Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin

If you’ve heard about Wing Chun, you’ve probably heard of the legendary Ip Man, because he was responsible for bringing Wing Chun to Hong Kong in 1949. Our School has a direct connection to Great Grandmaster Ip Man through Chu Shong Tin (CST) or also spelled Tsui Sheung Tin, who started training under Ip Man on January 1, 1950, and was his third student in Hong Kong (starting a few months after Leung Sheung and Lok Yiu).

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin and Ip Man
Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin (on the left) sitting next to Ip Man

Early Years

At the time, Ip Man was living and teaching in the Hong Kong Restaurant Workers Union’s headquarters. Both Ip Man and CST had come to Hong Kong (from mainland China) alone, so in order to keep each other company. For the convenience of training, Chu moved to the Union too, and they lived together for five years. Needless to say they became very close.

Chu Shong Tin trained in Ip’s school for 14 years and was the main teacher there, teaching for up to 12 hours on some days. The major focus in the early years of his training was the practice of “Siu Nim Tao” (meaning “Tiny Idea”). Which is the first empty-hand form and the essence of Wing Chun. This is because Ip Man used to say: “When well-versed in Siu Nim Tao, the other parts of Wing Chun training will all be well grasped and performed too.”

In the mid-1950s Ip Man, acknowledging Chu’s deep and solid foundation in Wing Chun, coined Master Chu Shong Tin “The King of Siu Nim Tao”. Siu Nim Tao can be translated to ‘Tiny Mind Power’. It’s the first empty hand form of Wing Chun and it is the internal foundation for the entire system. Achieving the ‘Nim Tao’ / ‘Mind Force’ is the ultimate goal of this form).

In 1964, Chu Shong Tin officially opened his own school in Hong Kong, and continued teaching full-time until he passed away at the age of 82. In his own words, published in his book: “Wing Chun has become my unceasing study for decades; my interest in it has not diminished even until now. I have been bound by Wing Chun my whole life, but I have no regrets.”

Chu Shong Tin as a Person

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin was very humble and quiet and until the end. He had a small (but extremely dedicated) group of students who he taught daily in his school in Hong Kong. CST was very low key, never marketed himself and didn’t raise his tuition fees for the students who were with him for decades. He was a very simple and humble man who was in love with Wing Chun. CST literally spent 64yrs of his life studying and sharing it with whoever was interested. His name became well known only after he passed away in 2014 due to his disciples. Primary by Nima King who was posting many videos online which sparked much interest in the viewers.

Chu Shong Tin’s dedication to Wing Chun

Chu Shong Tin’s dedication and affection towards this art is clear to witness from his words in his 2nd DVD called ‘Nim Tao and Life.” The DVD was recorded only a couple of years before he passed away. In this he expressed his disappointment in himself as a teacher because he was unable to leave behind a student who had achieved a level as high as his own. At this time only a handful of students, including Nim King, could activate the ‘Nim Tao State’. The state which is achieved through the practice of Siu Nim Tao form. However, none of these senior students were close to attaining the same level as CST.

Chu Shong Tin’s DVD Nim Tao and Life and Nim Tao State

In the DVD he states “ Even up until now, I’m still contemplating and searching for answers. How did the founder of Wing Chun, Ng Mui, create this form Siu Nim Tao? Did she have a quicker way of teaching students at the time? If so, then why couldn’t I do the same? Does it really take this much time to achieve it? I still haven’t fulfilled my wish for answers yet and I really hope that those students who can activate Nim Tao will find a quicker way in the future. I don’t know how much time I have left to find a quicker way. Passing on a way that everyone can activate ‘Nim Tao’; that everyone can be healthy; that everyone can have the ability to effortlessly generate powerful force so they can protect themselves. This is in fact, my last and final wish!”

Nima King, the creator of the Mindful Wing Chun Online programme, believes that Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin had in fact found a very efficient method of passing on the important tools of practice in his last few years of teaching. He has tried to portray these tools and ideas of practice within this online school.

Grandmaster Chu Shong Tin