Thursday, July 5, 2012

Inspiration from Ip Man

I'm married to an early riser. A highly unnatural creature. I'm not surprised to wake up without him anymore; he's probably downstairs “en train de profiter” or taking advantage, of the silence.

Yesterday, I was dreaming about kung fu fighters who were speaking in melodramatic English. I woke up slowly, my head a little foggy from a sinus infection. After a minute, I remembered that I'd laid down on the couch after an early feeding.

But the Chinese words hadn't stopped. Boy, it was taking me a long time to wake up! I stared at the TV screen, unable to figure out why the words didn't match the actors' mouths.

Oh. He was watching a dubbed marital arts movie. 

I find it fascinating to watch cinema from other cultures. What is it that makes it smell, taste or feel different? I sat up and got interested in this film about a great Wing Chun teacher, who had Bruce Lee as one of his students. (TheLegend is Born: Ip Man)

I had to leave before the end (market day in a French village only comes once a week), but it sparked/inspired me to find out about Ip Man (or Yip Man). As usual, parts of the movie correspond with the true story, such as the different teachers he learned from. One of these was Leung Bik, who he unexpectedly encountered when Ip Man was at his college.

I found some great stories, like the time a military officer was getting a little too familar with Ip Man's wife. He had no idea that the short gentleman in front of him was about to kick his rear. As the officer became more agressive, Ip Man used a Wing Chun “simultaneous attack and defense.” When a gun was drawn, Ip Man turned it and broke the trigger with his thumb. Cool.

He lived in Fo Shan during the Japanese occupation in the 1940's. They wanted him to be on their side (naturally) but he refused. After a martial arts duel, Ip Man left Fo Shan. He went on to work for the Chinese police. 

He later went to Hong Kong and started a marital arts school. Here's a couple lines I quote from "The way of Yip Man’s instruction depended on every student’s degree of knowledge, natural ability, personal habits, and interests. Yip Man’s great innovation was to personalize instruction by making each student’s progress dependent on his own habits and will to succeed."

Have you been inspired by a great teacher? Do you do marital arts? Do you like kung fu movies? Have you been inspired to read more about an historical figure?


  1. Never really was into to martial arts rcently when my grandson started karate. I like the philosophy. I never new there even was philosophy in martial arts.

    1. I found out more about martial arts when my brother started...

  2. I did Tae Kwan Do for a while, but I kept breaking my toes, so I quit.

    1. I think I'd like to give it a shot, but I'm preety clumsy too!

  3. least it wasn't the man's thumb and just the trigger!
    I got inspiration from watching "Karate Kid," with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith a few weeks ago... coincident?

  4. I love Jackie Chan movies and those beautiful and magical Chinese adventures like crouching tiger and hero.

    The connection between fighting and spirituality is beautiful. It is also deeply graceful. Wonderful life lessons in there. .

    1. It's interested what a mastery of one's body does for one's soul...