Focusing on Yip-man

Some may consider this man the father of Wing Chun is a type, or rather, a form of Kung Fu used to train people in self-defence. Yip Man started training students in this art form in 1952 after he brought Leung Sheung to mercy in a challenge. Yip Man was a smaller being, at only 1.5m tall and weighing around 55kg, yet he managed to put Leung Sheung, almost double his weight, on the ground with little to no effort at all.

Yip Man’s Background

Yip Man’s real-life contained a little bit of everything, something you’d typically only see on the big screen, death, drugs, wealth, loss thereof, a second wife, war and homelessness. In fact, in 2008 a movie was released based on his life, in which Donnie Yen another Kung Fu master. Yip Man came from a rich background, a member of a wealthy family in South China. He was the owner of a large house, business and farm. It was only after World War II when everything fell apart after a four-year stint, in the Chinese army trying to stop the Japanese invasion. When he returned home the Japanese were in charge, his farm was in ruins, and his wife fell ill, sadly she later died. Sometime after this Yip Man left Fatshan, his hometown, and went to Hong Kong to escape the communists, and start a new life. It was here that he ended up on the streets where Leung Sheung found him. Thinking he was homeless, and not knowing he was a master in Wing Chun, Leung Sheung brought him to the Restaurant Worker’s Union Hall, where he taught Bak Mei, and this is where Yip Man proved his worth.

Yip Man’s Teaching Style

He is known to have had a peculiar way of instructing, never really teaching a Wing Chun class, only ever observing and fine-tuning the students he favoured. He explained the first two students who then became instructors and informed the others. He believed his technique would be weakened by assisting a slower student when slowing down to give him a gap. The high paying, private class seeking clients, would get special treatment, Yip Man would demonstrate a move once, and then the assistant instructor would continue the lesson. He is described as having a soft “do as I do not as I say” teaching manner, a great sense of humour and an impatience for slow students.

Yip Man’s Success

As he grew older, so too did his status as a Kung Fu teacher improve. Eventually, he could afford better accommodation and was able to move his sons and their families out of China. One of his students, Bruce Lee, rose to fame which brought Yip Man more wealth and success and he made one last move to a large gym. In 1970 Yip Man ceased to teach martial arts and passed away from cancer of the throat two years later at the age of 79.


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