A Chronicle of the life of Ip Man

Article by Ip Chun & Sam Kwok added on 21 Jul 2012. Last updated on 24 Jul 2012.

A Chronicle of the Life of Ip (Yip) Man

Samuel Kwok Wing Chun International Martial Arts Association

By Ip (Yip) Chun

Translated by Master Samual Kwok

Born October 1893, died December 1972 Aged 79 years. Grandmaster Yip Man spent his whole life as champion of the cause of Wing Chun Kung Fu. He was responsible for advancing Wing Chun Kung Fu to its' eminence today. Throughout the world, students of Wing Chun Kung Fu continue to publish articles about Grandmaster Yip Man, his life and achievements. Therefore to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the birth of Grandmaster Yip Man this chronicle is being produced for all those interested in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

This chronicle is about Yip Man and his contribution to the style of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Therefore the details of his life, his education and profession, will be only be covered in brief. There are thousands of practitioners of Wing Chun Kung Fu and those who are not mentioned in this tribute must bear with the author for lack of space. He was born on October 14th 1893 in the Ching Dynasty (Kand Shoui - September 5th in the Chinese calendar) in Fut Shan town in Kwong Tung province which was then in Lam Hoi county. So Yip Man's birthplace is often referred to as Lam Hoi in Kwong Tung.

Grandmaster Yip Man's father was called Yip Oi Dor, his mother was Ng Shui, he was one of four brothers and sisters. His brother was called Gei Gak (Grandmaster Yip Man was originally called Gei Man). His sister's name was Wan Mei (Sik Chung)

1899 to 1905 (Ching Kwong Shui). Grandmaster Yip Man 6 to 12 years old. Location: Fut Shan. Grandmaster Yip Man studied Wing Chun Kung Fu with Chan Wah Shun (Money Changer Wan). The location was in Fut Shan town main street (song Yun Dai Gai) in the Yip family hall. The garden in now owned by the government and the hall is no longer there. At the time studying together with Grandmaster Yip Man were Lui Yui Chai, Ng Chung Sao, Ng Siu Lo and others.

1905 (Ching Kwon Shui). Grandmaster Yip Man at 12 years old. Location: Fut Shan. Chan Wah Shun passed away, but before he died he asked Ng Chung Sao to helpYip Man to complete the Wing Chun system. Chan Wah Shun's body was taken by his Kung Fu disciples to Chan village in Shun Dak, for burial.

1937 (Man Kwok year 26) Grandmaster Yip Man 44 years old. Location: Fut Shan. The Japanese invaded south China.

1937 to 1945 (Man Kwok year 26 to 34) Grandmaster Yip Man 44 to 52 years old. Location: Fut Shan. For 8 years Yip Man fought the Japanese but Fut Shan was occupied and ruled by a puppet government. The Grandmaster swore not to be used by the puppet government so he became very poor and often he went hungry. Luckily his good friend, Chow Cheng Chung, gave him food from time to time. Grandmaster Yip Man wanted to repay his kindness and so accepted his son, Chow Kwang Yiu, as his student. From 1941 to 1943 he taught Wing Chun Kung Fu in the cotton mill at Wing On. At this time studying with Chow Kwong Yiu were Kwok Fu, Chan Chi Sun, Ng Ying, Lun Kai, Chow Sai and others. These were the firstgeneration of students that Grandmaster Yip Man taught. Kwok Fu and Lun Kai are still alive and teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu in China today, in Kwong Chow, Fut Shan.

1945 (Man Kwok year 34) Grandmaster Yip Man is 52 years old. Location: Fut Shan. The year Japan surrendered.

1945 to 1949 (Man Kwok year 34 to 38) Grandmaster Yip Man 52 to 56 years old. Location: Kwong Chow, Fut Shan. During this period of time, Grandmaster Yip Man was at his busiest at work, even though he loved Wing Chun Kung Fu he had to leave it for a time. Until, in 1948, through his very good friend Tong Kai, he was introduced to Pang Lam who begged Yip Man to teach him Wing Chun Kung Fu. Through this busy time, Yip Man coached Pang Lam on the form at the Fut Shang Cheung Yee Athletic Association.

1949 (Man Kwok year 38) Grandmaster Yip Man is 56 years old. Location: Macao and Hong Kong. Grandmaster Yip Man went through Macao to Hong Kong but while in Macao he stayed for two weeks at Cho Doi Street with friends who owned a bird shop.

1950 to 1953 (Man Kwok year 39 to 42) Grandmaster Yip Man 57 to 60 years old. Location: Hong Kong In July 1950, through Lee Man's introduction, Grandmaster Yip Man started teaching in Dai Lam Street, Kowloon. The first Wing Chun Kung Fu class was for the Restaurant Workers Association. When he opened the class there were only 8 people including Leung Shang and Lok Yiu. All these were restaurant workers, but later he was joined by Tsui Shan Tin, Yip Bo Ching, Chiu Wan, Lee Yan Wing, Law Peng, Man Siu Hung and others. This period of time was called the forefront of the Restaurant Workers Association. Grandmaster Yip Man also taught in the Restaurant Workers, Shang Wan branch, Union HQ in Hong Kong. Students included Lee Wing, Yue May Keng, Lee Leung Foon and others.

1953 to 1954 (Man Kwok year 42 to 43) Grandmaster Yip Man 60 to 61 years old. Location: Hong Kong. When Leung Sheung was defeated in the union elections, Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to Hoi Tan Street. Learning at that time were Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu, Wong Chaok, Ng Chan and others. Yip Man also taught private lessons at Three Prince Temple on Yue Chow Street. Students were Lee Hong and others.

1954 to 1955 (Man Kwok year 43 to 44) Grandmaster Yip Man 61 to 62 years old. Location: Hong Kong. Leung Sheung was re-elected chairman of the Restaurant Workers union and so Grandmaster Yip Man moved back to the union HQ. This is called the later stage of the Restaurant Workers Association. At this time he was joined by Lee Kam Sing, Kan Wa Jeet (Victor Kan), Lo Man Kam, Cheung Cheuk Heng (William Cheung) and others.

1955 to 1957 (Man Kwok year 44 to 46) Grandmaster Yip Man 62 to 64 years old. Location: Hong Kong. Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to Lee Tat Street, Yao Ma Tei in Kowloon. The students here were Lee Siu Lung (Bruce Lee), Chan Shing, Haw Kin Cheung, Siu Yuk Man, Poon Bing Lid, Pang Kam Fat and others.

1957 to 1962 (Man Kwok year 46 to 51) Grandmaster Yip Man 64 to 69 years old. Location: Hong Kong. During this 5 years Yip Man moved the school to Lee Chang Oak Chuen. At this time students were Mek Po, Yeung Hei, Moi Yat, Ho Kam Ming and others. During this period of time Grandmaster Yip Man taught mostly private lessons. Sau Kei Wan, Shun Kei pottery shop. Students were Wong Pak Yee, Wong Wei, Yeung Chung Han, Chow Lok Gee, Wong Kwok Yau and others. Tsim ha Tsui, Bong Lak Hong. Students were Tong Cho Chi, Lee Fat Chi, Chang Tak Chiu, Tam Lai and others. 3 Tai Po Road. Students were Chung Kam Chuen, Chung Wing Hong.

1962 to 1963 (Man Kwok year 51 to 52) Grandmaster Yip Man 69 to 70 years old. Location: Hong Kong. Grandmaster Yip Man moved the school to 61 Tai Po Road, a unit in the Heng Yip building. Students were Cheung Yiu Wing, Ho Luen, Jun Ching On, Chan Woon Lam, Chang Tai Yim and Kwok See Yan. Private lessons were taught at Yee Wa tailor's shop at Tsim Sha Tsui. Students were Peter Chang and a group of people from Po Lak Hong. 1963 to 1965 (Man Kwok year 52 to 54) Grandmaster Yip Man 70 to 72 years old. Location: Hong Kong. The school was moved to the top floor of the Tai Sang restaurant on Fook Chuen Street, Tai Kok Tsui. Originally this had been the storeroom. The owner was called Ho Luen who let them use the room. Most of the people from the school at the Heng Yip building also moved here. As well as Ho Luen there were also Yeung Chung Hon, Wat Yung Sung, Pang Kam Fat, Jun Ching On, Lee Yan Wing and Yau Hak So. During this period of time Grandmaster Yip Man also taught students, mainly from the police, privately at San Po Kong, Hin Hing Street. These included Tang Sang, Lam Ying Fat, Yuen Chi Kong, Lee Yiu Fei, Wong Kok and others.

1965 to 1972 (Man Kwok year 54 to 61) Grandmaster Yip Man 72 to 79 years old. Location: Hong Kong. The school at the Tai Sang restaurant finished and Grandmaster Yip Man moved to live on Tung Choi Street residence because he was getting old. Although he was already partly retired he was still teaching one to one private tuition. Going to Yip Man's home during this period of time, were Wong Chung Wah (Yat Oak Goi Tse), Wong Hei,Hong Jap Sum and others. He also went out teaching to three places:

1. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association, which, in 1967, was the first martial arts society to be officially registered with the government. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association then decided to open Kung Fu classes at the association's address. The association placed Grandmaster Yip Man in charge of the instruction. Assisting him were Jun Ching On, Fung Hon, Wong Hon Chung and others. This was only about three months. 2. Chan Wei Hong's home on Waterloo Road, Learning here were Chen Wei Hong, the Siu Lung brothers, also Wong Chi On, Chan Kam Ming, Chung Yau, Lau Hon Lam,Man Yim Kwong and others. 3. Chi Yau Road. When Chan Wei Hong had other business and could not continue at Waterloo Road, Grandmaster Yip Man moved to the roof top of Lau Hon Lam'shome. Joining here were Wong Chi Ming and he also officially accepted a female student called Ng Yuet Dor. 4. Siu Fai Toi. At solicitor Yip Sing Cheuk's house. Apart from Yip Sing Cheuk the rest of the students were also mostly solicitors. This was the last place that Grandmaster Yip Man taught Wing Chun Kung Fu. Grandmaster Yip Man passed away at his home on Tung Choi Street on the 1st December 1972 (Man Kwok year 61). 26th October in the Chinese lunar calendar. He enjoyed 79 years of life.

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