Wing Chun Kung Fu is a martial art that was developed in Southern China. Back then, the Chinese did not keep any written record of historical events. Instead, things were passed down by word of mouth. This makes it very difficult (if not impossible) to say what the true origins of the style are.
We will discuss history elsewhere. For now, we are going to stick to what we know about the system as it exists today.
Wing Chun is a close-range combat system, used in a range that exists somewhere between the punching and grappling range. A Wing Chun practitioner doesn't need a lot of room to perform their techniques. They could use it in a narrow hallway, on an elevator, or in a stairwell.
There are only six forms in Wing Chun. Three of these are empty-handed. One uses a Wooden Dummy, also known as a Mook Jong.
There are also two weapons forms. One is for the Butterfly Knives.
The other is called the Six and a Half Point Pole.
As even the casual observer can see, the Pole is a long-range weapon, but the majority of the Wing Chun system deals with close-range combat. That is why some schools will actually teach the Pole form LAST, so that practitioners can get used to the way the system functions. However, the skills learned through the Pole form are invaluable for situations where the opponent/assailant might be outside the normal Wing Chun range, and they are translatable to empty hand situations.
Rather than teach students how to respond in a predictable pattern to an attack ("if your opponent does this, then you do that"), Wing Chun practitioners train their bodies to react instinctively to any situation. This is what is meant by the old Taoist saying, "To act without acting." Through the use of training drills like Chi Sao (which will be discussed in depth later), Wing Chun practitioners hone their reflexes until they don't need to give any conscious thought to how they will react.
Wing Chun practitioners also don't rely on one all-powerful knockout punch to subdue their opponents. Instead, they use the cumulative of several strikes to overwhelm their foes. With most people, if you hit them in the stomach, they will be focused on the pain from that attack...and while they are preoccupied, a Wing Chun practitioner will have moved on and hit them in several other places. Before you know it, the fight is over.
Wing Chun teaches a student to not fight muscle versus muscle. If someone who is stronger than you pushes your right shoulder, then you don't fight back. Instead, you let the shoulder give way. Then you take the energy of that shove on the right side and channel it into a strike delivered from your left side.
Many Kung Fu styles were based on the movements of animals. Most were real (Tiger, Eagle, Monkey), but at least one was mythological (Dragon). However, Wing Chun is based on the body mechanics of human beings. In other words, there is no need to possess high levels of flexibility or athleticism.
Due to its reliance on sensitivity and speed instead of strength, and its lack of acrobatic techniques, Wing Chun can be performed by people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and degrees of athletic ability.