The Grandmaster of Wing Tsun Kung Fu.
SiJo Ip Man
Grandmaster Ip Man was born on the 14th of October in 1893 during the period of the Ching dynasty in the city of Fatshan located in the Kwantung region. His original name was Gei Man. He had a brother Gai Gak and two sisters Wan Mei and Wan Hom. He was studying from Chan Wan Shun (money-changer) from the age of 6 being the youngest and last student of the master.
Chan Wan Shun died in 1905 but before his death he trusted Ng Chung Sao to train the young Ip Man. In 1908 he got a house from one of his relatives in Hong Kong on the Kane Road where he received a scholarship to study in St. Stephen College. From 1903 to 1913 he met Leung Bik, one of the sons of Leung Jan and learnt from him for 4 years. Because of this Yip Man acquired the whole knowledge of Wing Tsun.
For more than 20 years, from 1914 to 1937 Grandmaster Ip Man worked for the military and for the police. He got married to Cheung Wing Sing (one of the descendants of the ministers of the Ching dynasty). They had 4 children: 2 sons, Ip Chun (Ip Hok-Chun) and Ip Ching (Hok Ching) and 2 daughters, called Ar Sum and Ar Wun. Aside from his work he met other masters as well, like: Yuen Kay-San, Yiu Choi and Tong Kai. Since then the master’s garden was bought by the government and converted into a museum.
Between 1937 and 1945 Ip Man lived and fought against the Japanese invaders in Fatshan. When the village he was born in was occupied he did not surrender to the puppet government and fought against it. He and his family were supplied with food by one of his friend Chow Cheng Chung. The grandmaster wanted to repay this favor and in exchange he taught Chow Kwang Yiu the son of Chow Cheng Chung. From 1941 to 1943 he taught in Wing On and this is the place from where the first generation came: Kwok Fu, Chan Chi Sun, Ng Ying, Lun Kai.
After the capitulation of Japan he did not teach until 1948 when he started teaching for one of his friends Tong Kai Pang Nam in the Athletic Association of Cheung Yee in Fatshan, In 1949 he immigrated to Hong Kong through Macao because of Mao’s takeover. Then, in July 1950 he started teaching the Union of Restaurant Workers in Kowloon on the Dai Lam street. In his first class he had only 8 students among them were Leung Sheun and Lok Yiu. They were all restaurant workers and that is why this period was called the “first phase of the Union of Restaurant Workers.
In 1953 due to Labor Union elections the school moved to the Hoi Tan street. He started giving private lessons in the Temple of the Three Princes in the Yue Chow street. In 1954 he started teaching the members of the Union of Restaurant Workers again. During this period Lo Man Kam and Kan Wah-Chit (Victor Kan) studied from him. In between 1955 and 1957 he moved back to Kowloon and had students like Lee Siu-Ling (Bruce Lee), Hawkins Cheung and many others. From 1957 to 1963 he taught and gave private lessons in many locations, like: in the Pottery of Sau Kai-Wan and Shun Kei, under the 61 of the Tai Po Road, in the tailor shop of Lee Chang Ok Cheun and Yee Wa. During this time he taught Cheun Yiu-Wing, Chan Wun Lam, Kwok See-Yan and Peter Chang.
In 1963 the school moved to the first floor of the Tai Sang Restaurant in Tai Kok Tsui in the street of Fook Cheun. Most of the student came over to this building to study from the master. At that time the master also taught at the police station in San Po Kong in the Hin Hing street. Among the students there were Tan Sang, Lee Yiu-Fei, Wong Kok and many others.
The school was closed in 1965 and Grandmaster Ip Man moved back to the Tong Choi street. He did not taught actively further on but still gave some private lessons at his house.
In 1967 he founded the Ving Tsun Athletic Association the first officially registered martial arts association. After this he taught in many locations, such as in the Chen Wei Hong house, in Waterloo road, Chi Yau Road. His assistants were Jun Ching-On, Fung Hon and others. This was when he first had a female student Ng Yuet Dor. In Siu Fai To and in the Ip Sing-Cheuk house he even taught some solicitors. This was the last place where the Grandmaster taught Kung Fu.
During the 1960’s and 1970’s the last student of Ip Man was master Prof. Leung Ting. He became the inheritor of the Wing Tsun Kung Fu system, the descendant of Grandmaster Ip Man. SiJo Ip Man died on the 1st of December in 1972 at the age of 79 in his house in Tong Choi street.