Grandmaster Yip Man
Grandmaster Yip Man was born in the year 1893 in the town of Fatshan in Kwangtung Province, in Southern China to a wealthy merchant family. The Yip family permitted Wing Chun master Chan Wah Shun to teach a small group of disciples in the family temple and live there, since Chan’s local reputation as a fighter discouraged thieves and highwaymen from attacking the family businesses.
Yip Man would watch Chan Wah Shun drill his disciples in the ways of Wing Chun. Soon the boy’s visits became more regular until, when Yip Man was about nine years old he approached Chan and asked to train under him.
He studied with Chan Wah Shun for five years, until the old master’s death. Yip subsequently spent another two and a half years training with his senior, Ng Chung So. When Yip was sixteen years old, his parents sent him to Hong Kong to attend St. Stephen’s College. There, he quickly fell in with a clique of classmates who liked to offer and accept kung fu challenges. He welcomed the opportunity to put his Wing Chun training to the real test.
One evening Yip Man met an elderly man living on a fishing boat anchored near the typhoon breakers in Hong Kong Bay. They became friends and he performed the entire basic Siu Lim Tao form of Wing Chun to him.
After that the old man agreed to a match. He promptly attacked him but was easily defeated falling into the water. After repeated attempts and repeated soakings, he wanted to learn from him and soon found out that the old man was Leung Bik, his kung fu elder uncle who later explained the difference in his Wing Chun compared to Chan Wah Shun’s and proceeded to take Yip Man as a student. Yip Man studied with Leung Bik for three years.
He later returned to Fatshan and told his seniors about the old man that he had met. When his seniors scoffed at him, he challenged them and defeated them with his newfound knowledge. Later he stayed in Fatshan where he was involved with the police works and raised a family. In 1948 Yip Man fled to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution.
In Hong Kong, a homeless and penniless Yip Man was given refuge at the Restaurant Workers’ Union, where he taught Wing Chun to the workers until his death in December 2 1972.
His most famous student was Bruce Lee who popularised his Wing Chun to the world via his movies.