Leung Sheung was born in Ah Yiu, Nan Hoi County, Guangdong Province. From age 14 he began studying a variety of martial arts such as White Eye-Brow, Choi Lee Fut and Dragon Style.
Leung Sheung became a restaurateur and would relocate frequently because of his work. This gave him the opportunity to learn from many well-known Martial Artists like Yip Gun, Lee Yit, Teng Shui and Wong Cheong, but he was never able to study long under any of these teachers.
Training Under Yip Man
In 1949 Leung Sheung was elected as the first General Secretary of the Hong Kong Restaurant Workers' Union. He was introduced to Yip Man, who had recently arrived in Hong Kong, by a mutual friend. Leung Sheung was so impressed by Yip Man's Wing Chun ability that he asked Yip Man to replace him as instructor at the Union's Martial Arts branch, and abandoned his previous styles to become Yip Man's first student. Leung Sheung also introduced Lok Yiu and Tsui Sheung Tin to Yip Man, and Yip Man taught them at the Union's office quarters, which were also used to house newly-arrived workers from China. Yip Man himself resided there until 1955.
Later on, Leung Sheung and other closed-door students encouraged Yip Man to teach publicly, leading to the establishment of Wing Chun in Hong Kong during the 1950s, and its later worldwide spread.
Leung Sheung himself began to teach Wing Chun publicly in 1956, along with Lok Yiu, Tsui Sheung Tin, and Wong Sheung Leung, forming the first generation of teachers from Yip Man's lineage. They are widely recognized as Yip Man's best disciples - it was said that a student of Leung Sheung was sure to become skilled in chi sau.
Leung Sheung's Teachings
Leung, the senior most of Yip Man's students in Hong Kong, used a traditional mnemonic device for training. This included a collection of sayings and descriptive verses he learned from Yip Man. Leung repeated them on a regular basis. Many of these iconic training guides are known to and adopted by other Wing Chun teachers. However, Leung's framing of them may be unique. When teaching the first form, Siu Nim Tau, he used to emphasize the particular significance of ten (10) or so interrelated points for the long bridge (Tsuen Kui) Wing Chun stance (based on the recollections of several of his students):
- Turn in (Kim) the knees (Sut) in Cantonese (with feet turned inward accordingly);
- Keep head up (Tao) and level with eyes (Ng'an) pointing forward (Mong Tseen);
- Keep back (Yiu) straight (Ting) or Tingh Yiu;
- Keep elbow (Zhang) turned in (Mai) or Mai Zhang as much as possible (with arm perpendicular to the center line);
- Keep elbow in front and away from the body about the width of a rounded fist (Cantonese: Tseung Kui Ma or Long Bridge Stance);
- Keep extended, arm (Cantonese: Tan* Sau) "relaxed" (Fong Song) and "flat" (Ping), parallel to the ground (my language);
- Relax or ease (Song) shoulder (Bok) muscles, keeping shoulders natural (not lifting in any way);
- Practice Under (Dai) Elbow (Zhang) Strength (Lik) or Zhang Dai Lik; and
- Relax breathing, and sink (Tsum) breath (Hay) i.e. don't hold breath or hyperventilate, breathe with diaphragm (my language).
*"Tan" means to spread out or to lay out and open e.g. spreading a blanket.