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Yip Man

Ip Man
Born (1893-10-01)1 October 1893
Foshan, Guangdong, China
Died 2 December 1972(1972-12-02) (aged 79)
Mong Kok, Kowloon,
Hong Kong[1]
Throat cancer
Other names Yip Man,
Yip Kai-man,
Ye Wen
Residence Hong Kong
Nationality Chinese
Style Wushu:
Wing Chun
Teacher(s) Chan Wah-shun & Wu Chung-sok (吳仲素),
later Leung Bik and Yuen Kay Shan
Rank Grandmaster
Occupation Martial artist
Spouse Cheung Wing-sing
(simplified Chinese: 张永成; traditional Chinese: 張永成; pinyin: Zhāng Yǒngchéng; Cantonese Yale: jēung wíhng sìhng)
Notable relatives Ip Chun (son; b. 1924),
Ip Ching (son; b. 1936)
Notable students Bruce Lee,
Chu Shong Tin ,
Lok Yiu,
Leung Sheung,
Wong Shun Leung,
Wang Kiu,
William Cheung,
Moy Yat,
Kwok Fu (郭富),
Lun Kah (倫佳),
Lo Man Kam (martial artist),
Derek Fung Ping Bor
Yip Man
Traditional Chinese 葉問
Simplified Chinese 叶问
Yip Kai-man
Traditional Chinese 葉繼問
Simplified Chinese 叶继问

Ip Man[2] (1 October 1893 – 1 December 1972), also known as Yip Man, and also Yip Kai-man, was a Chinese martial artist. He had several students who later became martial arts masters in their own right, including Bruce Lee.


  • Early life 1
  • Life in Hong Kong 2
  • Death and legacy 3
  • In popular culture 4
  • Martial arts lineage 5
  • References 6

Early life

Yip was born to Yip Oi-dor and Wu Shui,He grew up in a wealthy family in Foshan, Guangdong, and received a traditional Chinese education. His elder brother was Yip Kai-gak, his elder sister was Yip Wan-mei and his younger sister was Yip Wan-hum.[3]

Yip started learning Wing Chun from Chan Wah-shun when he was 7. Since Chan was 70 at the time, Yip was Chan's last student.[4][5] Due to his teacher's age, Yip learned most of his skills and techniques from Chan's second eldest disciple, Wu Chung-sok (吳仲素). Chan lived three years after Yip's training started and one of his dying wishes was to have Wu continue teaching Yip.

At the age of 16, Yip moved to Hong Kong with help from his relative Leung Fut-ting. One year later, he attended school at St. Stephen's College—a secondary school for wealthy families and foreigners living in Hong Kong.[3] During Yip's time at St. Stephen's he saw a foreign police officer beating a woman and intervened.[3] The officer attempted to attack Yip, but Yip struck him down and ran to school with his classmate. Yip's classmate later told an older man who lived in his apartment block. The man met with Yip and asked what martial art Yip practised. The man told Yip that his forms were "not too great".[3] The man challenged Yip's Wing Chun in chi sao (a form of training that involves controlled attack and defence). Yip saw this as an opportunity to prove that his abilities were good, but was defeated by the man after a few strikes. Yip's opponent revealed himself to be Leung Bik, Chan Wah-shun's senior and the son of Chan's teacher, Leung Jan. After that encounter, Yip continued learning from Leung Bik.

Yip returned to Foshan when he was 24 and became a policeman.[3] He taught Wing Chun to several of his subordinates, friends and relatives, but did not officially run a martial arts school. Some of his better known informal students were Chow Kwong-yue (周光裕), Kwok Fu (郭富), Lun Kah (倫佳), Chan Chi-sun (陳志新), Xu He-Wei (徐和威) and Lui Ying (呂應). Among them, Chow Kwong-yue was said to be the best, but he eventually went into commerce and stopped practising martial arts. Kwok Fu and Lun Kah went on to teach students of their own and they passed down the art of Wing Chun in the Foshan and Guangdong region. Chan Chi-sun and Lui Ying went to Hong Kong later but neither of them accepted any students. Yip went to live with Kwok Fu during the Second Sino-Japanese War and only returned to Foshan after the war, where he continued his career as a police officer. Yip left Foshan for Hong Kong at the end of 1949 after the Chinese Communist Party won the Chinese Civil War because he was an officer of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), the Communists' rival in the Civil War.[6]

Life in Hong Kong

Initially, Yip Man's teaching business was poor because Yip's students typically stayed for only a couple of months. He moved his school twice: first to Castle Peak Road in Sham Shui Po and then to Lee Tat Street (利達街) in Yau Ma Tei. By then, some of his students had attained proficiency in Wing Chun and they were able to start their own schools. Some of his students and descendants sparred with other martial artists to compare their skills and their victories helped to increase Yip's reputation. In 1967, Yip and some of his students established the Ving Tsun Athletic Association (詠春體育會).[7][8]

Yip Man was said to have regularly used opium.[9] One of his former students, Duncan Leung, claimed that Yip used tuition money to support his opium addiction.[10]

Death and legacy

Yip Man's gravestone

Yip died on 2 December 1972 in his unit at 149 Tung Choi Street in Hong Kong,[1] from throat cancer, only 7 months before the death of Bruce Lee.[11]

Yip's legacy is the global practice of Wing Chun. Some of his notable students include: Leung Ting (梁挺), Leung Sheung, Lok Yiu, Chu Shong-tin, Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu (王喬), Yip Bo-ching (葉步青), William Cheung, Hawkins Cheung, Bruce Lee, Wong Long, Wong Chok, Law Bing, Lee Shing, Ho Kam-ming, Moy Yat, Duncan Leung, Derek Fung Ping-bor (馮平波), Chris Chan Shing (陳成), Victor Kan, Stanley Chan, Chow Sze-chuen, Tam Lai, Lee Che-kong, Simon Lau, his nephew Lo Man Kam, and his sons Ip Ching and Ip Chun

Yip also left behind a written history of Wing Chun.[12] Many artifacts of his life are on display in the "Yip Man Tong" museum in the Foshan Ancestral Temple grounds.[13]

In popular culture

Ip Man, a Hong Kong film based on the life of Yip Man, starring Donnie Yen as the martial artist, was released in cinemas in 2008. The film takes a number of liberties with Yip's life, often for dramatic effect. Yip's eldest son Ip Chun appears in the film and served as a consultant on the production, which focuses on Yip's life during the 1930s to the 1940s during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The film is the first to be based on the life of Yip. The sequel Ip Man 2 focuses on Yip's beginnings in Hong Kong and his students, including Bruce Lee.

Amid a surge of Yip Man–related film projects in production, Donnie Yen told the Chinese media in March 2010 that after Ip Man 2, he will no longer play the Wing Chun master any more. He stated, "I would never ever touch any films related to Ip Man. This will be my final film on the subject. Whenever something becomes a success, everyone would jump on the bandwagon, this is very frightening. Did you know how many Ip Man films are in production? Under such condition, we would not progress, it'd only lead to over-saturation of the subject matter."[14]

Yu Chenghui played Yip Man in The Legend of Bruce Lee,[15] a 2008 Chinese television series based on the life story of Bruce Lee, who was one of Yip's students.

Another Hong Kong film based on Yip Man's life, called The Legend Is Born – Ip Man, was released in June 2010. Herman Yau directed the film and it starred Dennis To as Yip Man. Ip Chun makes a special appearance in the film as Leung Bik.

Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster is a 2013 film starring Tony Leung as Yip Man. The film concentrates more on the end of an era in Chinese martial arts history as the Second Sino-Japanese War broke out. It was created in an almost biographical style, highlighting parts of history. In contrast with the other Yip Man–related projects, The Grandmaster is a more reflective film, focusing more on the musings and philosophies between martial arts and life, as well as Yip Man's journey through the early 1930s to the early 1950s.

The 2013 Hong Kong film Ip Man: The Final Fight, directed by Herman Yau and starring Anthony Wong as Yip Man, focuses on Yip's later life in Hong Kong. Ip Chun makes a cameo appearance in the film. This film also focuses on the loyalty of his pupils towards him.

The 2013 Chinese television series Ip Man, based on Yip Man's life, was aired on the television network Astro On Demand between March and May 2013. It was directed by Fan Xiaotian and starred Kevin Cheng as the titular character.

Martial arts lineage

Wing Chun lineage according to Yip Man.[12][16]

Ng Mui (one of the Five Elders of Shaolin Monastery)
Yim Wing-chun (taught Wing Chun by Ng for self-defence)
Leung Bok-chau (Yim's husband)
Leung Lan-kwai
Wong Wah-bo (taught the pole form by Leung Yee-tai)
Leung Yee-tai (added his pole form to the system he learned from Wong)
Leung Jan (also taught his son Leung Bik)
Chan Wah-shun
Yip Man (also learnt from Wu Chung-sok and Leung Bik)
Known students: See Branches of Wing Chun


  1. ^ a b "影武者‧ 葉問次子葉正專訪 (Exclusive Interview with Ip Man's second son Ip Ching)" (in Chinese).  
  2. ^ As written in Romanised text in his passport, which is on display in the Yip Man Tong museum in Foshan in China.
  3. ^ a b c d e Title: Yip Man – Portrait of a Kung Fu Master, Page:3, Author(s): Ip Ching and Ron Heimberger, Paperback: 116 pages, Publisher: Cedar Fort (23 January 2001), ISBN 978-1-55517-516-0
  4. ^ "Sam kwok Wing Chun – Yip Man Family Tree". Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  5. ^ Mastering Wing Chun, By Samuel Kwok
  6. ^ "Ip Man's Biography". 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2012-10-12. 
  7. ^ Ip Ching, Ip Man: Portrait of a Kung Fu Master (Springville, UT: King Dragon Press, 2001)
  8. ^ Ip Man Ving Tsun 50th Anniversary Journal (Hong Kong: Wing Chun Athletic Association Limited, 2005)
  9. ^ Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit: A Biography, Bruce Thomas, p. 208 "Both Bruce's father and even his wing chun master Yip Man were no strangers to the opium pipe."
  10. ^ 16 May 2009. "Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan.". 
  11. ^ Complete Wing Chun: The Definitive Guide to Wing Chun's History and Traditions, Robert Chu, Rene Ritchie, Y. Wu, page 9, Tuttle Publishing; 1st edition (15 June 1998). ISBN 0-8048-3141-6, ISBN 978-0-8048-3141-3.
  12. ^ a b "external copy of the History of Wing Chun Written by Yip Man". Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  13. ^ "Ip Man tong virtual tour". Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  14. ^ "Donnie Yen Has Had Enough of Ip Man -".  
  15. ^ "Ip Man (Character)". Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. TV episode, Played by Cheng-Hui Yu (as Ye Wen) 
  16. ^ "History and Philosophy of Ip Man including family tree". Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
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