“One of the biggest problems in researching the history of the martial arts is the martial artists themselves. They love their styles (or the businesses that they support) so much that everything needs to have an elaborate back story. A straight forward account of the first guy to open a Wing Chun school is not enough. Instead we need a tale of mystery, adventure, and potentially traitorous opera-singing terrorists.”
Ben Judkins, Kung Fu Tea
I’ve heard a handful of versions of the story of Wing Chun’s development. There is the classical (and most popular) story of Ng Mui and Yim Wing Chun. Then there is the tale of mystery and intrigue Ben alludes to, which is the story I think I got from Robert Chu’s Complete Wing Chun (or possibly a related web-based article), about the Ming and the Ching and the Red Boat Opera company.
There is a website called Kung Fu Tea run by a Professor from the University of Utah named Benjamin Judkins. It presents a more academic perspective on the history of our art and in a article on his site, he posits that the true author of Wing Chun were not the Hon revolutionaries, nor Ng Mui, and not even Leung Jan (martial hero of such films as Prodigal Son), but Leung Jan’s sole non-familial student, Chan Wah Shun.