Wing Chun Academy of Thailand
would not be where it is today if not for the venerable great-grand
master, Yip Man. It was he who lifted the tightly closed lid on the
sophisticated and secret art.
Yip Man was born to a wealthy family
in Fushan, Guangzhou. His father rented the Yip ancestral temple to
Mr.Chan Wah Shun, the local money-changer, who used it to teach Wing
Chun. Mr. Chan treated Wing Chun as a part-time hobby, so never ran a
full-time school. Nevertheless, he was well known for his skills, and
was hired by the Imperial army to teach a selective few. He was in his
seventies when he setup the Wing Chun center in the Yip ancestral
temple. He was very particular with who he accepted as his student.
During his 36 years of teaching, he was known to have had only 16
students. The last one, being Yip Man.
Yip Man was thirteen years
old when he first saw Wing Chun in action. He had watched Mr. Chan
teach a handful of students, and was fascinated by the way the elderly
master took control of robust men, as if they were puppets on strings.
Yip Man, broke his piggy bank and presented three taels of silver to Mr.
Wah, and begged to be accepted as his student. Mr. Chan, when he found
out that it was his own money rather than his father's, was moved, and
took young Yip Man as his 16th and last student.
Yip Man became very
proficient in Wing Chun. He put it to test by accepting challenges and
challenging other martial artists. He was undefeatable in his hometown,
as well as in Hong Kong, where he went to study.
One day, a friend of
Yip Man told him that he knew of a middle-age martial artist who was
undefeated in all the fights he has had. The friend asked if Yip Man
would like to tackle him. Yip Man confidently replied that he would,
and asked for the contest to be arranged.
The contest was held in the
back street of the silk shop where the fifty-five-year-old man, Mr.
Leung, worked. Mr. Leung, looked at young Yip Man, who was still in his
teens, and told him to attack him as he wished, and that he (Leung)
would only defend himself and not make any offensive moves. Yip Man
was infuriated with this man's arrogance and wanted to humble him.
However, all his attacks were deflected with ease. As he said, Mr.
Leung, made no attempts to strike Yip Man, but brought him down to the
floor, using only Yip Man's uncontrolled force and balance.
was embarrassed, and left quickly after accepting defeat. Later, he
learned that Mr. Leung Bik was the son of Leung Jan, his grandmaster,
the teacher who taught his master. He went back to Mr. Leung, and asked
to accept him as his student. Mr. Leung saw Yip Man's potential and
earnesty, and accepted his request.
What Yip Man lacked in his youth
was the knowledge of Wing Chun science. Mr. Chan, Yip Man's master in
Fushan, was an excellent fighter. He was not an educated man, and could
not express himself eloquently. He initially learned Wing Chun watching
Leung Jan's classes through a key hole. When he finally joined the
class, Leung Jan was surprised to learn how much Mr. Chan knew from just
watching. He had a natural gift for martial arts. Mr. Chan learned the
physical aspect of Wing Chun, but not the physics. He knew how to do a
move, but did not know the principles behind it. He therefore could not
teach the science behind Wing Chun. This is what Leung Bik had to offer
Yip Man. Yip Man excelled in Wing Chun under the guidance of Leung
Bik. Not only did he learn from Leung Bik the fine art of Wing Chun,
but the art of humanity. Yip Man, under his tutelage, became a modest
and humble man.
Yip Man returned to Fushan after graduation and did
not go back to Hong Kong until after WWII. The war had stripped his
family of its wealth. Like his masters before him, he viewed Wing Chun
as a part-time hobby, and did not want to earn a living from it.
Because of his financial state, he reluctantly accepted a post as a
martial art instructor for the Hong Kong Restaurant Workers'
Association. Initially, the members were not impressed with the little
man and his little kungfu, until he was tested by the instructors of
other styles. He easily took control of the fights and knocked down
every challenger. Word spread quickly and people outside the
association began asking Yip Man to teach them. Yip Man filled the
demand by opening his first school in Kowloon. Thus the first seed was
sown for the Yip Man's branch of Wing Chun, which is found worldwide
Copyright © Daniel Y.
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