Dragon Style Kung Fu was one of the five original systems of Chinese boxing that originated from the Henan Shaolin Temple. Wing Chun, Wu Mei Pai and Dragon Style Kung Fu, Fu all trace their lineage back to the Shaolin Priestess Wui Mei. (Aka Ng Mui)
The Five Elders of Shaolin were the survivors of the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery by the soldiers of the Ching Dynasty, which historians have estimated to have taken place in AD 1570. Of these five disciples of Shaolin, one, Wu Mei was a female priestess rather than male monk.
According to the famous Wing Chun master Yip Man, Wu Mei was Abbess at the Henan Shaolin Monastery. Wui Mei managed to survive the temple’s destruction by Ching forces, and fled to the White Crane Temple. While there Wui Mei met a girl of fifteen named Yim Wing-Chun whom a bandit was trying to force into marriage. Wu Mei taught Wing-Chun how to defend herself by distilling her Shaolin martial art knowledge into a system that Wing-Chun could learn quickly, and use without developing great strength. Thus the style known as Wing Chun was born.
In the Wu Mei Pai tradition Wu Mei developed her practical style in the Forbidden City. To develop balance and leg strength she trained on upturned logs, in a pattern she invented. It is said that Wu Mei eventually took refuge in the White Crane Temple, teaching her style only within the Temple walls.
Dragon style historians also state that Shaolin nun Wu Mei, who originated the Dragon style, was one of the last members of the Henan Shaolin temple before its first destruction, in 1570. Since then, Dragon Style Kung Fu has evolved into two distinct styles, Southern and Northern. Both of these consists of non-temple variations, in essence units of instruction taken, incompletely, from Shaolin, and molded into family styles. Of historical note, the style considered southern was the original form brought south from Henan, while northern dragon evolved in the north after the burning of the temple in 1570 A.D.
According to Dragon Style Historians modern Southern Dragon style’s history can be traced back to the monk Dai Yuk Sim Si who was the abbot of Wa Sau Toi (White Hair) temple on Mount Luofu in the 19th century. Dai Yuk had been taught Dragon style Kung Fu from the priestess Wu Mei. Monk Dai Yuk in later taught Lam Yew Kwai. Before Lam Yew Kwai learned Dragon Style, (late 1800’s) it had been confined to inside the temple walls where few people knew about its existence. “Grandmaster” Lam Yew Kwai was the first the first member of the general public to learn dragon style, thus he was credited as the Sijo (founder) of Dragon Style because He was the first person to widely spread it to the public.
Lam Yiu Kwai and Jeung Lai Chuen were good friends from their youth, longtime training partners and later cousins by marriage. Lam and Jeung would open several schools together, and Southern Dragon style and Jeung’s style of Bak Mei (White Eyebrow) Kung Fu, share many similarities.
Grandmaster Cho Sam who mastered both Bak Mei (White Eyebrow Kung Fu) and the Southern Dragon Style Kung Fu taught the complete Southern Dragon Style Kung Fu system to Sifu Yip Wing Hong. Sifu Yip was one of the first individuals to teach Southern Dragon Style Kung Fu in the United States. Sifu Yip teaches Dragon Style Kung Fu in New York City’s’ Chinatown at 149 Canal Street New York, NY 10002
Sifu Donna McCoy and Sensei Doug Fleming were both trained in the Northern Dragon Style Kung Fu between 1980 and 1990. Today, Sifu Donna McCoy is a disciple of Master Wing Hong Yip, and knows the Southern Dragon style Kung Fu as well. Sensei Doug Fleming is a Dragon Style instructor under Sifu Donna McCoy.