trains in firearms and is a certified firearms instructor.
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