Grand Master Yip Man

Profile of Great GrandMaster Yip Man

Bodhidharma meditating for nine years facing cave wall

Yip man was born on October 14th 1893 and was named Ip Kai Man. He was the third of four children born in the town of Foshan in the Kwangtung province during the Ching dynasty from a wealthy and well known family.

The year was 1905 and a man by the name of Master Chan Wah Shun moved into the Yip family ancestral hall to teach Kung Fu on the Main Street of Foshan.

It was then at the age of 12 Yip Man went to Chan Wah Shun and begged to be accepted as a pupil. Chan Wah Shun told the boy that if he wanted to learn Wing Chun he must pay 300 pieces of silver. Chan Wah Shun knew that such an amount would be almost impossible for a young boy to raise but the boy left and soon returned with the fee. Chan Wah Shun was astonished at the amount a youngster could raise in such a short time and doubting the integrity of the boy, marched him off to see his parents.

To Chan Wah Shun’s surprise he found the silver represented the boy’s life savings. He was touched by the youngster’s sincerity and accepted him as his 16th and final pupil.

Yip Man studied with Chan Wah Shun for four years before Chan past away. His body was taken by his Kung Fu disciples to Chan Wah Shun’s village in Shundak for burial. After the death of his Kung Fu Master, Yip Man then left Foshan for Hong Kong to attend high school at St Stephen’s college in Stanley. During this time through his martial arts friends, Yip Man herd about a Kung Fu Master. He went looking to find him and challenge him to a fight. To the disappointment of Yip Man, he was easily defeated by the old man. The old man was none other than Leung Bik, son of Leung Jan, who had moved to Hong Kong years earlier. Leung Bik accepted Yip Man as his only student. Yip Man stayed with Leung Bik for another four years and completed Leung Jan’s Wing Chun system.

                                                                                        Chan Wah Shun's Grave

Yip Man returned to the mainland, defeated his Kung Fu brothers and was bestowed with the title of Grandmaster of the Wing Chun system. Yip Man taught and lived a comfortable life for many years in Foshan. After returning from Hong Kong Yip Man did not have to work because of his wealth but when the Japanese invaded, this all ended. Yip Man lost all his fortune, the government was literally digging up lawns to find family treasures. Yip man needed a job and because of his fame in Foshan, he was offered the job of police chief for the government in the town. It was just one year earlier that the Ching dynasty had officially ended and the Kuo Min Tang ruled China. Yip Man stayed in this position until the communist party took control of China and in 1949 he fled to Macao to avoid the communist rule on the Mainland. While Yip Man was in Macao he was met and befriended by Leung Shan a Pak Mei Master, who took him to Hong Kong. Leung Shan at this point did not know that Yip Man was the Grandmaster of Wing Chun.

Leung Shan had a Kung Fu school at the restaurant workers union building in Hong Kong, and there he gave Yip Man a room. Yip Man would watch Leung Shan teach Kung Fu and would criticise his style. Leung Shan challenged Yip Man to a fight as the criticism angered him. Yip Man defeated Leung Shan and he then revealed that he was the Grandmaster of Wing Chun. He then accepted Leung Shan as his first pupil and began to teach publicly in Hong Kong, right up until his death from Throat Cancer at the age of 74. Yip Man’s burial was held on December 8th 1972 and was laid to rest at Fanling’s cemetery in the New Territory.

                                                                             Sifu Jon paying his respects to Grandmaster Yip Man

Chan Wah Shun, Leung Jan’s neighbour went to Leung Jan and asked him if he could teach him but Leung Jan declined the request as he was not a family member. Chan Wah Shun was determined to learn, so he started to spy on Leung Jan through a crack in the fence while he was teaching his two sons. Leung Jan found out what was happening and immediately put a stop to it. Leung Jan finally accepted Chan Wah Shun as a student. Chan Wah Shun went on to be the chief instructor of the Manchu soldiers known as the “Soldiers of the Eight Banners”

Leung Jan Eventually passed away and Leung Bik moved to Hong Kong and went into the family business as a doctor nothing is known on Leung Jan’s second son Leung Chun except that he passed away very early.

Chan Wah shun stayed on in China and taught for over 30 years during that time he only accepted 16 students and only one of them will later become the most famous master of the Wing Chun system.

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