About the Academy
The flagship location: 1267 20th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
U.S. Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy
Chris Chan (Chan Shing) was born in Hong Kong, in 1940, the year of the Dragon. In 1955, he started learning Wing Chun Kung Fu from the late Grandmaster Ip Man. During his time in Ip Man's school, he trained with such legends as his friend, the late Bruce Lee, and Wong Shun Leung.
In 1959, Bruce Lee emigrated to SanFrancisco, and kept in touch with his friend and rival, Chris Chan. In one particularly fateful letter, Bruce relayed that the American public knew nothing of Chinese martial arts or Wing Chun, and that there was a great opportunity to spread the tradition to the West.
The next year, when a young Chris Chan finally came to San Francisco in 1960, it came at a great cost. He left his family, friends and the culture he knew to make a new start in San Francisco. While attending college for engineering, Sifu Chan also taught Wing Chun, first in Chinatown and all over SF, eventually settling in the mission district. Like other Bay Area pioneers,Sifu Chan's first formally established school was in a garage in the Mission district of San Francisco. If you had a passion for learning Wing Chun, then you could stay. If you showed hard work, he would teach you as much as you wanted to learn.
As he began his career as a mechanical engineer, he continued to share his knowledge with the rest of the world. For 58 years, Sifu Chan has been at the spearhead of Wing Chun. He was among the first Chinese instructors to teach the secretive aspects of Chinese martial arts to the public, and in that time he hasgainedahard earned reputation as one of the toughest martial artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. To this day, he is the only direct student of Ip Man to teach Wing Chun publicly in Northern California.
First School on Market Street
It wasn't until the 1980's that U.S. Wing Chun found a home with an actual door. We made San Francisco's market street our home.
It was a community of every type of individual you could think of. People of every economic nature from poor to rich would walk through those doors. No one was turned away if you stuck by the one rule Chris upheld, you must train hard.
The school would train the strongest and most motivated wing chun practitioners throughout our time at that location.
During the Rodney King riots, U.S. Wing Chun was one of the only storefronts not completely smashed. Our students protected their home for the next 13 years.
Lawton Street, Sunset
The 1990's introduced a new era of training and a new generation of wing chun students were developed. It was a sweat box with two windows in the front, an upstairs loft, and a set of dummies in the back.
The culture of Market street transferred to Lawton in the early years of the school. The toughest would have a school of their own. Everyone had access at all hours of the day. Chris would teach private lessons during the afternoons. But starting at 5 o'clock, the school would transform into a group of focused individuals looking for the leadership, motivation, and culture that Grandmaster had created for them.
Imagine being a new student looking for an instructor and school that you could be a part of. The windows were steamed up from the inside so you couldn't see inside until you opened the door. You walk into a room of about 40 people packed like sardines in a rectangular room. They all stare intimately at you since they are all faced towards the door. Most people that opened the door after 5pm would shut the door immediately and walk away. But for those that had the courage to step foot in there would chart the next decade of their nightly activities.
As you stood in the front of the room by yourself, no one would greet you. You awkwardly stand there and wonder why you are here. However, there are 40 steaming, sweating people looking at you so you freeze. The man that yells, "You can be the strongest man in the world," dominates the room. His voice projects throughout the school and echos into your ear. You're not sure what you should do so you end up standing there or sitting on a broken chair.
What is a Siu Lim Tao? There is one student in the front that leads the class while Grandmaster Chris motivates with his voice, jokes, equips, and history. You're not sure what to do so you wait until a break. After an hour, the group takes a break. People hit sandbags, work on wooden dummies, and Chi Sao. You have no idea what that is or what these people are doing but stay because youareintriguedat what happens next.
Someone finally walks up to you and asks
if you wanna join. Fill out a form and just jump in. People show you how to hit a sandbag. You are mesmerized by all the vibration created from the people hitting the dummies. The room is filled with people in every corner of the room. You see people touching hands and doing this stick hands technique. Then 30 minutes later. The Grandmaster yells, "Ok, let's do it again. Leo, you next." You jump into the group and now the room has 41 students.
20th and Irving Street
2009 U.S. Wing Chun moved into its new home and started a new movement that would inspire programs for children, young adults, and corporate.
Our training facility is filled with martial arts equipment and lined with 8 mookjongs down wooden dummy alley. The 10,000 square foot school has hardwood floors and mirrors along all the walls.
Mookjong.com was created to modernize our wooden dummy making abilities. For 30 years, we imported them from Hong Kong. They were made from rare Chinese wood and manufactured in a garage. Now, our Mookjongs are Made In USA. All of our wooden dummies are designed with different specifications to accommodate all shapes, heights, and sizes. In 2013, we introduced our children's line of mini-wooden dummies called Lil Wabbit.
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Lil' Wabbit Wing Chun for kids was also formalized to address a growing interest in the community for more kids friendly classes geared towards different age groups.
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Sifu Darren Chan is currently the president of US Wing Chun Kung Fu Academy. He has been training for over twenty years under his father Grandmaster Chris Chan. In 2001, Sifu Darren earned the title of sifu and continues the traditions passed onto him by Great Grandmaster Ip Man and Grandmaster Chan. Sifu Darren is responsible for expanding Wing Chun into the realm of corporate business and will lead the next generation of practitioners through modernized training methods that keep to the traditions of the Wing Chun martial arts system.