Grandmaster Ip Man (葉問先生)

Grandmaster Ip Man

Much has been written about the origins of Wing Chun and the history of Grandmaster Ip Man. Derek Fung does not wish to enter into the politicised arena that is Wing Chun today, nor is this passage aimed at detailing a definitive history. Rather, Derek simply wishes to respectfully accord his gratitude to his master Ip Man and his forebears for sharing the precious gift of Wing Chun Kung Fu with the world.

It must be understood that from its very beginnings, Wing Chun was never openly taught. This secretive martial art was always passed down by one master to a select group of loyal students, teaching no more than ten to fifteen in their lifetime. Furthermore, Wing Chun was prohibitively expensive to learn so those that could were wealthy and generally well-educated, and had no need to rely on practising martial arts to make a living. Every generation, the incumbent master would select one and only one student to carry the torch. This student would become the next master and be permitted to teach a new generation of students. Other students were simply forbidden to take on students of their own.

Thus for a long time, Wing Chun was only known to a very small and select group of people. Ip Man was lucky enough to become one of them, as Chan Wah Shun's last student.

And it would remain so until the Chinese Communist Party won the Chinese civil war in 1949 and began to persecute the wealthy, the influential, intellectuals, and anyone linked to the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang). Being from a wealthy family and also a police officer in Foshan, Ip Man decided to leave mainlain China and settled in Hong Kong, where he first began to openly teach Wing Chun. During this time the art of Wing Chun blossomed, and eventually its seeds would be spread around the world.

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