The life of Ip Man!

A chronicle of the life of Ip Man

This chronicle was published in the book Yip Man’s Wing Chun. To the 100th birthday of Yip Man, published by the Ving Tsun Athletic Association, Hong Kong, 1994, published in German by the Sensei press Kernen, 3. Edition 2000, S.115-121


Ip Man

Written by Ip Chun, oldest of Ip Mans sons

*born October 1893, +died December 1972 aged 79

Grandmaster Ip Man spent his whole life as champion, because of Wing Chun Kung Fu. He was responsible for the development of Wing Chun Kung Fu to its today’s meaning. All over the world students carry on publishing articles about Grandmaster Ip Man, his life and his achievements. To celebrate the 115th birthday of Grandmaster Ip Man this chronicle was written for all those interested in Wing Chun Kung Fu.

This chronicle is about Ip Man and his contribution to the Wing Chun Kung Fu Style. For that reason details of his life, his training and his profession will be described briefly. The thousands of people practicing Wing Chun and those remaining unmentioned in this tribute shall be forgiving with the author for space is limited in this publication.

Ip Man was born in the city of Fat Shan (also Fut Shan or Foshan) in the province Kwong Tung (Kwantung or Kwandong), back then in the area of Lam Hoi, on october 14th, 1893 in the Ching Dynasty (Kand Shoui – September 5th in the Chinese calendar). Therefore Ip Mans place of birth is often referred to as Lam Hoi in Kwong Tung.

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

1899 bis 1905 (Ching Kwong Shui),
Grandmaster Ip Man was 6 – 12 years old. Place: Fat Shan.

Grandmaster Ip Man studied Wing Chun Kung Fu at Chan Wah Shun’s (money changer Wan). The place was located in the main street of Fat Shan (song Yun Dai Gai) in family Ip’s hall. The garden is now owed by the government and the hall does not exist anymore. At the time Liu Yui Chai, Ng Chung Sao, Ng Siu Lo and others learned together with Ip Man.

1905 (Ching Kwon Shui),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 12 years old, place: Fat Shan

Chan Wah Shun died, but before that he asked Ng Chui Sao whether he would help Ip Man to accomplish the Wing Chun system. Chan Wah Shun’s corpse was brought to the village of Chan in Sun Dak by his students for the funeral.

1937 (The Year Man Kwok 26),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 44 years old, place: Fat Shan

The Japanese occupy southern China.

1937 bis 1945 (Man Kwok year 26 bis 34),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 44 bis 52 years old, place: Fat Shan

For 8 years now Ip Man has been fighting the Japanese, but Fat Shan was occupied and governed by a marionette-like government. The Grandmaster swore not to be used by it and therefore became very poor and often suffered hunger. Luckily, a good friend, Chow Ceng Chung gave him food from time to time. To repay his help Grandmaster Ip Man accepted his son Chow Kwan Yiu as his student.

1941 to 1943
From 1941 to 1943 he taught Wing Chun at the wool mill in Wing On. Together with Chow Kwan Yiu there were, among others, Kwok Fu, Chan Chi Su, Ng Ying, Lun Kai and Chow Sai learning at that time. These were the first generation of students taught by Grandmaster Ip Man. Kwok Fu and Lun Kai are still alive and teaching Wing Chun Kung Fu in Kwong Chow, Fat Shan, China.

1945 (Man Kwok year 34),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 52 years old, place: Fat Shan

This is the year Japan capitulates.

1945 – 1949 (Man Kwok year 34 to 38),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 52 to 56 years old. Place: Kwong Chow, Fat Shan

During this time Ip Man was most busy with his work. Even though he loved Wing Chun Kung Fu he had to stop for a while. During the time, in the year 1948, his good friend Tong Kai introduced him to Pang Lam who asked Ip Man to teach him Wing Chun Kung Fu. In this stressful time Ip Man showed Pang Lam the forms in the Fut Shang Cheung Yee Athletic Association.

1949 (Man Kwok year 38),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 56 years old. Place: Macao und Hong Kong

Grandmaster Ip Man went to Hong Kong via Macao, in Macao he spent two weeks in the Cho Doi steet at friend’s that owned a bird shop there.

1950 – 1953 (Man Kwok year 39 to 42),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 57 to 60 years old. Place: Hong Kong

In July 1950, Grandmaster Ip Man started teaching in the Dai Lam Street, Kowloon, due to his acquaintance to Lee Man. The first Wing Chun group was for the Restaurant Workers Association. When he opened, the group there consisted of only 8 persons, among them Leung Shang and Lok Yiu. They were all restaurant workers, but later on he was visited by Tsui Shan Tin, Ip Bo Ching, Chiu Wan, Lee Yan Wing, Law Peng, Man Siu Hung and others.

This time was also called the Restaurant Workers Association’s front. Grandmaster Ip Man also taught in the Restaurant Workers Shan Wah Branch, Union HQ in Hong Kong. Lee Wing, Yue May Keng, Lee Leung Foon and others were students here.

1953 to 1954 (Man Kwok years 42 to 43),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 60 to 61 alt. Place: Hong Kong

When Leung Sheung was defeated in elections of the union (Restaurant Workers Association) Grandmaster Ip Man moved his school to the Hoi Tan Street. During this time Wong Shun Leung, Wong Kiu, Wong Chaok, Ng Chan and others were students. Ip Man also gave individual lessons at Three Prince Temple in the Yue Chow Street. Students were Lee Hong and others.

1954 to 1955 (Man Kwok years 43 to 44),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 61 to 62 years old. Place: Hong Kong

Leung Sheung was reelected as leader of the Restaurant Workers Union and Grandmaster Ip Man got back into the headquarters of the union. This time is called the later stage of the Restaurant Workers Association. At this time Ip Man was visited by Lee Kam Sing, Kan Wa Jeet (Victor Kan), Lo Man Kam, Cheung Cheuk Heng (William Cheung) and others.

1955 to 1957 (Man Kwok years 44 to 46),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 62 to 64 years old. Place: Hong Kong

Grandmaster Ip man moved the school to the Lee Tat Street, Yao Ma Tei in Kowloon. His students were among others Lee Siu Lung (Bruce Lee), Chan Shing, Haw Kin Cheung, Siu Yuk Man, Poon Bing Lid, Pang Kam Fat

1957 to 1962 (Man Kwok years 46 to 51),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 64 to 69 years old. Place: Hong Kong

During these 5 years Ip Man moved the school to Lee Chang Oak Chuen. Students were Mek Po, Yeung Hei, Moi Yat, Ho Kam Ming and others. Grandmaster Ip Man gave mostly individual lessons.

Sau Kei Wan, Shun Kei ceramics 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 years 51 to 52),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 69 to 70 years old. Place: Hong Kong

Grandmaster Ip Man moved the school to 61, Tai Po Road, a part in the Heng Ip Building.

Students were Cheung Yiu Wing, Ho Luen, Jun Ching On, Chan Woon Lam, Chang Tai Yim and Kwok See Yan. Private lessons held in Yee Wa Tailor´s Shop in Tsim Sha Tsui. Students were Peter Chang and a group of people of Po Lak Hong.

1963 to 1965 (Man Kwok years 52 to 54),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 70 to 72 years old. Place: Hong Kong

The school was moved into the highest level of the Tai Sang Restaurant in the Fook Chuen Street, Tai Kok Tsui. This was originally a storage room. The owner who granted them permission to use the room was called Ho Luen. Most of the people from the school at Heng Ip Building came there. Besides Ho Luen there were Yeung Chung Hon, Wat Yung Sung, Pang Kam Fat, Jun Ching On, Lee Yan Wing and Yau Hak So. During this time Grandmaster Ip Man also gave private lessons, mostly to people of the police at San Po Kong in the Hin Hing Street. Among them were Tang Sang, Lam Ying Fat, Yuen Chi Kong, Lee Yiu Fei, Wong Kok and others.

1965 – 1972 (Man Kwok years 54 to 61),
Grandmaster Ip Man is 72 to 79 years old. Place: Hong Kong

The school in Tai Sang Restaurant was closed and Grandmaster Ip Man moved to the Tung Choi Street residence to live there, due to his high age. Even though he partially drew himself back he still gave one on one lessons. The people coming to Ip Man’s house during this time were waren Wong Chung Wah, (Yat Oak Goi Tse), Wong Hei, Hong Jap Sum and others. He also went to three other places to give lessons:

  1. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association, in the year 1967 the first Martial Arts Association officially registered by the government. The Ving Tsun Athletic Association decided to open Kung Fu groups at their address. The Association. Grandmaster Ip Man was responsible for the teaching. Assisting him were Jun Ching On, Fung Hon, Wong Hon Chung and others. However, this only lasted for 3 months.
  2. The house of Chan Wei Hong in the Waterloo Road. This was the place where Chen Wei Hong, the Siu Lung-brothers, Wong Chi On, Chan Kam Ming, Chung Yau, Lau Hon Kam, Man Yim Kwong and others learned.
  3. Chi Yau Road. When Wie Hong opened a different shop and could not carry on at Waterloo Road, Grandmaster Ip Man went to roof of Lau Lam’s house. Students here were Wong Chin Ming and Ng Yuet Dor, a female student he officially accepted.
  4. Siu Fai Toi. In Solicitor Ip Sing Cheuk’s house. Apart from Ip Sing Cheuk the rest of the students were also mostly solicitors. This was the last place Grandmaster Ip Man taught Wing Chun Kung Fu.

Grandmaster Ip Man died on December 1st 1972 (Man Kwok Year 61) in his house in the Tung Choi Street. This was the 26th of October according to the Chinese moon calendar. He enjoyed 79 years of his life.